Results tagged ‘ Fenway Park ’
The Alex Rodriguez apologists in the media got all over Yankees manager Joe Girardi for not starting the soon-to-be-released designated hitter Wednesday night at Fenway Park against Red Sox lefthander Drew Pomeranz.
Girardi simply felt the Yankees had a better chance with rookie Gary Sanchez in the DH spot. So was the skipper wrong? All Sanchez did was get four hits, including his first major league home run, to help fortify a Yankees’ comeback from a 4-1 deficit for a startling 9-4 victory in a nine-inning marathon that took four hours and 15 minutes to complete due primarily to 13 pitching changes combined for both teams.
A-Rod did get an at-bat in the turnaround inning for the Yanks, the five-run seventh that included a hit and a run scored by Sanchez. Rodriguez batted for Aaron Hicks with two on and none out and the Yankees down by two runs. A-Rod flied out to deep right field with Sanchez crossing to third base. A strikeout of Brett Gardner appeared to put a stake in the heart of the rally, but RBI singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley and a clutch, two-run double by Starlin Castro thrust the Yankees into the lead.
They added three runs in the eighth with Sanchez leading off with a bomb to center field. The other two runs scored on two of reliever Robbie Ross’ three wild pitches.
On the negative side for the Yanks, starter Nathan Eovaldi had to come out of the game after one inning because of right elbow soreness, which forced Girardi to go deep into his bullpen using seven relievers.
With Eovaldi out of the game, the official scorer has the discretion of awarding the winning decision to an effective reliever and chose Tyler Clippard, who allowed four base runners (three hits and one intentional walk) but no runs. My choice would have been Adam Warren, who set down the six batters he faced with two strikeouts.
With all the moves the Yankees have made this month, Warren has been somewhat overlooked. He went to the Cubs over the winter in the Castro trade and was reacquired last month in the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to Wrigleyville. Since his return to the Yankees, Warren has retired 26 of 32 batters in nine scoreless innings during which he has yielded four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.
A-Rod watchers will be happy to see that Boston’s change in a starting pitcher from previously-scheduled knuckleballer Steven Wright to Eduardo Rodriguez Thursday night did not change the manager’s mind about the DH spot. A-Rod will be in their against E-Rod (no relation). The computer did not work against A-Rod, either. He entered the game a .385 career hitter with a double and a home run in 13 at-bats against his namesake. Sanchez was also in the starting lineup behind the plate with fellow catcher Austin Romine at first base giving a breather to Mark Teixeira.
As for Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Rays to open a six-game homestand when Rodriguez will play his final game for the Yankees he will again be the DH. Rodriguez told a radio audience Friday that his request to play third base one last time was rejected by Girardi.
Who can blame the manager? Rodriguez has not worn a glove on the field since May 23 last year when he played one inning at first base in a 15-4 loss to the Rangers at the Stadium. A-Rod’s most recent game at third base was May 19 last year for three innings in an 8-6, 10-inning loss at Washington.
Did anyone really expect Alex Rodriguez to be in the starting lineup Tuesday night at Fenway Park? Sure, manager Joe Girardi said Sunday after A-Rod’s announcement that Friday night would be his last game with the Yankees that he would talk to him and “play him as often as he wants,” but he had to back off that for the overall good of the team.
As it is, promising Rodriguez at least one start in the three-game series, Thursday night against knuckleballer Steven Wright, is more than A-Rod could have expected. If the Yankees want to make a serious run at the second wild card berth, they will have to hop over several clubs, and one of them is Boston. A player is supposed to earn his way into a lineup, and Rodriguez’s 3-for-30 showing in the second half is all the evidence anyone needs as to why he played himself onto the bench.
The computer got Rodriguez Tuesday night. He is 3-for-20 (.150) in his career against Boston starter Rick Porcello. The righthander had pitched complete games in each of his previous two starts, a rarity these days. Red Sox manager John Farrell might have been wise to let Porcello go for another compete game rather than turn to Craig Kimbrel, who was so wild that he nearly blew the game.
Kimbrel walked four batters in the inning that led to a run and kept the bases loaded with two out. Matt Barnes had to be summoned to face Mark Teixeira, who ended the rally when he looked at a third strike.
In A-Rod’s former designated hitter role was Brian McCann as the Yankees got another look at Gary Sanchez behind the plate. He had a rough night at the plate (0-for-4) but was nimble behind it and threw out another base runner.
McCann got a key, two-out single in the third inning that scored Brett Gardner, who reached base four times (double, two singles, walk) as the Yanks built a 2-0 lead against Porcello (15-3). They had scored in the second inning as well on doubles by Starlin Castro and Chase Headley.
Making his first major league start since May 13 following three impressive relief outings in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings (1.08 ERA), Luis Severino gave up the lead in losing a nine-pitch at-bat to Dustin Pedroia. After fouling off five straight pitches, Pedroia lined a double down the right field line to knock in the trying runs.
More extra-base hits were to come in the fifth as the Red Sox scored three runs in a triple by catcher Sandy Leon, a double by rookie Andrew Benintendi and another double by Pedroia. Newly signed lefthander Tommy Layne relieved Severino and allowed an RBI single to David Ortiz.
Until the meltdown by Kimbrel, there were no openings to use Rodriguez perhaps as a pinch hitter. Reports questioned why Girardi did not have A-Rod bat form Aaron Hicks, who was 0-for-3 when he batted in the ninth and drew the second walk off Kimbrel.
Will this ever end? Yes. Finally, Friday.
On a night when the Yankees showed encouraging signs of breaking out of their offensive malaise, their pitchers were responsible for another loss that completed a three-game sweep by the Red Sox at Fenway Park and extended the losing streak to a season-high five games.
The 8-7 final marked the first time in eight games that the Yankees scored more than three runs in a game and only the sixth time in 23 games this year. They were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position and totaled five extra-base hits, including career home run No. 692 for Alex Rodriguez, who has recovered quite nicely from that tweaked oblique last week. After missing two games, A-Rod has batted .429 with four runs, two doubles, two home runs and six RBI in 14 at-bats.
Sunday night’s game was a reversal for the Yankees in that the sluggish offense was not the culprit in a defeat. For the second time in three nights, Dellin Betances gave up a two-run home run in a late inning that supplied the deciding run. Friday night it was David Ortiz’s blast in the eighth on a first-pitch curveball. Sunday night, it was a monster shot to left field that went entirely out of the park by Christian Vazquez on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh.
Betances shouldered the blame for both games, but he certainly was not alone. Starter Nathan Eovaldi, who flirted with a no-hitter in his previous outing, surrendered leads of 3-1 and 6-4 in the bottom half of the innings in which the Yankees had gone ahead. Eovaldi was back to his old ways in giving up 10 hits in five-plus innings.
The loss was charged to Ivan Nova (1-1), who replaced Eovaldi in the sixth after a leadoff walk. Travis Shaw, who clocked a game-tying, two-run home run off Eovaldi in the fifth, singled off Nova with one down in the seventh. Brock Holt followed with a grounder to third baseman Chase Headley, who had trouble removing the ball from his glove as the Yankees were able to get a force at second base but not a double play. Betances then was summoned to pitch to Vazquez and allowed a home run for his third consecutive appearance.
Vazquez’s homer put David Price in position for the winning decision that ran his record with his new club to 4-0. It was not a pretty outing for Price, who raised his career mark against the Yankees to 14-7 despite a 4.17 ERA. The lefthander yielded six earned runs and eight hits in seven innings and heard booing at Fenway Park where he has pitched to an 8.34 ERA in four starts totaling 22 2/3 innings. Since the start of 2014, the Yanks have batted .303 with 17 doubles, four triples and six home runs against Price.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s second double of the game tied the score at 1 in the third inning. Two batters later, Rodriguez launched his fifth home run this season to make it 3-1. The Red Sox moved back ahead, 4-3, in the bottom half on a two-run single by Hanley Ramirez and a two-out, RBI single by Holt.
Rodriguez doubled home two runs in the fifth and scored on a single by Mark Teixeira as the Yankees regained the lead, 6-4. Again, Eovaldi could not hold it in yielding the bomb to Shaw. The Yankees made it a one-run game in the eighth with a run on a wild pitch by Koji Uehara, but that would be as close as they came.
While the Yankees sank deeper in the basement of the American League East with an 8-15 record, the Red Sox took over first place in the division by a half-game over the Orioles, who await the Bombers at Camden Yards for a three-game series that begins Tuesday night.
Ronald Torreyes pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning Saturday night. It was the first time a player with no home runs in his career batted for a player with 691 homers. That is all you need to know about how the Yankees fared in the game.
This spring-training sort of finish explained the Yankees’ situation. Nothing A-Rod could have done in that at-bat in the final inning was going to do anything other than to avoid a shutout. The Red Sox pushed the Yankees all over Fenway Park for an 8-0 victory behind unbeaten Rick Porcello (5-0), who fashioned a start that the Bombers have seldom gotten from their rotation.
Porcello shut down the Yankees on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings as he pitched six or more innings for his 13th straight start since last August. On the other hand, Michael Pineda (1-3) lasted only five innings for the second straight start. Coming off a game in which he yielded five home runs, Pineda kept the ball in the yard this time but exhibited trouble pitching with two outs.
Boston scored two runs after two were gone in the second inning on a single by Christian Vazquez and doubles by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Pineda actually pitched well after that, but his pitch count was so high that he had to come out after the fifth.
The Yankees’ bullpen could not keep the game close. Chasen Shreve gave up two runs in the sixth with Bradley a culprit again belting an RBI triple and then scoring on a single by Betts. David Ortiz, who won Friday night’s game with a two-run home run in the eighth, greeted Johnny Barbeto with a solo shot in the seventh. The Red Sox added three more runs on a walk, a single, an error by second baseman Starlin Castro and a two-run triple by Bradley, who has been a one-man wrecking crew in this series. Bradley is 4-for-6 (.667) with two doubles, two triples and five RBI in the series. And he is the 9-hole hitter!
Nevertheless, this was a game the Yankees were still in until the seventh, but their sleepwalking offense had another silent night. The Yankees had five singles and were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. They have scored three of fewer runs in 17 of their 22 games, including each of the past seven games.
Manager Joe Girardi is not ready to push the panic button, but the first month of the season is complete and his team has an 8-14 record amid a four-game losing streak with David Price (3-0) looming Sunday night.
Fenway Park has been a comfort zone for the Yankees in recent years. Red Sox fans could not have been pleased that the Yankees won seven of nine games there last year and were 23-13 at Fenway since the start of 2012, their best four-year run in the rival team’s home in 49 years.
Masahiro Tanaka certainly looked comfortable at Fenway Friday night. Until the seventh inning, that is. Tanaka was working on a three-hit shutout through six when the tide turned against him. Three left-handed batters went to the opposite field for hits that wiped out a 2-0 deficit.
A double off the wall by Jackie Bradley that scored Travis Shaw and Brock Holt, each of whom had punched singles to left field with one out, was the killer for Tanaka, a stunning development since it came one pitch after the righthander had struck out Ryan Hanigan on a 94-mph fastball.
Given new life, the Red Sox struck again in the eighth against Dellin Betances. David Ortiz drove a hanging curve ball over the Green Monster for a two-run home run. Just like that, the Yankees were 4-2 losers. Yankees fans have seen Ortiz do such dramatics over the years against the Bombers. Ortiz is a career .307 hitter with 48 home runs and 160 RBI in 834 career at-bats against Yankees pitching. Fourteen of those homers have given Boston leads in games. Yankees fans are happy this is his last season.
That the Red Sox were still in position to make a comeback was due primarily to the failure of the Yankees’ offense to take advantage of all the base runners they had over the first six innings against lefthander Henry Owens, who entered the game with a career 13.50 ERA against them. Brett Gardner’s two-out, RBI single in the fifth was the Yanks’ only hit in five at-bats with runners in scoring position. Alex Rodriguez’s fourth home run accounted for the other Yankees run. They had 10 runners on base in the first five innings against Owens, and only two scored. The Red Sox turned four double plays behind Owens.
Rodriguez’s 691st career home run was also career hit No. 3,082, which pushed him past Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 20th place on the all-time list. Next up is another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield, at 3,110.
Boston relievers Matt Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel each retired the side in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The Yankees’ opportunities came against Owens, but they let them slip away, just like the game.
The Yankees ended the trip in Boston the way it began in Atlanta with a blowout victory, although matters got a bit dicey in the late innings, which is typical of life at Fenway Park.
Scoring runs was what this trek was all about for the Yankees, which they sorely needed following their prior disappointing homestand. Perhaps the upcoming, 10-game homestand against the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays that begins Friday night will be more successful for the Bombers now that they have loosened up offensively.
A 13-8 victory over the Red Sox in a late-afternoon start made it a 5-1 trip for the Yankees, who outscored opponents by a combined score of 57-24.
It did not take long for David Ortiz to break out of his funk. The day after he took a golden sombrero with four strikeouts Tuesday night, Big Papi broke the spell in the first inning with a double to right field that scored Mookie Betts, who led off with a double off the Green Monster but was still stuck on second base with two out.
Boston’s glee was short-lived, however. The Yankees responded in the second inning with an eight-run outburst that began with a two-run home run by Greg Bird. Yes, that was Bird at first base for the Yankees as manager Joe Girardi came to his senses and kept Alex Rodriguez as the designated hitter instead of using him at first base against a left-handed starting pitcher, in this case rookie Henry Owens.
With the injury to first baseman Mark Teixeira that has sidelined him for two weeks and likely will keep him out another fortnight, Girardi had been contemplating playing Rodriguez a first base on occasion even though he displayed no proclivity at the position when used there earlier this season. The feeling here is that A-Rod should not wander off the DH position at this time of year after spending all season in that role. Moving to a position in the field for a 40-year-old who has hardly used a glove all season did not seem to make much sense.
So Rodriguez stayed at DH with Bird at first base, and did that not work out for the Yankees as they chased Owen in that second inning? Bird’s homer following a one-out walk to Chase Headley was the rookie’s fourth hit in 10 at-bats against lefthanders, so it could mean that platooning him may not be necessary.
And A-Rod struck the blow that knocked out Owen, a two-run single, then trotted home after Carlos Beltran slugged the first pitch from reliever Ryan Cook over the Monster for the Yanks’ third home run of the inning. John Ryan Murphy had followed Bird’s blow with one of his own.
The inning also included yet more hits from red-hot Didi Gregorius (single) and Stephen Drew (double), both left-handed hitters, and another run-scoring hit off a lefty by Chris Young. Drew kept it up with a three-run home run an inning later as did Gregorius with a solo shot in the fifth.
Boston fans who remember his importance as the shortstop on the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series champions may wonder why Yankees fans have been so rough on Drew. Actually, Yanks fans have been awfully patient with Drew, whose batting average was below .200 most of the past two seasons.
After starting the trip 0-for-4 with his average falling to .192, Drew vaulted over the Mendoza the past four games with nine hits in 12 at-bats (.750) with two doubles, two home runs and nine RBI and is now hitting a robust .211.
Gregorius, another Yankees infielder who took a while to win over the fans, also had a huge trip with 14 hits in 24 at-bats (.583), one double, two home runs and 10 RBI. The shortstop walked three times and scored seven runs and lifted his batting average from .253 to .272.
An emotional spot for the Yanks was the appearance of Andrew Bailey in relief of winning pitcher Mashiro Tanaka (11-6) in the seventh inning. Bailey, the 2009 American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award with the Athletics, last pitched in the majors two years ago for the Red Sox and came back from two shoulder injuries. The righthander showed some rust in giving up two walks and a single, but just getting back on a big-league hill was a major hurdle for the New Jersey native who now lives in Connecticut.
However, the lack of shutdown work by Bailey and Bryan Mitchell, who gave up two runs in the eighth, forced Girardi to use Dellin Betances in what was once a 12-1 game to get out of a bases-loaded situation with a strikeout of Pablo Sandoval and a force play by Zander Bogaerts.
Caleb Cotham did not make Girardi’s job easier as the skipper was forced to bring in Andew Miller in a non-closing situation after the first two Boston batters in the ninth reached base on doubles. Miller finally put an end to the trip that kept the Yanks within reach of Toronto in the American League East and bolstered their hold on a wild-card berth.
The Yankees have not had many breaks go their way lately, such as Mark Teixeira’s MRI. One night after squandering a bevy of scoring opportunities in stranding 14 base runners, the Yankees capitalized on a big break offensively and another defensively in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.
The way Boston starter Rick Porcello pitched it was a wonder the Yankees got on the board at all. There was no doubt about the one earned run charged to Porcello. Brett Gardner got all of a 0-1 pitch to hook it around Fenway Park’s Pesky Pole in right field for his 13th home run, in the eighth inning.
The inning that made the difference for the Yankees was the fifth. After a leadoff single by Alex Rodriguez, Porcello struck out Chase Headley and Greg Bird and seemed to have gotten the third out as well when Didi Gregorius hit a bouncing ball toward first base. What should have been an easy out went under the glove of first baseman Travis Shaw for an error that put runners on second and third.
Stephen Drew, whose bat has come alive the past week, lined a double to left-center that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Yankees lead. Gardner’s homer apart, Drew’s hit was the hardest allowed by Porcello, who had the Yankees walking back to the dugout for eight innings with 13 strikeouts, 10 of which were on called third strikes.
The two-run double was poetic justice for Drew, who was robbed of a hit in the third by second baseman Brock Holt with a nifty back-handed grab to start an inning-ending double play.
Michael Pineda may not have been as overpowering as Porcello but was just as effective in ending a personal three-game losing streak for his first winning decision since July 10, also at Boston. Only one of the Red Sox’ 18 outs against Pineda was recorded in the outfield as Pineda struck out seven batters and kept the ball in the infield for 10 outs.
Jackie Bradley doubled twice off Pineda. Bradley scored the Red Sox’ only run on a two-out single by Pablo Sandoval in the third. Two innings later, Bradley doubled with two outs, but Pineda kept him from scoring by getting a called third strike by Mookie Betts.
The other major break for the Yankees came in the eighth as the Red Sox threatened against Dellin Betances, who entered the game the previous inning. Singles by Betts and Zander Bogaerts gave the Sox runners on first and second with one out and David Ortiz at the plate.
On a double steal attempt, Yankees catcher Brian McCann threw to third baseman Chase Headley, who put the tag on Betts. Or did he? Third base umpire Vic Carapazza delayed his call to see if Betts’ foot was on the bag while Headley leaned over and kept his glove on Betts’ right ankle.
Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo challenged the call based on Betts’ claim that Headley pushed him off the bag, which is an illegal maneuver but one not covered on replays. The replay crew in Chelsea agreed with the call by the umpire, whose decision it was on the field to determine whether Betts was pushed off the bag or not. Carapazza obviously did not think so.
It was a big break for the Yankees because it meant instead of runners on second and third with one out it was runner on second and two out. Betances finished matters by striking out Ortiz. It was not a good night for Big Papi, who was punched out four times. In the ninth, Andrew Miller added three more Ks for his 29th save.
For a while there, it appeared as if the Yankees would get one more break as the Indians rallied in the ninth inning at Toronto to tie the score, but the Blue Jays prevailed in the 10th to maintain their 1 1/2-game lead in the American League East.
Just when they thought they might work themselves out of last place in the American League East and give the Yankees a run for their money, the Red Sox shriveled up and died Friday night and had the steam of the weekend series at Fenway Park blow away.
Boston entered the series on a four-game winning streak and with victories in eight of its past 10 games to cut in half the 10-game deficit they faced in the division a fortnight ago. Not only that, on the mound they had their hottest pitcher, Clay Buchholz, who had pitched to a 0.67 ERA in winning each of his previous four starts.
But Buchholz walked off the mound in the fourth inning with an ailing elbow that had turned his pitches into flat, batting-practice stuff. Alex Rodriguez pounded such a pitch over the Green Monster in the first inning in striking the first blow for the Yankees. With Buchholz gone, the Red Sox infield then shot themselves in the feet with two costly errors that helped the Yankees to three gift runs.
Michael Pineda, meanwhile, was keeping Red Sox hitters at bay with another glowing start that raised his season record to 9-5. His only mistake in 6 2/3 innings was a hanging slider to Mookie Betts, who crushed it for his 10th home run with one out in the fifth.
Boston lefthander Reggie Ross retired nine straight batters into the seventh inning to keep the Red Sox close at 4-1, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi was taking no chances. Sensing the importance of winning the series opener to deflate Boston’s newfound confidence, Girardi went to his bullpen in the seventh with a runner on second and two out. Justin Wilson struck out Betts to end the threat.
After the Yankees tacked on an eighth-inning run on a two-out, RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury, Girardi went to his hammer and used Dellin Betances in the bottom of the eighth (two strikeouts, one flyout) and closer Andrew Miller in the ninth. An error by third baseman Cole Figueroa put a runner on base, but Miller finished off a big victory by striking out pinch hitter Shane Victorino.
The Yankees maintained their three-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles and pushed the last-place Red Sox 6 ½ games back. The Yanks have won five straight games at Fenway and are 8-1 in their past nine games there dating to Aug. 2 last year. Since the start of 2014, Yankees pitchers have held Red Sox batters to a .244 batting average in 431 at-bats at Fenway and have allowed double-digit hits just twice in 13 games while Yankees batters are hitting .282 in 478 at-bats and averaging 5.9 per game. Over that span, Yankees relief pitchers have a 2.33 ERA in 46 1/3 innings and have allowed one earned run or less in 11 of the 13 games.
After the game, the Yankees also announced plans to recall second baseman Rob Refsnyder from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder was batting .290 with a .387 on-base percentage in 81 games for the RailRiders. He had 17 doubles, seven home runs, 37 RBI and was 10-for-11 in stolen bases but also committed 13 errors as the converted outfielder is still somewhat unsteady at his new position.
Okay, Yankees fans, you can back off the #VOTEGARDY campaign. Brett Gardner did not know when he hit a home run in the first inning Thursday that he had been selected for the American League All-Star squad as a replacement for Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list and may be out for as long as two months because of a severe groin strain.
It was not until the fourth inning when word reached Yankee Stadium that AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals had picked Gardner for the team, joining Yankees mates Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances. By then, Gardy had racked up two more hits in another top-shelf performance that was part of their 6-2 victory over the Athletics.
His teammates had gotten into the act by wearing bald caps in support of their head-shaven left fielder, who was one of five players in the Final Vote Ballot that continues Friday. Yankees fans had been urged to support Gardner, but he was running fourth in the voting. Nevertheless, Yost made the right decision in seeing that Gardner deserved his first career All-Star berth. That does not mean he will be in the starting lineup. The Orioles’ Adam Jones, who was fourth in the fans’ vote, will get that call, but Gardner has his well-earned ticket to Cincinnati for the July 14 game at Great American Ballpark.
With three more hits Thursday, Gardner has raised his season batting average to .303. He ranks fourth in the major leagues in runs (62) and stolen bases (15) and eighth in doubles (21) and on-base percentage (.382). His .489 slugging percentage is a meaty figure for a hitter who usually bats first or second in the order. In 19 games since June 18, Gardner is batting .418 in 79 at-bats with 19 runs, seven doubles, one triples, five home runs, 12 RBI and 12 walks to raise his season batting average 41 points. His 10th home run of the year Thursday lifted his first-inning batting average to .406 in 69 at-bats with 21 runs, six doubles, two triples, two homers, seven RBI, six walks and three stolen bases.
Those are All-Star caliber stats.
Mashiro Tanaka could not hold the 1-0 lead Gardner provided as the A’s struck for two runs in the second inning aided by a catcher’s interference call against Brian McCann. Yet the doubles Tanaka allowed to Billy Butler and Mark Canha that scored the runs were the only hits off the righthander in his 7 2/3 innings.
Tanaka got 19 consecutive outs (although Butler reached base in the fourth on a third-strike wild pitch, one of the rare glitches in Tanaka’s outing). He walked one batter and struck out six to post his first winning decision in five starts since June 9 and brought his ERA down from 3.94 to 3.63. Now he will get some extra rest during the All-Star break. Tanaka also gave some rest to a bullpen that was busy in the first two games in the series as Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia did not get through the sixth inning either night.
With Tanaka mowing down Oakland hitters one by one, the Yankees were able to stay close and skip past the A’s. The Yanks tied the score against Jesse Chavez in the third on a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and singles by Gardner and Teixeira.
Ellsbury put the Yankees in front with a two-run single in the fourth, a rally fortified with a double by Cole Figueroa, a Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up who played third base for ailing Chase Headley (right calf inflammation). Figueroa also doubled in the eighth when the Yankees tacked on two more runs on a wild throw to first base by shortstop Marcus Semien, who has committed an astonishing 28 errors in 87 games, which puts him on a pace for 51 over a full season.
In taking the series, two games to one, from Oakland the Yankees have opened up a three-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles, who did not play Thursday. The Blue Jays and the Rays both lost and trail the Yanks by 3 ½ games and 4 ½ games, respectively.
The Yankees now head to Fenway Park for a three-game set prior to the All-Star break. The Red Sox, who once seemed buried in the division (they were 10 games out June 20), are still in last place but have won four straight games and eight of their past 10 to move to 5 ½ games of first and are only a half-game behind fourth-place Tampa Bay. Boston’s recent resurgence and the steady run by the Yankees of late will add some extra juice to the rivalry over the weekend.
Remember all those reports during spring training about Dellin Betances, that his velocity and location had abandoned him and that just perhaps despite his lights-out rookie season last year he may not be able to help the Yankees survive after the departure of David Robertson?
All that is now a matter of ancient history.
Betances finished off the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Red Sox Saturday with a flourish. He entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning with the potential tying run on first base and struck out Mike Napoli. In the ninth, after Chris Young’s sixth home run of the season had boosted the Yankees’ lead to 4-2, Betances proceeded to strike out the side.
Four batters, four strikeouts, and with all that Betances’ first save of the season. The performance may also have a carryover effect in that it spared the use of closer Andrew Miller (nine saves), who is now eligible to come out of the pen Sunday night as the Yanks hope to complete a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
As it is, the Yankees have won five straight series after coming out of the game and losing their first three series. Since that 3-6 start, the Yankees have won 12 of 15 games since April 17 and sit along atop the American League East.
Saturday’s victory also included yet another quality start from a rotation that suffered a huge blow earlier in the week with Masahiro Tanaka being placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right forearm strain that is expected to keep him sidelined for at least a month.
Nathan Eovaldi stepped up Saturday and pitched two outs into the seventh inning in raising his record to 2-0. He gave up two runs and seven hits but only one walk with two strikeouts. Brett Gardner supplied the run support for Eovaldi with an RBI double in the third inning and a two-out, two-run single in the fifth off Wade Miley (1-3).
Young’s home run in the ninth was off reliever Alexi Ogando. Young keeps pushing himself into the Yankees’ mix. With a homer and a double Saturday, Young lifted his slugging percentage to .698. His OPS (a combination of slugging percentage and on-base percentage) is over 1.000.
Wanting to stay away from Miller despite the tightness of the score, Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Chris Martin and Justin Wilson in the seventh and eighth before calling on Betances, who could not have done better than to punch out the four batters he faced.
The 6-foot-8 righthander has not allowed an earned run this year in 14 2/3 innings, the most among relievers with ERAs of 0.00. Miller is right behind him with 12 1/3 innings. Betances, who has given up six hits and eight walks with 25 strikeouts, has struck out 14 of the past 20 batters to face him and 17 of the past 25.
Thanks to Betances’ efficiency, Miller is poised to be ready if need be to close the door Sunday night in the finale of a series in which Yankees pitching has held Boston to four runs in 18 innings in its hitters’ paradise.