Results tagged ‘ Jim Leyritz ’

Cool stuff about Raul’s hot night

Here is some more cool stuff about Raul Ibanez, the slugging hero of the Yankees’ 3-2, 12-inning victory over the Orioles Wednesday night in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium:

• Ibanez became the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a postseason game with both coming in the ninth inning or later (includes, pinch-hit, game-tying, game-winning, etc.)
• His ninth-inning, game-tying pinch-hit homer was the first pinch homer of his postseason career. It was the 12th all-time pinch-hit postseason HR by a Yankees player and the first since Hideki Matsui Oct. 31, 2009 in Game 3 of the World Series at Philadelphia.
• He became the first player in franchise history to hit a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning or later to tie the game or give the Yankees the lead. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ibanez was sixth player in postseason history to hit a pinch homer in that situation. The others were Pat Sheridan (1985 Royals), Kirk Gibson (1988 Dodgers), Ed Sprague Jr. (1992 Blue Jays), Jim Leyritz (1998 Padres) and J.T. Snow (2000 Giants).
• Ibanez’s first postseason walk-off home run of his career was the 12th postseason walk-off homer in Yankees history (third in a Division Series game) and the first since Mark Teixeira Oct. 9, 2009 in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins at the Stadium. It came in the second latest inning of the 12 Yankees postseason “walk-off” HRs with only Leyritz’s 15th-inning homer Oct. 4, 1995 in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Mariners at the Stadium occurring later.
• It was the 23rd multi-homer postseason game in Yankees franchise history (by the 17th player) and first since Hideki Matsui Oct. 16, 2004 in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series at Boston. It was the third multi-homer ALDS game by a Yankees player (also Bernie Williams twice Oct. 6, 1995 in Game 3 at Seattle and Oct. 5, 1996 in Game 4 at Texas).
• It marked the seventh time (sixth player) that a Yankee hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later in the postseason, and first since Alex Rodriguez did it twice in 2009 (Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels and Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins, all at the Stadium.
• Dating to Sept. 22, Ibanez has 18-for-42 (.429) with nine runs, three doubles, six home runs and 11 RBI in 13 games, including 4-for-9 (.444) against left-handed pitching.
• The walk-off homer off Brian Matusz was Ibanez’s first home run of any kind off a left-handed pitcher this season.
• Of Ibanez’s 21 home runs this year (19 in the regular season and two in the postseason), 11 have come in the seventh-inning or later and 12 have tied the score or given the Yanks the lead, including nine of his past 13 homers.
• Ibanez is the first player in baseball history to homer twice in a postseason game that he did not start.
• At 40, Ibanez became the oldest player in postseason history to hit a walk-off home run, surpassing current Yankees bench coach Tony Pena who did it in Game 1 of the ALDS in 1995 for the Indians against the Red Sox at Cleveland when he was 38.

Battery creates positive sparks

Not that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would ever concede that he allow pitchers to have their favorite catcher, but backup backstop Chris Stewart was again behind the plate Sunday in a game started by CC Sabathia. It marked the third consecutive game Stewart has caught Sabathia. The Yankees have won all three games.

“We’ve been on the same page,” Sabathia said after his sturdy, eight-inning effort in a 6-2 Yanks victory over Detroit. “This is the second straight game that I didn’t shake him off. He has been calling great games. He also catches me on my throw days in the bullpen. It’s a good deal.”

Girardi didn’t get into the issue back in the 1990s when he was the Yankees’ regular catcher but manager Joe Torre allowed Jim Leyritz, then the backup, to work behind the plate regularly with Andy Pettitte. But then, even Girardi has succumbed to that situation when he had Francisco Cervelli work regularly with A.J Burnett the past two years.

Yet the skipper maintained that Sabathia and Stewart is not a permanent battery despite the success. Sabathia was 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in his first two starts with regular Russell Martin behind the plate and is 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA in his three starts with Stewart catching.

“It has just kind of worked out that way,” Girardi said. “I think it’s easier for a backup catcher who is only going to catch once or maybe twice a week to work with only one or two starters.”

Sabathia’s performance was just what Girardi and the Yankees needed Sunday after the bullpen was spent from working 7 1/3 innings Saturday and 4 2/3 innings Friday night. Except for David Robertson, who pitched the ninth, the guys in the pen had a day off, thanks to CC, who scattered four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Prince Fielder homered off a hanging slider in the fourth inning, and Miguel Cabrera rapped a run-scoring double in the sixth. Considering the damage those two can do, Sabathia had a good day. The Yankees’ offense, which has bailed out so many starters this year with seven comeback victories, stalled for CC somewhat Sunday as 15 runners were stranded, but home runs by Curtis Granderson and Andruw Jones and two RBI from Alex Rodriguez proved sufficient support.

A-Rod moved past Willie Mays on the career RBI list into eighth place with 1,904. Derek Jeter had two infield hits to flirt with .400 again at .396, and Robinson Cano showed signs of coming out of his early-season doldrums with two well-struck singles and an RBI.

On the downside, however, was an injury to Nick Swisher, who has been the Yankees’ most productive hitter (.284, 9 doubles, 6 home runs, 23 RBI) but had to come out of the game in the third inning after drawing a walk. An MRI revealed a low-grade strain of the left hamstring that will keep him out of action for several days.

The Yankees inserted Jones in left field and moved Raul Ibanez to right, an arrangement that may continue during the upcoming three-game series against the Orioles at the Stadium unless the Yanks dip into the minors for temporary help. Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) is not due to come off the 15-day disabled list until Thursday.

Andy Pettitte: He always took the ball

The day I arrived at what was the last spring training the Yankees had at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1995, then manager Buck Showalter drove up to me in a golf cart on the sidelines of the main field and said, “Hop in; I want you to see someone.”

He drove to me to one of the back fields where two pitchers were warming up. I have long forgotten who one of them was, but the one I remember was Andy Pettitte. He wasn’t as cut as he would later become; he still had some love handles, but one pitch after the other sunk with stinging action.

Showalter, who grew up in the Florida panhandle and attended Mississippi State University, had an affinity for Southern players. Still does, probably, so I said to him, “Okay, which is it? Louisiana or Arkansas?”

“Texas,” Buck said. “You can’t quote me on this, but this guy might win 15 games for us this year.”

“Pretty tall order for a rookie,” I said.

Showalter missed on his prediction. Pettitte won 12 games, not 15, but he helped stabilize a rotation snagged by an injury to Jimmy Key, who finished second to David Cone, then with the Royals, in the previous year’s American League Cy Young Award race, and was a key ingredient in the Yankees’ reaching post-season play for the first time in 15 years, as the newfangled wild card.

Pettitte’s victory total was second on the staff only to another former Cy Young Award winner, Jack McDowell, who was 15-10. Pettitte’s 12-9 record and 4.17 ERA was not overwhelming, but it was good enough for him to finish third in the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award voting behind winner Marty Cordova of the Twins and runner-up Garret Anderson of the Angels, a couple of outfielders.

The lefthander started Game 2 of the Division Series against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium and was not involved in the decision, a 7-5 Yankees victory on a two-run home run in the 15th inning by Jim Leyritz that gave them a 2-0 lead in the series before they went 0-for-Seattle.

With Showalter gone after turning down a two-year contract offer from George Steinbrenner, Pettitte had to prove himself all over again to a new manager, Joe Torre, in 1996. It wasn’t easy, either. Torre at first thought Pettitte, a deeply religious person, was a bit soft. Yet start after start, Pettitte kept the Yankees in games, and he ended up winning 21 of them and becoming a Cy Young Award candidate, although he finished second in the voting to the Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen.

Pettitte never came closer to winning that award, but even better he won over Torre with 8 1/3 gutty innings of shutout ball in Game 5 of the World Series at Atlanta, a 1-0 Yankees victory that put them up 3-2 and in position to take the Series two nights later, which they did. From that point on, Torre never questioned Pettitte’s toughness again.

Here is what Joe said about Andy the other day:

“Andy took the ball every five days, and if he had it his way, he’d get it more often than that. What’s really unusual about him is that a lot of times pitchers are more consumed with themselves. Andy was probably the consummate team player, especially for a pitcher. He was so concerned not only about the day he pitched but he always had his arm around a young guy in between starts.
 
“He has been a huge favorite of mine because he’s such a stand up guy, and he hasn’t changed from day one. He was a great teammate, and I think that’s why he won so many games. The guys that play behind him understand how intense he is, and it becomes contagious.
 
“I think the impact he had on the teams we had in the mid-to-late 1990’s was enormous even though he was never the guy in the spotlight. He liked the fact that he wasn’t the No. 1 guy even though I trusted him like a No. 1 guy. But he didn’t have an ego that dictated he needed all that attention.
 
“He did a great job of channeling his energy into competing, and he was about as consistent a performer as anybody in terms of getting your money’s worth. He glued our staff together. When you’re performing with the same people year-in and year-out, it’s always nice to have that security blanket. He was certainly that guy on the pitching staff.”

For other managers, the Astros’ Jimy Williams and Phil Garner and the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, Pettitte proved just as reliable in a career he brought to a halt this week. There were no tears at Friday’s announcement. Pettitte thought long and hard about this decision, and when he said “My heart isn’t in it anymore,” that’s all he needed to say. Once a player no longer has the stomach for the game, it is time to go.

That Game 5 of the 1996 World Series four nights after the Braves handed his head to him in Game 1 remains the centerpiece of Pettitte’s Yankees career, but there were plenty of other times when he gave the Yankees everything they needed from a pitcher.

He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 AL Championship Series when he won both his starts and held a Seattle team that had won 116 games during the regular season to four runs in 14 1/3 innings. Even in defeat, Pettitte could be magnificent, such as the Game 6 showdown with the Marlins’ Josh Beckett in the 2003 World Series, Andy’s last start for the Yankees before signing as a free agent with his hometown Houston club.

Three years later, Pettitte was back with the Yankees reunited with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and helped ring in the new Yankee Stadium by winning the clinching games of all three post-season series in 2009 as the team achieved its 27th championship. Last year, he was a Cy Young Award candidate for half the season before a groin injury cost him at least a dozen starts. Now he is the first of the “Core Four” to call it quits.

“Andy was a great teammate and a wonderful guy,” Rivera said. “He was a fighter and all about winning, and he was respected by every person in the clubhouse.”

“I’m really sad that Andy is going to retire,” Posada said.”He was so much more than a teammate to me; he was one of my closest friends.  I admire everything that he has accomplished as a Yankee, but Andy was someone who always put the team first.  I’m going to miss him deeply.”

Added Jeter: “It has been a pleasure to play with Andy for all these years, and the Yankees have been fortunate to have him representing the organization both on and off the field. More importantly, it has been an honor to get to know him as a person, and I consider him family. I wish for nothing but happiness for him and his family, as I know how important they are to him.”

Of course, it didn’t take long for Hall of Fame talk about Pettitte to sprout. Let’s give it the five-year wait before getting serious about that. Pettitte has a lot going for him – a won-loss record more than 100 games over .500 at 240-138, a post-season record 19 victories, and winning five rings in eight World Series overall. He also has some things going against him – allowing more hits than innings pitched, a rather high ERA (3.88) and three more dangerous capital letters, HGH, which he admitted to using after his name surfaced in the Mitchell Report.

His path to Cooperstown won’t be smooth. Over the next few years, the ballot will contain the names of starting pitchers superior to him in terms of statistics – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, even Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina.

“I’ve never considered myself a Hall of Famer,” Pettitte said. “I guess I’ve gotten close to having those kinds of credentials or guys wouldn’t be talking about it.”

The writers who do the voting will be talking about him for a while. But to Yankees fans, Pettitte will always be in their personal Halls of Fame for his competitiveness and remarkable consistency.

 

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