Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’

Tanaka, Ellsbury handle pressure at Fenway

The Yankees originally intended to keep Masahiro Tanaka away from the Red Sox in the first two series against their rivals this year until the Japanese righthander had more solid footing in the major leagues. They did not pitch him against Boston in spring training, either.

But last week’s rainout at Yankee Stadium against the Cubs that led to a split-admission doubleheader the next day altered manager Joe Girardi’s rotation and resulted in Tanaka having to start Tuesday night at Fenway Park. He was certainly up to the task in a 9-2 Yankees victory, their fourth in five games against the Red Sox this season.

The Yankees gave Tanaka something of a comfort zone by taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Jon Lester, who was not at his best.

In his first game at Fenway since departing the Red Sox and signing with the Yankees as a free agent, Jacoby Ellsbury was celebrated by Boston fans, who cheered a pre-game video tribute to his contributions to two World Series championship teams. Once the game got under way, it was a different story as boos far outnumbered cheers for Ellsbury.

The fleet center fielder responded the best way he could — with his bat and his glove. Ellsbury began the game with a drive off the center field wall that was interfered with by a fan and was awarded a triple. Derek Jeter promptly got Ellsbury home with a single to center. That ran the Captain’s hitting streak to 11 games. It is the 47th double-figure hitting streak of Jeter’s career. That ties him with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker for the third highest total in history. The others in front of them are also Hall of Famers — Ty Cobb with 66 and Hank Aaron with 48.

A passed ball and throwing error by Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski helped the Yanks to an unearned run later on a single by Carlos Beltran. Surprisingly shoddy defense by the Red Sox did not help Lester. All four rune he allowed in the fifth inning were not earned due to an error by first baseman Mike Napoli. The Yankees earned their two runs in the third off Lester on successive doubles by Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann.

Yankees’ defense was just the opposite. Ellsbury set the tone in the bottom of the first with a sliding catch of a liner that robbed Grady Sizemore of a potential extra-base hit. Dustin Pedroia hit the ball hard as well for a double, but Tanaka came back to strike out David Ortiz and Napoli.

Those same two sluggers took Tanaka deep in back-to-back fashion in the fourth, but that was all the damage he sustained. The Yankees spent a small fortune on Tanaka, but at this point he looks like a bargain. He ran his record to 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA with another 7 1/3 sturdy innings. In 29 1/3 innings, Tanaka has allowed 22 hits and only two walks with 35 strikeouts.

His record in Japan last year was 24-0. Can he go 24-0 here this year?

Winfield to be honored at Negro Leagues Museum

Former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield is among four Hall of Fame players who will make up the inaugural class of the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Game. Lou Brock, Joe Morgan and the late Roberto Clemente will also be honored Saturday in induction ceremonies at the Negro League Baseball Museum and Gem Theater in Kansas City, Mo.

The day-long festivities include a press conference, VIP meet-and-greet, reception and dinner at the NLBM — followed by the Hall of Game inductions at the Gem Theater at 8 p.m.

The Hall of Game will annually honor former major league players who best exemplified the spirit and signature style of play that made Negro Leagues baseball a fan favorite. Inductees will also receive permanent recognition as part of the future Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center being developed by the NLBM at the site of the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro National League Feb. 13, 1920.

“This is truly a historic and proud day as we continue our efforts to celebrate the heritage of baseball,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “The Hall of Game celebrates both the style and substance of the Negro Leagues which represented professional baseball at its absolute finest. Our inaugural class of Major League inductees were all, in their unique ways, connected to the Negro Leagues experience. Their play was reflective and reminiscent of that common thread and we’re delighted to welcome them into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”

In 2008, Winfield developed the Major League Baseball honorary draft of Negro League players by all 30 MLB teams. “It was a bridge between baseball’s past and baseball’s present,” said Winfield, who had 465 home runs among his 3,110 career hits over 22 seasons. “For all the surviving players and everyone involved, it was a wonderful day.”

Yogi would not miss DJ’s last home opener

Although he was not part of the Opening Day festivities, Yogi Berra was not going to let Derek Jeter’s final home opener go by without coming to Yankee Stadium to wish the captain good luck in his farewell season.

The Hall of Famer and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who has thrown out many a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium, is confined to a wheelchair these days, but the 87-year-old legend was in good spirits as he entered the hallway to the Yankees’ clubhouse just as Jeter was heading out to the field for batting practice.

“Hey, kid, you ready for one more big year?” Yogi asked Jeter.

“I hope so,” DJ said. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot to us. I’ve got to go stretch now. You want to come with me?”

Yogi’s pre-game stretching days are well behind him, but as Jeter pointed out his presence is greatly appreciated by Yankees players. Yogi lost his lifetime partner, Carmen, last month to a long illness, so it was good to see him out and about in the venue that continues to embrace him.

Berra was among several popular former Yankees on the scene for the first home game against the Orioles. Jeter and best pal Jorge Posada did the duty of catching the ceremonial first pitches tossed by the other half of the “Core Four,” Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

Even before the game, it was a home opener to remember.

Yankees take control in first inning

It was a positive sign for the Yankees to break out of the gate early Sunday. They had been pushed around in first innings to the tune of 7-2 in the first five games of the season. Sunday at Toronto, they gave CC Sabathia a 3-0 lead before he took the mound even though they had only one hit in the first inning.

That hit was a two-out, two-run double by Kelly Johnson that climaxed a rally fueled by two walks and a hit batter off Drew Hutchison, who had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winning first start last week.

The Blue Jays answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff home run by Melky Cabrera, the third homer of the series for the former Yankees outfielder. Sabathia had given up four runs in the first inning in his Opening Day start last week at Houston.

Derek Jeter made history with a leadoff single in the third inning. It was career hit No. 3,319 for DJ, who tied Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time list. Jeter moved past Molitor with a single in the fourth for No. 3,320.

“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in professional sports is pretty special,” Molitor told me back in 2011 when Jeter reached 3,000 hits. “Getting 3,000 hits is as much a product of longevity as ability. If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte has multi-hit games in each of his first three career starts to become the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat since Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio from May 3-6, 1936 (also three games), according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Solarte entered play leading the Yankees in hits (7), doubles (3), extra-base hits (3), RBI (4), on-base percentage (.600), slugging percentage (.769) and OPS (1.369).

Solarte picked up his fourth double and fifth RBI of the season with one out in the fourth and then scored on the Yankees’ first home run of the season. Brett Gardner ended the drought with a drive to right off a 3-2 pitch that chased Hutchison.

Yanks owe Astros a ‘Thank you’ for Jeter

Snowflakes falling early Monday seemed a sign that winter simply would not go away. However, Tuesday’s weather turned out perfect for an Opening Day game. Alas, the Yankees were to begin the 2014 season on the road. That is a good thing for fans.

Look at this way, although the Yankees have to play the first six games of their season on the road, the guarantee for fans is that all the games will be played. Yankees fans do not worry about postponements due to weather conditions, an annual concern in the spring, because both ballparks — Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Toronto’s Rogers Centre — have retractable roofs. Not having to deal with early-season rainouts will keep the Yankees for having to lose precious off-days later in the season to makeup dates.

The Yankees begin this year where they ended up last season — in Houston where the Astros are amid another rebuilding mode. Perhaps the presence of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan will help matters, although even better would be if ‘ol Zeke could toe the rubber once more.

The Yankees will show off some new faces, but it is a familiar once that will draw much of the attention not only Tuesday night but also the rest of the season. This will be the swan song of Derek Jeter, who will call it a career at season’s end and conclude one of the greatest runs an individual player has ever had for the Yanks, which is high praise indeed.

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter

How ironic that DJ will begin this final journey in Houston because that is where his major-league career might have been centered all this time. The Astros had the No. 1 pick of baseball’s amateur draft in 1992 when Jeter, then a freshman at the University of Michigan, was eligible.

While Jeter was opening eyes at Kalamazoo High, no one was more impressed than Hal Newhouser, a former two-time American League Most Valuable Player (1944 and ’45) who would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame. Newhouser was a long-time executive at Pontiac Community Bank after his playing career ended and kept his hand in baseball as a scout and was working for the Astros at the time.

The former Tigers lefthander submitted one glowing report after the other on Jeter and told club execs that the tall, lanky shortstop was the best young player he had ever scouted. The Astros may have suspected a home-state bias on Newhouser’s part. For whatever reason, they passed on Jeter and used their top pick to select infielder Phil Nevin instead. Nevin went on to have a decent career, but his best years were after he left Houston and came nowhere near the heights reached by Jeter.

Newhouser was so upset at Houston’s decision that he quit his position with the team.

Astonishingly, Jeter was still around when the Yankees made the sixth overall pick of that draft and chose the player who would eventually be the center piece of a remarkable stretch of success that resulted in his becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in games played and hits and captain of clubs that won 13 division titles, seven pennants and five World Series.

While the Yankees are in Houston this week, they may want to thank the Astros.

Stick to the rubber, Mo; stay out of the outfield

I hate to be the spoilsport on this topic, but what the heck, somebody has to. The idea that Mariano Rivera should play center field at least for one inning in one of the Yankees’ final games of this season is absurd.

Even Mariano in his afternoon meeting with with longtime Yankees employees said he did not think he should do it. I mean, when Derek Jeter plays his final game whenever that may be, does anyone expect him to pitch an inning?

We are all aware of Mo’s athletic versatility and that it had been a dream of his to play center field in a big-league game at some point. But that was some time ago. He is 43 years old. True, Mariano shags in the outfield every day during batting practice, but a former major-league center fielder told me recently that shagging in BP does not translate automatically to playing the position in a big-league game.

For fans intrigued by such a possibility, ask yourself if you want the great Rivera to embarrass himself for a sideshow moment in what has been a magnificent and classy career. There was no chance this would happen Thursday night at the sold-out season finale at Yankee Stadium, not with the wild-card situation in the American League still in doubt and the Rays the opponents. Mo was likely to get into the game but in his more familiar role on the mound outs of the bullpen.

Granted, the three-game series at Houston that concludes the Yanks’ season has no significance. It would seem the ideal place for the gimmick of Rivera getting his inning in the outfield without compromising the integrity of the game, although an Astros club that has already lost 108 games may not like having their noses rubbed in it by a grandstand maneuver. One look at the incline in center field at Minute Maid Park should present all the reservations Rivera would need.

Is this the way we want to remember Mo? As a 43-year-old pitcher trying to track down liners running uphill in an unfamiliar yard? God forbid he should get hurt the way he did shagging in Kansas City last year.

I for one want to see him pitch in all three games at Houston, to show the fans there what a true, surefire future Hall of Famer is all about. It is also my hope that Mo put away his pipedream and continue to excel at the position he helped define. If he wants to play center field, plenty of amateur baseball leagues throughout the tri-state area would give Rivera that chance once his retirement as a major leaguer is complete.

Lend support to D-Rob for Clemente Award

David Robertson will represent the Yankees as one of the 30 club finalists for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which recognizes a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

The Clemente Award pays tribute to his achievements and character by recognizing current players who understand the value of helping others. The 15-time All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

David and his wife, Erin founded High Socks for Hope (a 501c3 nonprofit corporation) after tornadoes devastated his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011. High Socks for Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.

In addition to helping residents of Tuscaloosa, High Socks for Hope has provided aid to those affected by the May 20, 2013, tornado in Moore, Okla., as well as individuals in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. To help raise money for those in Tuscaloosa, Robertson donated $100 for every strikeout he recorded throughout the 2011-2012 seasons. The righthander racked up 181 strikeouts over the stretch. He has continued his pledge in the 2013 season for the residents of Moore.

In June of this year, the Robertsons teamed up with volunteers from NBTY Helping Hands to help welcome home families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The Robertsons delivered and unloaded new furniture for four families in Far Rockaway, Queens, and made an additional donation to help furnish homes for six other families in the Far Rockaway area.

The Yankees will recognize D-Rob’s nomination for this year’s Clemente Award with an on-field ceremony Friday prior to their 7:05 p.m. game against the Giants.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, fans may participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award winner by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends Sunday, Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2013 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

Yankees players who have received the Clemente Award were Ron Guidry in 1984, Don Baylor in 1985 and Derek Jeter in 2009. Others who played for the Yankees but won the award while with other clubs were Phil Niekro with the Braves in 1980, Dave Winfield with the Twins in 1994 and Al Leiter with the Mets in 2000. Leiter’s broadcast partner in the YES Network booth, Ken Singleton, won the award in 1982 with the Orioles.

Among the other winners are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn. Last year’s winner was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Stadium’s concessionaire honored

Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield was at Yankee Stadium Sunday as part of a pregame ceremony in which the American Academy of Hospitality Services honored the Yankees’ concessionaire, Legends Hospitality.

The academy is an establishment of reviewers specializing in rating hotels, resorts, spas, airlines, cruise lines, automobiles, products, restaurants and chefs. It is best known for its reviews of hotels, resorts and travel industries. The academy began in 1949 as a restaurant rating bureau. The current establishment, which dates to 1989, is an offspring of the early group and is most known for its International Star Diamond Award that was bestowed on Legends Hospitality Sunday for “First Class Accommodations, Amenities, Five Star Dining, Comfort, Convenience and Service Excellence.”

Winfield and Joseph Cinque, chief executive officer of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, presented the International Diamond Award to Yankees vice president of Stadium operations Doug Behar and Yankees senior vice president of strategic ventures and Legends Hospitality chief customer officer Marty Greenspun.

Yanks don’t take advantage of big rally

How many big rallies begin with a walk? It is a rhetorical question. I am not looking it up. Leave us just say a lot.

So when Ichiro Suzuki walked to lead off the seventh inning for the Yankees Thursday night it hardly seemed dramatic considering the score at the time was 7-2 Red Sox. But as Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch used to say famously during his managerial days, “Oh, them bases on balls.”

Perhaps Red Sox manager John Farrell had similar thoughts. If he didn’t, he should have. The leadoff walk has an ominous look to it regardless of the score. Suzuki’s stroll to first base was just the ominous sign the Yankees needed to get started toward a six-run rally that turned the tables in the game, yet another startling crooked-number inning that the Yanks have constructed regularly during their offensive renaissance of the past month.

In the blink of an eye, Ichiro was standing on third base after a pinch single by Vernon Wells chased Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who departed with a five-run lead but by inning’s end was still winless in his career against the Yankees.

Brett Gardner greeted lefthander Matt Thornton with a single to score Ichiro. With Derek Jeter at bat, Wells shook up the Red Sox with a steal of third, one of the Yanks’ season-high six swipes in the game. Thornton walked Jeter, which loaded the bases for Robinson Cano, who hit a bases-loaded double earlier in the game. This time he hit into a fielder’s choice but another run scored.

Alfonso Soriano also did an about-face from previous at-bats. Boston used an exaggerated shift against him all night. Twice he hit into it and flied out. This time against righthander Junichi Tazawa Sori poked a single to the right side for an RBI single that made the score 7-5. The Red Sox’ collective collar was tightening.

Curtis Granderson doubled to make it a one-run game. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Lyle Overbay pushed the Yankees into the lead with a ground single to right for two more runs. 8-7 Yanks, and what made it even cooler was that the situation was set up for them out of the bullpen with David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Robertson did his part with a hitless, two-strikeout eighth. In the ninth, Rivera came within one strike of registering a save that would have matched his uniform No. 42. But he walked – there’s that stat again – Mike Napoli on a full count. Pinch runner Quintin Berry stunned everybody by breaking for second base on Mo’s first pitch to Stephen Drew. The throw from Austin Romine, just into the game behind the plate, bounced in front of Jeter and went into left-center field as Berry wound up on third base.

Rivera’s save and the Yankees’ lead disappeared when Drew hit a flare single to right for a single that knotted the score. Career save No. 650 would have to wait for Rivera, whose blown save was his sixth of the season.

Cano wallops 200th career home run

So what is the best thing to do after a hitting streak ends? Start another one, of course.

Robinson Cano had an 11-game hitting streak stopped Saturday night at Boston. He came right back the next night at Fenway Park and went 3-for-5. Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in the first game of a split-admission doubleheader against the Blue Jays, Cano had 4-for-4 in helping to spark the Yankees to an 8-4 victory, their ninth in 10 games against Toronto this season.

Cano singled to right with two out in the first inning. His second hit proved more significant. Batting in the third inning with one out and two on and the Yankees trailing, 4-0, Cano jumped on a 1-0 fastball from righthander Esmil Rogers and drove it into the netting above Monument Park for a three-run home run that made it a one-run game.

The homer was the 200th of Cano’s career as he became the 16th Yankees player to reach that plateau. He needs two more home runs to tie Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey for 15th place on the franchise’s all-time list.

Cano also singled in the fifth and doubled home a run in the seventh. He has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 games, batting .453 with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in 53 at-bats.

“He got us back in the game with that home run,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

There was a time and not that long ago that a 4-0 deficit would have seemed insurmountable to the Yankees when their offense was struggling. Not anymore. It has certainly helped Cano to have Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson supporting him in the lineup.

“It’s a lot different,” Girardi said. “We’re hitting the ball out of the park more and getting hits in bunches.”

Cano’s homer was one of two big ones for the Yankees Tuesday. The other was by catcher Chris Stewart, a three-run shot in the sixth inning that put the Yankees ahead. It ended a drought of 173 at-bats without a home run for Stewart, who had previously homered May 15 against the Mariners at the Stadium.

The Yankees also got a strong game from Jayson Nix, who played shortstop in place of Eduardo Nunez out with an ankle injury. Nix handled six plays flawlessly in the field and also reached base three times with a hit and two walks and stole a base.

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