Results tagged ‘ Hiroki Kuroda ’

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.

Victory vs. Tigers still eludes Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda was hoping to make history Tuesday night in his start against the Tigers and 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price. Detroit is the only team in the major leagues against whom Kuroda does not have a victory. With a defeat of the Tigers, Kuroda could have joined 13 other pitchers who have beaten all 30 big-league clubs.

For a while there, it appeared as if Kuroda would do just that. After giving up a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, Kuroda set down 13 hitters in a row and watched his teammates take the lead on home runs by Brian McCann and Martin Prado and a two-out, RBI double by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Home runs off Price are nothing new. He entered the game tied for the most homers allowed in the AL with 20. Both bombs were solos, however, so the Tigers remained within striking distance. Detroit cut the deficit to 3-2 on a leadoff home run in the seventh by shortstop Andrew Romine, brother of Yankees farmhand Austin Romine.

Kuroda ended up being hurt by the over-shift defensive alignment that has been in vogue this year. Leading off the seventh inning of a one-run game, Victor Martinez hit a soft grounder to the left side where no one was stationed to field it. A weak dribbler became a leadoff single.

Kuroda almost got out of the inning. He retired Torii Hunter on an infield pop and J.D. Martinez on a fly to center. Nick Castellanos kept the inning alive with a single to center. Alex Avila followed with a single to right field that tied the score.

That was Kuroda’s last inning, so he was hung with a no-decision and is still without a career victory against Detroit. The Yanks have another series against the Tigers Aug. 26-28 at Comerica Park, which if his turn comes up would be Kuroda’s last chance to beat them.

Just for the record, the 13 pitchers who have defeated every club are former Yankees hurlers Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett, plus Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Barry Zito, Vicente Padilla and Dan Haren.

Another former Yankees pitcher made a return appearance at the Stadium Tuesday night. Joba Chamberlain, once a near cult figure with Yankees fans and now a setup man for the Tigers, relieved Price with two out in the ninth inning and a runner on first base to face Prado, whom he struck out as the game went into extra innings. Chamberlain was barely recognizable with a thick, black beard, which would have never passed muster with the Yankees’ grooming policy.

When a sacrifice isn’t called for

You have to question Brett Gardner’s thinking in the third inning Tuesday night. Light-hitting Brendan Ryan had just led off with a rare extra-base hit, a booming double to left field, and was out there in scoring position for Gardner, the Yankees’ hottest hitter and winner of American League Player of the Week honors for last week.

So what goes Gardy do? Lays one down. That’s right. He drops down a sacrifice bunt to push Ryan to third base. Huh? I have never liked that play unless the batter is a pitcher. You have a runner with good wheels already in scoring position with none out. Why not try to knock the runner in yourself? And if you make an out by at least hitting the ball to the right side the runner will advance anyway.

The play really looked bad when the next batter, Derek Jeter, hit a squibbing grounder to second base against a tight infield for the second out with Ryan having to hold third. Jacoby Ellsbury saved the inning for the Yankees with a liner down the left field line for a double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

After giving up a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, Hiroki Kuroda settled down over the next few innings and the Yankees drew even against David Price in the second on Brian McCann’s 12th home run.

What a difference a break makes

The Yankees have broken out splendidly in the post All-Star break period. They limped into the traditional midseason break with a .500 record at 47-47 and had concerns about an injury-plagued pitching staff and underachieving lineup.

Sunday’s 3-2 victory completed a three-game sweep for the Yanks over a Cincinnati club that is a contender in the National League Central but was without its star first baseman Joey Votto. Perhaps he might have caught the fly ball Brian McCann hit into shallow right field that fell among three fielders apparently blinded by the infamous late-afternoon sun at Yankee Stadium.

It became a walk-off single for McCann in scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, who was a one-man gang Sunday. Ellsbury had a perfect day at the plate with a double, three singles, a walk and two stolen bases.

The Yankees won the game against All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman, the hard-throwing lefthander whose fastball topped off at 102 miles per hour Sunday. Ellsbury fought off some tough pitches to open the ninth with a single to left field. Catcher Brayan Pena had trouble handling some of Chapman’s pitches, allowing Ellsbury to get to third base with none out on a stolen base and a wild pitch. Chapman recovered to strike out Mark Teixeira and get McCann on what appeared a popout that was not deep enough for even the super-swift Ellsbury to score — except nobody got a glove on it.

Before that moment, the Yanks seemed on the brink of letting this one get away. In one of his rare hiccups, Dellin Betances gave up a game-tying home run to Todd Frazier in the eighth inning. It could have been worse, but on the previous play Betances picked Skip Schumaker off first base. The Yankees left eight runners on base from the fifth to the eighth innings and finished with 13 left on in going 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

The Reds were miserable in that category during the series with only one hit in 22 at-bats in the clutch as Yankees pitchers came through at critical moments. That one hit was a two-out double by Schumaker in the fifth, the only run surrendered by Hiroki Kuroda in his 6 2/3 innings, and an unearned run at that. The runner who scored had reached base on an error by second baseman Brian Roberts.

The Yankees had taken a 2-1 lead in the fifth off Johnny Cueto, who had a shaky outing, on RBI singles by Derek Jeter and, who else, Ellsbury, but they stranded two runners after one out and the bags full in the sixth.

Kuroda’s effort was part of a strong showing in recent games by the rotation alongside Shane Greene, David Phelps and Brandon McCarthy, who were a combined 3-0 with a 1.03 ERA, five walks and 31 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

So what’s all this concern about Yankees pitching? The injuries to Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda have created opportunities for other pitchers who to this point have stepped up and given the Yankees positive feelings about their chances the rest of the way.

Weird inning hurts Kuroda, Yanks back at .500

On the mound at Camden Yards for the Yankees Friday night was the last survivor of their Opening Day rotation, and he gave them what they desperately needed from a starting pitcher — length.

Hiroki Kuroda is still part of the starting unit while former mates Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have all gone off to the disabled list, some of whom not to return in 2014.

The Yankees departed Cleveland with a fatigued bullpen, so the seven innings Kuroda gave them was heaven sent. Only one of those innings was a clinker, but that was enough to let the Orioles tie the score.

It was a strange fourth inning for Kuroda, who blew the 2-0 lead provided by solo home runs from Brian Roberts in the second and Kelly Johnson in the third off Miguel Gonzalez, who recovered to hold the Yankees scoreless with only three more hits through the eighth.

Kuroda gave up only one hit in the fourth, a bad-hop single past Derek Jeter by Adam Jones, which came after the righthander hit Steve Pearce with a pitch leading off the inning. Kuroda then uncorked two wild pitches, one that advanced the runners and another one out later that send Pearce home. A sacrifice fly by Chris Davis tied the score.

The score stayed that way until the 10th inning when Orioles catcher Nick Hundley lined a single to center field off Adam Warren to score Manny Machado, who had led off the inning with a double. Warren followed Dellin Betances, who was brilliant once again with two hitless innings featuring three more strikeouts. The rookie All-Star’s 84 punchouts are the most for any reliever in the majors.

The Yankees’ offense sputtered as it managed only one hit over the last six innings. The Orioles’ 3-2 victory pushed the third-place Yankees five games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East as they fell back to .500 at 46-46.

That the game went into extra innings was not what the Yankees wanted by any means, not just two nights after playing 14 innings in Cleveland. It was the Yankees’ fourth extra-inning game in their past 11 games, which is why the relief squad is so weary.

The Yankees added some pitching Friday by recalling Matt Daley from Triple A Scranton and designating Jim Miller for assignment. They also acquired Jeff Francis from Oakland for cash and a player to be named, but the lefthander was not expected to join the team until Saturday. He could be a candidate to start Sunday night in the opening created by Tanaka’s assignment to the DL because of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Francis, 33, is 70-80 with a 4.95 ERA in a career covering 238 appearances (217 starts) with the Rockies, (2004-10, ’12-13), Royals (2011), Reds (2014) and Athletics (2014). This season he is a combined 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 appearances (one start) with the Reds and A’s. He last pitched July 2 for Oakland in a 9-3 loss at Detroit.

Tanaka sustains first severe setback with elbow pain

How many Yankees found themselves over the course of the first portion of the 2014 season asking this question:

“Where would be without Masahiro Tanaka?”

Let’s hope we don’t have to find that out. Yankees Universe held a collective breath Wednesday with the news that Tanaka returned to New York to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam on his right elbow after complaining of soreness there during the Yankees’ 5-3 loss Tuesday night at Cleveland. Tanaka allowed five runs and 10 hits, both season highs against him, in 6 2/3 innings.

For the time being, the Yankees are terming the injury right elbow inflammation. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, which now makes four-fifths of the Opening Day rotation on the DL. Ivan Nova is lost for the entire season. CC Sabathia may be also, and Michael Pineda won’t likely be back before August. Hiroki Kuroda, the only member of the Opening Day rotation still a member of the starting unit, better not walk under any ladders.

It is not yet time for Yankees fans to push the panic button despite the dire news. The club won’t know for sure what Tanaka’s issue is until the MRI is studied. The problem is that Dr. Chris Ahmad, the team physician, is attending a major orthopedist convention in Seattle, the same one that has prevented the noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews from examining Sabathia’s ailing right knee to determine if surgery is required.

Tanaka’s next scheduled start was to have been Sunday night at Baltimore, the Yankees’ final game before the All-Star break. The righthander was selected for the American League squad but was not expected to pitch in the game because of the Sunday start. It is unclear now whether he will go to Minneapolis for the game. The AL has replaced him on the roster with Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, which stinks. It should have been David Robertson.

That is the least of the Yankees’ concern at this point. Tanaka, their prize signing in the past off-season, had proved to be every bit as effective on this side of the Pacific Ocean as he was back home in Japan where he was 24-0 last year.

In his first 14 starts for the Yankees, Tanaka was 11-1 with two no-decisions and a 1.99 ERA. He has come down to Earth somewhat in the past four starts in which he is 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA. Tanaka has nonetheless placed himself in contention for the AL Cy Young and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards by leading the league in victories with his 12-4 record, tied for first in complete games with three and ranking second in ERA at 2.51.

Now it is matter of watch and wait to see how serious the injury to Tanaka is. As for the answer to that question, well, figure it out: the Yankees were 13-5 in games started by Tanaka and 31-39 in games started by everyone else.

Yanks beat Twins, drop Soriano, deal Nuno

Sunday was a busy day for the Yankees. They designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, traded Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for another starting pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, and built a 9-0 lead over the Twins by the fourth inning and hung on to win, 9-7.

The game was the best part of the day as the Yankees took three of four games from Minnesota. Derek Jeter had three hits to raise his career total to 3,400. He received a standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field during his ninth-inning at-bat, which the fans figured was his last in their ballpark. Well, he will back be there again next week when the All-Star Game is played. Jeter was chosen by the fans to start at shortstop for the American League.

Also with a three-hit game was Ichiro Suzuki, who has become the Yanks’ regular right fielder now that Soriano is gone. They were in a platoon until Sunday, a platoon that was not working for Soriano.

What a difference a year makes. Last July 26, Soriano returned to the Yankees in a trade from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Corey Black and gave the team a jump-start in the second half. He hit .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI in 58 games and 219 at-bats.

Yet in essentially the same amount of time this year (67 games and 226 at-bats) Soriano hit .221 with six home runs and 23 RBI. He was batting only .204 against right-handed pitching and was facing most lefthanders in a platoon but was hitting only .247 against them. He had not hit a home run in 73 at-bats since May 17. Soriano had a miserable game Saturday as he went 0-for-4 and made two fielding blunders in left field although he was not charged with any errors.

With Carlos Beltran limited to designated hitter duty because of an ailing right elbow, right field now belongs to Suzuki, who began the season on the bench but has become the Yankees’ leading hitter with a .294 average.

Brian McCann returned to the lineup and caught after missing two games because of a sore left foot. He drove in one of the Yanks’ two first-inning runs with a double. They pounded Twins starter Ricky Nolasco for four more runs in the third, three coming on Jacoby Ellsbury’s fifth home run of the season.

By the fourth inning, the Yankees were up, 9-0, but Hiroki Kuroda could hardly coast. He was cuffed for four runs, seven hits and two walks and committed an error in 5 2/3 innings. Adam Warren, Jim Miller and David Robertson allowed one run apiece as the Twins got within two runs before D-Rob notched his 21st save. Robertson is averaging 16.43 strikeouts per nine innings, the best mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 25 innings. Eight of his past nine outs have been by strikeout.

Robertson was passed over for the All-Star Game, however, as two other Yankees pitchers were named to the AL staff, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. The latter is a rarity considering that most pitchers chosen for All-Star staffs are starters or closers. Robertson himself was one of those exceptions when he was selected for the game at Phoenix in 2011 when he was still a setup reliever.

Nuno, 26, pitched in 17 games for the Yankees this season and was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 78 innings while posting a .282 opponents average with 26 walks and 60 strikeouts. In his 14 starts, he was 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA in 73 2/3 innings.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is only the 12th pitcher since 1900 to pitch at least five innings while allowing two runs or less and five hits or less in each of his first four major league starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He made his big-league debut last year and in five games, including three starts, was 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings. In his three starts, Nuno was 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in17 innings.

In 22 career games (17 starts) for the Yankees, he was 3-7 with a 4.78 ERA, a .268 opponents average, 32 walks and 69 strikeouts in 98 innings. Nuno, who will turn 27 on July 26, signed with the Yankees as a minor-league free agent June 18, 2011. He was originally selected by the Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. He was born in San Diego and resides in National City, Calif.

McCarthy, who turns 31 Monday, has a 3-10 record with a 5.01 ERA, a .298 opponents average, 20 walks and 93 strikeouts in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings this season. He started 40 games over parts of two seasons with Arizona and went 8-21 with a 4.75 ERA, a .297 opponents average, 41 walks and 169 strikeouts in 244 2/3 innings. McCarthy has a career mark of 45-60 with a 4.21 ERA in 193 games (139 starts) over nine major league seasons with the White Sox (2005-06), Rangers (2007-09), Athletics (2011-12) and D-backs (2013-14).

The 6-foot-7 righthander is expected to make his first start for the Yankees Wednesday night at Cleveland. The Yankees plan to call up righthander Shane Greene from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start Monday night against the Indians.

Yankees mired in mediocrity

So after 82 games, the Yankees have reached the level of mediocrity. Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rays put the Yankees’ record at 42-42. Another lackluster offensive showing wasted a strong start by Hiroki Kuroda and resulted in the Yanks’ fourth straight loss.

The Yankees’ only run came on a throwing error by the versatile Ben Zobrist, who is playing shortstop these days instead of second base or the outfield because Yunel Escobar is on the disabled list. After that, Jacoby Ellsbury stole second but was stranded as Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran flied out and Alfonso Soriano struck out.

Kuroda pitched well enough to win. He scattered nine hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in eight innings. The Rays bunched three singles for a run in the fourth inning. James Loney led off the sixth with his fifth home run for what proved the winning run.

In the bottom of that inning, Derek Jeter singled and stole second, but the Yankees couldn’t get him home. Ellsbury was called out on strikes. After a walk to Teixeira, Beltran flied out and Soriano looked at a third strike.

In the ninth, Grant Balfour, who has been a bust as a closer (5.34 ERA), walked two batters but escaped danger when Yangervis Solarte grounded out to end the game.

The Yankees had 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Rays weren’t much better (1-for-8), but Tampa Bay is a last-place club that is 12 games under .500. Former Cy Young Award winner David Price had his streak of consecutive double-digit strikeout games end at five but still had nine punchouts, the most he ever totaled in a game against the Yankees. Price raised his career record against them to 10-5 with a 3.81 ERA, including 6-2 with a 3.67 ERA at Yankee Stadium.

Wednesday’s series finale marks the end of five consecutive sets against American League East competition for the Yankees, who got off to a great start when they swept first-place Toronto, but they have not won a series since. They lost two of three to the Blue Jays in a return engagement at Toronto, two of three to the Orioles, two of three to the Red Sox and the first two games of this series to the Rays. They have gone from 3-0 to 6-8 in this stretch.

Fortunately for the Yankees, mediocrity seems to have hit the entire division. Despite the recent downturn, the Yankees are only 3 1/2 games out of first place. Checking the standings in the other divisions, it would appear that the Yanks would have to win the division in order to make the playoffs because four other clubs are well ahead of them for the two wild card berths. There are 80 games remaining on the schedule, however, plenty of time for the Yankees to change direction, which clearly they must to return to serious contention.

D-Rob called on to avoid sweep at Toronto

Joe Girardi wasn’t taking any chances Wednesday night. The manager wanted to avoid being swept in Toronto as the Yankees had done to the Blue Jays last week at Yankee Stadium. Toward that effort, Girardi did not hesitate to have David Robertson work a five-out save to salvage at least one victory in the three-game series.

The Yankees came back from Tuesday night’s sloppy loss to turn back the Blue Jays, 5-3, and end a four-game losing streak. The Jays jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Jose Reyes hit the first pitch from Hiroki Kuroda for a home run, but the Yankees attacked Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison for four runs in the third and held the lead with solid ensemble work from the bullpen.

Kuroda earned his first victory in five starts since May 28, although he had not pitched that poorly (3.33 ERA) during the four-game stretch in which he had two losses and two no-decisions. The Japanese righthander gave up two runs on a two-out single by Melky Cabrera in the fifth that made it a one-run game but worked out of trouble in the sixth and departed with one out and a runner on first base in the seventh with the Yankees up by two runs.

Shawn Kelley gave up a single to Reyes but then got Cabrera on a fly to right. Girardi brought in lefthander Matt Thornton to face lefty-swinging Adam Lind. During the at-bat, Anthony Gose and Reyes, two of the fastest players in the major leagues, pulled off a gutsy double steal. Thornton got the job done, however, as Lind hit the ball right back to the pitcher for the third out.

Adam Warren started the eighth, but when he gave up a one-out single to Dioner Navarro Girardi summoned Robertson. D-Rob had not pitched in a week and was plenty strong. He finished off the eighth with two strikeouts, then got another punchout to start the ninth before inducing two ground balls for his 18th save.

The Yankees were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had two runners thrown out trying to steal but got key hits when it mattered. Getting a rare start behind the plate, Francisco Cervelli doubled home the Yanks’ first run in the third inning. The first of Jacoby Ellsbury’s three hits was a two-out single that sent home Cervelli. Mark Teixeira followed with his 14th home run to make the score 4-1.

After the Jays closed to 4-3, the Yankees scored a run without a hit in the seventh on two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly by Teixeira.

The Yankees can now exhale Thursday, their first day off after playing for 23 straight days. It is also Derek Jeter’s 40th birthday. He and his teammates could surely use the rest.

HOPE Week: Career Gear

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Hiroki Kuroda, Alfonso Soriano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts and Derek Jeter pose with Career Gear participant Leon Clarke Jr. after fitting him with a suit from DKNY.

The Yankees held the second day of HOPE Week 2014 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Tuesday by celebrating Career Gear, an organization that helps promote the economic independence of low-income men by providing financial literacy training, professional attire and career development tools.

Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hiroki Kuroda, Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano visited Career Gear’s office in lower Manhattan, where they helped measure and outfit men with suits provided by DKNY.

Career Gear participants then shared their respective success stories. These men and their families, along with administrators from Career Gear, were guests of the Yankees for Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

With the help of more than 80 referral agencies in the New York City area, Career Gear has helped more than 35,000 men transition from poverty to employment and financial self-sufficiency. Providing these men with a business suit is just the first step. Through weekly peer workshops, one-on-one mentoring and a supportive environment, clients make the connections and build the confidence to find employment and continue down the path of personal development.

“Our philosophy is that everyone deserves a second, third or fourth chance,” Career Gear executive director Gary Field said. “Sometimes just a first chance is what they need. We help men redefine themselves by providing them with the tools to get where they want to go.”

All participants are invited to take part in job and life-readiness programs. The curriculum resembles a typical school semester. Classes take place from August through December and January through June, covering topics critical to professional and personal success. Diverse offerings include résumé writing, financial investment, social skills and family health.

Frequently, the same men that have reaped the benefits of Career Gear’s programs return to serve as mentors to first-time participants.

“What I want to do is make a difference in people’s lives,” Field said. “I would like to help pass the skills that I have learned to the next generation of people that are dedicated to helping our world move forward.”

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Clarke, Soriano and Jeter

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