Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’
Nearly 50 former Yankees players and managers will participate in festivities at the 67th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 23, at Yankee Stadium. Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow, both of which will be aired exclusively on the YES Network.
The Yankees will play the Rays at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Stadium gates will open to ticket-holding guests at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11 a.m. for the program.
The Old-Timers headliners are five Hall of Famers – Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson. Former Yankees and current YES broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill and Lou Piniella will also take part.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who helped lead the Yankees to three consecutive World Series titles from 1998-2000, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut along with Flaherty, Brian Dorsett, Todd Greene, Scott Kamieniecki and Andy Phillips.
Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the baselines 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.
Here is a list of those expected to attend:
Luis Arroyo, Steve Balboni, Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Ron Blomberg, Brian Boehringer, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Chris Chambliss, Horace Clarke, Jerry Coleman, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Brian Dorsett, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Todd Greene, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Sterling Hitchcock, Arlene Howard, Helen Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson, Kay Murcer, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Andy Phillips, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Mel Stottlemyre, Mike Torrez, David Wells, Roy White, Bernie Williams.
Through five innings Saturday, Phil Hughes had thrown 86 pitches. I thought here’s another situation in which the righthander cannot moderate his pitch count and that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would have to get his bullpen in gear early.
But lo and behold, Hughes got more efficient with his pitches and came up with three straight 1-2-3 innings to be in good position to get his first winning decision of the season. Phil certainly earned it with eight shutout innings in which he allowed four hits and two walks with a season-high nine strikeouts.
Things got a bit hairy in the ninth when Shawn Kelley gave up a leadoff single, and Girardi did not hesitate to call on Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation. Mo gave up a walk and a hit with a couple of runs scoring, but the 4-2 Yankees final gave Hughes that long-awaited first victory of the season.
“I knew my pitch count was pretty high the first five innings,” Hughes said. “It all starts with the fastball. I got more aggressive with it on both sides of the plate and then I could mix in off-speed stuff.”
Hughes’ 117-pitch effort included an unusually high number of strikes – 82 – and marked his fourth consecutive outing of six or more innings in which he allowed two or fewer runs. He has held opponents to a .223 batting average in that stretch. Over those starts, Hughes had brought his ERA down from 10.29 to 3.60. “I feel like I’m clicking now,” he said.
For the second straight outing at Yankee Stadium, Hughes kept the ball in the yard, something he had not done before his previous start since last August. The long ball will always be a nemesis for Hughes, a fly-ball pitcher (10 of his 24 outs Saturday were in the air), but it is worth noting that all five homers he has allowed this year have come with the bases empty.
Ichiro Suzuki saved Hughes from yielding a home run to the first batter of the game, catcher John Jaso, with a fence-climbing catch in right field. A couple of other drives reached the warning track but stayed out of the stands.
“The consistency of his pitches every inning” was Girardi’s explanation for the turnaround in Hughes since his first two poor starts to open the season. “He mixed in all his stuff the second and third time through the order.”
Hughes’ offensive support came mainly from the bottom of the order – home runs from 9-hole hitter Chris Stewart in the third and 7-hole hitter Lyle Overbay in the fifth off Athletics starter Bartolo Colon and a triple by 8-hole hitter Eduardo Nunez, who scored on a two-out single by Brett Gardner in the seventh. The other run came from cleanup hitter Travis Hafner with a single in the sixth that scored Robinson Cano, who had doubled to lead off the inning against Colon.
That double was career No. 344 for Cano, who broke a tie with Hall of Famers Bill Dickey and Mickey Mantle to take over eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Colon, who was 8-10 for the Yankees in 2011, lost for the first time in four decisions this year despite another good outing (three runs, six hits, no walks, three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings). A control freak of a power pitcher, Colon has tossed 37 1/3 innings in 2013 and walked one batter.
The Yankees are 28-9 in games immediately following shutout losses since the start of the 2008 season (all under Girardi) with victories in both cases this year and 11 of the past 13. . .Hughes, with a 1.93 ERA and 30 strikeouts over his past four starts covering 28 innings, became the first right-handed starter for the Yankees to pitch at least eight shutout innings and strike out at least nine batters in a game since Mike Mussina Sept. 14, 2004 at Kansas City and the first to do so at the Stadium since Roger Clemens June 18, 2003 against the Rays. . .Hafner has at least one RBI in nine of the Yankees’ 10 series this season. . .Stewart entered 2013 with four homers in 351 career at-bats. He has two in 40 at-bats this season. . .Rivera’s 1,064th career appearance tied him with Dan Plesac for sixth place on the all-time games list. . .The Yankees are 17-2 when holding opponents to four or fewer runs and 16-3 when scoring four or more runs.
Considering the weakened state of the Yankees’ batting order, it makes absolutely no sense to pitch to Robinson Cano. Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez have done nice work offensively early on while Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter are healing, but the opposition would be wise not to put Cano in any position to create havoc.
The Yankees are grateful that Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy ignored this advice that resulted in Cano cranking a three-run home run in the fourth inning to wipe out a 2-0 deficit.
Cano, back in the 2-hole where he has flourished this season (.395, four doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI), had a single and was stranded in the first inning. McCarthy wisely walked Cano intentionally after falling behind 2-0 in the count in the second inning with runners on first and third and two out. Kevin Youkilis ended the inning with a grounder to third base.
In the fourth, McCarthy came back from yielding leadoff singles to Overbay and Chris Stewart by striking out Brett Gardner. It appeared McCarthy would take the same approach to Cano and fell behind 3-0 in the count. McCarthy got a strike with a changeup on the black, and then threw a curve out of the strike zone that Cano fouled off. Getting to 3-2 must have given McCarthy some confidence that he should go after Cano.
Bad move for the pitcher; good move for the Yankees. Cano cranked a full-count change into the bleachers in right-center field for his fourth home run and a 3-2 Yankees lead. The Yanks had nine nits over the first four innings off McCarthy, who was gone after 102 pitches, but had left five runners on base over the first three innings and were hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position before Cano connected for his fourth home run of the season.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova also made a relatively early exit after a 94-pitch, five-inning stint. The D-backs left seven runners on base against Nova, who gave up two runs in the third but avoided further damage with a big strikeout of former teammate Eric Chavez and getting another former Yankee, Eric Hinske, on an infield out.
Nova’s best work was in the fourth inning after yielding a leadoff double to A.J. Pollock. Cliff Pennington sacrificed Pollock to third base, which prompted the Yankees to bring the infield in against Geraldo Parra, who rolled a grounder to Overbay at first base that kept Pollock at third. Nova ended the threat with a strikeout of Martin Prado.
It was a serviceable outing for Nova, who has been under intense scrutiny but how about cutting him some slack. With all the weather problems, Nova has made only two starts 17 days into the season. It is hard to get into a rhythm. He had a very good curve Tuesday night and made pitches when he needed them for the most part.
The Yankees added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Nunez, and the bullpen did a great job after Nova with Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combining for four shutout innings of one-hit, no-walk, three-strikeout relief.
How appropriate that on a night when players on both clubs wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson’s legacy that Rivera, the last active player to wear that number, got the save, his third of the season and 611th of his career, with a 1-2-3 ninth and that the deciding runs were driven in by a player named after the trail blazing Hall of Famer.
Equally appropriate was the final score:
NASHVILLE – There was good news and bad news for Yankees fans coming out of baseball’s Winter Meetings Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
First, the good news; another person associated with the Yankees was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pre-Integration Era Veterans Committee elected former club owner Jacob Ruppert to the Hall, along with 19th-century catcher-third baseman Deacon White and umpire Hank O’Day.
Among Ruppert’s many contributions to the Yankees in his time as owner was the design of their pinstriped uniforms, the purchase of Babe Ruth’s contract from the Red Sox and the construction of the original Yankee Stadium, a palace among baseball parks in the 1920s. Ruppert’s nickname was “The Colonel,” even though his time as a colonel in the National Guard was short, certainly less than his four terms as a United States congressman from the Democratic Party.
“The election of Jacob Ruppert to the Hall of Fame is a great honor for the Yankees organization,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Under his leadership, the Yankees became the most popular and successful team in baseball, setting the standard which we try to uphold today.”
Ruppert becomes the 48th individual enshrined in the Hall to have played, managed, coached, owned or been a general manager for the Yankees. He joins Ed Barrow, Larry MacPhail, Lee MacPhail and George Weiss among Hall of Famers who had ownership stakes or were general managers of the Yankees but never played for, coached or managed the club.
The bad news, however, is quite grim. Alex Rodriguez will require surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and will likely miss at least the first half of the 2013 season. The news, first reported by George King in the New York Post, is a severe blow to the Yankees but also serves to explain in part why the third baseman may have struggled so much during the past postseason when he hit .120 with 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.
“I do think that it’s a likely scenario that the struggles we saw in September and in October are more likely than not related to this issue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a press conference here. “Clearly Alex was dealing with an issue that although he might be asymptomatic but the lower half and the way the mechanisms work, he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. There were times that we thought watching him that he was all arms and no legs, but again, there were no complaints, no pain, and then in the playoffs when he got pinch hit for, he did have a complaint that he felt his right hip wasn’t working right, and that was all clear.”
According to Cashman, Rodriguez told manager Joe Girardi in the dugout the night of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles when A-Rod was lifted for pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who hit a game-tying home run, that his right hip did not feel right. Rodriguez had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam after the game at New York Presbyterian Hospital that did not reveal any damage.
Rodriguez had a checkup during the offseason in Vail, Colo., which showed a tear in the left hip that was confirmed in a second opinion by Dr. Bryan Kelly, who will perform the operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery after A-Rod completes a four- to six-week pre-surgery regimen. The procedure is expected to require four to six months for recovery.
With the surgery likely to be scheduled in January, the earliest Rodriguez could be expected to play would be June and more realistically after the All-Star break in July.
So what do the Yankees do about third base for the first half of next season? Cashman all but ruled out the possibility of Eduardo Nunez playing there (“We see him as a shortstop,” the GM said) and pointed out that the club got through 2012 with several players in left field filling in for injured Brett Gardner.
Jayson Nix, who has re-upped with the Yanks for 2013, could be used in part of a platoon. Eric Chavez, who played in 64 games (50 starts) at the position last season, is now a free agent.
“My sole interest is just improving the entire club,” Cashman said. “Whether we solve any issue specifically at that position of third base, I can’t really answer.”
Lee MacPhail, whose ties to the Yankees go back more than 60 years, died Thursday night of natural causes at his home in Delray Beach, Fla., two weeks after his 95th birthday. MacPhail had been the oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a distinction that belongs now to former Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr, 94.
Born Oct. 25, 1917 in Nashville, Tenn., Lee MacPhail was the son of another Hall of Fame executive, Larry MacPhail. They are the only father-son combination in Cooperstown. Lee followed in his father’s footsteps by serving as a front office executive in baseball for 45 years.
“Baseball history has lost a great figure in Lee MacPhail, whose significant impact on the game spanned five decades,” Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. “As a Hall of Fame executive, Lee developed one of the game’s strongest farm systems for the New York Yankees before serving as American League president for 10 years. He will always be remembered in Cooperstown as a man of exemplary kindness and a man who always looked after the best interests of the game.”
MacPhail began his career with the Yankees in 1949. He served as farm director and player personnel director for 10 years and built a system that resulted in the team winning nine AL pennants and seven World Series championships during his tenure.
“Lee MacPhail was a good man, and I had a great relationship with him for many, many years,” Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford said. “I was pleased to see him elected to the Hall of Fame because he was so talented at building winners. As farm director, he was integral in maintaining the Yankees’ championship run.”
MacPhail left the Yankees in 1959 to become general manager of the Orioles. In Baltimore, he laid the groundwork for the 1966 World Series championship squad that began a decade-long stretch of success for that franchise.
In 1965, MacPhail became the chief administrative assistant to newly-elected commissioner William Eckert. After being named Executive of the Year in 1966 by The Sporting News, MacPhail returned to the Yankees as general manager and served in that capacity from 1967 to 1973 before being elected president of the AL.
From 1974 to 1983, MacPhail oversaw expansion in Toronto and Seattle, helped develop the designated hitter rule and ruled on George Brett’s famous pine tar home run in 1983. MacPhail was not popular with Yankees fans for that decision which upheld Brett’s home run. Principal owner George Steinbrenner felt strongly that Brett had broken baseball’s rule for how much pine tar could be used on a bat, but MacPhail ruled that the spirit of the rule was violated by negating the home run. The incident still causes debates today nearly 30 years later.
MacPhail resigned after the 1983 season but continued his work in baseball as the president of Major League Baseball’s Player Relations Committee. He was elected to the Hall of Fame’s board of directors in 1974, making him the longest-tenured member of the current board, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Veterans Committee.
“Lee was one of the nicest, most considerate general managers I ever dealt with,” Hall of Fame executive Pat Gillick said. “And as president of the American League, he was one of the most professional individuals with whom I have ever worked.”
No services are planned at this time. A memorial will be held at a date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, the MacPhail family has asked that donations in his memory be made to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Here is the reading on Lee MacPhail’s Hall of Fame plaque:
Leland Stanford MacPhail Jr.
One of the leading executives in baseball history, his name is synonymous with integrity and sportsmanship. As farm director and player personnel director of the Yankees (1949-58), helped build a system which yielded seven world championships. As Orioles general manager (1959-65), helped lay the groundwork for one of the game’s most consistently successful franchises; and he later rejoined the Yankees in the same capacity. Served admirably as American League president (1974-83) before concluding his 45-year career as president of the Player Relations Committee. He and his father Larry form the first father son tandem in the Hall of Fame.
I still cannot get over the idea that Willie Mays is no longer in the top10 of hit makers in major-league history. Derek Jeter nudged the Say Hey Kid out of the group with an infield single in the fifth inning Friday night for career hit No. 3,284. Next on the list in ninth place is Eddie Collins at 3,313. With only 18 games remaining, Jeter may have to wait until next year to catch the Hall of Fame second baseman.
But Mays is certainly a big one. People of my generation tend to think of Mays as the greatest player they have ever seen. That is my opinion. It was also Joe Torre’s. Jeter has something in common with Mays, and that is he plays the game with the same sense of joy that Willie did. They are entirely different types of players in other regards, but in enthusiasm for the game they are equal.
Jeter has met Mays on several occasions, most prominently during the 2007 All-Star Game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park when he and Junior Griffey interviewed the center field legend as part of that week’s festivities. Jeter has been passing Hall of Famers left and right in his march up the hits path, but going past Willie Mays is one he won’t forget.
The Yankee Stadium crowd of 45,200 treated Jeter to a deserved standing ovation.
Orange was the predominant color at Camden Yards for an Orioles-Yankees game Thursday night for what might have been the first time in 15 years. Ever since 1998, the first of 14 straight losing seasons for the Orioles, games against the Yankees in Baltimore provided local fans the opportunity to scalp tickets to willing New Yorkers who traveled to the Chesapeake Bay to see their heroes.
The main attraction was Cal Ripken Jr., who had a statue unveiled in his honor 16 years to the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s streak of consecutive games with No. 2,131 that would eventually grow to 2,632 and earn the “Iron Man” a place alongside the “Iron Horse” in the Hall of Fame. The rest of the night, however, belonged to the upstart 2012 Orioles, who received a standing ovation from Cal and the others in the sellout crowd of 46,298 after a rousing victory over the Yankees that left the teams tied for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees nearly spoiled it all for all those orange shirts when they erased a 6-1 deficit in the eighth inning with a five-spot on the sort of rally they have lacked much of the year. The offense came alive in a game in which the Yankees fell behind, 4-0, in the first inning. Erratic relief work by Pedro Strop, who faced four batters and gave up two walks and two hits to spit up Baltimore’s lead, was welcomed by the Yankees, who got clutch hits from Alex Rodriguez (RBI double), Curtis Granderson (RBI single) and Ichiro Suzuki (a two-run single) and a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Chris Dickerson to force in a run.
Then it was the Yankees pen’s turn to falter. The Orioles treated David Robertson like a tomato can of a boxer with a 1-2 punch, a solo home run by Adam Jones and a two-run shot by Mark Reynolds. Robertson’s bell was still ringing in the dugout when his replacement, Boone Logan, was slugged for another homer, by Chris Davis.
The 10-6 Baltimore victory was definitely a knockout as the Orioles went yard six times. Reynolds had his third two-homer game against the Yankees in a week’s time. Over his past seven games, Reynolds has batted .423 with eight home runs, 16 RBI and eight runs in 26 at-bats. Six of those jacks have come against Yankees pitchers. This is a guy who was benched at mid-season when he was batting less than .200 and striking out twice a game.
The first of Reynolds’ home runs Thursday night was a solo in the sixth off Joba Chamberlain. The other Orioles’ homers were a big, three-run job by Matt Wieters in the first inning and a solo by Robert Andino in the third, both off David Phelps, who put the Yanks in 4-0 and 6-1 divots. Yet he was taken off the hook by the Yankees’ eighth-inning comeback.
Robertson, whose record fell to 1-6, is 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA in his past three appearances. Both home runs he yielded Thursday night were on two-strike pitches as he failed to put away Jones or Reynolds.
All the runs the Yankees scored in the eighth came after two were out, an encouraging sign, but more and more the fact that they have lived and died by the home run this year is starting to haunt them. The team that leads the majors in home runs is suddenly getting outslugged. Ten games into a 22-game stretch against AL East competition, the Yankees are 3-7 and have been out homered, 22-9. Thursday night was the 25th game in which the Yankees failed to hit a home run, and they are 4-21 in those games.
Camden Yards has always been a place where the Yankees have enjoyed playing with an overall record of 104-57 (.646), but they have to realize that the way the Orioles are playing now it will no longer seem like a home away from home.
Any concern the Yankees had about the condition of Robinson Cano’s left hip abated when he made a dazzling play at second base to rob Nick Markakis of a base hit in the first inning Thursday night at Baltimore. Unfortunately, it was the only out the Yankees got for a while because the next four guys all got hits off David Phelps and scored.
Cano was sore after Tuesday night’s game at St. Petersburg, Fla., and was the designated hitter Wednesday night. He was back at second base Thursday night and appeared his old self. Fans were probably delighted to see him dive for Markakis’ ball after he failed to dive for a ball that became a game-winning hit Tuesday night against the Rays.
A packed house at Camden Yards on a night honoring Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. on the 16th anniversary of his breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games was ecstatic over the first-inning outburst against Phelps. After three straight singles produced one run, Matt Wieters clouted his 19th home run into the second row down the left field line for three more. Wieters has had a hit in all 15 games the Orioles and Yankees have played against each other this year.
Phelps gave up another home run, a solo shot by Robert Andino, Baltimore’s 9-hole hitter, in the fourth, which turned out to be the righthander’s last inning. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate to go to the bullpen early as he treated this game as if were a playoff game. Phelps just did not have it. He allowed five earned runs, six hits, two walks and a balk with three strikeouts in four innings.
Cano gave the Orioles a scare in the top of the fourth when he hit a line drive off the right elbow of Jason Hammel. The ball ricocheted into left field for a single. Hammel, making his first start in seven weeks after recovering from right knee surgery, remained in the game. He allowed a two-out, RBI single by Curtis Granderson that inning and pitched one batter into the sixth before Orioles manager Buck Showalter lifted him after a walk. Reliever Randy Wolf threw a double-play ball that helped the Orioles get out of the inning without damage.
This was career game No. 2,500 for Alex Rodriguez, who is the fourth active player to reach the mark, joining teammate Derek Jeter earlier this season, Omar Vizquel and Jim Thome. Only two players had more hits (2,876) and extra-base hits (1,185) through 2,500 games than A-Rod – Stan Musial (3,176 hits, 1,233 extra-base hits) and Hank Aaron (3,044 hits, 1,200 extra-base hits).
All season long Derek Jeter has marched past Hall of Famers on the all-time hits and runs lists. Saturday was one of those days. In the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, Jeter singled and doubled. The two hits raised his total for the season to 150, second highest in the major leagues only to former teammate Melky Cabrera, who has 154 for the Giants.
It marked the 17th consecutive season that Jeter has had at least 150 hits. So what is the big deal about that? Well, the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps all the game’s numbers, reports that only one other player in history had 17 straight years of 150 or more hits, and that player was Henry Aaron, from 1955-71 for the Braves.
The record-tying hit was a two-out, run-scoring double to right-center in the sixth inning off former teammate Aaron Laffey that scored Casey McGehee, who had doubled with one out. It was McGehee’s first big day for the Yankees since his arrival from Pittsburgh 10 days ago in a trade for relief pitcher Chad Qualls. McGehee also got his first home run for the Yankees with a three-run blast to left in the fourth inning.
Like most new guys who come to the Yankees, McGehee has learned to appreciate Jeter even more as a player now that he is a teammate. “The approach he takes never wavers,” McGehee said of the Captain. “It’s a pleasure to play alongside him.”
Jeter, who is batting .315 overall, ranks third in the majors with 46 multi-hit games, one more than his total from all of last year. He is batting .379 with four home runs in 103 at-bats leading off games and .364 in 140 at-bats against left-handed pitching. His .345 batting average on the road in 249 at-bats is second in the American League only to Angels rookie Mike Trout (.348).
The most positive aspect of the Yankees’ fourth straight victory Saturday was the work of Ivan Nova, who pitched one out into the eighth inning and allowed two earned runs, five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. He was a bit erratic with two hit batters and a balk, but it was an outing that gave the Yankees some encouragement at a time when it is needed since CC Sabathia had to be placed on the 15-day disabled because of soreness in his left elbow.
Nova displayed effective curves and sliders consistently, which had been missing from his recent starts. His record went to 11-6 with the victory, his first after five winless outings and his second over his past 10 starts.
It was a strong game all around for the Yankees. Second baseman Robinson Cano made a splendid play to rob Moises Sierra of a potential run-scoring hit to end the sixth inning, and center fielder Curtis Granderson concluded the seventh with a back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a long drive by Adeiny Hecchavarria.
The Toronto bullpen held the Yankees hitless over the final 3 1/3 innings, but the Yanks’ pen was equally efficient. David Robertson got two outs with his only pitch in getting Omar Vizquel on a double play in the eighth. Rafael Soriano earned his 28th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
So after losing the first two games in Detroit, the Yankees have a chance to close out this Great Lakes trip at 5-2 Sunday with Phil Hughes going against the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ for some momentum heading into a challenging homestand upcoming against Texas and Boston.
Sabathia had been scheduled to start Monday night against the Rangers, but inflammation in his pitching elbow caused him to be shut down. It is the second stint on the DL for Sabathia, whose previous injury was to his left groin. CC felt stiffness after his start Wednesday night against the Tigers when he came out of the game in the seventh inning.
A couple of years ago, I did a lengthy question-and-answer session with longtime Yankees favorite Lou Piniella about Ichiro Suzuki. Lou was the manager of the Mariners when Ichiro came to the major leagues in 2001. Here are 10 questions from that interview that I think should give Yankees fans some insight into the career of their newest outfielder.
Q1. Can you remember your first impression of Ichiro?
A: Ichiro first came to the Mariners as an exchange player in the spring of 2000. He was with us during the pre-exhibition period because he was not allowed to play in games. Watching him work out, I could tell that he could run, he could throw and he had good bat control. But we didn’t see him under game conditions.
Q2. Before the 2001 season began, did you expect Ichiro to have as much success in the majors as he has had? Why?
A: I could not predict all that would happen, but no, it does not surprise me. He was a disciplined hitter with great physical tools. That spring with us in 2001, he put the ball in play, utilized his speed and didn’t strike out much. We got the feeling we had something special here. He was already a star player in Japan, so really the only question was how he would do in the 162-game schedule.
I remember our general manager, Pat Gillick, worked very hard to sign Ichiro. We thought it we got lucky that we might have a really good player for six or seven or maybe eight years. And look, he’s still playing at a high level in his 10th year in the big leagues.
Q3. I heard you were so worried about Ichiro’s power part because he hit only to the opposite field during preseason games in 2001 until you asked him to pull the ball. Is that a true story?
A: Yes. The first few games for us that spring Ichiro hit the ball to left field exclusively. I remember talking to his translator and asking him if Ichiro could try to pull the ball so we could get a better idea of what he could do. The next day, Ichiro led off and pulled the first pitch over the right field wall for a home run. I saw what I needed to see and left him alone after that.
Q4. Can you analyze the reasons why Ichiro was able to have 200 hits for 10 consecutive seasons? Which part of Ichiro’s hitting is impressive to you?
A: He has great hand-eye coordination, which is important for a hitter, and he keeps himself in great physical shape. He can expand the zone a bit by chasing the ball up, but he puts the fat part of the bat on the ball so consistently and gets out of the batter’s box so quickly that infielders have to cheat on him. He actually is moving to first base often when he hits the ball, but he keeps his upper body straight and follows through on his swing. You don’t see anyone else do that.
Q5. From the manager’s point of view, Ichiro should have selected more pitches to hit? Or he should have taken more walks?
A: He is not going to walk much, that’s true, but he won’t strike out that much, either. His on-base percentage is not as high as maybe it should be for someone with a high batting average, but look, he gets on base with hits, so why worry about walks? His eyesight is superb, so it is not a matter of pitch recognition. He is just so adept at putting the ball in play. He’ll foul off a lot of pitches, but he does not swing and miss very much. Pitchers don’t want to walk him because of his speed on the bases. So if they get behind in the count, he still may get something to hit.
Q6. Do you have any specific memory of Ichiro during your managing career with the Mariners?
A: It was during his first season, a game in Oakland. I don’t remember the hitter or runner, but I do know that the runner was very fast. He was on first base when the hitter drove the ball into the gap in right-center. Ichiro chased down the ball, and I was thinking I hope he throws the ball to second base to keep the hitter from advancing because I didn’t think he had a prayer of getting the other runner going from first to third. He made a perfect throw to third and got the guy. It surprised the runner, my third baseman, the coaches, me and even the umpire. It’s still one of the greatest fielding plays I have ever seen.
Q7. Do you think he can reach 3,000 hits in the majors?
A: The key is for him to stay healthy. He stays in great shape physically, which he will have to continue to do to get to 3,000 hits. I think it’s possible, but it won’t be easy. I figure it would take him at least four more years. When you get to his age , you start to deal with some injuries. If he can avoid that, he has a good shot at it.
Q8. Did you see any differences on Ichiro between now and the time when you were the manager?
A: The only thing I see is that he doesn’t score as many runs, but the Mariners are a much different team from the one I had when we had a strong offensive club. Put some good hitters around him, and he’ll score 100 runs again on a regular basis. He still runs very well, has great instincts in the outfield and plays with so much pride.
Q9. What do you think about how Ichiro’s speed helps his hit record?
A: It’s a great asset. As I said before, infielders have to be on their toes with him. You see them often hurrying their throws on what are otherwise routine ground balls for any other hitter.
Q10. Should Ichiro make it to Hall of Fame? Why?
A: Absolutely. He is one of the greatest leadoff hitters in the history of the major leagues. He has excelled at nearly every aspect of the game. Ichiro is not a power hitter, but he has still hit his share of home runs, almost 100, I think. He’s a great hitter, a great base runner, a great fielder with a great arm, a game breaker. All of those qualities add up to me as a Hall of Fame player.