Results tagged ‘ Ian Kinsler ’

Successful homestand ends on a down note

On the face of it, a 5-2 homestand is a good thing. Except that it does not seem like such a good think considering the Yanks’ record was once 5-0.

After a four-game sweep of the Angels, the Yankees won the opener of a three-game series against the Tigers on a shutout, but they dropped the next two games and scored only one run in each. Sunday in front of an Old Timer’s Day crowd of 47,474 at Yankee Stadium they ran into a hot, young pitcher in Michael Fulmer, who improved his record to 7-1 while shutting out the Yankees on two hits through six innings.

Fulmer was one of the players the Tigers got from the Mets last year in the trade for Yoenis Cespdes. The pitching-rich Mets knew they had to give up some talent to get a player of Cespedes’ quality and losing Fulmer was one of the prices they paid for getting to the World Series.

Suzyn Waldman told me a nice story about Fulmer. He is an Oklahoma native and was excited about being here on Old Timer’s Day weekend so he could meet Kay Murcer, the widow of Bobby Murcer, a fellow Okie.

Michael Pineda battled Fulmer for six innings and got a pain in the butt along the way on a single off his rump by Victory Martinez in the fourth inning when Detroit scored its first run on a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos. Hey, it could have been worse. The Tigers loaded the bases with none out and came away with merely one run. Pineda finished the inning with a flourish in retiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a line drive to shortstop Didi Gregorius and a strikeout of Mike Aviles.

The Tigers struck early again in the sixth inning with a walk and a single putting runners on first and third with none out. Victor Martinez got a run home with an infield out, but Pineda held the damage to that by striking out J.D. Martinez.

It was a mostly positive outing from Pineda, who nevertheless took the loss as his record fell to 3-7. Ian Kinsler, who drove in five runs in the Tigers’ 6-1 victory Saturday, belted his second home run of the series, a two-run shot, in the seventh off Anthony Swarzack to give Detroit a comfort zone.

The Yankees wasted leadoff doubles in the third and fifth innings and mounted a threat in the seventh when they had the bases loaded with two out against lefthanders Justin Wilson, their teammate last year. Gregorius hit the ball on the screws, but Detroit center fielder Cameron Maybin put it away. Gregorius has hit left-handed pitching well all season (.370 in 54 at-bats), so manager Joe Girardi was justified in letting him hit there rather than going to his bench for a pinch hitter.

The loss pushed the Yankees back under .500 (31-32), and they will get a needed day off Monday before going on the road to Denver and Minneapolis. Sunday finished a 41-day stretch in which the Yanks played 40 games. The Yankees were 23-17 over that period.

Long ball brings Tanaka up short

Just the same, Masahiro Tanaka would have preferred another no-decision. He has had eight of them in his 13 starts this year. An ND is not as good as a victory, but it beats a loss.

Tanaka was hung with an ‘L’ Saturday night as the Yankees fell back to .500 (31-31) and had a five-game winning streak end with a 6-1 setback to the Tigers. Tanaka had not given up a home run in his previous four starts and yielded just six in 12 prior starts, but the long ball did him in this time.

Nick Castellanos led off the second inning with a home run to right-center. The Yankees very nearly matched that in the bottom of the inning, but Chase Headley’s drive into the left field corner that struck the fence at the base of the foul pole and caromed off it like a Spaulding off a stoop was not ruled a homer, even though it appeared to have struck the pole. The call was not overruled after a review, so Headley had to settle for a triple. He scored moments later when Rob Refsnyder broke out of a 0-for-12 slump with a single to center field.

Tanaka got help from his defense in the fourth. With J.D. Martinez on first base after a one-out single, Castellanos hit a long drive that Brett Gardner caught on the warning track after a long run. Martinez had rounded second base and tried to scamper back, but shortstop Didi Gregorius’ relay to first base doubled him off to end the inning.

Tanaka had no such luck in the fifth. He was touched for singles by Justin Upton and Jose Iglesias before Ian Kinsler slammed a first-pitch fastball to left for a three-run home run. Jacoby Ellsbury came to Tanaka’s aid in the sixth inning with a dazzling, running catch against the wall in left-center to rob Victor Martinez of an extra-base hit.

Kinsler did more damage in the seventh. After Tanaka departed after giving up a one-out single to James McCann, Kirby Yates allowed an infield single to Iglesias and a two-run double to Kinsler.

Unlike Tanaka, Tigers starter Justin Verlander was not victimized by the long ball, not even by Alex Rodriguez, who had homered off the former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner five times in his career and in each of his previous four regular-season games against him. That included A-Rod’s 3,000th career hit June 19 last year. Rodriguez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Verlander Saturday night.

Gardner back to catalyst form on homestand

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the batting order for the Yankees the first month of the season. But since Ellsbury went on the 15-day disabled list May 20 because of a right knee strain, Gardner seemed lost without his partner.

Going into this homestand, Gardner was in a 94 at-bat stretch in which he hit .223 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBI while watching his season batting average slide from .291 to .262. He has turned it around the past three nights at Yankee Stadium, however, climaxed by a 4-for-5, three-RBI performance Friday night that has pushed his average back up to .277. And not surprisingly, the Yankees won all three games with Gardner back in catalyst mode.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was at a loss before the game to explain the club’s seesaw season during which they have had seemingly equal stretches of good and bad play. One thing the skipper did say that what the Yankees do when things are going good is “not giving extra outs and hitting home runs.”

They adhered to that axiom in the 7-2 victory over the Tigers. Three home runs, including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit, against former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander powered the Yankees to their third straight victory and kept the Detroit righthander winless at Yankee Stadium in four career regular-season decisions. As for not giving extra outs, well, they came close to that but were able to rectify their lone error with a snappy play at the plate to defuse a potentially productive sixth inning for the Tigers.

The Yankees had just taken a 4-2 lead on a two-run home run by Gardner (No. 7) in the bottom of the fifth. The Yanks’ two prior homers were solo shots by Rodriguez (No. 13, career No. 667) in the first and Didi Gregorius (No. 3) in the second. In only his second start of the season after coming back from a right triceps injury, Verlander was not of Cy Young vintage.

Ian Kinsler started the sixth against Adam Warren (5-4), who had yet another strong night as a starter (8 IP, 7 H, 2R-ER, 0 BB, 7 K), with an infield single. Miguel Cabrera, who had struck out in his first two at-bats against Warren, lined a single to right field, sending Kinsler to third.

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley failed to handle right fielder Carlos Beltran’s relay for an error, but he atoned for that immediately when he retrieved the ball behind the bag and threw home to nail Kinsler at the plate on a fine tag by catcher John Ryan Murphy. Cabrera took second on the play but died there as Victor Martinez fouled out to Headley and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out.

The Yankees then pulled away with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth. Gardner was a significant part of both rallies. He got the seventh inning started by bunting for a single with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch. In the eighth, Gardner’s two-out single to left scored Chris Young, who had doubled.

Young entered the game as a defensive replacement in center field for rookie Mason Williams, who jammed his right shoulder sliding back into first base on a pickoff attempt by Verlander in the fifth inning. Williams was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, but no further tests were ordered.

Yankees provide no support for Hughes

Finding the silver lining some days is virtually impossible. Thursday was one of those days for the Yankees. The 2-0 loss to the Rangers at least went by quickly – 2 hours, 24 minutes – well ahead of the severe thunderstorm activity that was forecast.

There was little thunder and lightning in the Yankees’ offense as they were limited to two hits, both singles, and two walks by Derek Holland, who entered the start with a career mark against the Yankees of 0-5 with an 8.85 ERA. The lefthander mixed a hard fastball with a tantalizing slider to win for the first time in five starts since May 31 with a complete-game shutout, the first of each for him this year.

“He got ahead of hitters with his fastball and was able to put them away a lot of times with his slider,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Yet as dominant as Holland was, the Yankees were never really out of the game, and that was because of Phil Hughes, who did much to keep a hold on his spot in the rotation. Hughes clearly was the silver lining in this one. The only real mistake he made was a 1-1 changeup to Jurickson Profar, a left-handed hitting third baseman who crushed it to lead off the fifth inning with a home run to right field.

The other run off Hughes came in a strange third inning. David Murphy led off with a single. Murphy tried to steal second base on a pitch that Profar took for ball four. When Murphy came off the bag to brush off his uniform, shortstop Jayson Nix alertly tagged him. Murphy was called out. Other players should have taken notice of Nix’s move. Hey, you never know.

Engel Beltre, a rookie getting a start in center field, singled to right field, moving Profar to third base from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler. Beltre, no relation to Adrian Beltre, Texas’ regular third baseman who served as the designate hitter, was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in the Bronx, so it was somehow fitting that he got his first major-league hit at Yankee Stadium. Before this series, Engel Beltre’s last appearance at the Stadium was in a PSAL Championship game for James Monroe High.

Hughes had been pushed back two days in the rotation and said it worked to his benefit. “It gave me a chance to step back and work on things I needed to do to move in the right direction,” he said. “I felt I had a better plan.”

The righthander threw 106 pitches over eight innings. In addition to the walk, he also hit a batter and struck out five. The bottom of the order hurt Hughes, not the top or middle. The 1-through-6 hitters for Texas were 2-for-20 (.100) off Hughes, whose overall record fell to 3-7, including 1-5 at the Stadium with a 5.86 ERA.

As good as Hughes was, the piddling offense was the game’s true story for the Yankees. They got a leadoff single in the first inning from Ichiro Suzuki and a two-out single from Austin Romine in the third. That and two leadoff walks was it. Holland retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced. Vernon Wells, getting a rare recent start in right field, batted cleanup and struck out three times, all on sliders.

It was the seventh time this season that the Yankees have been shut out. The blanking came the day after the first game this year that the Yankees did not win when they scored at least five runs.

“We’re struggling right now,” Girardi said. “I think we will get better, but time will tell.”

Phelps gets his men — on the bases

Pitchers with the best pickoff moves tend to be left-handed. Think Andy Pettitte or Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. Since the lefthander faces first base when in the stretch, he has a better view of what type of lead a runner is taking.

David Phelps, who started Monday night’s game for the Yankees against the Rangers, is a right-handed pitcher, but his determination to keep base runners close was the equal of Pettitte in the early going. Phelps got himself out of trouble spots in the second and third innings by picking runners off base.

Fans sometimes get on a pitcher if he throws over to first base too often. Such behavior can get on the nerves of managers and pitching coaches as well. They prefer the pitcher concentrate on the batter. But what manager or pitching coach is not happy when that determination results in an out?

Phelps concentrated so much on Elvis Andrus at first base in the first inning that he lost Josh Hamilton to a base on balls. A two-out single by Nelson Cruz created the first run of the game. In the second inning, Phelps hit Ian Kinsler with a pitch. Again, peering off at first base Phelps nailed Kinsler trying to slide back into the bag.

In the third with Andrus and Adrian Beltre on first and second, respectively, with one out after singles, Phelps seemed to have eyes in the back of his head as he detected Andrus wandering too far off second base. Robinson Cano, playing near the bag with the right-handed Cruz at bat, was in perfect position to field Phelps’ pickoff throw that trapped Andrus and gutted the rally.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he hoped to get five innings or 80 pitches from Phelps, whichever came first. Actually, Phelps gave his skipper the numbers simultaneously, pretty much. Phelps threw 78 pitches over five innings before Derek Lowe was called on to make his Yankees debut.

Cano takes over AL All-Star vote lead at 2B

Yankees fans came to the aid of Robinson Cano big-time last week by pushing him past the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler and into first place at second base in American League balloting for the All-Star Game July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

With four days remaining in the balloting (voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday), Cano with 3,559,290 votes has a 97,000-plus vote lead over Kinsler in hopes of joining his shortstop partner, Derek Jeter, in the AL starting lineup. Jeter maintained a large lead over the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus at shortstop with 4,407,982 votes, a total topped only by Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, who is the overall leading vote getter with 7,310,824.

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson is second among AL outfielders with 3,812,339 votes with the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista running third. The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz moved ahead of the Orioles’ Adam Jones for fourth place. The Yankees’ Nick Swisher remained in the seventh spot while Brett Gardner, who has been on the disabled list since mid-April, dropped to 10th.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez moved ahead of the Rays’ Evan Longoria into third place but still trails the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera. Also in third place at first base is Mark Teixeira while Raul Ibanez dropped to fourth at designated hitter with Russell Martin still in fifth place at catcher.

Major League Baseball’s All-Star balloting program last year produced a record-shattering 32.5 million ballots cast. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots have been distributed at the 30 major-league parks – each of which will have 23 dates for balloting – and in approximately 100 minor-league yards. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes June 22, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com until 11:59 p.m. June 28.

Firestone is the exclusive sponsor of the 2012 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.

Scotts is the sponsor of the retail All-Star Balloting Program that was launched May 4 in select Lowe’s stores and Chevrolet dealerships across the country.

All-Star rosters will be unveiled July 1 on TBS. The AL All-Star team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the National League squad will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL – will be determined through a combination of player ballot choices and selections made by the All-Star managers – AL skipper Ron Washington of the Rangers and retired NL manager Tony La Russa – in conjunction with MLB.

Cano closing in on Kinsler as All-Star starter

Robinson Cano made a big jump the past week in Major League Baseball’s All-Star balloting at second base in the American League and now trails the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler, who has been atop the voting all season, by only 15,260 votes. Since Cano has been named the AL captain for the Home Run Derby competition, it might be a good idea for him to make the league’s squad for the All-Star Game July 10 at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

Shortstop Derek Jeter and center fielder Curtis Granderson remain among the leaders for starting berths in the annual game between the leagues. Jeter’s total of 3,359,875 is still second only to Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton for the most overall votes. Despite missing most of the past week because of an intestinal virus, Hamilton has polled 5,414,880 votes.

Granderson is second among the outfielders with 2,818,535 votes. Moving into third place in the outfield was the Blue Jays’ Juan Bautista. The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz, who had been running third in the outfield, dropped into fifth place behind Bautista and the Orioles’ Adam Jones. The Yankees’ Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner ranked seventh and ninth, respectively, in the outfield.

Yankees fans need to throw some votes to first baseman Mark Teixeira, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, catcher Russell Martin and designated hitter Raul Ibanez to improve their chances for All-Star berths.

Teixeira is third at first base behind the Tigers’ Prince Fielder and the White Sox’ Paul Konerko; A-Rod is fourth at third base behind the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and the Rays’ Evan Longoria; Martin is fifth at catcher behind the Rangers’ Mike Napoli, the Twins’ Joe Mauer, the Orioles’ Matt Wieters and the White Sox’ A.J. Pierzynski; Ibanez is third at DH behind the Red Sox’ David Ortiz and the Rangers’ Michael Young.

Major League Baseball’s All-Star balloting program last year produced a record-shattering 32.5 million ballots cast. More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots have been distributed at the 30 major-league parks – each of which will have 23 dates for balloting – and in approximately 100 minor-league yards. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes June 22, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com until 11:59 p.m. June 28.

Firestone is the exclusive sponsor of the 2012 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.

Scotts is the sponsor of the retail All-Star Balloting Program that was launched May 4 in select Lowe’s stores and Chevrolet dealerships across the country.

All-Star rosters will be unveiled July 1 on TBS. The AL All-Star team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the National League squad will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL – will be determined through a combination of player ballot choices and selections made by the All-Star managers – AL skipper Ron Washington of the Rangers and retired NL manager Tony La Russa – in conjunction with MLB.

A game worth playing hooky for

Relatives, friends and other admirers of Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish in Japan probably all showed up late for work Wednesday to watch the popular pitchers oppose each other in a major-league game Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. The game started there just after 7 p.m. Central time, which was at 8 a.m. in their home country.

Only the seventh pairing of Japanese-born pitchers in a major-league game was a major event in the country of their birth as well as a top attraction between two of the top contending teams in the American League. Darvish proved the better of the two for this one night as Texas ended the Yankees’ four-game winning streak with a 2-0 victory.

The Rangers drew first blood when Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first by driving a 1-1 slider to left for his fifth home run. After two hitless innings, Darvish ran into big trouble in the third when the Yankees loaded the bases with none out on a single by Eric Chavez, a walk to Russell Martin and a beauty of a bunt single by Derek Jeter, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games and is hitting .416.

Darvin showed why the Rangers were willing to shell out more than $100 million to sign the righthander as he struck out Curtis Granderson looking at a 2-2 curve and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into an around-the-horn double play.

Kuroda kept the Yankees in the game, but they could not break through against Darvish. Kuroda hurt himself in the third with a two-out walk of Elvis Andrus and a wild pitch that put him into scoring position at second base from where Josh Hamilton got him home with a single to center. Kuroda held the Rangers to two hits after that before departing with two out in the seventh and down by only two runs.

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi had noted, Darvish has more different types of pitches than a catcher has fingers, and he showed off all of them – fastballs of various speeds, curves, sliders, cutters, splits, changes of pace – the whole toolbox.

Watching from his box seat near the Texas dugout, Rangers president Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher and one of the great workhorses, had to love Darvish’s performance, which he applauded when the latest Japanese import came off the field after giving up a one-out single to Nick Swisher in the ninth. Closer Joe Nathan needed only one pitch to end the game as Chavez bounced into a double play.

This one had to remind Ryan of his matchups against Jim Palmer or Catfish Hunter 30-odd years ago when pitching into the ninth was expected of starters. Darvish scattered seven hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in improving his record to 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. It was a tough luck loss for Kuroda in a marquee matchup that for a change lived up to its billing.

Swisher a throwback at leadoff

A lot of people seemed surprised to see Nick Swisher at the top of the lineup Wednesday night against the Rangers, even Swisher.

“I have hit everywhere else in the lineup,” he said before the game. “I might as well bat first.”

As I pointed out in Tuesday’s blog, Swisher seemed a good option in the leadoff spot against a left-handed starter because of his .356 batting average and .438 on-base percentage from the left side. Obviously, manager Joe Girardi felt the same way. Brett Gardner will continue to lead off against righthanders while Derek Jeter is on the disabled list.

Swisher may not realize it, but if he had been around the Yankees in the 1950s he would have been a leadoff candidate for Casey Stengel. The Ol’ Professor liked to use players with extra-base power at the top of the order. His favorites during those years were Hank Bauer, Bob Cerv, Gene Woodling and Tony Kubek.

In fact, when Roger Maris came to the Yankees in 1960 in a trade from the Kansas City A’s that also involved Bauer, Stengel batted Maris leadoff in the first few games. When Maris started hitting balls over fences on a regular basis, Casey eventually moved him into the 3-hole where he went on to the first of two consecutive Most Valuable Player seasons.

Swisher did not lead off the game with a hit, but he reached base his next two times up with a double and a walk.

Jeter’s replacement at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, homered in the fourth inning. It was Nunez’s second homer of the season. He now has as many long balls in 62 at-bats as Jeter had in 262.

The Captain will not accompany the Yankees on their trip to Chicago and Cincinnati for inter-league series against the Cubs and Reds. Jeter will go to Tampa for rehabilitation on his right calf strain. His stint on the DL means Jeter won’t be able to add to his inter-league record for hits of 362. DJ is not in danger of being passed. He is 52 hits ahead of the second place guy, who just happens to be teammate Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod showed off some fine baserunning in the fifth inning as the Yankees took a 5-4 lead. On first base after a one-out walk, Rodriguez avoided being tagged by second baseman Ian Kinsler on Robinson Cano’s groundout and was able to get to second base. That made it possible for him to score on a single to left by Andruw Jones. Josh Hamilton made a strong throw to the plate, but A-Rod beat it with a good slide.

The run was the 1,799th of Rodriguez’s career. It tied him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 16th place on the all-time list.

Sustained rally a promising sign

The Yankees’ comeback from a 5-0 deficit with four runs in the third inning to make a game of it was an encouraging sign since they did not have a home run to help them along the way until Nick Swisher brought them all the way back with his solo shot in the fifth off Brett Tomko.

The Yankees won Friday night with not much offense other than Curtis Granderson’s two home runs, so the homerless, third-inning rally was good to see. It looked for a while as if the Rangers would run and hide after battering Bartolo Colon for two innings, but the Yankees proved to have their pitcher’s back with the four-run rally in the third that came about after two were out.

Derek Jeter restarted the inning with a double off the left field wall, his first extra-base hit in 44 at-bats since April 24 at Baltimore. The Yankees got help from Rangers starter Derek Holland, who walked four batters in the inning, and a big lift from center fielder Julio Borbon, who made a very questionable decision to dive for a liner by Robinson Cano that fell free and shot past him for a bases-clearing triple.

Mark Teixeira also had an RBI hit earlier in the inning on a bloop single to center as suddenly the Yanks found themselves in a one-run game. Bolstered by his teammates’ support, Colon pitched a scoreless third and fourth but was lifted in the fifth after yielding a pair of one-out singles.

That marked the first time in 19 games since April 15 that a Yankees starter failed to last the required five innings for a winning decision. But Colon was not hung with a losing decision, thanks to the home run by Swisher, who did not play Friday night because of a head cold.

Colon was taken deep twice, by Michael Young and David Murphy (the Rangers aren’t much into nicknames), but the bases were empty each time. Colon had location problems and was touched up on a two-run triple by Borbon and a sacrifice fly to the left field warning track by Ian Kinsler. Colon’s 4 1/3 innings of work matched Ivan Nova’s start of April 15, the last previous tine a Yankees starter didn’t make it through the fifth.

Jeter made history once it became an official game in the middle of the fifth. It was the 2,324th game of his career, surpassing Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers for 20th place among players who spent their entire careers with one club.

Jeter took over from Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles the distinction of most games at shortstop for one club with his 2,303rd game at that position. Only three players have played more games at shortstop than Jeter: Omar Vizquel (2,692) and Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio (2,583) and Ozzie Smith (2,511).