Results tagged ‘ Fourth of July ’
There weren’t many fireworks for the Yankees on this Fourth of July, but they will take any victory they can at Tropicana Field. Former teammate Kyle Farnsworth practically handed the game to the Yankees in the eighth inning by walking four batters, three of whom scored.
The 4-3 decision ended a nine-game losing streak for the Yankees at the Trop and was their first victory indoors this season. The Yankees avoided what would have been their third sweep of the year. They lost a three-game set at St. Petersburg, Fla., in the opening series of the season April 6-8 and dropped a two-game series to the Blue Jays May 16-17 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Yankees were 0-7 at domed parks this year before winning Wednesday.
It was a big victory for the Yankees in a match-up that favored the Rays, who had staff ace David Price going against rookie David Phelps. Price and Phelps had dueling no-hitters for a while. Considering the rigid pitch count he was being held to, Phelps did a commendable job in the rotation spot vacated by injured Andy Pettitte.
Phelps was a bit wild (three walks and two hit batters), but he had eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings and held Tampa Bay to two hits, one of which, a two-out single by Sean Rodriguez in the fourth inning, gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees had only three base runners in the first six innings against Price, and one of them was removed on a double play. Mark Teixeira finally got to Price, who had two walks and eight strikeouts, with a leadoff home run (No. 14) in the seventh that tied the score. Alex Rodriguez followed with a double and pulled off a daring steal of third base that was nullified because of umpire’s interference.
Plate ump Mike Estabrook’s mask hit the arm of catcher Jose Lobaton’s arm as he attempted to throw. The play may have cost the Yankees a run because the next hitter, Andruw Jones, flied out to right field on a ball deep enough to have scored A-Rod had he been on third base. Tampa Bay came right back and regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh on Carlos Pena’s two-run homer off a first-pitch, hanging slider from Boone Logan.
Thanks in part to Farnsworth and to an even greater measure by Robinson Cano, the hottest Yankee at the moment, Logan ended up being the winning pitcher. The game-changing rally created few sparks until Cano stepped in against lefthander Jake McGee.
Farnsworth, who has missed nearly all of the season with a right elbow strain, made only his second appearance of the season and looked awfully rusty. The only out he got was a strikeout of Derek Jeter on a questionable called third strike. Farnsworth walked the other four batters he faced with A-Rod pushing in a run with his base on balls on a full count.
Cano provided the Yankees some sizzle with a two-run single that put them ahead for good. David Robertson, who has struggled lately, looked like his former self with a shutout, two-strikeout eighth inning before Rafael Soriano retired the side in order in the ninth for his 19th save. Tampa Bay struck out 16 times against six Yankees pitchers.
Cano continues to be as hot as the weather. He ran his hitting streak to 11 games, a stretch in which he has batted .444 with two doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBI in 45 at-bats to raise his season average from .295 to .316. He has driven in runs in eight consecutive games for a total of 11. Cano is probably the only guy on the team who wishes the Yankees weren’t off Thursday.
The Yankees, who played Tampa Bay for the first time on July 4, entered play Wednesday with a 28-28 record on Independence Day in the expansion era (since 1961). The Yankees had lost their past three road games on the Fourth of July and seven of the past nine.
They played on the road on the Fourth of July for the second straight year, the first time they have done that in consecutive seasons since 1996 and ‘97. The Yankees will not play at home on Memorial Day (May 28), July 4 or Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the same season for the first time since 2006.
The Yankees have posted winning records in the month of July in each of the past 19 seasons (1993-2011). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the longest winning stretch of Julys in major league history. The previous record was 15, held by the Pirates from 1899 to 1913.
Elias also reported that Derek Jeter became only the third major league player in the past 80 years to get his 100th hit of a season before the Fourth of July, in his age group (38 or older) on that date of the year. The others were Paul Molitor with 110 hits at age 39 for the Twins in 1996 and Pete Rose with 100 hits at age 38 for the Phillies in 1979.
The Yankees have long been associated with the Fourth of July. Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium. Other major events in Yankees history on the Fourth of July were Mickey Mantle’s 300th career home run in 1962, Dave Righetti’s no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1983 and Phil Niekro’s 3,000th career strikeout in 1984. Independence Day was also the birthday of former owner George Steinbrenner and current radio voice John Sterling.
It is never a good sign for a club when a pre-game press conference begins with a report about players who are not here. That’s how Saturday’s session with manager Joe Girardi got underway with a progress report on Yankees who are on the disabled list.
The most encouraging news is that outfielder-designated hitter Marcus Thames could be back with the club as early as Sunday. Thames was to play at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Saturday for the third consecutive day and if he comes out of it with no scrapes could be celebrating the Fourth of July at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees could use his bat off the bench in a big way these days.
Of the two pitchers on the DL, righthanders Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves, Mitre is the closest to returning, and that may still be another week to 10 days, which means probably not before the All-Star break. Mitre is scheduled to pitch two innings for Class A Tampa in an injury-rehabilitation assignment Monday. That same day, Aceves will throw 40 to 45 pitches off a mound. His injury has been the costliest as evidenced Friday by the bullpen breakdown of the three righthanders who couldn’t handle his role – Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park.
Designated hitter Nick Johnson took dry swings Saturday with a light fungo bat and will report to Tampa early in the week. Asked about his timetable, Girardi said, “Weeks.” In other words, don’t hold your breath.
Girardi was amused to hear of the news that former Yankees pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez had signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals. Livan Hernandez, El Duque’s half-brother, pitches for Washington.
“If El Duque has anything left in his tank, he’ll find a way to compete,” Girardi said of the righthander, who is closer in age to 45 than 40 and has not pitched since 2007. “I loved catching the guy. He was a fierce competitor.”
Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner will celebrate his 80th birthday Sunday with his family at home and Tampa, Fla., and issued a statement Thursday through his spokesman, Howard J. Rubenstein.
“I want to thank everyone who has sent their good wishes,” the Boss said. “I am very fortunate to have the love and support of a great family and many, many friends. The Yankees and their fans are a large part of what keeps me going. It means a lot. And I remind everyone that the Fourth of July is also the birthday of our country. We are all lucky to be Americans.”
“He has meant a lot to me and my career,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I played on three championship teams for him. He put me behind the microphone when I retired as a player and brought me in as a bench coach and a manager. I think about the passion he has for winning. We win the 2009 World Series and now it’s time to move on to 2010.”