Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’

Severino should learn from Rivera’s example

It would have been an ideal situation if Dellin Betances came to the mound in the ninth inning Sunday to nail down a save on the same day Major League Baseball’s career saves leader, Mariano Rivera, was honored by the Yankees with a plaque in Monument Park.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, there was nowhere near a save situation for Betances as they lost a chance to pay the Rays back for that sweep in St. Petersburg, Fla., two weekend ago with a 12-3 loss that fell under the category of growing pains.

It certainly was a painful start for Luis Severino, whose record fell to 1-7 with a 7.19 ERA, in an erratic outing. He struck out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings but also allowed eight hits, including two home runs, and seven earned runs. Minutes after the game’s end, the Yankees optioned the righthander to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue to sort out his problems.

In watching Severino struggle, I could not help but see a possible connection to Rivera, who also had trying moments as a starter for the Yankees early in his career before finding a home in the back end of the bullpen. In three relief outings over 8 1/3 innings, Severino has allowed one run, and it was not earned. His ERA as a starter is 8.58. Could his future be in the pen?

“We are still looking at him as a starter,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but time will tell.”

It was not a good time for anyone named Luis Sunday. Luis Cessa was rocked for five earned runs and five hits in three innings. It was a much different picture for the youth corps from Saturday’s uplifting victory. Aaron Judge hit another home run, and Gary Sanchez also went deep, but it was a subdued day for the Yanks overall.

The positive aspect for the crowd of 41,473 at Yankee Stadium was the ceremony for Rivera, who joined other team immortals in Monument Park. Former teammates David Cone, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Paul O’Neill and Jorge Posada; former manager Joe Torre; former pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre; former trainer Gene Monahan and current trainer Steve Donohue took part in the ceremony along with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, his wife Cristina and sister Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

“Some closers are great, but nobody was like that,” Steinbrenner said in the hallway outside the clubhouse. “So to have kind of a sure thing was something that we never took for granted, but we certainly became comfortable with it, then all of the sudden he retires, and it’s a whole different world.”

Among accomplishments listed on Mo’s plaque was his records for saves (652) and games finished (952) and a remarkable postseason earned run average of 0.70 in 141 innings and an appropriate total of saves, 42, matching his uniform number that was retired last year.

“It’s amazing, thinking about all of the people out there in Monument Park, starting with Babe Ruth,” Rivera said after the ceremony. “You have Mickey [Mantle], you have Mr. Joe DiMaggio and my favorite Yogi Berra, and the list is going on and on. And then me, a humble guy from Puerto Caimito, Panama, being in that group of men means a lot.”

Rivera is the ninth pitcher to have a plaque in Monument Park. He joined Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Red Ruffing and Goose Gossage, along with Stottlemyre, Pettitte, Ron Guidry and Allie Reynolds.

As he was leaving the clubhouse area to rejoin his family, Mo told me a story I had never heard before. It seems that about a month after the Yankees won the 1998 World Series to complete that dominant 125-50 season (counting their 11-2 postseason mark), Rivera went to the Instructional League in Tampa to work with Stottlemyre.

“Mel wanted to help me work on using fewer pitches to get through innings,” Rivera said. “He emphasized me not trying to strike everybody out but to move the ball around the strike zone to get ahead in the count and make the hitters take more defensive swings. Mel was a great influence on my career.”

That episode in Rivera’s career says all there needs to be said about his devotion to his craft. The Yankees had just completed one of the most incredible seasons any team put together, and there was one of the club’s most important figures going back to the drawing board to make himself even better. That is why Mo earned that plaque.

Thunderstorm shortens A-Rod’s pregame ceremony

It rained all over Alex Rodriguez’s parade Friday night. A fierce thunderstorm with nor’easter winds whipping the rain shortened the pregame ceremony prior to Rodriguez’s last game with the Yankees.

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who worked out an agreement with Rodriguez whereby he will be released Saturday in order to sign a new contract as a consultant, presented A-Rod with a framed jersey No. 13 and a base signed by teammates. Mariano Rivera escorted Rodriguez’s daughters onto the field and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson escorted A-Rod’s mother. Former Yankees outfielder and manager Lou Piniella, who was A-Rod’s first major league manager in Seattle, was featured on a taped message on the center field screen.


Whether Rodriguez intended to make a speech is not known, but he and the rest of the group were forced into the dugout because of the heavy downpour that delayed the start of the game for half an hour.

After the tarpaulin was removed and the grounds crew began working on the field, Rodriguez did wind springs in right field to hearty applause from the sellout crowd. The announcement of his name in the starting lineup for the last time in pinstripes drew the loudest ovation by far.

Celebratory weekend at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will open a six-game homestand with an especially busy weekend as they honor Alex Rodriguez Friday night, the 20th anniversary of the 1996 World Series champions Saturday and Mariano Rivera Sunday in the three-game series against the Rays.

The Yanks will recognize Rodriguez in a pregame ceremony prior to his final game with the club. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 6:50 p.m. with ceremonies to follow soon thereafter. Please note that the Yankees-Rays game is now scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m.

The Yankees’ celebration of their World Series triumph of 20 years ago will begin Friday night as the first 15,000 people in attendance will receive a 1996 World Series replica trophy, presented by Delta Air Lines.

An on-field reunion of the 1996 champs will take place before Saturday’s game. Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Wade Boggs will be in attendance, along with Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Jimmy Key, John Wetteland, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, among others.

Finishing off the weekend will be Sunday’s Monument Park plaque dedication ceremony for Rivera, which will feature many notable Yankees alumni and special guests to honor Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader.

Fans are asked to be in their seats by noon for the introductions and subsequent ceremonies prior to the regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday games, which will air exclusively on the YES Network along with the pregame festivities. On both dates, Yankee Stadium gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 11 a.m.

The Hard Rock Cafe presents Little Steven’s Underground Garage Concert Series, powered by JBL will continue in the Pepsi Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level Friday with The Connection. The performance is scheduled to take place from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Admission to the pregame concert is included with a valid game ticket for that date. Future acts are currently scheduled to perform throughout the summer. More information on the series can be found at http://www.yankees.com/bands.

Ticket specials will run Monday Military Personnel Game), Tuesday (Military Personnel Game) and Wednesday (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel, Senior Citizen, Student and Youth Game). For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Monday, Aug. 15 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees T-shirt Night, presented by Kowa, to first 18,000 in attendance.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees Coloring Book Night, presented by Party City, to first 18,000 in attendance, 14 and younger.

Wednesday, Aug. 17 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
* CC Sabathia Growth Chart Day, presented by Catch 24 Advertising, to first 10,000 Guests in attendance, 14 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Chapman lighting up jugs gun in record figures

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd ooing and ahhing in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 2-1 victory over the Orioles as he threw the five fastest pitches ever tracked by MLB Statcast. They ranged in speeds of 104.0 to 105.1 miles per hour.

Chapman’s 105.1-mph fastball, on the sixth pitch to J.J. Hardy, matched his major-league-record 105.1-mph fastball that was clocked by FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x Sept. 24, 2010 with the Reds against the Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park. Statcast reports that Chapman has a majors-leading 217 pitches of at least 100 mph this season. The next most is 73 by the Braves’ Mauricio Cabrera. According to Statcast, 46.1 percent of Chapman’s 471 total pitches have hit triple digits.

One of Chapman’s No Runs DMC partners, Andrew Miller, had his franchise record streak of consecutive relief appearances with at least one strikeout end at 28, the longest by a major-league reliever since the Indians’ Cody Allen had 29 in a row from Sept. 29 through July 8 last year.

Miller pitched the eighth inning Monday night and retired Manny Machado on a tap to the mound, gave up a single to right-center by Mark Trumbo and got Matt Wieters on a 6-4-3 double play. The DP may be a pitcher’s best friend, but in this case it cost Miller a chance to extend his streak. He will just have to start a new one.

The trio of Chapman, Miller and Dellin Betances has combined for a 2.02 ERA with 26 walks and 191 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.
The Yankees are 18-1 when all three pitch in the same game. In those 19 games, No Runs DMC has teamed to post a 1.21 ERA with 16 walks and 90 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings and held hitters to a .138 batting average in 203 at-bats.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4 Monday night, his ninth game this season with at least three hits. He has had three such games in his past 10 games and six his past past 24. Beltran has a slash line of .379/.419/.552 (33- for-87) with 10 runs, six doubles my three home runs, 14 RBI, five walks and a hit by pitch in 24 games and 87 at-bats since April 20.

One off Beltran’s three hits Monday night was a double, career No. 523 to tie Hall of Famer Willie Mays for 45th place on the all- time list. Next up at 524 is Ken Griffey Jr., who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this coming weekend. In 43rd place at 525 is yet another Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Beltran has 15 seasons with at least 20 doubles, which is tied with Chili Davis for fifth most by a switch hitter in the modern era. The only switch hitters with more such seasons are Eddie Murray (20), Chipper Jones and Pete Rose (18 each) and Roberto Alomar (16).

Alex Rodriguez’s ninth home run of the season and 696th of his career was his 1,758th hit with the Yankees, which broke a tie with Wally Pipp for 17th place on the franchise’s career hit list. A-Rod has 69 career home runs against the Orioles, his second most against any opponent, topped only by the 70 he has slugged against the Angels.

Nathan Eovaldi, back in the rotation to start Tuesday night, is averaging 97.1 mph on his fastball this season, according to FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x, which is the highest average velocity in the American League and the second highest in the majors only to the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (98.1). Eovaldi earned his way back into the rotation by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in three relief outings.

Matsui, Cone put on show at Old Timer’s Day

At the annual Yankees Homecoming Dinner this April in which Hideki Matsui was honored for his career he told a story about when he was playing in Japan and was asked if he thought he could compete in the United States.

He told a reporter that he had seen a game in which David Cone was pitching and said, “I can hit that.”

Cone and Matsui have been teasing each other over that for years. So it was inevitable that there would be a confrontation between them. What better environment than Old Timer’s Day, the 70th version of which was celebrated Sunday?

Cone came into the game specifically to pitch to Matsui. The first pitch was over the Japanese slugger’s head. The next delivery was what has become an annual grooved special by Cone in Old Timer’s Day games, right down Broadway, and Matsui jumped all over it and drove it into the second deck in right field.

Cone feigned surprise and embarrassment. Truth be told, it is all an act. Cone knows what the fans want to see on Old Timer’s Day, and that is not a pitcher burning it in to every batter and striking everybody out. I once asked the Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson why he seldom took part in Old Timer’s games, and he told me that all they want is for the pitcher to put the ball over the plate so the hitters can mash it. Gibby was too competitive to play that kind of game.

Coney is a different cat. He knows Old Timer’s games are entertainment, and he aims to please. A few years ago, he grooved a pitch to former teammate Tino Martinez, who went yard. Paul O’Neill also clipped Cone. Sunday was just Matsui’s turn.

Scoring ahead of Matsui on his homer was Reggie Jackson, who had lined a single to left field in the prior at-bat off Scott Kamieniecki. I talked with Reggie Saturday after he spent about half an hour taking batting practice in the indoor cage at Yankee Stadium.

“I don’t want to strike out tomorrow,” he said, laughing.

Gene Michael is the manager for both teams, the Clippers and the Bombers. “That way, I can’t lose,” Stick said.

He had the lineup cards for both teams taped onto the front of his uniform. Roy White saw that he was batting sixth in the Clippers’ lineup and asked Stick how come Lee Mazzilli was batting second in the Bombers’ lineup.

“That’s the Triple-A squad; do you want to play for them,” Michael said.

Next came Mazzilli’s voice from across the room, “Hey, Stick, we can hear every word you are staying.”

The camaraderie among the former players is the best part of Old Timer’s Day. Bernie Williams and John Wetteland and Mariano Duncan and Charlie Hayes exchanged stories about the 1996 team that won the Yankees’ first World Series title in 15 years. Hayes still refers to the area near the third base box seats where he caught the final out against the Braves as “the holy ground.”

Williams was still beaming over graduating from Manhattan College of Music. “I completed the four years in three,” said Bernie, who is having a second career as a guitarist. “It was quite an experience. I thought I knew a lot about music until I realized that I didn’t.”

In addition to “Mr. October,” other Hall of Famers on hand were Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson, Goose Gossage and Joe Torre. Eddie Robinson, at 95 the oldest living former Yankees player, and 1956 World Series perfect game author Don Larsen, 86, were also in attendance.

Sadly missing was the catcher who leaped into Larsen’s arms at the end of that game. Yogi Berra was a rookie in 1947 when the Yankees honored Babe Ruth to begin the Old Timer’s Day tradition and was a staple of the event over the years. He was there in spirit, however, as the Yankees used jeweled bases commemorating his legacy during the game.

70th Yankees Old-Timers’ Day coming June 12

Five Hall of Famers will be among more than 40 former Yankees scheduled to attend the 70th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 12, at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. for the festivities with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow. All pregame celebrations will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Tigers at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 10 a.m.

The Old-Timers are headlined by Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also be part of the pregame with program.

Three-time All-Star closer John Wetteland, who won the 1996 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with saves in all four of their victories toward their 23rd World Series title, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut, alongside 1996 teammate Mariano Duncan, as well as Bubba Crosby and the oldest living former Yankees player, Eddie Robinson, 95.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the field will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

A complete list of Old Timers’ Day attendees:

Jesse Barfield, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, David Cone, Bubba Crosby, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Arlene Howard (widow), Helen Hunter (widow), Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin (widow), Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Gene Monahan (Trainer), Diana Munson (widow), Kay Murcer (widow), Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Eddie Robinson, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Pineda brings some ‘quality’ to his start

The quality start is somewhat of a bogus statistic. It is rewarded to a starting pitcher who allows three or fewer runs in six innings. Since three runs allowed in six innings converts to an earned run average of 4.50, the quality start can be a pretty hollow stat.

However, a 4.50 ERA looks pretty good these days to Michael Pineda, whose ERA stands at 6.34 after what qualified Sunday as a quality start for him as the Yankees won their fifth straight game and completed their first four-game sweep at Oakland since 1979.

That Pineda had one of those six innings-three runs quality starts was just fine with the Yankees, who have been waiting for him to come close to one and falling in line with the rest of the rotation in creating this winning streak. The more important stat for Pineda was the “W,” a winning decision that ended a winless stretch of eight starts since his only other victory April 6. On that day, the righthander allowed six earned runs in five innings (10.80 ERA) and benefit from his teammates scoring a season-high 16 runs.

Pineda showed progress to some degree in pitching from the stretch and displayed improved control of his slider, which has been wayward to say the least. The most quality of his innings was the sixth because in retiring the side in order Pineda held onto a 4-3 lead and set up the rest of the game for Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Athletics.

Carlos Beltran helped the situation further with a two-out, RBI double in the seventh for a 5-3 Yankees advantage. Betances had two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh, but Miller had to work to avoid having the A’s tie the score in the eighth after consecutive errors by shortstop Didi Gregorius and second baseman Starlin Castro gave Oakland runners on the corner with none out. Miller got a huge strikeout of Danny Valencia before pinch hitter Billy Butler drove in a run with a groundout to third. Another grounder to third by pinch hitter Khris Davis ended the threat before Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

This was the fifth time all three power relievers appeared in the same game. They have combined for a 1-0 record with five saves, a 1.17 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings in those games. Overall, the Yankees’ bullpen over the past 20 games is 4-1 with seven saves and a 2.10 ERA in 60 innings.

Yet it has been starting pitching that has done the most to shape the winning streak. Starters were 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA this turn through the rotation and allowed 19 hits and four walks with 26 strikeouts in 31 innings.

After winning the first three games of the Oakland series with only one home run (by Beltran), the Yankees got solo shots from Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury off A’s starter Jesse Hahn. After the A’s regained the lead in the fifth on a two-out, RBI double by Stephen Vogt, the Yankees got a pair of two-out hits of their own to move ahead for good.

Mark Teixeira greeted reliever John Axford with an infield single to end a 0-for-19 stretch and get his first run batted in since May 1 covering 71 plate appearances. The legs of Brett Gardner got that RBI for Tex by scampering home from second base on the grounder that was knocked down by A’s second baseman Chris Coghlan in shallow center field. Castro got the Yankees back in front with a single to left-center.

Beltran finished off an incredible series that brought the Yankees’ season record within one game of .500 (21-22) in which he had nine hits in 17 at-bats (.529) with eight RBI. His fifth double of the set was career No. 515, which tied Hall of Famer Joe Cronin for 50th place on the all-time list. With Alex Rodriguez due to come off the 15-day disabled list when the Yankees open a brief homestand Tuesday night, Beltran will have to surrender his designated hitter duties.

The Yankees are 13-6 since A-Rod went on the DL. Beltran’s productivity has been a major factor in that record. In 12 games as the DH, Beltran hit .367 with nine runs, nine doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 49 at-bats. The Yankees were 10-2 in those games. Rodriguez has big shoes to fill.

Red Sox pound Green Monster late for comeback win

Fenway Park has been a comfort zone for the Yankees in recent years. Red Sox fans could not have been pleased that the Yankees won seven of nine games there last year and were 23-13 at Fenway since the start of 2012, their best four-year run in the rival team’s home in 49 years.

Masahiro Tanaka certainly looked comfortable at Fenway Friday night. Until the seventh inning, that is. Tanaka was working on a three-hit shutout through six when the tide turned against him. Three left-handed batters went to the opposite field for hits that wiped out a 2-0 deficit.

A double off the wall by Jackie Bradley that scored Travis Shaw and Brock Holt, each of whom had punched singles to left field with one out, was the killer for Tanaka, a stunning development since it came one pitch after the righthander had struck out Ryan Hanigan on a 94-mph fastball. 

Given new life, the Red Sox struck again in the eighth against Dellin Betances. David Ortiz drove a hanging curve ball over the Green Monster for a two-run home run. Just like that, the Yankees were 4-2 losers. Yankees fans have seen Ortiz do such dramatics over the years against the Bombers. Ortiz is a career .307 hitter with 48 home runs and 160 RBI in 834 career at-bats against Yankees pitching. Fourteen of those homers have given Boston leads in games. Yankees fans are happy this is his last season.

That the Red Sox were still in position to make a comeback was due primarily to the failure of the Yankees’ offense to take advantage of all the base runners they had over the first six innings against lefthander Henry Owens, who entered the game with a career 13.50 ERA against them. Brett Gardner’s two-out, RBI single in the fifth was the Yanks’ only hit in five at-bats with runners in scoring position. Alex Rodriguez’s fourth home run accounted for the other Yankees run. They had 10 runners on base in the first five innings against Owens, and only two scored. The Red Sox turned four double plays behind Owens.

Rodriguez’s 691st career home run was also career hit No. 3,082, which pushed him past Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 20th place on the all-time list. Next up is another Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield, at 3,110.

Boston relievers Matt Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel each retired the side in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The Yankees’ opportunities came against Owens, but they let them slip away, just like the game.

Yanks’ offense can’t match Tanaka’s brilliance

Division races do not get much tighter than this: two teams separated by only a half-game both locked in 1-1 games entering the ninth inning. That was the case for the Yankees and the Blue Jays Tuesday night.

Toronto ended up going into extras. The Yankees wished they could have done the same. After eight brilliant innings from Masahiro Tanaka, Chasen Shreve (6-2) gave up a home run to Chris Davis leading off the ninth and it held up for a 1-0 Orioles victory. Not long after the game at Yankee Stadium ended, the Blue Jays scored four runs in the 10th for a 5-1 victory at Fenway Park and took a 1 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.

It was a tough no-decision for Tanaka, who gave the Yankees exactly the kind of start they needed on the heels of the loss of Nathan Eovaldi probably for the rest of the regular season due to right elbow inflammation and to spare the bullpen that may be needed Wednesday night with CC Sabathia coming back to the rotation after a stint on the 15-day disabled list because of right knee inflammation.

Tanaka was at his dominant best with 10 strikeouts. He flirted with a perfect game for four innings. That ended with a leadoff walk, his only base on balls, in the fifth, and soon the no-hit bid was gone as well when Matt Wieters singled on a dribbler against the overshift.

The shutout remained intact through that inning, but a home run to right by Ryan Flaherty at the start of the sixth put an end to the scoreless tie. The Yankees responded with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning by Alex Rodriguez off Kevin Gausman. It was an historic hit for A-Rod, career No. 3,056 that pushed him by Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson into 22nd place on the all-time list. In addition, Rodriguez reached the 30-homer plateau for the15th time in his career, tying the record established by Hall of Famer Henry Aaron.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, that would be the extend of their scoring as relievers T.J. McFarland, Darren O’Day (6-2) and Zach Britton (31st save) held them hitless over four innings. The last 11 Yankees batters went out in order.

That the game was so close was a testament not only to Tanaka’s pitching but also their defense. Third baseman Brendan Ryan made a remarkable stop of a scorching grounder by Jonathan Schoop and from his knees threw a dart to second baseman Stephen Drew to start a double play that loomed large when the next batter, Wieters, doubled off the wall in left-center. Shortstop Didi Gregorius followed with a good stop of a grounder by J.J. Hardy to get the third out of the inning.

After Davis’ homer in the ninth, the Orioles threatened to extend their lead with singles by Jimmy Paredes and Schoop. One out later, Shreve struck out Hardy for the front end of a double play as Ryan kept the glove on Schoop, who attempted to steal third base but over-slid the bag slightly. An offensive highlight to match that was not forthcoming, however.

Big Mac & A-Rod HRs put Archer on the skids

The condition is known as the wheels falling off. Fortunately for the Yankees, the condition struck Chris Archer in the sixth inning Sunday that helped them survive a major scare by the Rays.

Archer, who took a 5-0 career record and 1.78 ERA against the Yankees into the game, appeared destined to improve those statistics over the first five innings, four of which he retired the side in order.

As Yankees catcher Brian McCann noted of Archer, “He didn’t pitch out of the stretch a whole lot early in the game.”

The sixth inning was another story, and it was McCann who was pivotal in the Yankees’ turning the game around. Archer began the sixth working on a one-hit shutout with a three-run lead, thanks to a two-run home run by Kevin Kiermaier in the second inning and a two-out, RBI single by Logan Forsythe in the third against Ivan Nova, who ended up the winning pitcher because of the turn of events in the sixth.

It seemed like another mow-down inning in store for Archer when Stephen Drew flied out to left field leading off. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had the Yankees’ only hit to that point (a two-out single in the third that ended a 0-for-17 stretch), hit a ground single to right, but Archer came right back to strike out Brett Gardner.

Curiously, Archer pitched especially carefully to Carlos Beltran for no reason I could detect and walked him on five pitches. At 2-0, Beltran expected to see a fastball, but Archer threw three straight sliders and lost him. Beltran was 0-for-2 in the game and 2-for-14 (.143) against Archer in his career, so why be so careful when a hitter as dangerous as McCann on deck.

McCann’s career numbers against Archer (2-for-16 going into that at-bat) weren’t much better than Beltran’s, but they were about to become so. Archer fell behind 3-1 to McCann, who got the fastball Beltran expected and drove the ball over the right field fence for a three-run homer that knotted the score.

As if the wheels had not fallen off enough for Archer, Alex Rodriguez also took him deep on the next pitch. Once again, the long ball came to the Yankees’ rescue as they went on to a 6-4 victory to keep pace with the Blue Jays, 10-4 winners over the Orioles and clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead in the American League East.

McCann’s 25th home run marked a career high in one season for the catcher, who seems much more comfortable in his second year in pinstripes.

“I know the league a lot better,” said McCann, who spent nine years in the National League with the Braves before signing with the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 2014 season. “Getting to know the pitchers, the ones and twos on each staff and situational lefthanders. When you’re in the same league year after year you don’t have to make that much of an adjustment.

“That’s our formula,” manager Joe Girardi said of the home runs, and he was right on target.

The Yankees, whose overall record is 76-59 (.563), are 65-34 (.657) when they homer. When they hit two home runs, as they did Sunday, or more, they are 41-11 (.788). Of the 13 runs the Yanks scored in the three games at Yankee Stadium against the Rays, nine were the result of home runs.

The Yankees added two runs against a ragged Tampa Bay bullpen, one on a throwing error by Fosythe and one on a single by Didi Gregorius, who had two more hits and has had at least one RBI in eight of his past 10 games. A-Rod contributed to the eighth-inning rally with a single, his 3,053rd career hit that tied him with Hall of Famer Rod Carew for 24th place on the all-time list.

But what most of the 35,299 people in attendance at the Stadium will remember most about Sunday’s game were the home runs in the inning when the wheels fell off for a modern-day Yankee killer.

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