Results tagged ‘ Joba Chamberlain ’
The Yankees were probably due for one of these games, but it always painful to watch when it happens. The offensively-challenged Mariners bolted out of the game with seven runs in the first inning and kept adding to their light-hitting totals on the way to a 12-2 victory Wednesday night behind the solid pitching of the latest Japanese sensation, Hisashi Iwakuma.
Leading the way was none other than Raul Ibanez, who has been a terror against his 2012 team. Showing that he has lost none of his power stroke at Yankee Stadium, Ibanez belted two home runs, one a grand slam, and knocked in six runs. That gives him three home runs and eight RBI in the past two games. What does he think this is, the American League Division Series or the AL Championship Series?
The Yankees have had 11 come-from-behind victories, but this proved too uphill a climb for them. Iwakuma gave up solo home runs to Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart and little else in his seven innings as he improved to 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Iwakuma, 32, is proving that his 9-5, 3.16-ERA record in 2012 for Seattle was no fluke. He and Felix Hernandez have been a dangerous 1-2 pitching combination, although they rarely get this kind of run support.
Phil Hughes suffered his poorest outing of the season and one of the worst of his career in giving up seven runs, six hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, which shot his ERA up from 4.43 to 5.88. It was only the second time a Yankees starter failed to complete the first inning in the current Stadium. It also happened May 21, 2009 with Joba Chamberlain against the Orioles (2/3 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs).
“Phil was up in the zone,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can pitch up in the zone, but he got too many balls in the middle of the plate.”
“I didn’t have much of a fastball, so I tried changeups and sliders,” Hughes said. “I kept trying to find something. I’m going to have trouble sleeping the next four nights. You have to put the team in a situation like this where eventually some guys are playing out of position. The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt.”
Girardi did resort to some musical chairs in the blowout. Stewart moved from behind the plate to play first base. In the ninth when poor Brett Marshall in his major-league debut was wiped out by throwing 108 pitches, Girardi had shortstop Alberto Gonzalez get the last out.
“I didn’t want to use another reliever and asked Alberto about it before the inning,” Girardi said. “I picked him because shortstops usually have the most accurate arms.”
In the same move, Wells, who had been the designated hitter, played second base. Last week, the career outfielder played an inning at third base.
There were not too many bright sides for the Yankees, but there were some. Preston Claiborne added to his scoreless stretch of pitching with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-strikeout relief and has now been unscored upon in five appearances and seven innings. Triple A Scranton call-up David Adams made his major-league debut on his 26th birthday and had a single in four at-bats and handled five chances in the field without incident.
Lyle Overbay had two more hits, a double and a single, to continue his terrific job at replacing Mark Teixeira at first base. Over the Yankees’ first 40 games, Overbay is batting .266 with 10 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 24 RBI. Through 40 games a year ago, Teixeira hit .229 with nine doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.
The bullpen had been the one area of the Yankees’ roster unstained by injury in the first month of the season. That situation has changed.
The Yankees placed righthander Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 28, because of a right oblique strain. They called up righthander Preston Claiborne from Triple A Scranton where he had three saves in three opportunities with a 3.48 ERA and 10 strikeouts in eight relief appearances totaling 10 1/3 innings. To create room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated righthander Cody Eppley for assignment.
In addition, David Robertson is also ailing with soreness in the area behind his left knee. The righthander was not available for Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Athletics.
Without Chamberlain and Robertson, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will have to maneuver his bullpen differently in the late innings. Even relying on matchups won’t help much considering that Claiborne, recent call-up Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren have limited experience. Girardi said he may have to rely on veteran Shawn Kelley more in late-inning spots.
Friday night marked the 1,000th managerial game over seven seasons for Girardi, who had a 574-425 (.575) overall record – 496-341 (.593) in 837 games in six seasons with the Yankees (2008-present) and 78-84 (.481) in one season with the Marlins (2006) when he was received the National League Manager of the Year Award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Regardless of Friday night’s outcome, Girardi will have the best winning percentage among all managers with at least 1,000 games at the helm since Hall of Famer Earl Weaver compiled a 1,480-1,060 (.583) mark over a 17-year managerial career (1968-82 and ‘85-86), all with the Orioles. Among active managers, Girardi ranks second in winning percentage behind the Rockies’ Walt Weiss (17-11, .607), who is in his first season as a skipper, and ahead of the Nationals’ Davey Johnson (1,301-1,009, .563).
Friday night was also an anniversary for Robinson Cano, who made his major-league debut on this date eight years ago. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Cano has more career hits (1,495) for the Yankees than any other player in franchise history through his first eight calendar years in the big leagues. Cano has played more games (1,241) with the Yanks than the other 12 position players on their active roster combined (1,074).
Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that he has to be careful with Travis Hafner. Injuries have plagued the slugger in recent years. Sometimes a manager gets a hunch. Saturday was just that kind of day. The Blue Jays were starting a lefthander, J.A. Happ, but aware that the right-handed portion of the designated hitter platoon, Ben Francisco, is struggling (.103 in 29 at-bats) Girardi chose to give the lefty-swinging Hafner a rare start against a southpaw.
How it turned out was just downright beautiful. All Hafner did was drive in four runs as the Yankees turned back the Blue Jays again, 5-4, behind another gritty effort from CC Sabathia. This was like old times for Travis and CC, former teammates at Cleveland. It was another victory due in large part to the newcomers with the Yankees this year; in this case Hafner and Vernon Wells, who drove in the other Yankees run.
Just as was the case in recent years of the likes of Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Raul Ibanez and Andruws Jones, among others, who thrived with the Yankees in their twilight years, Hafner and Wells have found a fountain of youth in the Bronx.
“This is a great place to play,” Girardi said. “It’s a great clubhouse. There are great expectations. Guys feed off that.”
It was quite an afternoon. Sabathia fell into a 3-0 hole, but the Yankees helped him climb out of it so that he ended up pitching through eight innings and improving his record to 4-2 despite yet another game when his stuff was not top shelf.
“I was all over the place in the early innings,” Sabathia said. “They just missed some balls that I left out over the middle of the plate.”
“He competes, that’s what he does,” Girardi said of Sabathia. “He has not been as sharp in April, but he has four victories, so I am not going to complain.”
Newly thrust into the starting catcher role with Francisco Cervelli out for six weeks with a right hand fracture, Chris Stewart had a rough time of it in the fourth inning. A passed ball and an error helped the Blue Jays to a gift run that gave Toronto the 3-0 lead.
Sabathia, still searching for some velocity on a fastball that rarely topped 90 miles per hour, had an unusual number of fly-ball outs in the early innings. Nobody was catching the ball Jose Bautista hit to start the fourth inning, however. It darted into the left field stands for his seventh home run.
Edwin Encarnacion, who had five home runs in his previous four games, followed with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. Stewart’s passed ball put Encarnacion at third base. He tried to score on Brett Lawrie’s flyout to right field, but Ichiro Suzuki’s laser-beam throw to the plate beat Encarnacion. Plate umpire Jeff Kellogg was prepared to call Encarnacion out, but the ball was dropped by Stewart, a costly error.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Happ got careless with the lead as he began the bottom of the fourth by walking Wells and Kevin Youkilis, who was back in the lineup after missing six games due to back stiffness.
Hafner lowered the boom and brought the Yankees even with his sixth home run, a three-run shot to right-center. He had never faced Happ before, but Hafner was a welcome addition to the batting order.
Lawrie picked up the RBI he lost in the fourth two innings later when he lined a home run to right field that put Toronto back in front.
Not for long, though, as Hafner struck again in the seventh. Righthander Esmil Rogers took over at that point and gave up a one-out double to Robinson Cano, who nearly didn’t get to second base before a remarkably strong and accurate by Bautista from the right field warning track. Wells tied the score with a single to center.
The Yankees stayed out of the double play by sending Wells as Youkilis grounded out to third base. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in another lefthander, Brett Cecil, to face Hafner, who tripled off the glove of center fielder Rajai Davis. In the top of the inning, Brett Gardner made a fence-slamming catch off a similar drive by Bautista. It was the 13th career triple for Hafner and his third over the past six years. This was the first time since 2007 that Hafner has had a triple and a stolen base in the same season.
“Probably tiring,” Hafner said about what it felt like getting to third base. “You want to get some quality at-bats against a lefthander once in a while. It would be nice to get some starts, but I also know that they have my best interests at heart.”
Wanting to stay away from Mariano Rivera, who pitched in three of the previous four games, Girardi used Joba Chamberlain out of the bullpen in the ninth. He was touched for a couple of one-out singles but eventually slammed the door for his fifth career save and first since Sept. 21, 2010 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Yankees are now 13-5 since opening the season 1-4, 8-1 in games decided by two or fewer runs, 3-0 in one-run games and 13-1 when holding opponents to four runs or less. In addition, the Yankees are creating distance from the disappointing Jays, who are 9-16 and six games behind the 14-9 Yankees in the American League East. Toronto’s 11-28 (.282) record at Yankee Stadium is the worst for any team that has played at least 30 games in any current major league park.
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:
Much of the concern about the 2013 Yankees has centered on the offense, what with the loss of 194 home runs in players gone from the 2012 team and the season-opening injuries to four key position players – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. What the Yankees were counting on to offset the lineup changes was quality pitching. Yet it is the pitching that has been a main culprit in the club’s 1-4 start.
Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers was the latest example of shabby pitching. The Yankees were hoping for a boost from Phil Hughes, removed from the disabled list and thrust into the rotation over David Phelps, who returned to long relief. Well, Phelps got into the game anyway because Hughes lasted only three batters into the fifth inning and was hit hard – four runs (three earned) and eight hits.
Boone Logan, the Yankees’ lone lefthander in the bullpen, had another troublesome outing against Detroit’s left-handed hitters. Friday, he yielded a three-run home run to Prince Fielder, who was the first batter Logan faced again in the fifth inning Saturday. Logan kept Fielder in the park this time, but a single gave the Detroit first baseman his sixth RBI of the series. Logan gave up an RBI single later in the inning to another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks.
The Yankees came back from a 5-1 deficit to make it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the sixth. A tiring Max Scherzer walked Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis to start the inning and yielded a single to Travis Hafner that resulted in the righthander’s departure. Al Alburquerque walked Vernon Wells to load the bases, but Brennan Boesch lined into a double play. After another walk, Alburquerque gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay.
Just when the Yankees got back into the game, Phelps failed to produce a shut-down inning and allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Tigers began to pull away again. Joba Chamberlain, whose ERA is a glaring 21.60, was wild (two walks, one wild pitch) in allowing a run in the eighth.
The Tigers finished with 17 hits, including four by Miguel Cabrera and three apiece by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. It could have been worse for the Yankees, but Detroit had 4-for-15 (.267) with runners in scoring position.
The amount of hits Yankees pitchers have allowed is alarming – 61 in five games, an average of 12.2 knocks per game. Opponents are batting .339 in 180 at-bats against the Yanks. Meanwhile, Yankees hitters are batting only .219 in 160 at-bats. They do have six home runs (Wells got his second of the season Saturday), so the power outage expected has not actually materialized, but the offense has been unable to compensate for the pitching problems. The Yankees have been outscored, 33-17. Detroit relievers have combined for seven scoreless innings against the Yanks the past two games.
Staff ace CC Sabathia gets the opportunity to be a stopper Sunday in the series finale at Comerica Park. One major hurdle, however, is that the Tigers’ scheduled starter is Justin Verlander. It is a dream matchup of former American League Cy Young Award winners, and the pressure is on CC to turn the staff in a positive direction.
For 10 weeks, the Orioles whittled away a 10-game deficit in the American League East to the Yankees, eventually drawing even in mid-September. Back and forth the teams went all that month with Baltimore unable to unseat the Yankees from first place.
The two clubs wound up opposing each other in the AL Division Series in another see-saw skirmish that fittingly will go down to the wire. There is no more appropriate way for the Yankees and the Orioles to settle this business between them that on the field at Yankee Stadium Friday night in a winner-to-advance finale.
“It is pretty fitting,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It has been a grind the whole year. It has been a fight to stay ahead of this club the whole year.”
Game 4 Friday night went 13 innings with the Orioles coming back from a hard, 12-inning loss Thursday night to win, 2-1, in one of their patented one-run, extra-inning affairs. The Orioles are 17-3 postseason included in extras this year, but all three losses have been to the Yankees.
Each side used eight pitchers. It came down to David Phelps giving up a pair of doubles to Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy in the 13th for the deciding run. Jim Johnson, who blew a save opportunity Thursday night on the first of Raul Ibanez’s two dramatic home runs, retired the side in order in the bottom of the 13th.
For the second straight game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled Alex Rodriguez for a pinch hitter against the right-handed Johnson. Ibanez had already been used off the bench in the ninth as a pinch hitter for Jayson Nix and grounded out. Batting for A-Rod in the 13th was fellow third baseman Eric Chavez, who lined out to Machado at third base to end the game.
Phelps entered the game in the 12th after Joba Chamberlain was struck in the right elbow by the top half of Matt Wieters’ shattered bat on the follow-through of his single to left field. Phelps got the next three batters out but was in immediate trouble in the 13th when Machado lined a double to right-center.
Nate McLouth, who had accounted for Baltimore’s run in regulation time with a homer run in the fifth off Yankees starter Phil Hughes, advanced Machado to third base with a grounder to the right side. It proved unnecessary when Hardy doubled to left-center. He also got to third on an infield out but was stranded as Adam Jones made the third out on a pepper shot.
Keeping the rally to one run kept the Yankees’ chances alive to tie the score with one swing as Ibanez had done the previous night. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Chavez came up short, which brings this tug of war between the two best teams in the AL East to an apt conclusion.
Some questionable decisions by umpires Saturday went against the Yankees, but they really had no one but themselves to blame for a 3-2 loss at Toronto that cost them the opportunity to be in a position to clinch a postseason berth. Instead, the Yanks faced the possibility of falling back into a tie for first place in the American League East with the Orioles, who were scheduled Saturday night at home against the Red Sox.
If the Yankees had broken the game open when they had the chance in the early innings, then the calls that went against them later on would not have mattered. Their record in one-run games fell to 21-25, but this should never have been a one-run game for the Yankees.
They had the bases loaded with none out twice and came away with their only two runs, both on sacrifice flies in the first inning by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. When they filled the bags with none out in the third, they failed to score at all. Eduardo Nunez in making the third out at least hit the ball hard, but Blue Jays second baseman Adeiny Hecchavarria made a diving grab.
The Yankees even caught a break when Jays starter Ricky Romero was forced out of the game with an aching left knee, but five Toronto relievers combined to shut them down on three hits and two walks over the last six innings. The Yankees had 2-for-11 (.182) with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners – eight over the first five innings and five in scoring position.
Andy Pettitte gave up his first run in his third start since returning from a fractured left fibula in the first inning on a home run by Rajai Davis, who is on fire in this series (7-for-8). Pettitte had problems working hitters inside and was not as sharp as his previous two starts but got his pitch count up to 94 and appeared perfectly healthy, both positive signs.
The bad calls? Toronto tied the score in the fifth on an infield hit by Davis that looked to be a foul ball. Both plate umpire Mike Everitt and third base ump Paul Schrieber signaled “fair” on the chopper down the third base line that Alex Rodriguez gloved while charging. It seemed to me that A-Rod caught the ball in foul ground, but obviously the umpires thought otherwise. It might have been better for Rodriguez to have let the ball go past him and into foul territory, but that is hindsight, which is always 20-20.
Pettitte came close to working out of a first-and-second, none-out situation by getting two fly balls to Granderson in center. Yanks manager Joe Girardi decided to lift Pettitte to have Joba Chamberlain face Hechavarria, who put the Blue Jays in front with a double off the right field wall. First baseman Nick Swisher made an alert play as the cutoff man and threw to A-Rod at third base to nail Yan Gomes, who had rounded the bag too far.
The second umpires’ decision that hurt the Yankees came in the ninth when Brett Gardner, pinch running, was caught attempting to steal second base. Video replays indicated that Gardner’s left hand hit the bag before shortstop Yunel Escobar tagged him, but second base umpire Tim Welke called him out.
Those are calls that are killers in one-run games, but this was a one-run game that the Yankees brought on themselves.
An umpire’s staggeringly errant call notwithstanding, the Yankees got out of Baltimore still in sole possession of first place in the American League East. They suffered no hangover from the blunder by Jerry Meals Saturday night and turned the page emphatically with an old-fashioned blowout Sunday to move back into first by a game over the Orioles.
The 13-3 victory was an ensemble effort with contributions galore. Manager Joe Girardi steered the team as if it were a playoff game. When a 5-0 lead became 5-3 in the third, Girardi did not hesitate to remove a shaky Freddy Garcia. The bullpen was masterful as four relievers combined for 5 2/3 innings of shutout, one-hit, two-walk, nine-strikeout work.
Joba Chamberlain may have finally shaken off the dust of his recovery from Tommy John surgery and an ankle injury by striking out four of the six batters he faced and was deserving of the winning decision, his first. Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Derek Lowe followed suit as the slugging Orioles had only four hits, none of them home runs. The Bird had a dozen dingers in the previous three games of the series.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the victory was the re-emergence of Curtis Granderson as an offensive force. Mired in a 5-for-43 (.116) slump and with only two hits in 18 at-bats (.111) on the trip previously, Granderson was benched against a left-handed starter for the second game in a row. He came off the bench as a pinch hitter and hit reliever Jake Arrieta’s first pitch for his 35th home run.
That blow came when the score was still tight and began the tack-on attack the Yankees kept up with seven runs over the next two innings. Granderson had a hand in both rallies with a two-run single in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth in taking over the club lead in RBI with 86.
Robinson Cano reached base in all five of his plate appearances and scored three runs. Alex Rodriguez, who singled, walked and was hit by a pitch, also touched the plate three times. Ichiro Suzuki had two hits and an RBI and played all three outfield positions. Russell Martin continued his hot trip with two hits and an RBI. He is batting .476 with one double, two homers and eight RBI in 21 at-bats on the trip which continues after Monday’s open date Tuesday night at Boston.
With a double, his 15th home run and three RBI, Jeter enjoyed his 58th multi-hit game despite playing (as the designated hitter) with a nagging right ankle that has been noticeable the past several days. You know what is said in May when a player has a condition like that. “If this was September, he’d play.” Well, it is September. Jeter is playing.
Is he ever? The Captain is entering the conversation for the AL batting race. DJ leads the majors with 191 hits and is well within range of his eighth 200-hit season. His batting average is up to .324. The only players ahead of him with 22 games to play are Angels center fielder Mike Trout (.328) and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (.326), both of whom are also strong candidates for the Most Valuable Player Award. Jeter might find himself in that conversation, too.
The Yankees not only split the four-game set at Camden Yards but also the season series with Baltimore at 9-9. They have to keep it up against the Red Sox. If the Yankees and Orioles are tied atop the division at the end of the regular season, the tiebreaker will be divisional record. The Yankees are 29-25 against AL East teams while the O’s are 32-24. So there is still plenty of work to do.
With each game it seems Derek Jeter reaches another milestone. He hit a pair of them in the first inning alone Monday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in a four-hit game that was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing game for the Yankees. They blew leads of 3-0 and 6-5 with the White Sox using four home runs to construct a 9-6 victory as the Yanks’ lead in the American League East fell to four games over Tampa Bay.
Jeter led off the game with a single, which he does a lot. DJ is hitting .391 in 110 at-bats leading off games in 2012 and .355 in 872 at-bats for his career. The hit was career No. 3,252 for Jeter, who tied Nap Lajoie for 12th place on the all-time list. Jeter eventually scored on a two-out single by Mark Teixeira. That was career run No. 1,844 for Jeter as he tied Craig Biggio for 13th place on that all-time list.
It did not take Jeter long to break the tie with Lajoie with an infield single in the third for his 3,253rd career hit which left him only two behind No. 11 Eddie Murray. The Captain still has a way to go to catch the 12th-place guy in runs, Mel Ott, at 1,859.
Teixeira returned to the lineup after sitting out the weekend series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox to nurse a sore left wrist. Curtis Granderson singled in a run in the second as the Yanks took a 3-0 lead against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who was surrounded by base runners in his brief time on the mound.
Considering that Floyd allowed five hits, four walks and a hit batter, the Yankees should have done better than to just knock him out of the game one out into the third inning, but they stranded eight runners over the first five innings against Floyd and left-handed reliever Hector Santiago.
Freddy Garcia was cruising along until he hit a wall with one out in the fifth. After getting his eighth strikeout for the first out of the inning, Garcia put the next five batters on base. DeWayne Wise started Chicago’s comeback with a two-run home run off his former teammate. Wise had been a valuable utility outfielder for the Yankees before he was designated for assignment last month to create roster space for Ichiro Suzuki, who was acquired from the Mariners.
Garcia was replaced after loading the bases on a single and two walks. Manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen using Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, but after a force play and two singles the White Sox had taken a 5-3 lead.
Jeter led the Yankees’ comeback with a home run, his 11th, leading off the sixth, crawling one hit behind Murray. It was also Jeter’s 251st home run, which pushed him past Graig Nettles into ninth place on the franchise list. Ironically, it came on Nettles’ 68th birthday. The Yankees added two more runs on singles by Teixeira and pinch hitter Casey McGehee.
Chamberlain’s continuing troubles cost the Yankees the lead in the bottom of the sixth. He had given up a run-scoring single the previous inning and was taken deep by Gordon Beckham that tied the score again. Opposing hitters are batting .455 against Chamberlain, whose ERA swelled to 9.45.
Other relievers had problems, too. Boone Logan was touched for a two-run home run by Alexei Ramirez in the seventh inning and Derek Lowe yielded a solo shot to Adam Dunn in the eighth.
Jeter got even with Murray in lifetime hits when he doubled with two out in the seventh for his fourth hit of the game and 3,255th of his career. Cap leads the majors in hits with 167, five more than he had all of last year, and ranks third in the majors with 51 multi-hit games, six more than his 2011 total.
If Jon Lester had pitched all season the way he did Saturday at Yankee Stadium the Red Sox might not be 12 ½ games behind the Yankees in the American League East standings. Yankees fans are grateful that Lester had not been nearly as sharp this year as in Boston’s 4-1 victory.
The lefthander improved his career record against the Yankee to 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA, including 7-2 with a 3.80 ERA at the Stadium. Overall, it has been a dreadful year for Lester, who is 7-10 with a 5.03 ERA overall.
The Yankees found out that sometimes the home run is not enough, especially if there is only one of them and no one was on base. Curtis Granderson accounted for the Yankees’ lone run Saturday with his 32nd home run. It was the sixth home run by the Yankees in the two games against Boston. All have been with the bases empty.
Granderson was the only Yankees hitter to be perfect against Lester with a double and a walk to go with his dinger. Granderson’ homer was his 11th this season off left-handed pitching and 27th since the start of 2011, the most in the major leagues over that span.
Nick Swisher, who has had a monstrous homestand, had three hits, two off Lester, who also struck him out once. Swish is batting .417 with one double, four home runs and 11 RBI on the homestand. He is hitting .324 with five doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI in August and .333 with two doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI in 11 games since moving into the 2-hole in the batting order 10 days ago. Swisher has crushed Boston pitching this season to the tune of .485 in 33 at-bats.
But a season-long problem bugged the Yankees Saturday. They were hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. They had the leadoff batter on base in three innings against Lester but failed to capitalize. Deter Jeter, serving as the designated hitter for the second straight game, was 0-for-3 with a walk as his 13-game hitting streak was snuffed.
Also for the second straight game, first baseman Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup because of left wrist inflammation. He is not likely to start Sunday night in the final game of the homestand.
A positive note despite the losing decision was the start by David Phelps, who has pitched quite well since the Yankees recalled him from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre July 18. He is 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA in nine appearances totaling 22 1/3 innings since that date. Taking the place of disabled CC Sabathia in the rotation for the second turn, Phelps gave up three runs and seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. In five spot start for the Yankees this season, the righthander is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 24 2/3 innings.
“He mixed his pitches very well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Even the home run was a ball off the plate. We like what he has done. He’s a valuable guy because he can do many things well.”
The home run to which Girardi referred was a two-run shot to left field by Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning. The opposite-field blow proved all the offense Boston would need. The Red Sox got a run off Phelps in the fifth after two were out on a single by new Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco and a double by Nick Punto. Ciriaco was 4-for-4 with a stolen base and is 15-for-29 (.517) with three doubles, one triple and seven RBI against the Yankees this year.
Sabathia has been telling writers that he intends to make his next start when he is eligible to come off the DL Friday at Cleveland, but the ever-cautious Girardi is not ready to make that assignment in pen just yet and has told Phelps to be ready to start if need be.
Phelps’ versatility has been a positive key for the Yankees. It remains to be seen where he will fit in when Sabathia and eventually Andy Pettitte return to active duty. Phelps has been effective as a long man, but that bullpen is crowded now that Derek Lowe is here. Girardi’s use of Lowe to get one out in the ninth inning may be an indication he would like to use him the way he once did Cory Wade as a right-handed compliment to Boone Logan.
With Joba Chamberlain struggling in his comeback from Tommy John surgery and an injured ankle, Phelps may find a permanent spot on the staff the rest of the way.