Results tagged ‘ Francisco Cervelli ’
Major League Baseball marked the official start of All-Star balloting today for the 84th All-Star Game that will be held Tuesday, July 16, at Citi Field.
Yankees fans might have to make sure of write-in votes to help some of the players make it onto the team. The ballot does not include catcher Francisco Cervelli or outfielder Vernon Wells, for example. Chris Stewart is listed as the Yankees’ catcher, and the three outfielders on the ballot are Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki. Granderson has yet to play a game. Nor have first baseman Mark Teixeira or shortstop Derek Jeter. All had been expected back in May, which is why they were named to the ballot.
Jeter’s case has changed, obviously, with another break in his surgical left ankle that will keep him out of action until after the All-Star break. Alex Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery, was never expected to play before the All-Star break, so Kevin Youkilis is listed as the Yankees’ third baseman. Also on the ballot are second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Travis Hafner.
MLB’s All-Star balloting program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. Last year, more than 40.2 million ballots were cast, which was a record. This year, more than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 major-league ballparks, each of which will have 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 minor-league parks.
Fans may also cast votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club web sites, including Yankees.com. – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com.
Every major-league club will have begun its in-stadium balloting no later than Tuesday, May 7. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes Friday, June 28, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 club web sites and their mobile devices until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 4. Firestone is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2013 In-Stadium All-Star balloting program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.
“All-Star Balloting is more popular than ever, and we hope for another record-setting year in 2013,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “Major League Baseball is thrilled that fans throughout the world will continue to choose their favorite players for the greatest sporting event of the summer. We look forward to adding a new chapter to the remarkable National League tradition of New York City at Citi Field this summer.”
This will mark the ninth time the All-Star Game has been in New York. The Yankees have been the host team four times in the Bronx – 1939 and the second of two games in 1960 in the original Yankee Stadium and 1977 and 2008 in the renovated Stadium. The game was also in Manhattan twice when the Giants were the host team at the Polo Grounds – 1934 and 1942 – and once each in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were the host team at Ebbets Field in 1949 and in Queens when the Mets were the host team at Shea Stadium in its inaugural season of 1964.
For the fifth consecutive year, this year’s ballot will feature the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will get to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll also will be available online at MLB.com.
Cano, the winner of the 2011 event at Chase Field in Phoenix, is one of the 10 American League candidates, along with designated hitter Adam Dunn of the White Sox; first baseman Prince Fielder of the Tigers; third basemen Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, Evan Longoria of the Rays and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers; and outfielders Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Adam Jones of the Orioles and Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout of the Angels.
The 10 National League candidates are catcher Buster Posey of the Giants; first baseman Joey Votto of the Reds; third baseman David Wright of the Mets; and outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Jason Heyward of the Braves, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins.
The AL and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled Sunday, July 7, on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, televised nationally on TBS. The AL All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL All-Star Team will have eight. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – the AL’s Jim Leyland of the Tigers and the NL’s Bruce Bochy of the Giants.
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each league’s 34-man roster via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes Thursday, July 11. Now in its 12th season with more than 350 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, club sites and their mobile phones.
This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the game, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 club sites via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
So where is Russell Martin these days? Oh, that’s right; he took off for Pittsburgh as a free agent in the past off-season because the Pirates came up with a second year in their contract offer. Good for him; I hope he is happy.
I was thinking about Martin during the Yankees-Blue Jays game Sunday at Toronto when Chris Stewart hit a home run in the third inning and threw out Melky Cabrera trying to steal second base in the fifth.
I do not mean to pick on Martin as much as those who kept reporting all winter about how the Yankees blew it by not conceding to the catcher’s contract demands and would regret it. Look at what Stewart and Francisco Cervelli have done so far this year. Does anyone miss Russell Martin all that much?
The Cervelli-Stewart tandem was treated in a few media outlets as some sort of joke during spring training, but the duo have been a major part of the Yankees’ good start that hit a bump Sunday with an 8-4 loss. Stewart was involved in all the Yankees’ scoring innings. He got the Yanks on the board with his first home run of the season, began the two-run rally in the fifth with a single and bunted Jayson Nix to third base with one out in the sixth that preceded the sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead at that point.
In the first two games of the series – both Yankees victories – Cervelli was behind the plate and had 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two runs scored. He has gotten the bulk of the playing time of the two catchers, with 42 at-bats to Stewart’s 17, but manager Joe Girardi insists that they are sharing the position. However the breakdown, the catching situation has been in good hands.
Cervelli and Stewart are batting a combined .322 with a .525 slugging percentage, three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 59 at-bats. Martin? He is hitting .216 with a .353 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and three RBI in 51 at-bats. Again, not to pick on the guy, but I cannot remember just when it was that Russell Martin became the second coming of Thurman Munson, which seemed to be an off-season theme in some circles.
Martin had two decent seasons with the Yankees. Last year, he showed renewed power (21 home runs) and had some memorable game-winning hits, including a huge homer against the Mets, but hit .211 for the season. Now I realize that the seamheads who adore the boutique stats don’t make much of batting average anymore, but .211 is still .211, which is not good by any measure.
Stewart had his hands full Sunday with another erratic outing from Ivan Nova, who threw 101 pitches but was gone after giving up a walk and a double to the first two batters in the sixth that the Jays turned into a four-run inning with RBI hits off relievers Boone Logan and David Phelps to regain the lead they would not relinquish again.
The leadoff walk in the sixth was to Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind. I do not know what the Yankees’ scouting report was on Lind, but they sure pitched to him carefully in the series. Lind had five plate appearances and walked in every one, including all four times he stepped to the plate Sunday.
It was nonetheless a positive series for the Yankees, who move on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game set against another American League East rival, the Rays, who swept the Athletics over the weekend at Tropicana Field.
Despite being booed loudly and repeatedly in the city where he was once a favorite, Vernon Wells will miss Toronto. He had quite series, going 7-for-15 (.467) with a double and two home runs. He also made the defensive play of the game Sunday in the third inning with a fence-climbing catch in left field to rob Edwin Encarnacion of a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit and begin a rally-killing double play.
Gardner also found Toronto to his liking, as usual. He had 5-for-14 (.357) in the series with a double, a home run, a stolen base, two runs and two RBI. Gardner is a .370 career hitter at Rogers Centre with 18 runs, six doubles, six triples, one home run and eight RBI in 30 games.
One night after they received bad news about Derek Jeter, the Yankees got positive news about Andy Pettitte. The lefthander caused concern when he was pushed back a full turn in the rotation because of back spasms. Pettitte made his first start in 10 days Friday night and looked as if he had not missed a beat.
An efficient, 90-pitch effort carried Pettitte one out into the eighth inning in the Yankees’ 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays. Andy helped make a statement of sorts for the Yankees against the Jays, whom many pre-season prognosticators identified as the favorites to win the American League East this year.
Toronto certainly made a lot of major acquisitions that has revved up Canadian fans. A crowd of 40,028 swelled Rogers Centre Friday night, but Pettitte and his teammates showed Blue Jays followers that the Yankees have no intention of disappearing in the division chase. The Yanks also showed that their acquisitions can get the job done.
The Jays are playing without major off-season pickup Jose Reyes, who is out with a leg injury, but the Yankees do not have their regular shortstop, either. Derek Jeter suffered a setback in his recovery from left ankle surgery and won’t be back in uniform until after the All-Star break at the earliest.
The uplifting performance by Pettitte was an antidote to Thursday night’s 12-inning loss to the Diamondbacks for a Yankees squad that dragged into Ontario in the wee hours. Fortunately, Andy flew ahead and was plenty rested for this start. The Yankees handed him a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Travis Hafner and a run-scoring infield out by Vernon Wells. Pettitte gave up half the lead in the bottom half, but by the time Toronto scored again the Yanks had constructed a seven-run lead.
Pettitte scattered six hits, including a thunderous home run to center field by Jose Bautista (no crime there, he can launch them) with one walk and five strikeouts in improving his record to 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Pettitte’s 248th career victory gave him an 88-49 mark (.642) with the Yankees following a team loss. That’s the definition of a stopper.
The Yankees gave him plenty of support, a 13-hit assault against Brandon Morrow and three relievers that featured 10 knocks for extra bases. Hafner homered and doubled. Wells and Lyle Overbay added home runs, Brett Gardner a triple, Francisco Cervelli and Ichiro Suzuki two doubles each and a double by Cano, who had three hits in all. The Yankees also took advantage of an errant throw to the plate by Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus with Wells and Suzuki scoring on the play in the third.
It was a satisfying night for Wells and Overbay, who played significant portions of their career in Toronto and were deluged by boos in their plate appearances. They got the last laughs, however, by slamming homers. Wells spent 12 years north of the border and Overbay five. They teamed to continue the Yankees’ strong run by newcomers along with Hafner.
The Yankees have batted .294 as a team with 23 doubles, one triple and 19 home runs in winning eight of their past 10 games. They lead the AL in home runs with 25. Cano has five homers in the Yankees’ 15 games. He didn’t hit his fifth homer of 2012 until the club’s 43rd game. With a 2-for-3 game, Cervelli raised the batting average of Yankees catchers to .314 in 51 at-bats. A year ago, Yankees catchers ranked 24th of 30 big-league clubs in batting at .220 in 542 at-bats.
Pettitte’s effort was another quality start for the rotation that has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in 66 2/3 innings over this stretch that has pushed the Yanks’ record to 9-6. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are 7-10, so who is chasing whom?
Phil Hughes departed Thursday night’s game on the losing side of the ledger, but it was nonetheless an encouraging outing for him. After two dismal starts, Hughes pitched with determination and gave the Yankees seven strong innings in which he allowed six hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.
Unfortunately for Hughes, Diamondbacks lefthander Patrick Corbin was a little mite better. His string of 16 scoreless innings, the longest in the major leagues, came to an end when Robinson Cano homered off a 0-and-1 pitch in the sixth inning to cut the Yankees’ deficit to 2-1.
Both of the runs off Hughes were the result of home runs as well, not surprisingly. He gave up dingers to Didi Gregorius in the third and Martin Prado in the sixth. That makes five home runs Hughes has yielded in 10-plus innings at Yankee Stadium this year. Hughes’ predilection for fly balls hurt him at the homer-friendly Stadium, but on the positive side is that all five taters have come with the bases empty.
Phil had a good fastball this time out as it was consistently in the 91-to 93-miles-per-hour range and a sharp-breaking slider, a pitch that seemed to have abandoned him in his previous starts. He did not deserve a losing decision, and as it turned out he didn’t get one.
The Yankees threatened to get Hughes off the hook in the eighth, but a rough call against Cano foiled a rally. Batting with the bases full and one out against righthander David Hernandez, the losing pitcher Wednesday night, Cano was struck in the right leg with a 3-2 pitch. Plate umpire Ron Kulpa ruled that Cano swung through the pitch before it hit him for a strikeout. Henderson then struck out Kevin Youkilis.
But true to history, the Diamondbacks have trouble getting the final out in games at the Stadium. One out into the ninth, Francisco Cervelli homered to left off J.J. Putz to tie the score. That was an impressive blow by Cervelli considering that he committed an error in the top of the inning on an interference call when Gregorius hit him in the mitt on his left hand with a swing of the bat.
An old problem beset Phil Hughes Saturday – trying to keep balls from going over the fence at Yankee Stadium. The good news is that when Hughes gave up a home run there was no one on base. The bad news is that he gave up three home runs.
This is nothing new with Hughes. Last year, he surrendered 22 long balls at the Stadium, the most at home for any pitcher in the majors and the most in franchise history. Ryan Flaherty, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold did the damage against Hughes Saturday in a 5-3 Orioles victory that ended the Yankees’ four-game winning streak and brought them back to .500 at 5-5.
“Phil is not a sinkerballer; he is going to give up home runs,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Unfortunately, Hughes’ home yard is of the home-run friendly variety, which can make life hard for a fly-ball pitcher. Hughes lasted only two batters into the fourth inning and gave up five runs, nine hits and two walks without a strikeout. He lacked command of his fastball. Rescue attempts using curves, changeups and sliders could not bail out Hughes, who is off to a rough start after a spring training in which he lost time to a back ailment.
“I’m 100 percent healthy now,” Hughes said, not using the back as an excuse. “I have to figure a way to get some outs.”
Outs have come in short supply for Hughes, who is 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA. He has been hit hard, having allowed nine runs (eight earned) and 17 hits in seven innings. Opponents are batting .472 in 36 at-bats against the righthander.
Despite Hughes’ shaky start, the Yankees remained in position to come back in the game. This was due largely to the terrific relief work of David Phelps. The righthander from Notre Dame pitched four scoreless, one-hit innings with six strikeouts. “My curve was better than it has been all year,” he said.
The Yankees continued to slug as in days of old with Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells each taking Orioles starter Jason Hammel deep. Wells also made an outstanding defensive play in left-center in the seventh inning by throwing out Adam Jones trying to stretch a single into a double, the lone hit off Phelps.
With 11 hits, the Yankees did not lack for offense. Few hits were timely, however. The Yanks were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Then again, the Orioles were even worse in that department (0-for-10). The Yankees stranded nine base runners, including those in scoring position in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Kevin Youkilis took his first collar (0-for-5), which ended his nine-game hitting streak, the longest at the start of the season for a player in his first year with the Yankees in 68 years.
Robinson Cano, who had two hits, even put in an inning of work at shortstop, the first time he had played somewhere other than second base in his major-league career. With Eduardo Nunez out with a bruised right wrist, Girardi needed another shortstop when he lifted Jayson Nix for pinch hitter Brennan Boesch in the eighth.
Cano moved to short from second with Francisco Cervelli, who has been taking grounders in the infield during batting practice, moving from behind the plate to second base. Neither Cano nor Cervelli was involved in a fielding play in the ninth inning. This kind of alignment could be more common until Derek Jeter returns from the disabled list.
The Orioles continued to be in a giving mood Saturday, the day after a three-run error by Adam Jones and a triple play by the Yankees helped secure a Bombers victory.
Baltimore ran itself out of a rally in the second inning when Nate McLouth, running from first base on a single off the right field wall by Manny Machado, ran through a stop sign by third base coach Bobby Dickerson and was a dead duck at the plate. Machado’s hit banged hard off the fence back to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who fed Robinson Cano, the best second baseman in the majors at the cutoff play, whose relay gunned down McLouth with plenty to spare.
The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the second, due in part to another Orioles gaffe. A throwing error by Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy put Francisco Cervelli on second base with two out. Lyle Overbay brought Cervelli home with a soft single to center to make the score 2-2. The Yankees’ first run that inning came on Travis Hafner’s third home run of the season.
Jayson Nix was at shortstop again for Eduardo Nunez, who is sidelined with a bruised right wrist the result of being hit by a pitch Friday night. X-rays were negative. The Yankees also have yet to decide when Andy Pettitte’s next start will be. The lefthander continued treatments Saturday for back spasms.
Friday night’s triple killing in which Nix was the middle man was the Yanks’ first triple play in a home game in nearly 45 years. The previous time occurred May 3, 1968 against the Twins and catcher Johnny Roseboro and was turned by pitcher Dooley Womack to third baseman Bobby Cox to first baseman Mickey Mantle. Yes, that was the same Bobby Cox who managed the Braves to all those division titles in the 1990s and 2000s.
So maybe you cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, or in the case of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones blow bubble gum and field at the same time. An error by Jones in the seventh inning Friday night on a ball he appeared to have caught was the critical play in the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over Baltimore that gave them a share of first place in the American League East with the Red Sox, who were rained out.
The three-run rally that resulted in the Yankees’ fourth straight victory was as weird as it can get. They did not have a hit in the inning. Orioles lefthander Troy Patton entered the game after starter Miguel Gonzalez walked Francisco Cervelli to start the inning. After Brett Gardner sacrificed Cervelli to second base, the Orioles decided to walk Kevin Youikilis, who had three hits, intentionally.
Somewhat surprisingly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi allowed lefty-swinging Travis Hafner to bat against Patton, who made a huge gaff by hitting the Yanks’ designated hitter with a 3-2 pitch that filled the bases and brought up Vernon Wells. O’s manager Buck Showalter brought in righthander Pedro Strop, a Yankees punching bag, to pitch to Vernon Wells. The Yanks’ left fielder got good wood on a drive to center. Jones, a Gold Glove winner last year, made a long run to the warning track to catch up with the ball blowing a bubble along the way. For a quick moment it seemed as if Jones had ended the threat, but the ball clanged off his glove for a two-base error that cleared the bags as the Yankees unlocked a 2-2 score.
This was the same Jones who in Game 3 of last year’s American League Division Series blew a bubble with his gum while tracking a drive to right-center by Derek Jeter that fell on the warning track for a run-scoring triple.
The good fortune continued for the Yankees the next inning with their second triple play since 1969. The Orioles got a rally going against CC Sabathia after leadoff singles by Alex Casilla and Nick Markakis. Manny Machado followed with a grounder to second baseman Robinson Cano, who flipped to shortstop Jayson Nix for what looked like the beginning of a double play. But why settle for two outs when you might get three?
Nix thought he had a shot at getting Casilla going to third and threw to that base instead of first. Casilla got in a rundown and was tagged out by Youkilis, the third baseman, who saw that Machado was midway between first and second and gunned the ball to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who ran Machado toward second and then tossed to Cano to complete the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple killing.
I ran into WCBS Radio voice John Sterling while leaving the yard later, and he told me in making the call on the play said, “Nix turns and throws to third base, why, I’ll never know.”
I must admit that I felt the same way. The Yankees had a sure double play, and you never know what can happen when a fielder throws behind a runner. Nix ended up making an alert play in spite of its unorthodoxy.
The previous triple play turned by the Yankees was April 22, 2010 at Oakland on an around-the-horn job from third baseman Alex Rodriguez to Cano to first baseman Nick Johnson on a ground ball by Kurt Suzuki. That game was a loss by the Yankees. This one might have been, too, except Baltimore did everything but hand it to them.
The Yankees took advantage of all the breaks the Orioles gave them. The players who scored the Yanks’ five runs all reached base without a hit. Orioles pitchers held the Yankees to six hits but walked six batters and hit two.
Sabathia, meanwhile, was brilliant under difficult situations with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees with a 25-miles-per-hour wind. One of the two runs off CC was not earned due to a balk, which the lefthander disputed. That second run for Baltimore that tied the score in the seventh loomed large until the bottom of the inning when Jones’ glove lost its glove and the Yankees tripled their pleasure.
The Yankees needed CC Sabathia to be a stopper Sunday, a losing streak stopper in the traditional sense, and that is what he was. Seven shutout innings against one of the toughest lineups in baseball tamed the Tigers and sent the Yankees off to Cleveland in a good frame of mind.
The 7-0 victory was an ensemble effort. Sabathia’s work was the centerpiece, but he had plenty of support. The Yankees knocked out 13 hits with all but one of the regulars (Lyle Overbay) contributing to the effort. Seven of the hits came off Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who left with one out in the eighth inning trailing 3-0.
Jayson Nix out of the 9-hole had the big hit off Verlander, a two-run home run in the second inning off a 2-1 changeup from Verlander, who probably wished he had stayed with the gas. Nix, hitless in seven at-bats with five punchouts prior to Sunday, had a field day with two other hits and two runs scored while filling in at shortstop for injured Eduardo Nunez (bruised right bicep). Nunez cannot throw right now, but he came in handy as a pinch runner for Travis Hafner (two hits) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki (his first RBI of the season) in the eighth.
A run-scoring double in the second inning and a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth for Francisco Cervelli gave the catcher the club lead in RBI with five.
Kevin Youkilis continued his hot start (.409) with a double off Verlander in the first inning and a two-run single off Octavio Dotel in the ninth. Are Yankees fans finally warming up to this guy? I know he annoyed fans this spring with that “I’ll always be a Red Sox” quote in reference to his time in Boston, but that just meant that he could not ignore what he had accomplished there. That was the opposite of what Wade Boggs said in his first spring training with the Yankees in 1993 that his 11 years with the Red Sox “never happened.” Really? Five batting titles did not count? We would all come to get used to Boggsy’s off-the-beam perspective on things.
Sabathia admitted to writers after the game that he did not have his best stuff, except for his changeup, which is becoming almost as important a weapon as his slider. CC was annoyed at himself for working in so many deep counts. The seventh inning, his last, was the only 1-2-3 inning for him, but he stranded seven Tigers runners over the first six innings and was especially effective against the 3-4-5 mashers Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, who were a combined 0-for-9 against him. Overall, CC limited the Tigers to four singles and three walks with four strikeouts.
David Robertson followed Sabathia with a scoreless eighth, and in a non-save situation Mariano Rivera gave up two hits in the ninth but no runs in what might have been his farewell appearance in front of a Detroit audience (unless the clubs match up in postseason play as they did last year). The Tigers showed class by honoring Mo before the game with Detroit manager Jim Leyland unveiling a plaque of Rivera pitching at Comerica Park and old Tiger Stadium and containers of dirt from each field.
The Yankees did not let themselves get bullied by Verlander, who for all his accomplishments is only a .500 pitcher in his career against them. His record against the Yankees fell to 5-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 84 1/3 innings, during which he has allowed 90 hits, including 11 home runs.
It looked as if there might be some fireworks early on in Sunday’s game when Tigers starter Justin Verlander had words with the Yankees’ Kevin Youkilis as the third baseman stood on second base after whacking a double in the first inning.
Lip readers could detect Verlander saying to Youkilis, “Did you say something?” a couple of times. Youk just responded, “What?” Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher and Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder trotted to the bag to make sure anything between Verlander and Youkilis didn’t get any more heated.
A replay of Youkilis running to first base after the hit showed that he may have said something. At least his mouth was open at one point. Why that bothered Verlander is anyone’s guess. The issue did not carry over into Youkilis’ next at-bat, however. No close pitches by Verlander, who ended up walking Youk in the third inning.
As great a pitcher as Verlander is, he has not been invincible against the Yankees. He entered Sunday’s game with a 5-4 career record against them with a 3.74 ERA and 83 hits allowed, 10 of them home runs, in 77 innings. The Yankees struck for three runs against the righthander in the second inning on an RBI double by Francisco Cervelli and a two-run home run by Jayson Nix. The bomb was good to see from Nix, who had been 0-for-7 with five strikeouts this season. He was starting again at shortstop because Eduardo Nunez still cannot throw with his bruised right bicep.
The Yankees reached into their storied, recent past Thursday night to produce their first victory of the 2013 season. After being shoved around for two games by the Red Sox, the Yankees used some old-fashioned muscle and one of the most illustrious pitching tandems in the history of the game to get into the ‘W’ column.
Mariano Rivera began his farewell tour of the major leagues with a save of an Andy Pettitte start in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory. Mo got cuffed for a run, but he finished off the Red Sox to preserve Pettitte’s 246th career victory. Andy was in turn-back-the-clock mode with eight strong innings in which he allowed eight hits but only one run and one walk with three strikeouts. He was aided by three double plays, one of which he turned himself stylishly.
It was the 69th time that Rivera saved a victory for Pettitte, the most by a starter and reliever since the saves rule went into effect in 1969. Yet it was the first time for the duo since July 2010.
“You feel pretty secure when that guy comes in from the bullpen,” Pettitte said. “I’ll savor this season as much as I can.”
Pettitte has not said whether this will definitely be his last roundup. He was talking about savoring Rivera’s career finale which got off to splendid start Thursday night. Mo toed the rubber in a big-league game for the first time in 11 months and looked as if he had never gone away.
“It didn’t feel much different from other first games of the season for me, except that I had a long wait between them,” said Rivera, whose 2012 season ended last May in Kansas City. “There was a lot of emotion, but you have to control that. There were some times when going through therapy and the pain I wondered if I could come back, but my desire and passion for the game motivated me.”
Believe it or not, Mo got squeezed a bit by plate umpire Mike DiMuro, who I thought erred by calling a 2-2 cutter to Dustin Pedroia across the plate a ball that should have been strike three. Rivera eventually walked Pedroia, who scored on a one-out double by Jonny Gomes. Rivera then retired Will Middlebrooks on an infield grounder and struck out rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. looking to notch career save No. 609.
Francisco Cervelli supported Pettitte with good work behind the plate including a recovering stab for a runner trying to score on a wild pitch and a home run off the bullpen wall in left-center. Brett Gardner also homered as the Yankees used last year’s scoring method to good use. Lyle Overbay’s two-out, two-run single in the second gave the Yankees their first lead of the season, and they did not squander it.
“It was an important game,” Pettitte said. “You never want to get swept in your opening homestand.”
Pettitte was so efficient (96 pitches) that Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not have to use any other reliever but Rivera.
“It really helped with the trip coming up to only have to use one guy out of the pen,” Girardi said or Rivera, who will now take his tour on to Detroit and Cleveland.
“He will understand how he is appreciated around the game,” Girardi added. “What we have seen here has been pretty special for a long time.”