Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’

Yanks end bumpy trip on upbeat note

So when is a 2-3 trip considered good? When it starts out 0-3.

That was the situation with the Yankees at the end of a somewhat bumpy ride through Baltimore and St. Petersburg. They finished in an upbeat fashion Sunday with a 4-2 victory that included a semblance of a sustained offense and an encouraging outing by Hiroki Kuroda.

The victory also lifted the Yankees back into second place in the American League East, albeit a distant second since they trail the first-place Orioles by seven games. The Yanks are also 3 1/2 games behind in the chase for the second wild-card berth.

Kuroda was working on extra rest, which is something Yankees manager Joe Girardi intends to do as often as he can in the season’s final six weeks to prevent the fade the Japanese righthander sustained in the second half of the 2013 season. He certainly seemed to benefit from the extra time off.

Never before at his best against the Rays (2-4, 6.07 ERA) or at Tropicana Field (1-2, 6.94 ERA), Kuroda was in first-half form with 6 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs and four hits. Pitching to contact (one walk, one strikeout), Kuroda retired 17 batters in a row from the first through the sixth innings.

Kuroda gave up a run in the first inning, and that run looked quite large when Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson, who has pitched only since last month after undergoing arthroscopic right elbow surgery in January, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and got the first two out then rather easily.

A walk to Stephen Drew was the beginning of a sloppy inning for Hellickson, his last in the game, as the Yankees strung together four hits — a double by Martin Prado, a two-run single by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees the lead, followed by singles by Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury resulting in another run. The hit by Ellsbury was his only one on the trip in 20 at-bats but came at a good time. Prado also had a superlative game defensively at second base with eight assists and one putout.

Evan Longoria’s RBI single in the seventh off a tiring Kuroda cut the Yanks’ lead to 3-2, but Shawn Kelley stranded a runner at third before turning matters over to Dellin Betances in the eighth and David Robertson (33rd save) in the ninth, which has become a can’t-miss tandem.

Mark Teixeira made it 4-2 in the eighth with his 20th home run of the season and career No. 361, which tied him with Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio on the all-time list. Nice company that.

So the trip’s finish was far better than the start. The Yankees’ offense continues to be a concern. They averaged merely 2.6 runs per game on the trip and have been outscored by 37 runs this season.

But they come home with some momentum and have a chance to make some headway on the upcoming homestand against the also-ran Astros and White Sox.

Jeter passes Wagner for most hits by a shortstop

Honus Wagner

Honus Wagner

It was just a dribbler that the Cleveland third baseman, Lonnie Chisenhall, attempted without success to field bare-handed in the sixth inning Saturday as Derek Jeter crossed first base with his 3,431st career hit.

That single moved Jeter into sixth place on the all-time hit parade ahead of the major leagues’ first great shortstop, Honus Wagner. This was a very big deal.

DJ has passed quite a few legends on the hit list this year, Hall of Famers such as Eddie Collins, Paul Molitor and Carl Yastrzemski. But Honus Wagner? Now you are talking actual royalty.

Wagner, who was known as “The Flying Dutchman,” goes back to the game’s early days. He broke into the National League in 1897 with the old Louisville Colonels, a club that was absorbed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900, and played in the very first World Series, in 1903. Wagner was a great star of the dead-ball era, an athletic master at shortstop and one of the game’s best hitters. He won eight batting titles and finished with a career .328 average.

Wagner was a charter member of the Hall of Fame. He was elected in the original class of 1936 with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. Wagner accepted his position as a role model to youth and famously demanded a trading card sponsored by a tobacco company be removed from circulation so adamantly opposed was he to tobacco usage. The few cards from that 1909 set remain the most precious pieces of memorabilia among collectors.

Years after his retirement as a player Wagner was a coach for the Pirates. Players did not wear numbers on their uniforms when he played but did by the time he coached. His No. 33 has long been retired by the Pirates.

By passing the old Dutchman, Jeter now has more hits than anyone who ever played shortstop. The only players ahead of him on the career hit list are mostly outfielders — Pete Rose (who also played first, second and third base but not shortstop), Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial (also a first baseman) and Tris Speaker.

This was not lost on the Captain, who knows his baseball history and did not have to be told who Wagner was anymore than any of the other greats he has passed.

“He’s the last one on the list that ever played shortstop, so this one really hit home,” Jeter said. “To have the most hits of any player at one position is pretty special.”

Jeter is 83 hits behind Speaker and probably does not have enough time left (46 games) to make a run for fifth place. But being No. 6 on this list is an enormous accomplishment, not to mention appropriate. After all, 6 is the official scorers’ designation for a shortstop.

Crowd bemoans off day for Jeter

Thursday was one of those days when manager Joe Girardi is not the most popular guy at Yankee Stadium. An afternoon crowd on a postcard day watched the Yankees take the field without Derek Jeter.

In the Captain’s last major-league season, many fans come to the Stadium hoping to see Jeter in person one more time before his retirement. It might be the only home game they attend all year.

Jeter, who at 3,429 hits is one behind Hall of Famer Honus Wagner for sixth place on the career list, has been incredibly versatile in his final season with 101 games played of the Yankees’ 113 entering Thursday, but he cannot play every day. At 40, he needs an occasional day off, and it Girardi who has to play bad guy to the fans by keeping him on the bench once in a while.

The rare non-start allowed Stephen Drew to return to his more familiar position at shortstop with utility-man Brendan Ryan at second base. Since Drew is being counted on this season to play second base, I was surprised by the alignment. One would think the more Drew plays second base the more comfortable he would become. Girardi’s reasoning was that at this point in their careers Ryan, an excellent defensive shortstop as well, has played more often than Drew at second base. Naturally, it might also be a peak into next season if the Yankees are considering re-signing Drew, who can become a free agent at season’s end, to be Jeter’s successor at shortstop.

First baseman Mark Teixeira, who required three stitches to heal a wound to his left pinky injured in a slide at the plate in Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory over the Tigers, was also out of the lineup. Chase Headley, who has proved a valuable addition since coming over in a trade from the Padres, played first base in Tex’s absence with another relative newcomer, Martin Prado, coming in from the outfield to play third base. That opened up a start for Ichiro Suzuki in right field.

Torre steps into immortality

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The annual pilgrimage to baseball’s mythical birthplace never ceases in its appeal. It provides the chance to reflect on all that is good about the game as the Hall of Fame opens its doors to a new class of immortals.

And what a class in 2014! Former Yankees manager Joe Torre has more than 300 friends and relatives scattered all over this area to witness his induction Sunday alongside fellow managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa as well as pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the longtime Braves teammates, and first baseman Frank Thomas, one of two players with that name in town.

The other Frank Thomas, who was with the original Mets of 1962, is also here signing autographs on Main Street with Hall of Famers and non-Hall of Famers like Darryl Strawberry and Pete Rose. Also John Rocker, although I must say I have no idea why anyone would want his autograph.

Torre was feted Saturday night by the Yankees and Major League Baseball at a private party in a local brewery. Commissioner Bud Selig and Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner spoke glowingly of Torre’s contributions to the game and the franchise. Joe was gracious in his remarks, a sort of test run for the big speech he will on stage at the Clark Sports Center Sunday.

The city is abuzz with former Yankees here and there, including Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson and Goose Gossage. (Yogi Berra, not feeling well after a recent fall, canceled at the last minute. His boyhood friend from St. Louis, Joe Garagiola, also could not travel here to accept his Buck O’Neill Award Saturday at Doubleday Field but sent a taped message.)

Others here to witness Joe’s induction include actor-comedian Billy Crystal, Yanks chief operating officer Lonn Trost, Gene Michael, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Lee Mazzilli and others. Among the Hall of Famers who have longstanding relationships with Torre are Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax, plus Tim McCarver, last year’s Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting.

This year’s Frick Award winner, Eric Nadel, the Brooklyn-born Texas Rangers radio voice, gave a lusty speech at Saturday’s ceremony. There was also a wonderful acceptance speech by New Yorker magazine’s ageless (93 actually) Roger Angell, this year’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing.

This is perfect company for Torre, whose 12 seasons at the helm of the Yankees continued the franchise’s connection with success. He turned around the attitudes of many a Yankees hater from 1996 through 2007. His ascension into the Hall’s gallery is long overdue.

Reds salute Jeter with honored shortstops

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Walt Jocketty, Derek Jeter, Todd Frazier
(USA Today photo)

The gifts keep coming for Derek Jeter. Normally the Captain has been honored by teams in his final trip to that particular city. Since the Yankees do not travel to Cincinnati this year (barring a Yanks-Reds World Series, that is), the Reds made a presentation to DJ before Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium.

General manager Walt Jocketty and All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier, a New Jersey native, gave Jeter encased uniform jerseys of former Reds captains Dave Concepcion and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, autographed by both former shortstops.

Frazier was a member of the Toms River, N.J., team that won the Little League World Series in 1998. When the team was honored that year before a game at Yankee Stadium, Frazier, then 12, stood alongside Jeter at shortstop during the National Anthem.

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.

Jeter ties Gehrig’s club mark for doubles

In the same week that Lou Gehrig, the Yankees’ Hall of Fame first baseman, will be honored throughout Major League Baseball on the 75th anniversary of his farewell speech, Derek Jeter tied the “Iron Horse’s” franchise record for doubles.

Jeter’s blast to center field off David Price leading off the bottom of the third inning Tuesday night was career double 534, equaling Gehrig for the club mark. Jeet went to third on a sharply-hit single to center by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored on an error by shortstop Ben Zobrist, whose throw hit Ellsbury in the back in a rundown. Price was the pitcher off whom Jeter got his 3,000th career hit, a home run, in 2011.

The Yankees will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech of July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators because the club is on the road Friday at Minneapolis on the actual anniversary. The Twins are the descendants of the original Senators, who moved to the Twin Cities in 1961.

As part of the commemoration, Lou Gehrig bobbleheads presented by AT&T will be given to the first 18,000 guests. The sides of the bases will have special logos and the Yankees will wear a patch depicting Gehrig. The scoreboard will run a video featuring Jeter and first basemen from all 30 teams reciting Gehrig’s speech.

The on-field ceremony at the Stadium will include Kevin Brown Thompson, who lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that took Gehrig’s life in 1941 at the age of 37, and is an advocate with the ALS Association Greater NY Chapter. Also participating will be the Goldsmith family, who were part of the 70th anniversary Gehrig commemoration at the Stadium and who mourn the loss of Michael Goldsmith to ALS (Goldsmith spearheaded the effort to get MLB to recognize this day continent-wide) and U.S. Navy Lt. Commander (Select) Matthew Bellina, who began his career flying the EA6B Prowler and was diagnosed with ALS in April of this year.

Monument Park plaque for Goose on Old-Timers’ Day

Rich “Goose” Gossage will be honored with a Monument Park plaque dedication at the 68th annual Old-Timers’ Day celebration Sunday, June 22, at Yankee Stadium that will feature 50 former Yankees players and family members.

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow, which will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Orioles at 2:05 p.m., also airing on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding guests at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11:15 a.m. for the festivities.

As part of the pre-game ceremonies, the Yankees will unveil a Monument Park plaque for Gossage, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. He pitched in parts of seven seasons with the Yankees (1978-83, ’89) and won a World Series with them in 1978.

In addition to Gossage, the Old-Timers are headlined by Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, as well as Joe Torre, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also participate.

Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, teammates on the Yankees’ World Series title team in 2009, will make their Old-Timers’ Day debuts along with pitcher John Montefusco, who helped the club produce three seasons of at least 90 victories from 1983-86.

Joining the Hall-of-Famers and former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of six legendary Yankees – Maggie (Jerry) Coleman, Arlene (Elston) Howard, Helen (Jim “Catfish”) Hunter, Jill (Billy) Martin, Diana (Thurman) Munson and Kay (Bobby) Murcer.

List of those Scheduled to Attend

Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Maggie Coleman, David Cone, Johnny Damon, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Jake Gibbs, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Arlene Howard, Helen Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, John Montefusco, Diana Munson, Kay Murcer, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Andy Phillips, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Joe Torre, David Wells, Roy White.

Shortstop = Derek Jeter

Some years ago I got into a chat with Derek Jeter about playing shortstop. I mentioned to him that in doing some research for a story I was doing on Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Famer, I discovered that he only played shortstop in the major leagues. All 2,583 games of “Little Looie’s” career were at that position, which I thought was pretty interesting.

So did Jeter. We had been talking around the time Cal Ripken Jr. had moved from shortstop to third base about 15 years ago. We talked about how injuries forced players such as Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, two other Hall of Famers, to move off shortstop, to first base and center field, respectively.

“I’d like to try to play every game I’m in the field at shortstop,” DJ said. “It’s really the only position I know. If I’m good enough, I can do it.”

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Luis Aparicio at Yankee Stadium, c. 1959

It is fair to say that Jeter has been good enough. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Barring his going into the field later in the game, DJ will have to wait until Friday night to match what Aparicio did. It would be Jeter’s 2,583rd game at shortstop, which would tie Aparicio for second on the all-time list of games played at that position. It will be an appropriate place to do it considering that Aparicio played for the White Sox in 10 of his 18 major-league seasons. He also spent five years with the Orioles and three with the Red Sox.

And just like Aparicio, Jeter has played only shortstop whenever he has been on the field. Jeter has been a designated hitter in 58 games but has played no other position in the field. The DH rule went into effect in 1973, which was Aparicio’s last season in the majors, but he was never a DH that year.

The record for career games at shortstop is held by Omar Vizquel with 2,709. He played several other positions, however, in his major-league total of 2,940. Vizquel played in 150 games at third base, 76 at second base, three at first base, one in left field and one in right field.

Since this is Jeter’s final season in the majors, he cannot catch Vizquel. The Captain is 127 games behind Vizquel. The Yankees have 116 games remaining in the season. But Jeter will end up with the distinction that for 40 years belonged to Luis Aparicio as the career shortstop.

Tanaka brilliant in 4-hit shutout of Mets

Quality pitching finally arrived in this year’s Subway Series, courtesy of Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese righthander gave the Yankees precisely what they needed Wednesday night at Citi Field after being outscored by the Mets, 21-14, in the first two games at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka earned his first complete game and shutout in the United States with a dazzling four-hitter, 4-0. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. In addition, he rubbed the Mets face in it a bit by getting his first major-league hit, a single to center field off reliever Jose Valverde with two out in the eighth inning. Mets pitchers do not have a hit this season. Their 0-for-64 is the longest hitless streak of any pitching staff from the start of a season in history.

Tanaka silenced the Mets’ bats as well as most throats in the crowd of 35,577. In doing so, he improved his record to 6-0, which is a quarter of the way towards the 24-0 mark he compiled last year in Japan. Yankees fans surely see by now why the club was so high on signing Tanaka in the off-season. Six weeks into the season, he has emerged as the staff ace in a rotation that has been beset with injuries.

The Yankees spoiled the major-league debut of righthander Rafael Montero, a top pitching prospect for the Mets who has nothing to be ashamed about in his first outing. He gave up home runs to the Yanks’ two hottest hitters, Yangervis Solarte and Mark Teixeira, and another tainted run on one of Brian Roberts’ two triples that was misplayed by left fielder Eric Young Jr.

Tanaka got the Yankees through a game in which they were quite a bit short-handed. Not only did he bring relief to a worn-out relief corps but also allowed Carlos Beltran (right elbow bone spur) and Ichiro Suzuki (back and right knee soreness) additional time to heal their wounds.

Tanaka has won more games without a loss from the start of the season than any Yankees rookie pitcher since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford started his career 9-0 in 1950. Tanaka is also the first Yankees pitcher rookie or otherwise to pitch at least 6 1/3 innings in eight consecutive starts from the beginning of a season since Mel Queen did so in his first nine starts of 1944.

So desperate were the Mets for runs they tried to exploit the Yankees’ use of the over-shift by going for cheap stolen bases. It worked in the first inning for Daniel Murphy, who swiped an unprotected second base in front of Roberts, who was stationed in shallow right-center field with David Wright at the plate. It was to no avail as Wright and Curtis Granderson both flied out.

Chris Young tried the same thing in the fifth after he led off with a single. This time, Solarte from his over-shifted third base position was quick to cover second base as Young was thrown out by catcher Brian McCann.

Tanaka allowed only two Mets players to get as far as second base. In addition to Murphy in the first, Eric Young Jr. got there with a two-out double in the sixth before Murphy grounded out. Playing right field with Beltran and Suzuki unavailable, Alfonso Soriano made the fielding play of the game with a leaping catch to haul down a warning-track drive by Murphy in the fourth inning.

The definition of a stopper is a starting pitcher to stops losing streaks. Tanaka did just that in ending a four-game slide and also a six-gamer at the hands of the Mets over the past two seasons. Quality pitching will do that every time.

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