Results tagged ‘ Gold Glove ’
How painful it must have been for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, winner of nine Gold Gloves at first base during his playing days with the Yankees, to watch his club make so many fielding mistakes in the day game of Wednesday’s split-admission doubleheader. The Dodgers made four errors, two coming on a bizarre play by relief pitcher Ronald Belisario in the seventh inning as the Yankees took charge with three runs en route to a 6-4 victory.
Dodgers second baseman Skip Shumacher twice bobbled ground balls by Robinson Cano, but neither error was costly. The seventh-inning double blunder by Belisario was another story. With runners on first and second and one out, Vernon Wells hit a soft popup between the plate and the mound. Belisario appeared to let the ball drop in hopes of getting a double play. He kicked the ball instead for the first error, then tried to recover and threw wildly for a second error and a run scored.
Ichiro Suzuki, who was all over this game, lofted a single down the left field line that gave the Yankees a four-run lead, which proved important an inning later when Hanley Ramirez, who had four hits for the Dodgers, smoked a two-run home run off Preston Claiborne.
In a pitching match-up of two Asians, Yankees righthander Hiroki Kuroda (Japan) and Dodgers lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu (South Korea), Ichiro stole the show. He ended a 115-at-bat homerless streak in the sixth with a leadoff dinger off Ryu. After getting that two-run single, Suzuki saved a run with a leaping catch on the warning track of a drive by Adrian Gonzalez that almost surely would have scored Yasiel Puig, who had led off the inning with a double.
“I knew the ball was not going to be a home run, that it was still in the park,” Ichiro said of the Gonzalez drive. “The only question for me was which way I would turn because the ball was hit right over my head.”
Ichiro turned to his right, leaped and reached for the ball all in one motion. His 3-for-4 day at the plate continued a hot stretch that began on the West Coast trip. Suzuki has 10 hits in his past 22 at-bats, a .455 run that has raised his season batting average to .274. The Yankees’ left-handed hitters did a good job against Ryu. Their other two runs were the result of a double in the second inning by Lyle Overbay.
“Ichiro has been swinging the bat extremely well,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He has the ability to get hot. When we got Lyle, we didn’t anticipate his getting so many at-bats against left-handed pitching, but we have really needed him.”
After David Robertson did one of his Houdini acts in the eighth (walk two batters, get the next two out), Mariano Rivera went for his 25th save in the ninth, and no one was leaving Yankee Stadium until they saw him go for the third out against Puig. Mo fell behind 2-0 in the count before coming back to strike him out.
Puig made quite an impression in his first game at the Stadium. He had two hits and in each case attempted to stretch a single into a double, once successfully and once not. But his aggressiveness was noted and appreciated, not the least of which by Rivera.
“I like to see young boys played hard like that,” he said. “That is the way he played to get to the major leagues and the way he should play in the major leagues.”
Rivera stopped short of saying he could appreciate the drama of the ninth inning: the worldly veteran closer against the up-and-coming youngster, any more than he did Sunday at Anaheim when he faced three-time Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols with the bases loaded to get the final out of that game.
“I cannot think about that because I have a job to do in either case,” Rivera said. “It is important for me to concentrate on getting the job done.”
And nobody does it better.
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.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and new pitcher Derek Lowe were named to the Arizona Fall league Hall of Fame Tuesday, along with Rangers manager Ron Washington. All three men were at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night for the second portion of the four-game series between the clubs with the top two records in the American League.
Arizona Fall League director Steve Cobb said of the election, “Mark and Derek have been remarkably consistent professionals throughout their standout careers, and Ron has become one of the most respected managers in baseball.”
The Arizona Fall League, which was founded in 1992, formed its Hall of Fame in 2001 to honor the top major-league players and managers who honed their skills in the AFL. The selection committee, chaired by lone-time baseball executive Roland Hemond, based its appointments on individual achievement at the major-league level since participating in the Arizona Fall League.
Teixeira, who played for the Peoria Javelinas in 2002, is the fastest switch hitter to 300 career home runs and is also the first switch hitter to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI in each of the past eight seasons (2004-11). Teixeira holds the major-league record of homering from each side of the plate in a game 13 times. Defensively, Tex is the AL career fielding percentage leader among first basemen with a minimum of 1,000 games. He is a two-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and three-time Silver Slugger recipient.
Lowe, who pitched for the Sun Cities Solar Sox in 1993 and Peoria Javelinas in 1995, is one of three pitchers with more than 160 victories and 80 saves, along with Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Lowe is one of five Arizona Fall League pitchers to hurl a no-hitter, along with Jered Weaver, Clay Buchholz, Roy Halladay and Phil Humber. Lowe’s no-hitter in 2002 was the first at Fenway Park since 1965. He was the winning pitcher in all three clinching postseason games in 2004 when Boston went on to its first World Series championship since 1918.
Washington, who was a hitting coach for the Sun Cities Solar Sox in 1992 and the Tucson Javelinas in 1993, is the first manager in Rangers history to increase the team’s victory total in four consecutive seasons. He guided Texas to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and ’11 and is the only manager in the history of the Rangers/Senators franchise (1961-2011) to win a postseason series.
The Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame increased its membership to 31 with the elections of Teixeira, Lowe and Washington. Other AFL Hall of Famers connected now or formerly with the Yankees are Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano and bench coach Tony Pena.
Freddy Garcia climbed back onto the bike Tuesday night after bumpy outings in his two previous starts. The righthander some help from his defense, not to mention some over-aggressive base running by the Royals.
The Yankees were aware Kansas City likes to run (44 stolen bases), which became evident right away when Chris Getz swiped third base with two outs in the first inning. Garcia stranded him there by retiring Billy Butler on a ground ball to shortstop.
The Royals ran themselves out of a potential rally in the third inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Matt Treanor, Garcia made a nice play to glove a sacrifice attempt by Alcides Escobar. Treanor, a catcher, wandered off first base and was thrown out trying to steal second by Garcia. Getz reached base with two out and also was gunned down trying to advance on a ball in the dirt but Russell Martin recovered nicely to get an out at second base.
Melky Cabrera’s home run off a 2-0 pitch leading off the fourth ensured that a Royals player would navigate his way around the bases without incident and tied the game at 1. Garcia gave up back-to-back, one-out singles to Mike Aviles and Treanor in the fifth but escaped damage with a strikeout looking of Escobar and then watched right fielder Nick Swisher skid across the grass to make a run-saving grab of a low liner by Getz.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi allowed Garcia to start the seventh (he had pitched into the eighth his last time out), but after Jeff Francoeur singled and Eric Hosmer walked made the move to the bullpen. David Robertson retired Aviles on a routine fly ball but walked Treanor to fill the bases. After a conference on the mound with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Robertson came back to strike out Escobar and Getz.
It was a key moment for the Yankees because usual eighth-inning reliever Rafael Soriano was not available because of a sore right elbow. He met with team physician Chris Ahmad before the game and is scheduled for an MRI Wednesday.
Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera finished off the 3-1 victory rather nicely to guarantee that Garcia, who lowered his ERA to 2.61, would even his record at 2-2. He has been a terrific addition to the staff. And before you get the idea that the Royals were some kind of pushovers out there, consider that they went into the game with a team batting average 15 points higher than the Yankees’.
This one finished with smiles all around, especially after Rivera made a Gold Glove stop of a hard grounder by Aviles and started a game-ending double play. Mo’s grin was particularly ear-to-ear as he notched his 13th save.
There were smiles, too, for Derek Jeter, who had his third straight multi-hit game and knocked in the Yankees’ first run with a two-out single in the third, and Alex Rodriguez, who unlocked a 1-1 score with a bases-loaded single in the fifth, also after two were out. After going eight games without driving in a run, A-Rod has three RBI in the past two games.
The left side of the Yankees’ infield had a different look Thursday at Detroit’s Comerica Park with Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and Eric Chavez at third base. Nunez had been expected to start over Derek Jeter, who came up lame with a sore right hip in the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s 4-0 loss but is likely to play Friday night when the Yankees move on to Arlington, Texas.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to give Alex Rodriguez the day off as well in keeping with a pattern that started early this season to give him a blow at least once a week. Rodriguez’s time off was short-lived, however, as he was summoned as a pinch runner for Chavez, who tripled in the Yankees’ first run in the fourth inning. Rodriguez scored the go-ahead run on a single to right by Nunez.
The subs were off to a good day – two hits for Nunez and Chavez’s first triple in four years – before an injury to Chavez’s left foot sent him to the clubhouse. It was difficult to determine just how he hurt the foot. Running out the triple, Chavez rounded first and second bases by touching them with his right foot. By the time he reached third base, Chavez was limping noticeably and signaled to the dugout that he was injured.
Watching Chavez come off the field is nothing new in recent years. In talking about how Chavez might contribute off the bench, most Yankees officials would begin the assessment by saying, “If he stays healthy,” since Chavez last played as many as 90 games in 2007 with the Athletics. On a day like Thursday, it seems like a luxury to have a six-time Gold Glove winner play as a substitute for a resting regular, but a variety of injuries limited Chavez to a total of 80 games over the past four seasons. That’s an average of only 20 per year. Thursday was Chavez’s 17th game of 2011.
Having to use Rodriguez in the field on a day when the manager wants to give him a day off is one of the problems of having a 12-man pitching staff. It shortens a bench, which many believe is not as necessary in the American League because with the designated hitter in effect there is less of a need for pinch hitters or pinch runners. Still, a short bench becomes a concern when it includes a player with health issues.
On the 31st anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death in a small plane crash, discussion among Yankees fans often centers on why he is not in the Hall of Fame. The answer is simple. He was not elected. The question is: Why?
Munson is one of the strangest cases in Hall of Fame voting, which is conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America of members with 10 or more consecutive years of coverage. On the face of it, his credentials are impressive. The hard-nosed catcher earned Rookie of the Year (1970) and Most Valuable Player (1976) honors from the BBWAA, drove in 100 or more runs three times, batted .300 five times, won three Gold Gloves, was named to seven All-Star teams and was one of the centerpieces of Yankees teams that won two World Series.
So what went wrong come election time? For one thing, his career was short. Munson played in 11 seasons and hit .292 with 113 home runs. Hall of Fame voters tend to lose for comparisons when voting. There was one obvious comparison for Munson, and that was Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher of the 1950s whose career was also shortened (to 10 years) because of a tragic auto accident that paralyzed him.
In his decade in the majors, Campy batted .276 with 242 home runs, played on five World Series teams (winning only once, in 1955), drove in more than 100 runs three times, hit .300 three times, was named to eight All-Star teams and was the National League MVP three times. The Gold Glove was not established until 1957, his last season, but he was acknowledged as one of the game’s best receivers and handlers of pitchers. The writers elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1969 in his fifth year of eligibility.
There does not seem to be much difference, does there? Well, there was one major difference between the two, and that was the matter of personality. Munson was popular with many of his teammates, from Bobby Murcer to Lou Piniella to Jim “Catfish” Hunter to Goose Gossage and beyond, but he was not as well liked by writers for the most part.
Munson had a prickly relationship with the press. He was gruff and impatient. Campanella, on the other hand, was one of the nicest human beings to grace a major-league clubhouse. Extremely popular with teammates and the press alike, Campy’s departure from the game left a definite void, and writers felt he was deserving of Hall recognition eventually.
Should how a player treats the press matter in Hall voting? No, and in most cases it doesn’t. Truth be told, Mickey Mantle wasn’t very sweet with writers during his career. Neither were Willie Mays or Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or Frank Robinson. And BBWAA members could write encyclopedias about how nasty Eddie Murray was to them. Not everybody in baseball is Yogi Berra or Stan Musial or Ernie Banks. Yet the malicious ones were voted into the Hall by writers anyway, so it is not about that.
What did hurt Munson was that perhaps due to his standoffishness with the press he had no one or previous few championing his case other than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whose opinion was prejudiced to say the least. The Boss felt his players should have won every award for which they were candidates and berated voters if it didn’t happen, so his campaigning carried no weight.
Munson’s best vote total was his first year on the ballot, in 1981, when he received 62 votes for 15 percent. He never got more than 10 percent of the vote after that. Munson remained on the ballot the full 15 years, which is amazing considering that he annually gathered only 30 to 40 votes.
My own view is that Munson’s chance to make the Hall was hurt by his going on the ballot immediately. The five-year waiting rule that went into effect in the mid-1950s is waved in the case of players who die. When Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972, there was a movement by writers to override the five-year wait and vote him in. A special election was held during spring training in 1973 and Clemente received 93 percent of the vote.
Clemente was a fairly obvious Hall of Fame choice, however, with 3,000 hits, an MVP Award, a World Series MVP and a dozen Gold Gloves, even though his relationship with the press was along the lines of Munson’s.
The five-year waiting period is a good rule. It allows perspective to become part of the equation in evaluating a player’s career. Campanella had to wait five years because he did not die. Munson went on the ballot too soon for his supporters’ good. Had writers been able to step back for five years and then look at his career, I feel that his chances would have been better.
Now Munson’s case falls to the Veterans Committee. As chairman of the BBWAA’s Historical Overview Committee which forms the Veterans Committee ballots, I can tell you that Munson get his day in court and just may make it one of these years.