Results tagged ‘ Jarrod Saltalamacchia ’

Momentum from Baltimore stalled in Boston

With a bullpen gasping, the last thing the Yankees needed Friday night was for their starting pitcher to blow up in the early innings. That is precisely what happened to Hiroki Kuroda, who soon after righted himself and pitched into the seventh but that first-inning damage did not go away. Although the Yankees evaporated the four-run deficit stemming from that inning, the weakened bullpen could not keep the Red Sox at bay and help the Yankees to another stirring, come-from-behind victory.

Instead, it turned out to be a night out of, well, Friday the 13th for the Yankees, whose movement in the American League wild-card chase stalled as the result of the 8-4 loss. In essence, the score was the same after the first inning when the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead off Kuroda, who threw 33 pitches and looked as if he might have to make an early exit.

The Red Sox threatened to blow the game wide open by loading the bases with one out in the second inning, but Kuroda worked out of it without giving up a run and did the same in the third after a leadoff double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In fact, Kuroda retired 12 of the next 13 batters and was in a tie game by the time he reached the seventh inning.

John Lackey, who has had run-support issues all season, allowed the Yankees to chip away at the four-run spread. The Boston righthander gave up a Green Monster home run to Brendan Ryan in the third and needed a splendid, running catch from hamstrung right fielder Shane Victorino on a sacrifice fly by Lyle Overbay in the sixth to prevent that from becoming a much bigger inning.

The bottom of the Yankees’ order – Ryan and Chris Stewart – pushed Lackey out of the game in the seventh with one-out singles, and left-handed reliever Craig Breslow lost the lead as Robinson Cano drove in two runs with his third double and fourth hit of the game.

The Yankees came from behind in two of their three victories in Baltimore leading into this series and appeared bound to do so again before the Red Sox started putting runners on base in the bottom of the seventh beginning with a scorching single off Kuroda that Eduardo Nunez at third base could not handle.

The back end of the Yankees’ bullpen was not up to the task. Manager Joe Girardi, with Mariano Rivera and David Robertson unavailable because of recent use and Boone Logan disabled, went with a pair of rookies. Lefthander Cesar Cabral hit the only batter he faced, David Ortiz. Righthander Preston Claiborne walked the bases loaded and after a big strikeout of Daniel Nava got creamed on a 0-1 fastball to Saltalamacchia for a grand slam.

So all the positives the Yankees achieved in Baltimore blew up in one bad night in Boston. The Rays shut out the Twins to maintain a 1 ½-game lead for the second wild-card spot over the Indians, who moved a half-game ahead of the Yankees. Looking at just the loss column, the Yanks, Orioles and Royals all have 69 losses, three more than the Rays, and the days are withering down.

Ichiro saves one for Mo

If you didn’t think Sunday’s game was important to the Yankees, consider this: Mariano Rivera was called on for a six-out save. This was something out of postseason play, which is what the Yankees are hopeful for qualifying for this season.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate in using Mo for such a stretch. One, it is that time of year and, two, what would you save Rivera for? As the skipper said after the game, noting that the career saves leader will retire at the end of the season, “He’s at a point where he’s not saving anything for 2014.”

The only problem is that it didn’t work. Rivera blew the save opportunity for the seventh time this season and the second time in this series when he allowed a leadoff home run to Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning that made the score 3-3. Perhaps the only people at Yankee Stadium who thought the ball was a homer were those seated in the first two rows of seats in right field. To everybody else, Rivera and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, it seemed as if it were a high fly ball that would eventually become an out instead of going out.

In the bottom of that inning, however, Rivera would have a smile on his face as wide as the Grand Canyon after Suzuki scored from third base on a wild pitch by Brandon Workman that clinched a 4-3 victory.

Eight runs were not enough Thursday night. Eight runs were not enough Friday night. Nine runs were not enough Saturday. As it turned out, four runs were sufficient for the Yankees Sunday.

The ninth-inning run was an Ichiro special. He singled to left-center field with one out and then quickly moved into scoring position with a steal of second base. Vernon Wells’ flyout to right field was deep enough for Suzuki to scamper to third base. Any battery has to be careful about a wild pitch or a passed ball with a player as quick as Ichiro on third base. There was no doubt that when the pitch by Workman eluded catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia that the Yankee would get the run they needed to avoid a four-game sweep by Boston and give them some momentum headed to Baltimore for another challenging, four-game set against an Orioles club that is battling for the same prize as the Yankees, a wild-card postseason berth.

“Anybody could have made it,” Ichiro said of the winning run, “anybody with a good read.”

Well, that does not just happen with anybody but with a player of Suzuki’s instinct on the bases. This was the first time the Yankees had a walk-off victory on a wild pitch since Sept. 27, 1977 against the Indians and Jim Bibby when the run was scored by Thurman Munson, who made up for lack of speed with an abundance of smarts.

The game might have turned into a disaster if not for that play. The Yankees had overcome a 1-0 deficit to Jon Lester, who pitched eight strong innings, to take a 3-1 lead behind Hiroki Kuroda, who threw 117 pitches over six innings. Shawn Kelley worked the seventh without issue before the strains of “Enter Sandman” were heard surprisingly at the start of the eighth.

Rivera had not pitched for two days, so Girard felt confident that he could use him for a lengthier period. Mo had the same confidence and said he will feel the same way Monday night at Camden Yards.

“If they need me, I’ll be there,” Rivera said. “I have to be ready for any situation. We’re trying to get to the playoffs.”

That pursuit can often find players doing odd things. In the second inning with runners on first and second and none out, Mark Reynolds tried to bunt them over and fouled out to the catcher, the same Mark Reynolds who is usually feast or famine with his home run or strikeout mentality.

“We’ll let that go for now,” Girardi said, clearly indicated that Reynolds was bunting on his own and something he will be told never to do again.

The Yankees failed to score that inning, but Reynolds atoned for his mistake by driving in the Yankees’ first run of the game in the fourth with a booming double to center field. A clutch, two-out single by Robinson Cano an inning later gave the Yankees their first lead in the series since that 8-3 spread entering the seventh inning Friday night that the bullpen flushed.

The Red Sox cut it to 3-2 with a run in the sixth on a double by David Ortiz and two infield outs. One-run leads are usually as good as gold for Rivera, but he has proved a bit more vulnerable in his final season. He last blew as many as seven saves in 2001.

Don’t be surprised, however, that if the Yankees need him to nail down a victory Monday night that, in his words, Mo will be there.

Yanks’ homers make up for lack of clutch

If the Yankees weren’t going to hit in the clutch – and once again they did not – they might as well hit the ball over the fence – and once again they did. The Yankees failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position Wednesday night but used three long balls to get a one-run victory over the Red Sox that was needed to keep their share of first place in the American League East.

When Boston kept biting off portions of the 5-1 lead the Yankees had by the seventh inning, a look back into the game showed the importance of David Phelps’ start. Yankees manager Joe Girardi used six relievers to navigate through the final 3 1/3 innings, but Phelps’ work was a major factor in a must-win situation for the Yankees.

Let’s face it; the rookie righthander had a pretty short leash at Fenway Park. With an 11-man bullpen, Girardi had plenty of arms at his disposal if Phelps faltered, except he didn’t. The key inning was the fifth. The Yankees were up, 3-1, when Jarrod Saltalmacchia, whom the Yankees could not get out, led off with a triple into the Fenway right-center triangle. He also homered, doubled and walked on a perfect night.

Phelps stiffened and got through the fifth without suffering any damage. He struck out Daniel Nava, retired Scott Podsednik on an infield pop and got Jose Iglesias looking at a third strike. In a game that eventually came down to one run, that inning loomed large. Girardi made the first move to pen with two out in the sixth, but Phelps had done his job by yielding one run, five hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in evening his record at 4-4.

Curtis Granderson showed more signs that he is coming out of a prolonged slump over a period of almost 50 at-bats. He got the Yankees started with a solo home run in the fourth and pushed the Yankees’ lead to 5-1 with a two-run homer in the seventh. Granderson has five hits in his past 11 at-bats (.455) with a double, three homers and eight RBI. He also raised his team-leading totals in home runs to 37 and RBI to 89.

With Mark Teixeira (left calf strain) out of the lineup, the Yankees need some firepower. They also got it from Robinson Cano with a two-run homer in the fourth. That was Cano’s 30th home run of the season, a career high.

That would be the Yankees’ offense as they went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They are 1-for-25 in those situations in the series so are fortunate to have split the first two games.

Nick Swisher, who had also been slumping on the trip before arriving at Fenway, is getting back on track as well. Swish had two doubles and a single and is 6-for-11 (.545) since going hitless in 28 at-bats. Coming to Boston was just what Swisher needed. He is batting .452 with six doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 31 at-bats this year at Fenway.

A scare went up in the eighth when Derek Jeter came up lame trying to beat out a double-play grounder and was removed from the game. The Captain has played for a week with a bone bruise in his left ankle. He had two more hits – his 59th multi-hit game – which boosted his big-league leading total to 194 and career figure to 3,282, one behind 10th-place Willie Mays. DJ went past another Giants legend, Mel Ott, into 12th place on the all-time runs list with his 1,860th.

Jeet downplayed his sore ankle and vowed he would be back in the lineup Thursday night. That will be Girardi’s call, of course, but no Yankees fan wants to imagine how the team would fare without Jeter.

Yanks-Bosox weekend off to wild start

The Yankees-Red Sox weekend at Fenway Park got off to a wild and woolly start Friday night as both clubs batted around in the first inning and put up five spots. If that set a tone for the series, it could be a very long weekend.

The Yanks struck against Josh Beckett, who has had his way with the Yankees over the years (14-7 record) despite an unsightly ERA (5.36). Beckett has had problems with his thumb this year and by the time he got his first out of the game the Yankees had scored four runs.

Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson started the rally with singles before Beckett got unglued and hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch and walked Robinson Cano to force in a run. That made it nine straight games with at least one RBI for Cano, the most since Jeter had a nine-game streak May 23 to June 2, 2004.

Mark Teixeira smoked a single to center field for two runs. A fly ball to right by Nick Swisher was the first out Beckett got, but it was a sacrifice fly that made the score 4-0. After Raul Ibanez singled Teixeira to third, the Yankees got another sac fly, from Eric Chavez.

Hiroki Kuroda could not have asked for a better way to start a game at Fenway, but he let the Red Sox come all the way back and tie the score. A throwing error by Chavez at third base prolonged the inning, but the big blow was a three-run home run by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The five runs Kuroda allowed in that one inning matched the total he yielded in his three previous starts combined over 21 innings.

It marked the first time in the history of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry that both teams scored at least five runs in the first inning of a game.

The teams duplicated themselves again with one-run second innings. Granderson tripled and scored on an infield out by Rodriguez. Cano doubled but was stranded at second as Beckett caught Teixeira staring at a called third strike. Again, Kuroda failed to come up with a shutdown inning. He hit Daniel Nava to start the inning and gave up singles to Ryan Kalish and David Ortiz, the latter driving in the tying run.

As some of the names suggest, this was not your typical Boston lineup. Ortiz, Saltalamacchia and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez were surrounded by back-ups as Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Ryan Sweeney are all on the disabled list and Kevin Youkilis was traded to the White Sox.

Another of those subs, third baseman Mauro Gomez, drove in a run in the fifth as the Red Sox got the lead for the first time in the game. A wild pitch by Kuroda put Gonzalez, who led off the inning with a single, in scoring position. One out later, Gomez singled him home.

Kuroda failed to pitch through the sixth inning for the first time in eight starts. He departed with two outs in the sixth after giving up seven runs (six earned) and 10 hits with a walk, a hit batter, two wild pitches and three strikeouts and having blown two leads.

Red Sox pitcher does Yankees a favor

There are times to retaliate for infractions of unwritten rules and times not to. One time definitely not to do it is at the start of a late inning in a game of importance in which you are trailing. Red Sox pitcher John Lackey took precisely that time to take revenge against Francisco Cervelli, and it helped the Yankees get a run.

Cervelli obviously ticked off Lackey and his catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, not only for the home run the Yankees’ backup catcher hit in the fifth inning but also because he stomped on the plate and clapped his hands when he reached home. This is a big no-no in the game of be careful not to show up the opposition.

Lackey did not waste any time. The next time he saw Cervelli as the leadoff hitter in the seventh with the Yankees leading 4-2 the righthander hit him in the back with a pitch. The dugouts emptied, and there was the usual jawing and finger pointing but no punches were thrown. Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was furious enough to get himself ejected for his behavior.

Lackey’s maneuver fulfilled the macho code but proved foolish because it eventually cost the Red Sox a run. A passed ball by Saltalamacchia got Cervelli to second base, and he crossed to third when Bret Gardner beat out an infield single on a sacrifice attempt. Derek Jeter grounded into a double play, but Cervelli crossed the plate, so just what did Boston gain for retaliating so soon?

The Yankees and Red Sox still have two more games left in this series and another series left in the regular season Sept. 23-25 at Yankee Stadium, plenty of time to make Cervelli pay for his indiscretion. What Lackey did Tuesday night was just foolish, to the Yankees’ benefit.

AL East race thickening up

As if they did not know already, the Yankees found out they have a lot of work cut out for them the rest of the way. Forget all that stuff about the poop starts the Rays and Red Sox got off to this year. That is all in the past.

Boston got back to .500 Sunday night with a 7-5 victory to complete a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. It concluded a 1-5 homestand for the Yankees, who won’t catch any break on the road this week since they are on their way to St. Petersburg, Fla., to get a first-hand look at the first-place Rays, who have moved out to a two-game lead over the Bombers in the American League East.

Meanwhile, the third-place Red Sox are only one game behind the Yankees and very much in the division race. Boston came back from a 4-1 deficit behind Jon Lester, who toughened after the second inning and improved his career records against the Yankees to 7-1 overall and 5-1 at the Stadium.

The Yankees actually had a decent night of hitting with runners in scoring position (2-for-5; I said decent, not great, but better than the Red Sox’ 1-for-11), but it really was a matter of home runs (by Andruw Jones and Curtis Granderson) and little else. The defense was also responsible for two runs, which proved to be the deficit.

A strikeout-passed ball, a play that seldom occurs, happened for the second time in the series by the same two principals (catcher Russell Martin, batter Kevin Youkilis) leading to a run for the Red Sox each time. An error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez accounted for another unearned run.

Youkilis took back the 4-1 lead from Freddy Garcia with a three-run home run, and the Red Sox added solo shots by David Ortiz off Garcia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia off David Robertson for punctuation.

The Yankees’ losing streak has reached five games, equaling the longest in Joe Girardi’s term as manager dating to 2008. They lost five straight games May 2-7, 2009, also all at home. Look at this way. What the Rays and Red Sox went through in early April is what the Yankees, 3-9 since May 3, are going through now. Tampa Bay and Boston worked their way out of it. The Yankees have to do the same.

Of starters and newcomers

The Yankees aren’t the only American League East team with concerns about their rotation. The Red Sox were thought to have the most top-heavy starting unit in the division, but it has gotten off to an atrocious start.

Boston’s slumping offense has been considered chiefly responsible for the team’s 1-7 start, but the pitchers are not doing their jobs, either. Clay Buchholz got battered again Saturday by the Yankees (3 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 home run) and watched his ERA bloat to 7.20.

That is not the highest ERA in the rotation. That dubious distinction belongs to John Lackey, who has the only victory among the starters (Friday night against the Yankees) and an ERA of 15.58.

Red Sox relievers are a combined 1-5 with a 7.46 ERA. They have allowed 35 runs (34 earned), 50 hits, 20 walks and 12 home runs in 41 innings with 25 strikeouts. The other two Boston losses were charged to setup reliever Daniel Bard, who has a 12.27 ERA and has not looked like the heir to Jonathan Papelbon’s closer role that everyone in Boston expects if Papelbon bolts to free agency after this season.

The Yankees’ rotation has actually done better, although it is nothing to write home about. Starters have combined for a 3-1 record despite a 5.58 ERA. Due mainly to two weak outings from Phil Hughes, Yankees starters have allowed more hits (43) than innings pitched (40 1/3), but only four home runs, and their walk to strikeout ratio of 14:31 is superior to Boston’s 20:25.

The best effort by a Yankees starter, the seven-inning, two-hit, shutout work by CC Sabathia Tuesday night, was not rewarded with a victory as the bullpen blew a four-run lead.

Both staffs have new catchers, Russell Martin for the Yankees and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox. Martin has drawn raves from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, himself a former catcher, for his work behind the plate.

In Saturday’s 9-4 victory over the Red Sox, Martin had his work cut dealing with an erratic Ivan Nova, but the catcher then coaxed 4 2/3 scoreless innings combined from David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Luis Ayala.

Martin also combined with fellow newcomer Eric Chavez and center fielder Curtis Granderson to power the Yankees’ offense from the bottom of the lineup. They combined for six hits, five runs and seven RBI in 12 at-bats.

Martin drove in four runs with two home runs and is batting .321 with 3 homers and 8 RBI. Chavez, whose first start was rained out at Yankee Stadium, finally made his Yanks debut (as the designated hitter) with two doubles and a single. Granderson hit his second home run (both have come off lefthanders, a good sign) and walked twice.

Since the game was at Fenway Park, Robinson Cano was a major contributor. He homered, doubled and singled in five at-bats. Cano is a .367 hitter in 229 career at-bats at Fenway with 21 doubles, 1 triple, 11 home runs and 48 RBI. Over this season and last, Cano has hit .455 with 3 homers and 10 RBI in 44 at-bats in Boston.

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