Results tagged ‘ Felix Hernandez ’

Standings coming into play

My rule of thumb is not to pay attention to the standings until June. Well, here June is, so the standings start to come into focus for the Yankees, whose 10-2 loss to Seattle Monday night placed them four games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East.

There is no need to panic at such a time of the season, but it is beyond the point where “it’s still early” can be referenced. The Yankees are one-third of the way through the schedule, and they need to make sure that to paraphrase Yogi Berra it does not get late early out there. They have lost three of their past four games against the underwhelming Twins and Mariners and have not looked particularly sharp on defense nor have they had much bite on offense.

More disturbing is their struggling at Yankee Stadium. They are 4-10 at home since April 29. The Mariners have won their past five games at the Stadium dating to May 15, 2013, their longest such streak since a six-game stretch from Aug. 18, 2001 through April 29, 2003. During the streak, Seattle starting pitchers are 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 31 innings.

The Yankees allowed at least 10 runs in a game for the seventh time this season, matching their total from all of 2013.

David Phelps has not allowed a home run in his past nine home starts (spanning 48 1/3 innings), the most for a Yankees starting pitcher since 1984 by Shane Rawley (13 starts) and Ray Fontenot (12). Phelps has allowed only one homer at home since Sept. 16, 2012, a span of 19 appearances. That was by the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion April 26, 2013.

It was not the home run that hurt Phelps Monday night in the rain-makeup game against the Mariners but rather the three-base hit. Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager tripled twice and scored each time, on a single by Mike Zunino in the second inning and on a fielder’s choice in the fourth.

The Yankees got Phelps back into the game in the bottom of the fourth against Felix Hernandez on a single by Brian McCann, a double by Yangervis Solarte and a two-out infield single by Ichiro Suzuki. Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson also singled, but Ichiro was thrown out at the plate as the Yankees failed to take the lead.

The undoing for the Yankees was an unkempt seventh inning that resulted in four runs for the Mariners. With runners on first and second and none out, Phelps tried to get the lead runner at third on a sacrifice bunt by Endy Chavez, but his throw was a hair late and Seattle had the bags full. A two-run single by Brad Miller broke the tie.

Matt Thornton replaced Phelps at that point. James Jones pushed the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice, and both scored on Brad Miller’s single under the glove of Johnson at first base playing for the injured Mark Teixeira.

The home run was more of a problem for Alfredo Aceves, who gave up two of them in the ninth inning as the Mariners pulled away for good. Michael Saunders homered with the bases empty, and Seager went deep with two aboard. It was quite a night for Seager — two triples, a double and a homer. Aceves has allowed eight home runs in 18 1/3 innings this year.

Mariners complete sweep behind rookie lefty

If the Yankees thought they were catching a break Thursday night by not having to face Felix Hernandez they were sadly mistaken. Mariners rookie Roenis Elias gave them all they could handle.

Hernandez had been scheduled to start Thursday night, but with the rainout Wednesday night Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon chose to keep his rotation on schedule and went ahead and started Elias, 25, a lefthander who defected to Mexico from Cuba three years ago.

“We knew the kid had good stuff,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Elias. “Our reports showed he is something special.”

They got visual evidence of that Thursday night. Elias mixed a fastball clocked in the mid-90s with a hard-breaking curve and a knee-bracing changeup.

Hiroki Kuroda, who lost his second straight start, had a decent outing but had trouble finishing off hitters in the early going. Robinson Cano doubled in a run in the first inning, but Kuroda got out of further trouble thanks to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who made a diving catch to rob Kyle Seager of a potential, run-scoring, extra-base hit.

Watching Ellsbury reminded me of a conversation I had at dinner a couple of night ago with YES voice Michael Kay, who said that he appreciates Ellsbury a lot more now that he is watching him on an every-day basis. I agreed. Some players can get overlooked, but if you see them every day you become more aware of how much they bring to a club on a daily basis. I used to view Tino Martinez that way years ago.

Ellsbury kept it up in the first inning by driving a 2-1 pitch to right field for his first home run with the Yankees. What happened next was a harbinger of what was to come from Elias, who then struck out Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano.

Elias continued to mow down the Yankees and finished with 10 strikeouts and only two walks through seven innings. The only other run he allowed was not earned due to an error by Cano, who lost an easy out by flipping the ball to unsuspecting shortstop Brad Miller. That extended the sixth inning in which Brian McCann singled in a run.

The Yankees also gave the Mariners a gift run in the third because of an error by Jeter. Cano got his second RBI with a fielder’s choice in the third. Kuroda couldn’t shut the door in the fourth when the Mariners went ahead to stay on an RBI single by Miller and a run-scoring double by Michael Saunders.

Seattle had only one hit over the next five innings as Kuroda found his groove albeit a bit late and the Yankees got excellent relief from Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley. The Yankees’ offense ran into the same type of pitching as well and could not avoid suffering a sweep in the abbreviated, two-game series.

Yanks’ clubhouse revolving door keeps spinning

The door keeps revolving in the Yankees’ clubhouse. Pitcher Dellin Betances was the latest arrival from Triple A Scranton for Thursday night’s series finale against the Mariners. The righthander was 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances totaling 28 1/3 innings.

Heading back to Scranton was pitcher Brett Marshall, who made his major-league debut in Wednesday night’s 12-2 loss to Seattle. The righthander threw 108 pitches and allowed five earned runs, nine hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings but was praised by manager Joe Girardi for saving the bullpen. Marshall deserves credit for taking one for the team in taking punishment to keep the relief corps from having to toil in a lopsided loss.

Betances was the choice for promotion because Marshall would not be available to pitch for at least four days. Adam Warren pitched four innings only three days ago, so the Yankees need a middle-innings reliever who can give them some length. Girardi said that Betances was the most stretched-out of the pitchers at Scranton.

Marshall was one of five players to make their major-league debuts for the Yankees in the first 40 games. The others were pitchers Preston Claiborne and Vidal Nuno and infielders David Adams and Corban Joseph. The Elias Sports Bureau points out that the previous time as many as five players made their big-league debuts with the Yankees within the club’s first 40 games was in 1995 – pitchers Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Brian Boehringer and Jeff Patterson and shortstop Derek Jeter.

Adams, who also played in his first major-league game Wednesday night on his 26th birthday, was only the fourth player in 95 seasons to get a hit in his first game on his birthday. The others were the Cleveland Indians’ Dave Clark Sept. 3, 1986 at Toronto, the Atlanta Braves’ Bruce Benedict Aug. 18, 1978 at St. Louis and the Washington Senators’ Sept. 13, 1939 in the second game of a doubleheader at Chicago, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Another familiar face Thursday night was that of Mariners starter Hector Noesi, who pitched for the Yankees in 2011 and was traded with catcher Jesus Montero to Seattle for pitcher Michael Pineda, who has yet to pitch for the Yankees. Montero was Noesi’s catcher Thursday night.

The Blue Jays come to Yankee Stadium Friday night to open a three-game series. Probable starting pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda (5-2, 2.31) vs. Mark Buehrle (1-2, 6.19) at 7:05 p.m. Friday on Channel 9, David Phelps (1-2, 4.33) vs. Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69) at 1:05 p.m. Saturday on YES and CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.19) vs. R.A. Dickey (3-5, 4.83) at 1:05 p.m. on YES. All games are on WCBS Radio (880 AM).

Sunday’s matchup will mark the third time this season that Sabathia, the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner, will be paired against a fellow recipient of that honor. The other games were April 7 against the Tigers’ Justin Verlander (2011), a 7-0 Yankees victory at Detroit, and May 14 (Tuesday night) against the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (2010), a 4-3 Yanks victory at the Stadium. CC got the victory over Detroit and a no-decision against Seattle. Dickey was the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner with the Mets and was traded to the Blue Jays.

Ibanez must think this is a postseason series

The Yankees were probably due for one of these games, but it always painful to watch when it happens. The offensively-challenged Mariners bolted out of the game with seven runs in the first inning and kept adding to their light-hitting totals on the way to a 12-2 victory Wednesday night behind the solid pitching of the latest Japanese sensation, Hisashi Iwakuma.

Leading the way was none other than Raul Ibanez, who has been a terror against his 2012 team. Showing that he has lost none of his power stroke at Yankee Stadium, Ibanez belted two home runs, one a grand slam, and knocked in six runs. That gives him three home runs and eight RBI in the past two games. What does he think this is, the American League Division Series or the AL Championship Series?

The Yankees have had 11 come-from-behind victories, but this proved too uphill a climb for them. Iwakuma gave up solo home runs to Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart and little else in his seven innings as he improved to 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Iwakuma, 32, is proving that his 9-5, 3.16-ERA record in 2012 for Seattle was no fluke. He and Felix Hernandez have been a dangerous 1-2 pitching combination, although they rarely get this kind of run support.

Phil Hughes suffered his poorest outing of the season and one of the worst of his career in giving up seven runs, six hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, which shot his ERA up from 4.43 to 5.88. It was only the second time a Yankees starter failed to complete the first inning in the current Stadium. It also happened May 21, 2009 with Joba Chamberlain against the Orioles (2/3 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs).

“Phil was up in the zone,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can pitch up in the zone, but he got too many balls in the middle of the plate.”

“I didn’t have much of a fastball, so I tried changeups and sliders,” Hughes said. “I kept trying to find something. I’m going to have trouble sleeping the next four nights. You have to put the team in a situation like this where eventually some guys are playing out of position. The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt.”

Girardi did resort to some musical chairs in the blowout. Stewart moved from behind the plate to play first base. In the ninth when poor Brett Marshall in his major-league debut was wiped out by throwing 108 pitches, Girardi had shortstop Alberto Gonzalez get the last out.

“I didn’t want to use another reliever and asked Alberto about it before the inning,” Girardi said. “I picked him because shortstops usually have the most accurate arms.”

In the same move, Wells, who had been the designated hitter, played second base. Last week, the career outfielder played an inning at third base.

There were not too many bright sides for the Yankees, but there were some. Preston Claiborne added to his scoreless stretch of pitching with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-strikeout relief and has now been unscored upon in five appearances and seven innings. Triple A Scranton call-up David Adams made his major-league debut on his 26th birthday and had a single in four at-bats and handled five chances in the field without incident.

Lyle Overbay had two more hits, a double and a single, to continue his terrific job at replacing Mark Teixeira at first base. Over the Yankees’ first 40 games, Overbay is batting .266 with 10 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 24 RBI. Through 40 games a year ago, Teixeira hit .229 with nine doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.

Yanks’ bullpen has final say in Cy Young duel

It is not entirely true that the marquee matchup Tuesday night of the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, a couple of former American League Cy Young Award winners, did not materialize. Each had impact in the game. It is just that the outcome occurred after they had departed.

Neither starter was involved in the decision, although for a time it seemed that Hernandez would be the winner and Sabathia the loser. This was a game that ended up decided by the bullpens. In that case, it is no contest against the Yankees these days.

Shawn Kelley took over for Sabathia in the seventh with the score 3-1 Mariners, runners on first and third with one out and retired Kelly Shoppach on a strikeout and Raul Ibanez on a fly to left. After a botched attempt for a force on a sacrifice bunt gave Seattle runners on first and second with none out in the eighth, David Robertson worked another of his Houdini tricks by striking out Michael Saunders and getting pinch hitter Justin Smoak to line into a double play. Mariano Rivera provided a spotless ninth to make it 16-for-16 in save opportunities this season.

The relievers’ 2 2/3 combined innings extended the pen’s current scoreless streak to nine games covering 23 2/3 innings. The relief corps has pitched to a 0.77 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .161 batting average with seven walks and 36 strikeouts over that stretch.

One of the three runs off Sabathia, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, was not earned due to an error by first baseman Lyle Overbay that led to a run in the third. Overbay would atone for that bobble in the seventh with a sacrifice fly that unlocked a 3-3 score. Overbay had doubled in a run to get the Yankees on the board in the sixth against Hernandez, who came out after that inning because of back spasms. That was the opening the Yankees needed.

Seattle’s bullpen was not the support system for King Felix that the Yankees’ was for CC. Yoervis Molina gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Chris Nelson and wild-pitched him to second base. One out later, lefthander Charlie Furbush walked left-handed batting Brett Gardner and yielded a two-run, game-tying double to right-center by lefty-swinging Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Furbush walked Vernon Wells intentionally to get at another left-handed batter, back from the disabled list Curtis Granderson, and walked him quite unintentionally. Overbay, also swinging from the left side, put a charge into a 3-2 fastball for a drive to deep enough center to score Cano with the go-ahead run. The Yanks’ pen handled matters from there.

The other two runs off Sabathia, who walked two batters and struck out 10, came on a home run in the sixth by Ibanez, who returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he was a 2012 postseason hero for the Yankees. CC enjoyed when Ibanez poked homers to right field last October against the Orioles and Tigers but not at all when he found his favorite area for homer No. 4 this season.

No one at the Stadium was expected to cheer Ibanez when he homered against the Yankees, but the reaction from the crowd of 41,267 to Ibanez when he first came to the plate, in the second inning, was curious to say the least.

Considering the dramatic impact of his heroics seven months ago, it was somewhat surprising that Ibanez received such a tepid response from the fans, who applauded politely but with few of them standing. There were even some sounds of boos, although that might have been chants of “Ra-oool.” You can never tell when guys have names that rhyme with “boo.” Think of Moose Skowron or Lou Piniella or Goose Gossage, for example.

Rivera could see Ibanez in the dugout in the ninth and was determined to keep him there. Ibanez was in the hole two batters away when Mo ended the game.

Out! Oh, wait; make that safe!

Umpires have often been the center of attention often this year, which is never a good thing. The best umpiring is that which you don’t notice. Umps are a lot like closing relief pitchers or housecleaners in that nobody pays attention to the job unless it is done poorly.

Reversed calls have become a norm in the game these days. The umps were at it again Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, although the play in question did not figure in the scoring. With a runner at first base and one out in the fourth inning, Lyle Overbay hit a ground ball in the hole between first and second bases. Mariners second baseman Robert Andino made a nice play stopping the ball, left his feet and turned for a possible play at second and then threw to first where both first baseman Kendrys Morales and pitcher Felix Hernandez were covering.

Morales gloved the ball and tagged the bag ahead of Overbay, who had to try to make his way around Hernandez. The umpires huddled to discuss the play because the rules do not permit them to view it on videotape replay. Each manager had a point to make.

Seattle’s Eric Wedge contended that Overbay was already out by the time he made contact with Hernandez, which was true. However, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi insisted that Overbay had slowed down as he approached the bag because Hernandez was standing on it. This is known in baseball as obstruction, and that was the call the umpires eventually agreed upon. Overbay came back onto the field, and the Yankees had a rally going – until Hernandez struck out Ichiro Suzuki and Jayson Nix, that is.

Granderson returns for CC vs. Felix matchup

Curtis Granderson, activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, was thrown right into the fire as the starting left fielder and cleanup hitter against the Mariners and Felix Hernandez at Yankee Stadium to open the homestand following a 6-2 trip through Denver, Kansas City and Cleveland.

Granderson played all three outfield positions during his injury-rehabilitation stint at Triple A Scranton. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he will use Granderson in each spot, although it appears that left field will be the one where he will play most often. Brett Gardner has done an outstanding job in center field during Granderson’s absence, and Girardi noted that while he has played some left field Ichiro Suzuki is more comfortable in right field.

Center field with the Yankees is one of the sexiest positions in baseball, yet Granderson told reporters before Tuesday night’s game that he is fine with his new surroundings. Just being back in the major leagues is satisfying enough for Granderson, who enjoyed being back at the Stadium where he was also visited by Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Players Association. Granderson is the Yankees’ player representative to the union.

Granderson is among several Yankees individual players with good career numbers against King Felix, who entered the game with an 8-5 record and 3.08 ERA in his career against the Yankees. The righthander has been especially tough at the current Stadium with a 4-1 mark and 1.13 ERA.

Granderson is a .273 hitter with two doubles, one triple and two home runs in 55 at-bats against Hernandez. Others with good numbers are Robinson Cano (.366, 2 doubles, 2 homers in 41 at-bats) as well as Ichiro (.400) and Jayson Nix (.500) in a limited number of at-bats. Ichiro is 2-for-5 and Nix 5-for-10.

Missing from the lineup will be designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder that has been sore for several days. The Yankees hope the situation is not serious, but Hafner has had shoulder problems in the past. Vernon Wells, who had manned left field while Granderson was out, was in the lineup as the DH.

CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners. This is the pairing of Sabathia, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2007 with the Indians, and Hernandez, the 2010 AL winner. It marks the fourth time former Cy Young Award winners will meet at the current Stadium after the winning the award. The others were Sabathia against Lee June 16, 2009, Sabathia against Roy Halladay June 15, 2010 and Sabathia against Johan Santana June 20, 2010.

Sabathia took a 12-4 record and 2.46 ERA in his career against the Mariners into the game. He has won each of his past eight starts against Seattle dating to Aug. 13, 2009 with a 1.20 ERA in 60 innings over that stretch.

The unfortunate side of the Granderson transaction is that pitcher Vidal Nuno, who got his first major-league victory in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader at Cleveland, was optioned to Scranton to create roster space. It was the obvious move because having pitched five innings Monday Nuno could not be used for several days. The lefthander, who pitched eight scoreless innings in two appearances for the Yankees, made a strong impression and will be in Scranton’s rotation to get innings and be available if the Yankees need pitching help down the road, which they almost surely will.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Nuno and righthander Adam Warren became the second pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first career victory and first career save, respectively, in the same game. The others were Alan Closter (victory) and Fritz Peterson (save) July 25, 1971 in the second game of a doubleheader at Milwaukee. Warren was also the winning pitcher of the Yanks’ victory Thursday at Denver. Elias points out that he and Nuno marked the first pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first major-league victories on the same trip since Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard in May 2007.

The Yankees shut out their opponent in Game 2 of a doubleheader after being shutout in Game 1 of the DH for only the second time in the past 37 years. They also turned the trick on May 12, 2010 at Detroit, dropping Game 1, 2-0, and winning Game 2, 8-0. The Yankees are 4-0 in games immediately following a shutout loss this season, and have gone 30-9 (.769) in such games since 2008 when Joe Girardi took over as manager.

King Felix wears crown at Stadium

For those in the Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,067 Saturday, do not expect a long explanation about what they saw at the game. Oh, wait, the Yankees did actually get one runner past first base. They also had three other base runners. So Felix Hernandez was not perfect. He was just the next thing to it.

The day after getting a complete-game effort from CC Sabathia, the Yankees ran into a touché performance from the righthander known as King Felix. Hernandez was every bit his regal self in shutting down the Yankees, 1-0, on two hits and two walks with six strikeouts in a dazzling, 101-pitch outing.

“We had one shot today,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, referring to Robinson Cano’s two-out double in the first inning. “That’s how good he was. He didn’t give us anything to hit. He was never in any bad counts, except for the time he walked Raul [Ibanez] on four pitches [in the seventh inning]. There was about one ball per batter. He was great today.”

Cano was left stranded at second base in the first inning as Mark Teixeira lined out. The Yankees’ other hit was Ichiro Suzuki’s daily single, a roller past first baseman Mike Carp, leading off the third inning. Ichiro was erased on a double play by Russell Martin. Their only other base runner was Curtis Granderson, who walked with two down in the sixth.

That was it, boys and girls. Hernandez put on an absolute clinic in pitching, which he has made a habit of at the current Stadium. In five starts in the Bronx since 2009, King Felix is 4-1 with an absolute Gibson-esque 1.13 ERA (Bob Gibson had a record 1.12 ERA for the Cardinals in 1968). In eight starts combined at the old and new Stadiums, Hernandez is 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA.

How good would he look in pinstripes? The Yankees would certainly have interest, but the Mariners have no plans on trading Hernandez, who is 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA, a remarkable record considering Seattle’s anemic offense. Their lineup Saturday contained one player batting higher than .260. The key to winning for a team like that is to keep the other team from scoring.

It was a hard-luck loss for Hiroki Kuroda, who was defeated for the first time in eight starts since June 19 despite allowing only one run in 6 1/3 innings. Carp’s two-out single off a 3-2 fastball in the second inning drove in that run. Hernandez proceeded to make one run seem insurmountable.

“It is part of the game,” Kuroda said through a translator. “It is what it is. When you are in a game like that, you know you have to minimize the damage. That is what I tried to do.”

For the most part, Kuroda was successful. Carp’s hit was Seattle’s only one in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Yankees’ problem was that King Felix allowed them only one runner in scoring position.

There really isn’t much else left to say. Mariners manager Eric Wedge put it best when he said, “That was just special stuff today. I told him that it was probably the most impressive start that I have ever seen as a manager. I’ve seen a lot of good and great pitchers pitch over the years. This ballpark, that lineup, the swings and misses, the missed hits with so many good hitters over there, the efficiency in which he did it in a 1-0 ballgame, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Tough loss for Garcia; even tougher for A-Rod

Tuesday night’s matchup between Venezuelan-born pitchers Freddy Garcia of the Yankees and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners was a draw as far as I am concerned.

True, the Mariners were ahead when Garcia left the game after he got the first out of the eighth inning, so technically his protégé, Hernandez, had the upper hand. Yet Freddy held his own in his longest outing of the season.

Both pitched 7 1/3 innings, but there were elements of the game in which Garcia was better than Hernandez despite the story the scoreboard told, which was 4-2 Mariners with Hernandez the winning pitcher and Garcia the loser. Hernandez gave up only four hits to Garcia’s five, but Freddy had eight strikeouts to his opponent’s four and did not walk a batter while King Felix walked three batters and hit three others.

Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner, grew up idolizing Garcia and broke in with Seattle in 2005, the year after Freddy was traded from the Mariners to the White Sox. Hernandez switched his uniform No. 59 the next year to No. 34, which Garcia had worn for five-plus seasons with the Mariners. Freddy wears No. 36 with the Yankees. Their relationship borders on big brother and little brother, but they were competitive foes for the first time Tuesday night.

Each gave up a home run to the second batter he faced. Curtis Granderson belted a first-pitch fastball from Hernandez for his 26th home run in the first inning. Michael Saunders did likewise off a 1-1 fastball in the bottom half.

What proved the winning rally, a two-run third inning for the Mariners, was not exactly filled with smashing hits. Brendan Ryan began it with a single that hit off Garcia’s left heel. Saunders got a well-struck single to right, and Ryan challenged Ichiro Suzuki’s arm in successfully getting to third base.

Jesus Montero’s tiebreaking single was a broken-bat, duck snort to right field. John Jaso’s sacrifice fly made the score 3-1 Seattle, but that was also the first of 15 consecutive outs for Garcia through the first out of the eighth. The Yankees had moved to 3-2 on Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly in the eighth, but the Mariners scratched for a run on three walks and an infield hit against four Yankees relievers.

Hernandez is on a roll. Over his past seven starts, he is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in 53 1/3 innings. Perhaps because he was hit in the midsection by an Eric Chavez line drive in the second, King Felix fell off his game somewhat. He hit Suzuki with a pitch in the seventh and plunked Derek Jeter to start the eighth.

The most damaged of the hit batters was Alex Rodriguez, who suffered a fractured left hand. A-Rod was in considerable pain and writhed on the ground after being struck by an 88-mile-per-hour changeup. Manager Joe Girardi removed him from the game immediately. The timing of the injury is terrible. Rodriguez had heated up in July, batting .315 with five doubles, one triple, two home runs and nine RBI in 73 at-bats and was batting .391 with four runs, two doubles, one home run and three RBI in 23 at-bats on the West Coast trip.

Ichiro agrees to certain terms to accept trade

The Yankees made sure they would hot not have future problems with Ichiro Suzuki by getting the 10-time All-Star to agree to certain conditions before they would agree to a trade from the Mariners.

Suzuki had earned plenty of privileges in Seattle as the franchise’s most dynamic player. But at age 38, Ichiro is not the multi-faceted threat he had been over the first 10 years with the M’s. He had to agree to the Yankees’ plans to use primarily in left field instead of right field, to bat in the lower third of the order rather than the upper third and to accept being benched against some left-handed pitchers.

There was surely a time when Suzuki would not have acquiesced. A few years ago, he balked at being moved from leadoff to third in the order. But his desire to leave a last-place team and join a postseason contender motivated Ichiro to accept the Yankees’ conditions.

Suzuki started in right field Tuesday night at Safeco Field for the second consecutive game as Nick Swisher rested a sore left hip flexor. Ichiro was again in the 8-hole in the order. He got his first extra-base hit for the Yankees, a leadoff double in the fifth inning off Felix Hernandez, but was stranded there as the Bombers failed to advance him.

Upon the Yankees return home this weekend against the Red Sox, Suzuki can be expected to move over to left field provided Swisher is ready to return to the lineup. The idea of playing Ichiro in left field at Yankee Stadium makes sense because there is far more ground there to cover, and he is still a wide-ranging fly catcher.


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