Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

The winning formula works again

Anyone tired of “No Runs DMC” yet? How could any Yankees fan be? Particularly in close games toward the late innings, the anticipation of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman having an impact on the game whets the appetite of any Yankees fan.

Naturally, this cannot be the formula every game or else the trio of power pitchers could get burned out. But for now, the only burning going on is to the opponents’ bats. The group that radio voice John Sterling calls “Murderer’s Throw” contributed to the Yanks’ third straight victory in this homestand, a 2-1 verdict over the Twins in which Minnesota May have derived satisfaction in at least having someone reach base.

Yankees relievers had retired 31 batters in a row before Joe Mauer’s opposite-field single to left off Chapman with two out in the ninth inning. It was only the third hit for the Twins, their first since the third inning and ended a stretch of 15 consecutive batters retired.

It was fools’ gold for Minnesota, however, as Chapman ended the game with a strikeout of Brian Dozier, who had accounted for the Twins’ run with a home run leading off the second inning against Michael Pineda.

That was the only blemish on the outing by Pineda, who allowed just one other hit and one walk with eight strikeouts in his six innings of work. The Yankees tied the score in the fifth against Twins starter Ervin Santana on back-to-back, two-out singles by Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran.

The Yanks threatened again in the sixth, but a rally was choked off when Starlin Castro grounded into a double play. Though the score was tied, manager Joe Girardi went to his favorite formula as he brought in Betances at the start of the seventh in hopes that the Yankees could push across another run.

That did not occur until the eighth against reliever Ryan Pressly. Alex Rodriguez started the inning with an infield single. A hard single to right by Brian McCann sent pinch runner Aaron Hicks to third base. After Mark Teixeira, back in the lineup after 20 days on the disabled list because of torn cartilage in his right knee, struck out, Castro hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, who booted the ball for his second error of the game as the eventual winning run scored.

The inning ended on a disputed double play in which McCann was thrown out at home by left fielder Robbie Grossman after catching a liner by Chase Headley. Video replays seemed to indicate that catcher Kurt Suzuki’s tag was high on McCann’s right leg as his left foot crossed the plate, but plate umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call stood after a Yankees challenge.

So the margin remained slim for Chapman, who from the Twins’ viewpoint was at least hittable compared to Friday night when he blew three hitters away with his high-octane fastball. Gardner needed to get on his horse to run down a drive to left-center by Eduardo Nunez. Grossman also hit the ball in grounding out to shortstop before Mauer’s line single. Dozier was not as fortunate as Chapman used sliders to put him away.

The Yankees, now a game over .500 at 37-36, improved their record to 12-0 when all three DMC pitchers appear in a game. They had combined for 10 consecutive 1-2-3 innings over the past four games before Mauer’s hit. Overall, Yankees relievers have 44 consecutive strikeouts since their last walk June 15 at Denver.

To make roster space for Teixeira, the Yankees placed first baseman Ike Davis on waivers. If he clears, he could be optioned to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as insurance in the event Teixeira’s knee flares up again. Rob Refsnyder’s surprising play at first base and overall versatility made him more valuable to the Yanks than Davis at this time.

Are Yankees contenders or punching bags?

Before Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies, the opener of a nine-game homestand, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his team has to play better for it to be considered a contender for a playoff berth. He may have to say the same thing Wednesday.

The only contender the Yankees looked like Tuesday night was Chuck Wepner, the professional bleeding machine, in an 8-4 loss to Colorado, which is now 3-0 against them this year.

In or out of Coors Field, the Rockies can hit. Often derided for their inflated statistics at home, the Rockies peppered 15 hits all over Yankee Stadium. In three games against the Yankees, the Rockies have 43 hits, 18 of them for extra bases, including seven home runs.

One night after hitting five solo home runs at Miami, Colorado led off this game with yet another solo shot, by Charlie Blackmon, on a drive that struck the foul pole next to the third deck. The Rox added two more runs that inning against Ivan Nova.

The final score might have been worse if not for some erratic fielding by the Rockies. Errors led to the Yankees’ first two run. In the fifth inning, Carlos Beltran got thrown out at second base trying to advance on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez. Beltran also misplayed a ball in right field that became a gift double to Carlos Gonzalez, who ultimately scored on a two-out double by Mark Reynolds.

“Mistakes really hurt us,” Girardi said.

A lot of folks in the Stadium crowd of 34,760 got all over third base coach Joe Espada for holding up Didi Gregorius at third base in the sixth inning when it appeared he had a shot at an inside-the-park home run. That might have been the case if Gregorius had run hard out of the box instead of jogging to first base and not turning on the jets until midway between first and second.

The Yankees had 10 hits but were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Colorado batters struck out 13 times, but only once against Nova, whose career record in three starts against the Rockies is 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA.

“He didn’t make the pitches he had to,” Girardi said. “The top four guys in their lineup gave him a hard time.”

Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Gonzalez combined for 11 of Colorado’s hits with eight runs and six RBI. Blackmon homered again in the fourth. Arenado ended the solo-homer stretch by the Rockies with a two-run blast off Nick Goody in the sixth.

Nova’s season ERA rose to 5.18. That gives the Yankees three of their five starting pitchers with ERAs above 5.00. Nathan Eovaldi is at 5.02 and Michael Pineda is at 5.82. The staff ERA leader at 2.20 is CC Sabathia, who will get a chance to turn things around Wednesday.

Yanks to honor Orlando dead in homestand opener

The Yankees opened their last homestand before the All-Star break Tuesday night with the first game of a two-game series against the Rockies that concludes Wednesday afternoon, followed by a three-game set against the Twins Friday night, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and then a four-game series against the American League West-leading Rangers Monday through Wednesday nights and Thursday afternoon next week. After the June 30 game, the Yankees will not play at Yankee Stadium again until July 15.

Prior to the Yankees-Rockies game Tuesday night, the victims of the recent mass killing in Orlando, Fla., will be recognized in an on-field ceremony. Preceding a moment of silence, players from both teams will line up on each baseline as managers Joe Girardi of the Yankees and Walt Weiss of the Rockies lay a rainbow wreath at the plate in memoriam.

The Rockies are coming off a 5-3 victory Monday night at Miami in which all eight runs were scored on solo home runs, the highest run total in a major league game in which all the runs came on solo homers. Mark Reynolds, who played for the Yankees in 2013, hit two of the Rockies’ five homers. The others were by Nick Hundley, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. The Marlins got two home runs from Marcell Ozuna and one from Giancarlo Stanton. Each home run was hit with the bases empty.

Mickey Mantle Triple Crown Bobblehead Night will take place Friday, June 24. The first 18,000 in attendance will receive a bobblehead, courtesy of AT&T.

The Mantle bobblehead marks the return of limited-edition collectible player bobbleheads, presented by AT&T. The set of four — Mickey Mantle Triple Crown June 24, Didi Gregorius Aug. 7, Dellin Betances Sept. 10 and Roger Maris Oct. 1 — is the fourth series in a collection of Yankees bobbleheads. The Mantle bobblehead distribution comes 60 years after his 1956 Triple Crown-winning season. The Maris bobblehead falls on the 55th anniversary of his 61st home run in 1961 season to establish a then-major league single-season home run record that stood for 37 years.

The Hard Rock Cafe will present Friday, June 24, the first of Little Steven’s Underground Garage Concert Series, powered by JBL, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Pepsi Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level with Wyldlife. Cameras will also display the show on televisions throughout the Stadium. Admission to the pregame concert is included with a valid game ticket for that date. Future acts are currently scheduled to perform throughout the summer. More information on the series can be found at http://www.yankees.com/bands.

Ticket specials will run Tuesday, June 21 (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday, June 22 (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel Game, Senior Citizen, Student and Youth Game), Saturday, June 25 (Youth Game), Sunday, June 26 (Youth Game), Monday, June 27 (Military Personnel Game), Tuesday, June 28 (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday, June 29 (Military Personnel and Student Game) and Thursday, June 30 (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel, Senior Citizen and Youth Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Saturday, June 25 – Yankees vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m. Commemorative Masahiro Tanaka Baseball Card Day, presented by Topps, to all in attendance.

Sunday, June 26 – Yankees vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m. Brian McCann Figurine Day, presented by NewYork Presbyterian Hospital, to first 18,000 in attendance.

Wednesday, June 29 – Yankees vs. Rangers, 7:05 p.m. Cap Night, presented by Pepsi, to first 18,000 in attendance.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at (877) 469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at (800) 943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call (212) YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to Yankee Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Didi no longer an easy out against lefties

Opposing managers should be thinking twice about now about bringing in left-handed relievers to face Didi Gregorius. The book on the shortstop a year ago when he joined the Yankees was that he struggled against left-handed pitching. Gregorius has reversed that this season and because of that the Yankees were able to end their four-game losing streak Thursday night with a 4-1 victory over the Twins.

Twins manager Paul Molitor, who has already suffered plenty with his 20-46 club, made the old-book move in the seventh inning by replacing starter Kyle Gibson with lefthander Fernando Abad to face Gregorius with runners on second and third and one out in a 1-1 game.

One pitch later, Molitor came to regret his move. Gregorius got all of the first-pitch fastball for a three-run home run in the middle of the right field stands. The timing could not have been better since manager Joe Girardi could go with Formula A out of the bullpen, using Dellin Betances in the seventh (no runs, one hit, one strikeout), Andrew Miller in the eighth (no runs, no hits, two strikeouts) and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth (no runs, no hits, one strikeout, 12th save). The Yankees are 9-0 when all three of those relievers appear in the same game.

Gregorius is batting .368 in 57 at-bats against left-handed pitching, the highest average of any left-handed hitter in the major leagues, but until Thursday night he had not hit for much power. Only three of his 21 hits off lefties were for extra bases, all doubles. His sixth home run of the year was his first off a southpaw.

The timing of Gregorius’ homer was also beneficial to CC Sabathia, who was able to get the winning decision that improved his record to 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA. It did not come easy for Sabathia, who pitched with runners on base in four of his six innings. The Twins stranded nine runners with only two hits in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position against him.

One of those hits was a two-out, RBI single by former teammate Eduardo Nunez that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Sabathia had worked out of jams in the first and second innings and did so again in the fifth even after he lost a double play on a reverse of an umpiring call.

Meanwhile, Gibson, who entered the game with a 10.72 career ERA against the Yankees, pitched to the minimum number of batters through five innings. The Yankees had two hits, but the runners were erased. Alex Rodriguez erased himself by getting thrown out at second trying to stretch, and Chase Headley was out on the front end of a double play the Twins turned against Ike Davis.

Gibson started coming apart in the sixth, but the Yankees did not take full advantage of it. They loaded the bases with none out on a single by Gregorius, a double by Headley and a four-pitch walk to Davis. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center, but only one run scored. Brett Gardner then popped out to second, and Carlos Beltran, back in the lineup after a sore left knee kept him out of the two-game series at Denver, grounded into a double play.

The Yankees kept putting runners on base in the seventh. Rodriguez led off with an infield single, and Brian McCann walked. Starlin Castro sacrificed the runners up a base each before Molitor made the fatal move for a lefty reliever to face Gregorius, one Yankees hitter who is enjoying this trip (.545 with two home runs and seven RBI in 11 at-bats).

Sabathia kept his hot streak in place. Over his past seven starts, he is 4-2 with a 0.82 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 44 innings. In seven starts on the road this season, CC is 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 42 innings. In his past 14 starts against the Twins, Sabathia is 10-1 with a 2.66 ERA.

Then again, Target Field has been a friendly venue for the Yankees. They are 17-5 in the Minneapolis yard that opened in 2010.

Rarified air does not help Yankees

The two-game trip to Denver was supposed to be a soft spot in the Yankees’ schedule. Yeah, right. Despite facing starting pitchers with earned run averages as high as the altitude in Colorado, the Yankees lost both games. Rockies starters Jorge De La Rosa and Chad Bettis were clearly more effective than the Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova.

The Yanks put up a good fight Tuesday night. After falling behind by nine runs through seven innings, the Yankees exploded with a seven-run eighth against the underbelly of the Colorado bullpen, but their own relief corps got roughed up as well in a 13-10 loss, a typical Coors Field score. The Rockies kept it up Wednesday with a 13-hit assault to win, 6-3.

The holes in the batting order did not help. With no designated hitter in a National League park, Alex Rodriguez was reduced to one at-bat as a pinch hitter Tuesday night. With no Carlos Beltran, out with a sore left knee that was drained, or Mark Teixeira, on the 15-day disabled list due to a right knee cartilage tear, the Yankees’ lineup Wednesday featured as its cleanup hitter Chase Headley, who has hit all of three home runs.

All seven of the Yankees’ hits Wednesday were singles. They have just seven extra-base hits (five doubles, one triple, one home run) over their past five games after totaling 21 extra-bases hits (12 doubles, nine homers) in the four-game sweep of the Angels last week.

Coors Field is a place where struggling hitters can improve their statistics, which the Yankees certainly did Tuesday night but less so Wednesday. But for those who thought the Rockies would be easy pickings, it should be pointed out that both clubs entered play Wednesday with the same record — 31-33 — and Colorado is now one game better.

Manager Joe Girardi was justified in getting annoyed with media reports about the 11-game, home-and-home swing this week and next against the Rockies and Twins being a chance for the Yankees to gain ground against sub-par competition. Minnesota may have the worst record in the American League, but that does not mean the Twins intend to roll over and play dead the next four days in Minneapolis or next weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Girardi is correct when he says if the Yankees do not play well it does not matter who the opponent is. And after the recent five-game winning streak at home, the Yankees have now lost four games in a row. In three of those games, starting pitchers allowed five or more runs. Considering the shape of the Yankees’ batting order these days, that is too much to overcome on a regular basis.

Anyone who thought the Rockies were pushover knows nothing about the first five hitters in that lineup. Charlie Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story combined to go 22-for-43 (.512) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs and 14 RBI with an .860 slugging percentage in the series. Gonzalez’s home run in the eighth inning Tuesday night off Andrew Miller was the first extra-base hit the lefthander has allowed to a left-handed batter all season. The Rockies also scored a run off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning Wednesday.

The key to beating Colorado is to bash their pitchers. The Yanks did score 13 runs in two games, but their pitchers could not contain the Rockies, who scored in nine of the 16 innings they batted in the series.

Nova had a string of 24 scoreless innings in inter-league play end when he gave up a run in the third inning. The Yankees took the lead in the fourth on four singles and a throwing error by Rockies catchers Tony Wolters, but Nova was touched for four runs in the fourth that featured a walk and a stolen base by Blackmon, a run-scoring single by LeMahieu, a two-run home run by Arenado, a double by Story, and a two-out, RBI single by Mark Reynolds. Nova had a six-game winning streak in inter-play stopped and is now 8-2 against NL competition.

One bright spot about going to Minneapolis is that the Yankees will be back in the AL with Rodriguez available as the DH. Perhaps Beltran’s knee will allow him to return to the lineup as well. CC Sabathia, who has been the Yankees’ most consistent starting pitcher, draws the first assignment of the series Thursday night at Target Field.

Yankees keep faith during HOPE Week

Not to take anything away from the Yankees’ four-game sweep of the Angels, but it came against a team floundering near the bottom of the American League West and with 10 players on the 15-day disabled list. The Tigers came to town Friday night and offered a more formidable challenge. Then the Yankees went out and treated them like the Angels.

CC Sabathia was masterful again with seven shutout innings and finally got a winning decision to show for his stellar work in the 4-0 victory that moved the Yankees’ record one game over .500 at 31-30 for the first time since April 13 when they were 4-3.

Over his previous three starts Sabathia had allowed only two earned runs in 18 innings (1.00 ERA), yet was 0-2 with a no-decision. Friday night, he limited Detroit to four hits, all singles, and two walks with four strikeouts. He was backed by a double play in the fifth inning after his throwing error put runners on first and third with one out. That was the only time CC had to sweat.

Sabathia has pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings and has allowed two runs over his past 25 innings (0.72 ERA), which has shrunk his ERA for the season to 2.28 to go with a 4-4 record. The Tigers were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position against Sabathia.

Yankees outfielders could have stayed in the dugout. There was not a single putout by the Yankees in the outfield.

The Yankees struck early against Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey (1-6), who settled down after the three-run first inning but it was too late. Brett Gardner continued his hot stretch with a one-out single. Carlos Beltran, equally as hot, went against the shift with a single to left.

A walk to Alex Rodriguez loaded the bases and another to Brian McCann forced home a run. Pelfrey got a brief reprieve with a strikeout of Starlin Castro before Didi Gregorius doubled to left for two runs. An errant pickoff at first base by Detroit catcher James McCann (no relation to Brian, although each wears uniform No. 34) led to an unearned run in the third on a single by Beltran.

It has been quite a homestand for Beltran, who has 9-for-19 (.474) with two doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI. He also has 15 hits in his past 38 at-bats, a .395 stretch. Gardner is right with him. He has 9-for-18 (.500) with nine runs, a double and two RBI on the homestand and in his eight-game hitting streak is batting .533 in 30 at-bats to hike his season batting average 50 points to .262.

The Yankees were 5-0 during HOPE Week, which improved their overall record during such weeks since the community-service initiative was begun in 2009 to 28-10 (.737).

“We’re thinking about having HOPE Week again next week,” manager Joe Girardi said.

HOPE Week: ‘Cleaning for a Reason’


Joe and Lena Girardi with Marybell Ruiz in her living room.

There was more that one cleanup hitter in the Yankees’ lineup that visited a woman battling colon cancer as part of the HOPE Week initiative Tuesday to do some housework in connection with Cleaning for a Reason, a service to cancer patients.

Manager Joe Girardi and his daughter, Lena, arrived on site with second baseman Starlin Castro and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran prepared to help tidy up the one-bedroom apartment in the North Bronx. Marybell Ruiz had expected Evelyn Rodriguez from the Spotless Service to make her scheduled visit and was stunned to see who came along with her.

“I am a lifelong Yankees fan,” Marybell said. “Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi are my two favorites. When Joe took over the team [as manager] I was so happy.”

Girardi took over this team as well. He instructed his players to get to work in the kitchen while he and Lena toiled with mops and dusters in the living room. When Marybell and her husband Flavio said their son Messiah and daughter Amaya were in school, Girardi suggested they go get them and bring them home to meet the players and off they went.

“This is weird,” Amaya said later at the apartment. “It is like a dream.”

Among the cleaning unit was Debbie Sardone, founder and president of Cleaning for a Reason, which offers complimentary monthly house cleanings to women who are undergoing cancer treatments. The organization is an outgrowth of Buckets and Bows Maid Service, which Sardone started in 2003 in Lewisville, Texas. Sardone recalled receiving a phone call from a woman who sought a quote for service but said she could not afford it because she was undergoing cancer treatment.

That convinced Sardone to form Cleaning for a Reason, which in the past decade has helped more than 21,000 cancer patients through more than 1,200 cleaning companies across North America. Each cleaning service volunteers time and staff to clean two homes per month, free of cost. Once matched with a local outlet such as Spotless Service, each patient is eligible to have her house cleaned once a month for up to four months while she is going through treatment.

Marybell Ruiz, 34, underwent a chemotherapy session the day before the Yankees paid their visit. She was diagnosed last year with Stage 4 colon cancer, the same disease that took her mother at the age of 28 and also claimed the lives of her grandmother and two aunts.

“It is a genetic condition in my family,” Marybell said. “Amaya is only nine years old and has already been checked regularly.”

“Cleaning the bathroom is most difficult for patients, scrubbing down shower walls and cleaning toilets,” Sardone said. “It helps to get them back in control of their lives when the house looks and smells cleaner.”

“What they are doing is great,” Beltran said. “It is important to help other people.”

Starlin Castro, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury in the kitchen with Evelyn Rodriguez.

Bullpen had leaky boat on 4-6 trip

Too bad it stopped raining Sunday in Baltimore.

Had the game not been resumed, it would have been a 1-0 victory for the Yankees. The Orioles had runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning when a thunderstorm held up play for 1 hour, 37 minutes. Since the Yankees had scored their run in the third inning and not the top of the eighth, the game would have been considered official and not suspended.

No such luck for the Yankees as the skies cleared. Still, with previously invincible Aroldis Chapman entering the game the odds still favored the Yankees, especially after he struck out Jonathan Schoop for the second out. Francisco Pena, son of Yankees first base coach Tony Pena, kept Baltimore’s hopes alive with a sharp single to right field that loaded the bases.

Chapman got ahead in the count 0-2 to pinch hitter Matt Wieters, who turned a 99-mph fastball around on the next pitch for a single through the middle that scored the tying and go-ahead runs. An insurance run scored when center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw bounced over catcher Brian McCann with Chapman failing to back up the plate. It was the first blown save for Chapman this season in 10 opportunities.

That run proved inconsequential because Orioles closer Zach Britton retired the Yankees in order in the ninth for his 17th save. The 3-1 loss ended a 4-6 trip for the Yankees and a 12-game stretch against American League East opponents in which they were 4-8.

The bullpen, which had been considered a Yankees strength, had some holes on the trip. The relief squad had a 1-2 record with three saves and a 6.15 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. It was even worse over the final six games — an 8.40 ERA in 15 innings. In the three-game set at Camden Yards, the pen blew late-inning leads of 5-2 and 1-0 in losses and came within one run of blowing a 7-0 lead in the Yanks’ lone victory in the series.

Dellin Betances had a particularly rough ride. In four appearances on the trip, the righthander was 1-2 with a 9.53 ERA. He allowed six earned runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, and in his one winning decision Thursday night at Detroit in a rain-makeup game he, Andrew Miller and Chapman combined to turn a 5-1 lead into a 5-4 squeaking victory.

Sunday starter CC Sabathia pitched five scoreless innings, but six walks shoved his pitch count to 111 one batter into the sixth, once again forcing manager Joe Girardi to send for reinforcements a little more than halfway through the game. CC twice struck out major-league home run leader Mark Trumbo with the bases full.

Kirby Yates finished the sixth by retiring the side. Betances withstood a leadoff single in the seventh for a clean inning but started the eighth with a walk to Mark Trumbo, who had struck out three times against Sabathia, and giving up a single to Chris Davis before striking out Nolan Reimold before the rains came.

At least the Yankees’ offense woke up in Baltimore. The Yanks had 36 hits in the series, including 10 Sunday but they left 10 on base in going 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position. Breaking out of slumps during the series were Alex Rodriguez, who had 6-for-13 (.462) with a home run and three RBI, and Brett Gardner, who had 7-for-13 (.538) with two runs, two doubles and a stolen base.

Yanks rally early but need pen to secure victory

The national television audience watching Fox’s coverage of Saturday night’s Yankees-Orioles game had to be wondering about all the reports they read or heard about the Bombers’ slumbering offense.

There were the Yankees on national TV lashing out 16 hits and scoring runs in bunches. It was a throwback to the days when the Yankees loved coming to hitter-friendly Camden Yards against some weak Baltimore clubs to improve their batting averages and slugging percentages. The Orioles have had the upper hand in recent years, but the Yankees looked like the Bronx Bombers of old in building a 7-0 lead through six innings.

Ivan Nova was cruising along on a three-hit shutout until Mark Trumbo led off the seventh with his 18th home run, most in the majors. That was just the beginning of the wheels falling off for Nova, who gave up an infield hit to Matt Wieters and a two-run, opposite-field homer to Pedro Alvarez. The onslaught did not give Yankees manager Joe Girardi must time to get a reliever warm up in the bullpen and stayed with Nova, who gave up a bloop single to Jonathan Schoop and walked Ryan Flaherty on a full count.

Nova was on fumes at this point, so Girardi brought in Nick Goody, who proceeded to yield a three-run home run to Adam Jones. Suddenly, 7-0 was 7-6, and the Yankees had nine more outs to get. What for a time was a laugher became a sweat box.

With Dellin Betances, who had pitched the previous two night, unavailable, Girardi relied on Andrew Miller, who did a yeoman’s job in retiring the six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings. The Yankees came up with a huge insurance run in the ninth off reliever Vance Worley with one out on a double by Aaron Hicks, who entered the game in right field as a defensive replacement in the seventh, and a single by Alex Rodriguez, his third hit of the game.

Aroldis Chapman took it from there, although the ninth inning began with catcher Austin Romine having to leave the game after being cut on the left hand trying to catch a warmup pitch in the dirt. Brian McCann, who was on the bench nursing a hyperextended left elbow, took over behind the plate.

Chapman walked Jones with two out before striking out pinch hitter Nolan Reimold looking for his ninth save and put to rest any chance of an Orioles comeback. The bullpen has been leaky of late. Kirby Yates and Betances contributed to the Yankees’ blowing a 5-2 lead Friday night. Thursday night in Detroit, the Yankees were up 5-1 and held on for a 5-4 victory despite Betances, Miller and Chapman all being scored upon over the final three innings.

A serious injury to Romine would be critical. The Yankees are running out of catchers. McCann is still not 100 percent, and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre’s Gary Sanchez is on the disabled list. The Yankees purchased the contract of first baseman Chris Parmelee from SWB to help fill the void of Mark Teixeira, who was placed on the 15-day DL because of torn cartilage in his right knee. Dustin Ackley, who had been Tex’s back-up at first base, had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder and was transferred to the 60-day DL. That opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Parmelee.

Girardi spoke before the game of a possible platoon at first base with Parmelee and Rob Refsnyder, yet with righthander Tyler Wilson starting for the Orioles the manager started Refsnyder, who had an RBI double in four at-bats. Parmelee took over in the field in the eighth.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Romine, the Yankees attacked Wilson for four runs and five hits in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Rodriguez started the rally with singles. Starlin Castro, who had three hits, doubled home Beltran. A-Rod scored on an infield out. Refsnyder restarted the rally with his double that scored Castro and came home on a single by Romine.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, who were a combined 4-for-10 at the top of the order, teamed on a double steal with two out in the sixth that resulted in Ellsbury’s second swipe of home this season and the third time in his career.

Everyone in the Yankees’ starting lineup plus Hicks had at least one hit. It would have been an absolute crime if the pitchers could not make all that offense hold up.

Yanks’ bats remain cold in Toronto

It was another night of offensive futility Tuesday night at Toronto for the Yankees. They managed to score only one run — and that was on an out — as support for CC Sabathia, who was tagged with an underserved losing decision.

The combination of a punchless offense and uncharacteristic relief work by Dellin Betances sent Sabathia to his second straight loss despite six-plus innings of solid pitching (two runs, five hits, one walk, four strikeouts). A home run with two outs in the fourth inning by Justin Smoak that tied the score at 1 was one of the few mistakes made by Sabathia, who gave up a double to Edwin Encarnacion to start the seventh that hastened the call to Betances.

Manager Joe Girardi’s hook despite the fact that Sabathia had thrown just 80 pitches looked like the move to make when Betances struck out Smoak and retired Russell Martin on a fly ball to left field. That drive reached the warning track, which might have been an omen. So, too, was a four-pitch walk to Devon Travis.

There were more blunders to come. Betances got too much of the plate with a fastball to free-swinging Kevin Pillar, who punched a single to right field where Rob Refsnyder made a multi-bounce, offline throw home that failed to prevent Encarnacion from crossing the plate with the go-ahead run. Pillar, who made two sensational fielding plays in center field, made another heads-up play by stealing second base, so when Darwin Barney also singled to right two more runs, not just one, scored.

A three-run deficit in the ninth seemed insurmountable to a Yankees lineup that has gone to sleep lately, and there would be no Brian McCann pinch-hit home run to make things closer than the 4-1 final score.

This marked the 22nd time this season that the Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in a game. They have lost 20 of them, and in one of the two victories (Saturday at St. Pete) they got only one hit. Their only hit in eight at-bats Tuesday night with a runner in scoring position did not drive in a run. A single by Austin Romine only served to move Chase Headley, who had two hits, from second base to third. If Aaron Hicks had not beaten out a potential double play with a spring to first base, the Yankees might have been shut out.

Girardi is running out of rabbits to pull out of his hat to turn things around. Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez (1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since coming off the disabled list last week) was on the bench for the second consecutive night. A-Rod’s career 0-for-14 record against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was all Girardi needed to see to use Carlos Beltran instead as designated hitter.

The manager was not singling out Rodriguez, who these days has looked every bit the 40-year-old not named David Ortiz. McCann (1-for-22) and Brett Gardner (0-for-20) were also on the pine. Refsnyder got a start over Gardner and had a first-inning double but was left stranded. With right-handed Jesse Chavez on base by the eighth, Gardner batted for Refsnyder and was called out on strikes. Girardi might have used A-Rod as a pinch hitter if more than one runner had gotten on base, but that situation did not present itself after the second inning.

The six-game winning streak that brought the Yankees to a .500 record seems like ancient history now that they have lost five of their past seven games to fall three games below par at 24-27.

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