Results tagged ‘ Francisco Cervelli ’

Yanks blow three-run lead to end 3-4 trip

A trip considered pivotal for the Yankees’ playoff chances did not turn out as well as they had hoped. They got off to a good start with a victory in Kansas City over one of the contenders for post-season play but hit snags in Detroit and Toronto where the Yanks lost each series, two games to one.

Sunday’s finale at Rogers Centre was a major disappointment. One day after sustaining a one-hit shutout, the Yankees bounced back against J.A. Happ to take a 3-0 lead behind Brandon McCarthy, who was rolling along through five innings working on a two-hit shutout.

Before McCarthy could get the third out of the sixth, however, he was smacked for two long home runs by Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista that made it a one-run game. Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season was his fifth this year against his former teammates. Bautista’s 29th homer of the season made it five straight games in which he has gone deep, one shy of the franchise record by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001. The major league record is eight shared by the Pirates’ Dale Long (1956), the Yankees’ Don Mattingly (1987) and the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. (1993).

Edwin Encarnacion tied the score when he led off the seventh with another bomb of a homer (No. 28), and a shaken McCarthy then walked Dioner Navarro. That turned out to be just as bad as the home runs when pinch runner Steve Tolleson stole second base with two out and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Munenori Kawasaki off Dellin Betances. The play at home was close, but Tolleson sliding head first got his left hand across the plate just before the lunging tag by catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Yankees had chances after that to get back in the game. They had two runners on with two out in the eighth against Brett Cecil, but Cervelli struck out. In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury, hobbled by a sprained left ankle that was heavily taped, came off the bench and pinch-hit a double to shallow right field with one out. Pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki moved to third as Brett Gardner, who flirted with a cycle, grounded out to the right side.

That brought up Derek Jeter in what was likely his final game in Toronto. A Hollywood ending would have had the Captain trying the score at least with a single or perhaps even putting the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. Instead, he hit a soft liner to Tolleson to end the disappointing trip in which the Yankees were 3-4.

The Yanks wasted several other scoring opportunities. Cervelli tripled with two out in the second before Stephen Drew struck out. Cervelli singled in the Yankees’ second run in the fourth, but he and another runner were stranded when Drew flied out.

Gardner accounted for the other two runs with his 16th home run of the season, the fifth leading off a game, and a triple in the fifth when he continued to the plate on an errant relay by Jose Reyes. Gardner doubled with two out in the seventh but Jeter was out on a pepper shot. Gardner needed a single to complete the cycle, and it might have tied the score in the ninth except he grounded out. He also flied out to left field in the third inning.

While the Yankees had 11 hits, the middle of their lineup was silent as Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. The Yanks had 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees’ loss dropped them nine games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East, and they stayed 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race by failing to take advantage of a Detroit loss with Seattle and Kansas City playing later in the day. Even worse, the Yankees could have buried the Blue Jays but instead allowed Toronto to pull to 1 1/2 games behind them in the wild-card hunt.

Labor Day turns out to be a holiday as well for the Yankees, who have Monday off. Then it’s another crucial nine-game stretch at Yankee Stadium with three-game series each against the Red Sox, Royals and Rays. Time is growing short.

All Yanks join Ellsbury in hit parade

No sooner had Jacoby Ellsbury reached first base with a leadoff single in the third inning Wednesday night at Detroit that I said to myself, “Anyone else on this team want to help this guy?”

Ellsbury had accounted for both Yankees runs in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss with solo home runs and opened Wednesday’s game with a single and a stolen base but was stranded at second base.

I do not claim any penchant for mental telepathy, but I may have transmitted something across to the rest of the Yankees because all they did an entire turn through the batting order that inning was follow Ellsbury’s lead and reach base with hits.

It was a manager’s absolute dream as Joe Girardi watched each player he placed in the lineup knock his way on base. Ellsbury’s speed got him a second steal as he outran a pickoff. Derek Jeter brought him home with a double as the parade began, followed by a single by Martin Prado, a double by Mark Teixeira and singles by Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli. Not only did the Yankees get nine hits in a row but also eight straight with runners in scoring position, which in some cases this year has been a series worth of clutch hits.

And that was no tomato can on the mound off of whom the Yankees got nine consecutive hits, two shy of the Rockies’ major league mark against the Cubs in 2010. The Detroit starter was none other than 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, who entered the game with a 10-5 career record against the Yankees.

Price never did get an out that inning. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus yanked him for another lefthander, Blaine Hardy, who gave up two more runs on sacrifice flies by Ellsbury and Jeter as the Yankees swelled their lead to 8-0.

Remember how excited the Yankees were Monday night when they scored eight runs against the Royals with James Shields starting? Well, this time they scored that many runs in just one inning.

Ellsbury certainly looks comfortable back in the leadoff spot where he batted most often in his years with the Red Sox. Girardi has had to use him in the 3-hole much of this year because of the inconsistency and injuries to Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran.

Usual leadoff man Gardner was out the first two games of the trip because of a right ankle bruise. He was back Wednesday night but dropped to the 8-hole because of his career problems against Price (2-for-20 entering play).

With two hits, two stolen bases and an RBI over his first three plate appearances, Ellsbury definitely was a table setter. Yet for a change he had plenty of support.

As appreciative as Girardi for all this offense was Yanks starter Shane Greene, who did not give up a hit or a run until the fourth inning. The righthander did not pitch as it he had a huge lead but rather as if the score was close, the best approach for a pitcher to take.

Green gave up two runs, five hits and one walk with a hit batter and eight strikeouts in seven innings to remain undefeated in eight starts since July 21 and improve his record to 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA.

The big-inning victory also did the Yanks quite a bit of good in the standings. They picked up a game on the Orioles in the American League East and now trail by six and sliced a game off the deficit for the second wild card spot to 2 1/2 games behind the Mariners and two behind the Tigers.

McCarthy takes us all back in time

For all you young people out there, what occurred at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon is called a complete game shutout. You do not see many of those anymore, particularly when the opposing pitcher goes the distance as well.

The double route-going performance by the Yankees’ Brandon McCarthy and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel was finished in two hours and seven minutes. Most games these days are still in the fifth inning at that point in time. I mean, this was something right out of Warren Spahn vs. Robin Roberts, circa 1956.

It shows how quickly a game can be played when pitchers throw strikes repeatedly. There were no walks in this game, no hit batters and not very many base runners, either. McCarthy got to do what is seldom scene in the modern game, the guy who throws the first pitch also shakes the catcher’s hand after the 27th out.

McCarthy supplied the Yankees precisely what they needed, a dominant start that spared the bullpen and got the team back on a winning track after two dismal losses to the also-ran Astros that made the Yanks look perilously close to also-rans themselves.

“It’s a good thing,” McCarthy said matter-of-factly afterwards. “I mean, of all the things you can do on a mound, that’s pretty high up there.”

It was the first nine-inning complete game for a Yankees pitcher this year not named Masahiro Tanaka, who is currently on the disabled list. Tanaka has three complete games, including one shutout May 14 against the Mets at Citi Field.

McCarthy said he began feeling fatigued in the middle innings and was berated by his catcher, Francisco Cervelli, to kick himself back into gear. “He was yelling at me,” McCarthy said, “saying things like, ‘You’re stuff is too good. Make sure you execute.’ It sustained me until that second rush of adrenalin kicked in.”

“He wasn’t in trouble much today,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He has been really, really good since his first start with us. We knew he was a better pitcher than the numbers indicated.”

The numbers to which Girardi referred were the righthander’s statistics in the first half of this season with the Diamondbacks, a 3-10 record with a 5.10 ERA. In eight starts with the Yankees, McCarthy is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA. The Yanks were shut out in both his losses. In 10 starts dating to June 27, McCarthy is 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA.

“My pitch mix is better,” McCarthy said. “By returning the cutter and four-seam fastball, they seem to be working and that helps you build confidence.”

It also helped that McCarthy didn’t have to pitch as if he were going uphill because the Yankees gave him a 3-0 lead in the second, the only inning when any runs were scored, on a two-run double by Chase Headley and a sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki.

The Astros’ only real threats were in the fourth and seventh innings. In the fourth, Houston had runners on second and third with two out and McCarthy retired Marc Krauss on a tapper to the mound. The Astros had runners on second and third again in the seventh, this time with one out, and McCarthy responded by striking out Jon Singleton and getting Carlos Corporan on a fly to left.

It was quick work by McCarthy on a day devoted to quick work.

Yanks encouraged by Pineda’s work in tough loss

The shot in the arm the Yankees needed Wednesday night came in the right arm of Michael Pineda. Unfortunately, that was not enough to avoid another loss to the Orioles, who again overcame a two-run deficit to sweep the rain-abbreviated series.

The severe rainstorm that caused the postponement of Tuesday night’s game was the only break the Yankees had in their trip to Baltimore. The two losses shoved the Yankees eight games back of the first-place Orioles in the American League East.

Pineda’s start was an example of how important the Yankees considered this series. Originally slated to pitch a minor-league game on injury rehabilitation, Pineda started against the Orioles instead and did a fine job in his first major-league start since April 23 at Boston.The righthander showed no signs of right shoulder problems that kept him on the disabled list for 86 games. Pineda went five innings and did not allow a hit until the fifth when Nelson Cruz led off with a double. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Flaherty that cut the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.

Once again, the Yankees grabbed an early lead but could not build on it. Francisco Cervelli ended a 0-for-24 streak by Yankees hitters with runners in scoring position dating to last Friday night when he drove a 3-2 knuckle curve from Chris Tillman to left-center field for his second home run of the season. Scoring ahead of him was Stephen Drew, who had doubled.

But that would be the extend of the Yankees’ scoring. They were hitless from the fifth through the eighth innings. A double by Carlos Beltran led to a run in the ninth on an infield out by Chase Headley, but the Yankees could do no better. Manager Joe Girardi was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing over an interference call against Drew, who was charged with running out of the baseline on the way to first by plate umpire Gerry Davis. Drew appeared to be in the line until he neared the bag, but Girardi lost the argument.

The Yankees had to be encouraged by the work of Pineda, who allowed only two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Another sign of the value the Yanks played on this game was the appearance of Dellin Betances in an outing of more than two innings. Betances had not pitched in five days and with no game Tuesday and an open date Thursday was pushed beyond his usual limit. The righthander pitched two hitless innings with four strikeouts, then one out into the eighth he hung a breaking ball to Joseph Schoop, who slugged his 11th home run that tied the score.

Shawn Kelley put gasoline on the fire after two were out. He gave up a single to Nick Markakis, a walk to Chris Davis and a three-run home run to Adam Jones (No. 23). It was a stunning finish to a disappointing series that extended the Yankees’ losing streak to four games and cost them the chance to give the Orioles a scare.

Yanks pitchers outshine Tigers’ vaunted rotation

When the Yankees-Tigers series began, all the talk was about Detroit’s rotation. The Tigers had lined up against the Yankees three former American League Cy Young Award winners in Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander and a 13-game winner in Rick Porcello.

Guess what? None of them notched a victory.

Talk centered on the Yankees’ staff after it limited one of the AL’s top offensive clubs to merely six runs over 39 innings in winning three of the four games. The only game Detroit won, a 4-3, 12-inning matchup, did not provide a victory for their starting pitcher, Price, who was out of the game in the ninth.

Yankees starters, meanwhile, were 2-0 with an ERA of 0.99 as the rotation gave up only three earned runs in 27 1/3 innings. Not that the Tigers’ crew was bad. The Detroit starters combined for a 2.42 ERA, which any manager will take over a four-game set, but it was just not a match for the Yankees.

Thursday’s 1-0 victory behind rookie Shane Greene and in front of a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,013 was a nice finishing touch. Greene pitched one batter into the ninth and scattered five hits and three walks with five strikeouts to improve his record to 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He as yanked in the fifth inning of his prior start at Boston but this time came close to his first complete game in the majors. Maybe next time.

“We won” is the best thing Greene took from the game. He is a man of few words and at times seems overwhelmed by his surroundings in the majors — except when he is on the mound. The righthander utilized an effective sinker-slider mix with an occasional four-seam fastball that was never more valuable than in the sixth when it produced a pivotal double play against Victor Martinez, the second half of the Tigers’ 1-2 punch behind two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, who was rested until the ninth inning Thursday when he batted as a pinch hitter in the ninth against David Robertson (31st save) with a chance to do damage and ruin Greene’s effort.

Cabrera batted with runners on first and second with none out. He hit a hard grounder past Robertson, but it was gobbled up in front of second base by Brendan Ryan, who stepped on the bag and threw the ball to first base for another crucial double play. Fans gasped when Don Kelly lofted a fly ball in shallow center before Stephen Drew, starting at shortstop for a resting Derek Jeter, put it away for a satisfying final out. Also bailing out Robertson in the Kelly at-bat was catcher Francisco Cervelli, who made two terrific stops of balls in the dirt to keep the potential tying run at third.

Drew was also responsible for the game’s only run with an opposite-field double to left in the fourth off Porcello. The new mix of players up from the minors and the result of trades has given the Yankees a burst of freshness.

“It has changed the complexion of the team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have gotten better defensively, and pitchers are giving us more innings.”

Greene’s work allowed over-loaded Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances a needed day off. The Yankees had been sputtering at home this year but have turned that around since the All-Star break with 10 victories in 14 games.

“We have talked about needing to play better at home,” Girardi said. “We are doing all the little things. These are the best four starts in a row that we have had all season. Their pitchers were the guys being talked about, but our pitchers did a great job.”

Yankees and Rangers swap zeroes

Go figure this game. Two pitchers take the mound with identical 5.10 ERAs. Each has struggled a ton lately. The Yankees’ Chase Whitley was 1-3 with an 11.25 ERA in his previous five outings. The Rangers’ Nick Martinez, who pitched college ball at Fordham, was winless in seven starts since his only victory of the season May 24.

So what happened? Both pitched shutout ball over six innings.

It was a very positive sign for Whitley, who got solid support from his defense. Five of the seven hits he allowed were at the start of innings, usually a bad omen.

In the second inning, Leonys Martin got to third with none out on an error by third baseman Zelous Wheeler and a wild pitch, but Whitley kept the ball in the infield with two groundouts bookending a strikeout to strand Martin.

In the third, Daniel Robertson led off with a single and stole second base. After Shin-Soo Choo was called out on strikes, Robertson tried to steal third and was gunned down by Francisco Cervelli. Whitley finished off the inning by striking out Elvis Andrus.

Adrian Beltre followed Jim Adduci’s leadoff single in the fourth by grounding into a double play. In the fifth, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, who doubled with one out, tried to score on an infield single by Robertson but was thrown out at the plate by Brian Roberts.

Whitley’s night was done after he gave up another leadoff hit in the seventh, a single by Beltre, but Matt Thornton and Adam Warren made sure the All-Star third baseman did not advance.

The Yankees had it even worse against Martinez, who held them to three hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings before Neftali Feliz, the former American League Rookie of the Year, followed with 1 2/3 hitless innings of relief. The Yanks did not get a runner past first base over the first seven innings.

Martinez, too, had helped from his defense. Martin in center field climbed the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center to rob Brian McCann of a potential extra-base hit in the second inning. The ball did not appear to be over the wall when Martin gloved it.

The zeroes kept piling up after the starters were gone. The Yanks did not get a runner into scoring position until one out in the ninth when Derek Jeter doubled into the left field corner. It was career double 535 for DJ, who replaced Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig as the franchise’s all-time leader in two-base hits.

Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to have lefthander Neal Cotts walk lefty-swinging Jacoby Ellsbury intentionally and go after Carlos Beltran, a switch hitter who would bat right-handed against Cotts. The curious strategy worked as Beltran grounded into a double play that sent the game into extra innings.

Yankees’ bats turn cold again

After seemingly breaking out of their offensive malaise with 13 runs total in their victories against the Twins Thursday night and Friday, the Yankees returned to meager production Saturday and went into extra innings.

They were actually fortunate to push the game that far because the one run they scored might have been a gift. Surely the winning run for the Twins in their 2-1, 11-inning victory was just that. A throwing error by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli trying for an inning-ending double play sent Josh Winningham home from second base with the deciding run.

Before Cervelli’s wild throw, it appeared that Matt Thornton had worked out of the bases-loaded jam. Minnesota filled the bags on a pinch double off the right field wall by Chris Colabello, a one-out intentional walk to Winningham and when Oswaldo Arcia was hit by a pitch for the third time in his past six plate appearances.

Trevor Plouffe followed with a dribbler in front of the mound that was pounced on by Thornton, who made an underhand toss to Cervelli for a forceout. Cervelli turned to throw to first base, but his peg sailed over Mark Teixeira and down the right field line as Winningham trotted home.

Cervelli had not been in the original lineup but turned out to be a central figure in the game. Brian McCann was supposed to be the starting catcher and batting third but was scratched because of persistent pain in his left foot. X-rays were negative, but McCann is in a day-to-day situation.

One day after collecting eight extra-base hits, all seven of the Yankees’ hits were singles. Their run was scored with a measure of luck. With two out in the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki stole second base. Or did he?

Video replays appeared to indicate that Suzuki was tagged in the chest by shortstop Eduardo Escobar before reaching the bag. Yet the Twins did not call for a review. Manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game earlier, so maybe there was a mixup in the dugout.

The Yankees took advantage of the break. Ichiro moved up to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left field by Cervelli.

David Phelps was making that run look mighty large the way he was pitching. The righthander retired 11 batters in a row until Willingham ended the stretch leading off the seventh by driving a 1-1 fastball off the second deck in left field for his eighth home run.

That tied the score and took Twins starter Yohan Pino off the hook. The late-blooming (30) rookie righthander held the Yankees to three hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings to keep pace with Phelps. Over his past five starts, Phelps is 2-0 with three no-decisions and a 3.16 ERA in that span covering 31 1/3 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 4.01.

The Twins did not do very well reviewing umpires’ calls. They did not challenge the Ichiro steal. In the 10th inning, they disputed an out call at second base after Sam Fuld had been picked off first only to have it verified by a video review.

The Yankees got a runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th when Derek Jeter singled to right with two out. That stopped a 0-for-14 slump for the Captain, whose 3,397th career hit was also his 2,539th single. Jeet stole second base but was stranded as Brian Roberts, who had four extra-base hits Friday, grounded out.

Before the game, Jeter received a nice parting gift from the Twins. Second baseman Brian Dozier presented DJ with the last second base bag used at the old Metrodome. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, now a Twins coach, on behalf of the organization gave Jeter a $10,000 donation to his Turn2 Foundation. A year ago, the Twins came up with the cleverest gift Mariano Rivera received in his farewell tour, a rocking chair made of bats broken by Mo’s legendary cut fastball.

Yanks back to winning ways outside division

After going 6-9 in a 15-game stretch against American League East opponents, the Yankees were probably glad to play someone in another division, and who better than the last-place Twins in the AL Central who are currently without Joe Mauer on the disabled list. Despite some bad news surrounding the club, the Yankees ended a season-high five-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory Thursday night and celebrated the Fourth of July by taking a 6-1 lead in the first two innings Friday and hanging on to win, 6-5.

The disturbing news is that the Yankees are not likely to get CC Sabathia back this season. The lefthander was shut down after his injury-rehabilitation start earlier this week for Double A Trenton and has an appointment with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., July 14 to determine whether he will need surgery on his right knee. If so, Sabathia will be out for the remainder of the season.

That is a cruel blow, considering that one of the pitchers who had shored up the rotation in CC’s absence, Chase Whitley, had another rough outing Friday. The righthander, who had pitched well in his first seven starts, failed to get past the fourth inning for the third straight start. He lasted only three innings and allowed four runs and eight hits, including two home runs.

Whitley was treated to a sizeable early lead as the Yankees scored three runs apiece in the first two innings with a six-hit (five for extra bases) barrage against Kyle Gibson. The Twins closed to 6-4 by the third before David Huff put a clamp on things. The lefthander retired all nine batters he faced over three innings and earned the winning decision. Huff may also have put himself in position to get a shot at starting.

It sure won’t be Triple A righthander Alfredo Aceves, who was the other piece of bad news for the Yankees. He was suspended by Major League Baseball for violation of the drug policy.

Derek Jeter was given July 4 off and batting in his customary 2-hole was Brian Roberts, who had a stellar game. Roberts collected three doubles and a triple for the first four-extra-base-hit game of his career. Francisco Cervelli, starting in place of ailing Brian McCann (sore left foot), had three hits, including two doubles. Mark Teixeira also doubled, and Brett Gardner tripled to open the game.

The Twins made it a one-run game in the eighth and had the potential tying run at second base with two outs in the ninth before David Robertson struck out Chris Parmelee looking to notch his 20th save.

Robertson also saved Thursday night’s victory for Masahiro Tanaka, who improved his record to 12-3, over former teammate Phil Hughes. An old problem for Hughes, the long ball, came into play. He lost a 2-0 lead in the fifth by serving up a three-run home run to Carlos Beltran. Zelous Weaver, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Thursday to replace the farmed out Yangervis Solarte, also homered that inning. He added a single and scored a second run in the Yankees’ three-run seventh to round out an impressive major-league debut.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wheeler became only the sixth Yankees player over the past 40 years to get a home run as his first major-league hit, joining Andy Phillips (2004), Marcus Thames (2002), Alfonso Soriano (1999), Dan Pasqua (1985) and Joe Lefebvre (1980). Elias also pointed out that Beltran has now homered in 38 different ballparks in his big-league career, the second-most among current players only the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (39). The major-league record is 45 by Sammy Sosa.

The Yankees have won seven straight games at Target Field, dating to Sept. 26, 2012. They are 13-3 all-time in that yard. . .It was Roberts’ first four-hit game since Aug. 14, 2009 for the Orioles against the Angels and the second time this season he has fallen a home run short of a cycle. The other time was April 17 at Tampa Bay (single, double, triple). . .Since entering the majors in 2003, Teixeira has the highest batting average among all players against the Twins (.371 in 272 at-bats). He is a .364 hitter in nine career games and 33 at-bats at Target Field. . .Cervelli had three hits in a game for the first time since Aug. 6, 2011 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The Yankees played the Twins on the Fourth of July for the second straight year and the eighth time since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961. The Yankees are 5-3 in those games. They swept a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in 1964 by scores of 7-5 and 2-1 and were swept in a doubleheader at old Metropolitan Stadium in 1967 by scores of 8-3 and 7-6. The Yankees also won, 3-2, in 1985 at Yankee Stadium and 9-5 at Target Field last year. They lost, 6-2, at the Stadium in 2007. . .The Yankees played on the road on the Fourth of July for the fourth straight year, the first time they have done that in franchise history. . .They are 31-27 on the Fourth of July in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

D-Rob called on to avoid sweep at Toronto

Joe Girardi wasn’t taking any chances Wednesday night. The manager wanted to avoid being swept in Toronto as the Yankees had done to the Blue Jays last week at Yankee Stadium. Toward that effort, Girardi did not hesitate to have David Robertson work a five-out save to salvage at least one victory in the three-game series.

The Yankees came back from Tuesday night’s sloppy loss to turn back the Blue Jays, 5-3, and end a four-game losing streak. The Jays jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Jose Reyes hit the first pitch from Hiroki Kuroda for a home run, but the Yankees attacked Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison for four runs in the third and held the lead with solid ensemble work from the bullpen.

Kuroda earned his first victory in five starts since May 28, although he had not pitched that poorly (3.33 ERA) during the four-game stretch in which he had two losses and two no-decisions. The Japanese righthander gave up two runs on a two-out single by Melky Cabrera in the fifth that made it a one-run game but worked out of trouble in the sixth and departed with one out and a runner on first base in the seventh with the Yankees up by two runs.

Shawn Kelley gave up a single to Reyes but then got Cabrera on a fly to right. Girardi brought in lefthander Matt Thornton to face lefty-swinging Adam Lind. During the at-bat, Anthony Gose and Reyes, two of the fastest players in the major leagues, pulled off a gutsy double steal. Thornton got the job done, however, as Lind hit the ball right back to the pitcher for the third out.

Adam Warren started the eighth, but when he gave up a one-out single to Dioner Navarro Girardi summoned Robertson. D-Rob had not pitched in a week and was plenty strong. He finished off the eighth with two strikeouts, then got another punchout to start the ninth before inducing two ground balls for his 18th save.

The Yankees were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had two runners thrown out trying to steal but got key hits when it mattered. Getting a rare start behind the plate, Francisco Cervelli doubled home the Yanks’ first run in the third inning. The first of Jacoby Ellsbury’s three hits was a two-out single that sent home Cervelli. Mark Teixeira followed with his 14th home run to make the score 4-1.

After the Jays closed to 4-3, the Yankees scored a run without a hit in the seventh on two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly by Teixeira.

The Yankees can now exhale Thursday, their first day off after playing for 23 straight days. It is also Derek Jeter’s 40th birthday. He and his teammates could surely use the rest.

HOPE Week: Friends of Jaclyn

Manager Joe Girardi, pitchers David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, David Phelps and Matt Thornton; catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki surprised Jaclyn Murphy, a student at Marist College, and three young children who are participants in the Friends of Jaclyn program, Wednesday as part of the Yankees’ HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) initiative.

Ryan Tucker, 12, and Quinn Ostergren, 4, who are cousins, and Sean Callahan, 11, were with Murphy and began their day by having lunch with the players and coaches at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan.

As honorary team members in the afternoon, the Yankees held a press conference to welcome them to the team in the Yankee Stadium press conference room. The children were given their own lockers in the clubhouse and suited up in Yankees uniforms before joining their new teammates for a variety of batting practice activities. After being on the field for pregame ceremonies, the Murphy, Tucker, Ostergren and Callahan families and Friends of Jaclyn representatives were guests of the Yankees for their game against the Blue Jays.

Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and given a 30-percent chance of survival when she was nine years old. When the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team learned about what Jaclyn was going through and about her passion for lacrosse, the Wildcats “adopted” her as an honorary member of the team. Later that spring, Northwestern won its first national championship in school history. Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern.

“Everything that they were doing for Jaclyn impacted her health — I know that for a fact,” her father, Denis Murphy, said. “I realized I had to do that for other kids.”

Thus began Friends of Jaclyn, a foundation created to improve the quality of life of pediatric brain tumor patients by pairing them with collegiate and high school sports teams. One such child is Tucker, a diehard Yankees fan who began his battle with cancer when he was three years old. Ryan’s 4-year-old cousin, Quinn, Ostergren is also battling cancer and has already undergone two surgeries in addition to chemotherapy treatment.

“We strive to create relationships that provide love, support and friendship,” Friends of Jaclyn executive director Erin Perkins said. “These children are nothing but loved by their teammates. Being adopted, in many cases, will be their only chance to be part of a team.”

Friends of Jaclyn celebrated its 500th adoption in May. Even though his daughter has been cancer-free for nine years, Denis Murphy continues to devote all of his time to the foundation. Having witnessed what the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team did for Jaclyn during her darkest days, he believes he has discovered the best medicine of all.

“Nothing—no chemotherapy, no pill, no drug—is more powerful than love and support.”

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