Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Yanks to go purple for Alzheimer’s Awareness

The Yankees will celebrate their third-annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Night with the first 18,000 fans 21 and older in attendance for Monday night’s game against the Phillies to receive a purple Yankees cap presented by the New Era Cap Company.

A pregame ceremony at the plate will feature National Alzheimer’s Association ( chief executive officer Harry Johns and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, who founded the Rita Hayworth Gala in honor of her mother, the late actress and dancer. The annual event, held in both New York and Chicago, is now in its 32nd year and has raised more than $65 million to support the fight against Alzheimer’s. Previous honorees include former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt and actor/comedian Seth Rogen.

As part of the Yankees’ awareness effort, the team’s grounds crew will wear National Alzheimer’s Association T-shirts throughout the game, and a purple ribbon symbolizing the cause will be painted on the field in foul territory. Throughout June, a public service announcement featuring Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been airing on the Yankee Stadium centerfield video board prior to every home game.

Tickets may be purchased online at,, 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, 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

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Girardi spared another tough decision on Pineda

Christian Yelich did Joe Girardi a big favor Wednesday night. Michael Pineda entered the seventh inning with a no-hitter in place against the Marlins but a pitch count that had reached 94.

Considering how cautious the Yankees have been with Pineda, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and has not pitched more than 171 innings in professional baseball, Girardi likely would have been forced to make a difficult decision if his pitcher got too far beyond the 100-pitch limit. The manager recalled a game at the Stadium May 10 against the Orioles when he took Pineda out after seven innings when the pitcher had 16 strikeouts, two shy of Ron Guidry’s franchise record.

Yelich led off the seventh by driving Pineda’s first pitch into the Yankees’ bullpen for his fourth home run of the season. End of no-hitter. End of shutout. End of concern for Girardi about his pitcher, who retired the next two batters before coming out of the game to a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 43,048.

“I was in a bad spot,” Girardi conceded. “People questioned me when he had 16 strikeouts with 111 pitches. At some point I would have had to consider pulling him. You can’t let him go forever. It is not a decision you want to make, but it is one you have to make.”

Returning to his normal routine, Pineda was back to his usual self. The slider that was missing from his previous start was back with its hard bite, good enough to help produce nine strikeouts. The only two base runners prior to Yelich’s dinger were on walks, the first coming after Pineda had retired the first 11 batters in order.

Pineda’s previous start June 12 at Baltimore was on 10 days’ rest after the Yankees skipped him one turn in the rotation in an effort to conserve innings. The righthander never got into synch and was roughed up for six runs (five earned) and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.

He was a pitcher much more in command Wednesday night. The Yankees gave him a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out, RBI single by Alex Rodriguez. Carlos Beltran singled home a run in the fifth, but A-Rod was thrown out at the plate trying to get his team another run. With two singles, Rodriguez pushed his career hits total to 2,997.

As impressive as Pineda was, he was nearly stuck with a no-decision when for a couple of minutes in the eighth inning it appeared that Miami had tied the score. With runners on first and third and one out, Dee Gordon hit a chopper to first baseman Garrett Jones, whose throw to the plate was a bit high and up the line. Adeiny Hechevarria was originally ruled safe by plate umpire Dale Scott.

The Yankees called for a review. Replays indicated that catcher Brian McCann tagged Hechevarria on his left knee before his left foot hit the plate. The call was over-turned, so the score reverted to 2-1 Yankees, which held up as Dellin Betances converted a five-out save.

Pineda’s record this year improved to 8-3 with a 3.54 ERA as he continued his dominance against National League competition — 5-1 with a 1.18 ERA in 53 1/3 innings.

Little contact but big inning for win saved by Dellin

So it took a pretty weird inning Sunday to help the Yankees shake off their three-game losing streak and stop the Orioles’ six-game winning streak.

The Yankees entered the fifth inning at Camden Yards trailing, 3-2, but loaded the bases with none out on three consecutive walks by Baltimore starter Mike Wright. Reliever Brian Matusz took over and walked his first batter, Garrett Jones, to force in the tying run. Matusz recovered momentarily by striking out Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius.

So there you have it — six batters in the inning to that point and no contact made, yet the Yankees had at least gotten even. John Ryan Murphy finally broke this contact-less string with a double off the glove of third baseman Manny Machado for two runs and a 5-3 lead that would hold up and allow the Yankees to salvage the final game of what had been an ugly series previously.

The Orioles whacked the Yankees for 20 runs and 31 hits over Friday and Saturday nights and were 13-for-31 (.419) with runners in scoring position while the Yanks were a meager 3-for-21 (.143).

In his new role as Yankees closer while Andrew Miller is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left forearm, Dellin Betances made good on his first save situation since his partner’s injury. Betances set down the first two batters in the ninth on ground balls, then after a walk to Machado came back to strike out pinch hitter Matt Wieters for his third save of the season to preserve a much-needed victory.

The Yankees maintain a portion of first place in the American League East and actually have a slight percentage lead over the Rays. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays remained on fire with their 11th straight victory and are just one game out of first. The Yankees’ victory Sunday pushed the also-surging Orioles to three games back. Gradually falling out of the AL East picture are the Red Sox, who were battered by Toronto again and are eight games behind.

The Yankees next head for Miami where Alex Rodriguez’s chase for 3,000 career hits will take a brief detour. With the designated hitter rule not in effect in National League ballparks, Rodriguez would have to play the field — third base or perhaps first base — to get at-bats, but manager Joe Girardi has indicated that he is not inclined to put A-Rod on the field.

Miami is Rodriguez’s home town, so there would have been a special feeling if he could accomplish the feat there. A-Rod needed a big day Sunday to be in position to get No. 3,000 in Miami where he is likely to be used only as a pinch hitter. But he was hitless with one walk in five plate appearances and stands at 2,995 hits, not nearly close enough to get to 3,000 at Miami if he does not play a position in the field.

Girardi also said he might give right fielder Carlos Beltran a rest during the Miami games. Marlins Park has a spacious outfield, and the former Gold Glover does not cover as much ground as he used to, so expect Jones and Chris Young to get outfield playing time in Miami.

Another decision facing Girardi and the Yankees’ brass is what to do next about Ivan Nova. The righthander, 28, made his second injury-rehabilitation start for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre in a 5-1 victory over Rochester Saturday night. Nova allowed one run, five hits and one walk with three strikeouts in six innings. Of his 73 pitches, 50 were strikes.

Nova, who underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his right elbow in April of 2014, could be declared ready to return to the Yankees later in the week. One likely scenario would be a start Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers in what would be Adam Warren’s spot in the rotation.

Interestingly, Warren was removed from Sunday’s game one out away from qualifying for a winning decision after throwing his 92nd pitch. It may have been Girardi’s way of letting it be known Warren could soon be returning to the bullpen.

The victory went to Chasen Shreve (3-1), who was part of a solid relief ensemble to atone for miserable games by the pen the two prior games at Baltimore. Yankees relievers combined for an 8.22 ERA in allowing 10 runs (seven earned) and 14 hits, including two home runs, in 7 2/3 innings. Oh, and four wild pitches.

Shreve, Justin Wilson and Betances teamed to hold the Orioles hitless Sunday in 4 1/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.

Miller’s injury thrusts Betances into closer role

Now Yankees fans will find out just what kind of closer Dellin Betances can be. The strained left flexor mass muscle in Andrew Miller’s forearm that will send him to the 15-day disabled list has already had an effect on the Yankees because it was pretty much directly responsible for Wednesday’s 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Nationals that ended a season-long seven-game winning streak.

When the Yanks came back from a 2-0 deficit and scored four runs in the seventh inning, their usual back-end of the bullpen formula would seem to be in place — Betances for the eighth and Miller for the ninth.

Yet while the Yankees were running all around the bases, I kept looking at the bullpen and wondering why Betances was not loosening up. Instead, starter Nathan Eovaldi came out to begin the eighth and after giving up a leadoff single to Yunel Escobar was relieved by Jacob Lindgren and not Dellin Betances. I figured Betances was hurt. It turned out it was Miller who was hurt.

Lindgren got two outs but before he could get a third he gave up a game-tying, two-run home run to right field to Michael Taylor. Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless ninth and Chris Capuano ditto in the 10th, but the Nationals got to Capuano in the 11th and took the lead on a two-out, infield single by Denard Span.

Three Washington relievers held the Yankees scoreless with one hit over the final four innings. Mark Teixeira had the only hit, in the 10th, and was removed for pinch runner Didi Gregorius, who was thrown out attempting to steal second base.

So the winning streak ended, but that turned out not to be the worst news of the day. Manager Joe Girardi explained after the game that Miller told him after Tuesday night’s victory that his forearm was stiffening, a condition that has lingered for the past week or so. Girardi has used Miller to pitch the ninth inning with the Yankees up 6-1 and therefore not a save situation. Miller had an MRI exam, which revealed the muscular strain.

The lefthander was not specific about how long his forearm was bothering him and said only that the condition “has been building. It has been harder for me to get loose. It has been tougher each times lately. It’s a fatigue issue.”

Miller has appeared in 26 of the Yankees’ 59 games for a total of 26 1/3 innings and has been brilliant by converting all 17 of his save opportunities and posting a 1.03 ERA. He and Betances have formed the best 1-2 bullpen combination in the majors.

“I feel like I am letting the guys down,” Miller said. “It’s better to take care of this now so I can be strong for the rest of the year.”

Girardi said that Miller will not throw at all for 10 days to two weeks, which means his stay on the DL will be longer than 15 days. While Betances, who has two saves and is 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA, will slide into the closer role, the situations shortens the bridge from the starter to closer for the Yankees’ bullpen.

“Guys are going to have to step up,” Girardi said, noting that the staff lost Masahiro Tanaka for six weeks and got through it and just ran off seven straight victories and 11 of 14 without center fielder Jacob Ellsbury (strained right knee) in the lineup.

“It is unfortunate because Miller has gone a great job; he has been the best closer in the game,” Betances said. “I’ll have to take what I have been doing in the eighth into the ninth.”

Betances added that Girardi told him before Wednesday’s game that he would not use him despite the fact that the righthander pitched one inning Sunday, had Monday off, pitched one inning Tuesday night and Thursday is an open date. Betances noted that the Yankees have a long stretch of games coming up and that the manager said he wanted him to be fresh for that run of games for 20 straight games from June 12 through July 1, the last seven of which will be on a lengthy trip to Houston and Los Angeles.

There is also the possibility that after hearing of Miller’s injury Girardi felt concerned that he may have been over-working his late-inning combo. Betances has pitched 32 1/3 innings over 28 outings.

The Miller injury came on a day when the Yankees got healthier elsewhere. Utility infielder Brendan Ryan returned from the DL, started at shortstop and had a big day with a single and a run-scoring triple in the four-run seventh when it appeared the Yanks had the Nats just where they wanted them.

Tanaka bests Scherzer in old-fashioned duel

So now I see why Max Scherzer went into Tuesday night’s game with a 6-4 record despite a 1.85 ERA and a WHIP under 1. A combination of scant run support and shaky defense behind him has made the former Cy Young Award winner vulnerable.

That was the case again in his latest start. He also had to come up against Masahiro Tanaka, who showed he is quite healthy in winning his second straight start since coming off the disabled list.

Tanaka might have been hung with a tough no-decision, but the Yankees rallied for four runs in the seventh inning to break up a 1-1 game and went on to a 6-1 victory that pushed their winning streak to seven games, their longest in four seasons. They also pushed Scherzer’s numbers to 6-5 with a 2.13 ERA.

For 6 1/2 innings, this was an as-billed pitchers’ duel. The only runs were on solo homers, by Stephen Drew in the third off Scherzer and by Bryce Harper in the fourth off Tanaka. Harper’s homer, his 20th, was a bomb just to the left of Monument Park in dead center field. The blow was so impressive that Harper had a lot of heads scratching his next time up in the seventh inning when he struck out — on a bunted foul third strike!

The Yankees had a head-scratcher as well. With Mark Teixeira on third base and one out in the sixth, he failed to score on a force play in which the center fielder fell down. Michael Taylor trapped a liner by Carlos Beltran and was able to force Brian McCann out at second. Meanwhile, Teixeira, who had broken for the plate upon contact, did not return to the bag to tag up and was stuck on third while Didi Gregorius struck out to end the inning.

The seventh inning absolved in the seventh. Ramon Flores, who had three hits, started the Yankees’ rally with a one-out single. A broken-bat single to left by Brett Gardner was much softer off the bat than Chase Headley’s dart to right that ended up in Harper’s glove for the second out.

Scherzer now had to deal with Alex Rodriguez, who also hit the ball hard but on the ground to the left of shortstop Ian Desmond. His momentum taking him toward third base, Desmond decided to go for the force at third, but his throw struck Flores on the base path with the ball rolling into the Nationals’ dugout that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The error was Desmond’s 14th in 58 games.

The Yankees did not settle for the single run. Lefthander Matt Thornton replaced Scherzer and walked Teixeira to load the bases for the left-handed batting McCann, who crossed up the strategy with a line single past first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and into right field for two more runs. The fourth run came home on a single to left by Beltran.

Drew, who cannot hit .200 but finds the fences on occasion, hit his second homer of the game and ninth of the season leading off the eighth against righthander Taylor Hill. Drew is batting .175 but is on a pace to hit 25 home runs.

Tanaka was nothing short of brilliant. He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six. Since returning from the DL, the righthander has 15 strikeouts and no walks. Manager Joe Girardi spoke highly of Tanaka’s efficiency and said his stuff since coming back has been as good as it was last year.

Over his past four starts, Tanaka is 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA that has lowered his season ERA from 7.00 to 2.48. He certainly likes to pitch at Yankee Stadium. He improved his career record at home to 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 85 2/3 innings.

CC ejected from his 1st Stadium win since 2013

CC Sabathia finally ended his Yankee Stadium drought and was ejected from a game for the first time in nine years all in the same afternoon. It was an altogether pleasant day for the Bombers, who extended their season-high winning streak to six games and completed a three-game sweep of the Angels.

It was the second consecutive series sweep for the Yanks, who took three in a row last week at Seattle. Sabathia said later that he wanted to get his money’s worth in griping with plate umpire Dan Bellino, who tossed the big fella as he came off the mount in the middle of the sixth inning for complaining about balls and strikes calls. Manager Joe Girardi sprung out of the dugout in his pitcher’s defense, and he was soon gone, too.

The Yankees had taken the lead the previous inning with a four-run outburst against lefthander C.J. Wilson (this was a day for initials on the mound) and would go on to a 6-2 victory, the first for Sabathia at the Stadium since Sept. 20, 2013 in an inter-league game against the Giants. In the interim, CC was 0-6 with a 9.42 ERA in 28 2/3 innings in the Bronx. He reached a milestone in the fifth inning with a strikeout of Johnny Giavotella, career No. 2,500 for the lefthander.

Sabathia got off to a shaky start. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols touched him for solo home runs one pitch apart in the first inning. CC settled in nicely after that and kept the Angels scoreless on three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. Girardi said later that he intended to have Sabathia go back out for the seventh inning, but Bellino had other ideas when CC mouthed off about pitch location. There seemed to be a lot of griping about the umpiring in the whole series. Major League Baseball may want to take a closer look.

Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless inning apiece to get CC back in the victory column at home.

Once again, the long ball came to the Yankees’ rescue. Three more home runs Sunday gave them six in the series and 74 in 57 games. The Yankees have homered in 14 of 16 games with a total of 27 since May 22. They have 15 homers in their past six home games and 38 in 25 games at the Stadium this year.

Jose Pirela, who had doubled and scored on an infield out in the third inning, cracked his first major-league home run in the seventh. Chris Young had tied the score with a solo homer leading off the fifth. Following one-out singles by John Ryan Murphy and Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner drove a 2-0 pitch to right for his fifth jack of the year and a 5-2 Yankees lead. The Yankees are 33-11 when Gardner has homered in his career. Pirela’s maiden shot two innings later was icing.

The six-game winning streak is the Yanks’ longest since a six-gamer July 1-6, 2013. They have won a season-high six straight home games (since 5/25), their longest home winning streak since winning six straight Aug. 20-31, 2013. Their last longer winning streak at home since a seven-gamer Sept. 15-22, 2012. The Yankees’ fifth series sweep this season was their first sweep of the Angels in a series of at least three games since July 29-31, 2003 at Anaheim (3-0) and their first such sweep of the Halos at the Stadium since Aug. 29-31, 1995 (3-0). The Yankees are 11-3 in their past 14 games against Los Angeles.

Tanaka of old surfaces in comeback start

The Yankees could not have asked for a better outing from Masahiro Tanaka in his first start back after spending the past five weeks on the disabled list because of right wrist tendinitis and a right forearm strain. Oh, yeah, he could have pitched a no-hitter with 20 strikeouts. That would have made the Yanks happier, but what he did Wednesday against the Mariners was just fine, thank you.

The Yankees just wanted to see a healthy Tanaka capable of throwing between 80 and 85 pitches and pitching with the kind of command that has characterized his brief but impressive time with the club the past two seasons. That they saw. The righthander made it through seven strong innings in 78 pitches with stuff the Yankees had not seen from him since last year before his right elbow injury ended his dazzling rookie year.

“This was the highest velocity we have seen from him all year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I did not expect seven innings from him. I was hoping that at 80, 85 pitches he could get to the sixth. His stuff was sharp. He had the ability to move the ball around. I know there had been questions about his last start, but I don’t make too much of Triple A starts.”

It was a major league effort in every way for Tanaka, who retired the side in order in six of his seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine. Only the third inning was troublesome when he gave up the three hits Seattle had off him.

Brad Miller tripled to center to lead off the inning and scored on a double by Dustin Ackley that tied the score at 1. One out later, Logan Morrison singled to left, but rookie Ramon Flores choked off a potential run by throwing out Ackley at the plate. It was the second assist for Flores in his first week in the major leagues.

Other than that inning, Tanaka was perfect. A sign that he had the Seattle hitters off balance throughout the game was that seven of his strikeouts were on called third strikes.

And right after the Mariners tied the score, the Yankees quickly jumped back in front on a two-out, two-run home run in the fourth inning by Garrett Jones, who had won Tuesday night’s game with a three-run blast as a pinch hitter in the 11th inning.

People say Safeco Field is a tough place to hit home runs, but the Yankees had four in three games — two by Jones and two by Mark Teixeira, who had put the Yankees ahead with a solo shot in the second inning. Teixeira, who had six RBI in the series, finds Safeco just as comfortable for him as Yankee Stadium. Tex is a .287 career hitter at the Seattle yard with 22 doubles, one triple, 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 300 at-bats. The homer total is the most for a visiting player.

Wednesday was the Yankees’ 54th game, the one-third mark of the season. With 16 home runs and 41 RBI, Teixeira is on a pace for 48 homers and 123 RBI. That would be a monster season.

The Yankees in general play well at Safeco. They have won eight consecutive games there since June 8, 2013, and are 14-3 over the past four seasons. Since 1999, the Yankees have had just two winning streaks of more than eight games against one opponent on the road: nine games at Oakland from July 5, 2010 to May 27, 2012 and 10 games at Texas from July 20, 2005 to May 3, 2007.

Despite Tanaka’s brilliance, this victory did not come easily. In the bottom of the eighth, Girardi brought in Andrew Miller for a five-out save with a runner on first base and one out. Miller, who threw 23 pitches in saving Tuesday night’s game, loaded the bases with a hit batter and a four-pitch walk. But did he ever recover.

Miller struck out Morrison on a slider out of the strike zone and retired Austin Jackson on an force play. In the ninth, Miller got Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz on called third strikes before Kyle Seager got an infield single to bring the potential tying run to the plate. Miller got Justin Ruggiano on a grounder to third and made it 17-for-17 saves.

The three-game sweep of the Mariners made it a winning West Coast trip for the Yankees, who began it by losing three of four games at Oakland. They remained in first place in the American League East and have had at least a share of the top spot for nine straight days and 36 of the past 41 days

There was one downside as the Yankees made their way back home. Brian McCann had to come out of the game in the second inning because of a sore left foot. The catcher has been bothered by the injury and undergoing treatment the past two weeks, but the pain was too severe for him to continue Wednesday. He will undergo an MRI Thursday in New York.

Losing McCann for any length of time would be a blow. He had heated up recently with home runs in four straight games, RBI in eight straight games and a productive trip in which he batted .316 with two homers and four RBI in 19 at-bats.

Drew at center of two huge late-inning rallies

Just a few days ago, it appeared that Stephen Drew was in the process of losing his job. He was benched for the last two games in Oakland only to resurface at second base Monday night in Seattle where he reached base twice with a walk and a single.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has continued to be supportive of Drew, who has spent the past two years well below the Mendoza line with a sub-.200 batting average. Girardi’s patience paid off Tuesday night when Drew avoided another hitless game with a two-out double in the ninth inning off Fernando Rodney to tie the score.

Drew’s RBI hit followed a clutch, pinch-hit single by Brian McCann that sent Chase Headley, who led off the inning with a walk. Had a pinch runner been used for McCann the Yankees might have gotten a second run on Drew’s double, but McCann had to stay on the bases because he had batted for John Ryan Murphy and would have to stay in the game to catch, which he did.

How satisfying was it to watch the third blown save in 17 tries for Rodney, who is such a showoff on the mound whenever he gets a save? Very.

Even more satisfying was the Yankees pulling out a 5-3, 11-inning victory in dramatic fashion. A three-run home run by Garrett Jones broke a 2-2 score, but the Mariners rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano off Andrew Miller, who then faced major-league home run leader Nelson Cruz with two on and struck him out.

It Drew who re-started the Yanks’ 11th-inning rally following a double play with a single to right. After Brett Gardner doubled, Jones went deep on a 2-0 pitch from lefthander Joe Beimel into the right-center field bleachers.

Much was made entering this series about the offensive struggles of Cano, who nearly a third of the way through the season is hitting below .250 with only two home runs. The same could have been said about another Mariners player with ties to the Yankees, but Austin Jackson looked like anything but a struggling player by reaching base six times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.

Three of Jackson’s hits came off Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was nearly tagged with the losing decision that would have sunk his record to 2-8. To avoid having Sabathia face Jackson a fourth time, manager Joe Girardi took out the lefthander with two out and two on in the sixth inning.

Jackson handled reliever David Carpenter the same way he had Sabathia and doubled to center to score what looked for a while as if it would be the deciding run.

Jackson reached base a fifth time when he walked to lead off the ninth against Dellin Betances and quickly stole second. Cano had a chance to be the hero for the Mariners, but Betances blew him away with 98-mph petrol and kept Jackson at second base as the game went into extras.

The ninth-inning Yankees rally took Sabathia off the hook. He dealt with base runners throughout his 5 2/3 innings (nine hits, two walks) but let in only two runs as the Mariners stranded seven over the first five innings. It also spoiled Mike Montgomery’s shot at a victory in his major-league debut. The Seattle lefthander allowed one run and four hits in six innings, and that run was somewhat tainted. It was scored by Gardner, who had walked on a disputed fourth ball that replays showed he had actually gone too far around on a checked swing. Manager Lloyd McClendon and catcher Mike Zunino were ejected later in the inning for arguing a similar call in Alex Rodriguez’s favor.

CC got annoyed with Kyle Seager for trying to bunt a runner home from third for the third out of the fifth, but frankly I thought it was a smart play on Seager’s part. Sabathia may not like it, but his poor mobility should be tested more often by opponents. CC is lucky most major leaguers do not know how to bunt.

Warren stays in rotation; Capuano to bullpen

With Masahiro Tanaka returning to the rotation Wednesday, someone had to get bumped to the bullpen to make room, and that someone turned out to be Chris Capuano. Manager Joe Girardi made the announcement before Monday night’s series opener at Seattle, a decision that means Adam Warren will stay in the starting unit.

Warren has an abundance of experience as a relief pitcher, which might have been expected to work against him in this move. The righthander’s work as a starter this year has been exemplary and earned him continue status in that role. In his three starts, Capuano is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA.

Despite taking the loss Sunday at Oakland, Warren (3-4, 3.75 ERA) had his fourth consecutive quality start, the longest such streak by a Yankees starter since Michael Pineda had four in a row from Aug. 20-Sept. 9 last year. Warren is 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA (26.2IP, 8ER) in 26 2/3 innings over that stretch. Six of the nine runs allowed during the streak scored on the five home runs he allowed in that span. Prior to the streak, Warren had not completed six innings in any of his first nine career starts.

His three quality-start losses this season are tied for second-most in the American League and tied for fourth in the majors behind Andrew Cashner (5), Aaron Harang (4) and Jake Odorizzi (4). Since 2003, only five Yankees pitchers have recorded more than three quality start losses in a season: Hiroki Kuroda (5) in 2014, Andy Pettitte (5), CC Sabathia (4) and Ivan Nova (4) in 2013 and Pettitte (5) in 2007.

Warren has a 2.81 ERA in his four losses this year and a 4.50 ERA in his other six starts. He has taken a shutout into the sixth inning in each of his past two starts and in four of his past seven.

Pineda rediscovers his elusive slider

One could certainly say that Michael Pineda cleaned up his act Wednesday. In his prior start, the righthander had a disastrous seven-run inning against the Rangers that included a couple of errors, including one by himself. Very sloppy indeed.

There was none of that in Wednesday’s outing as he pitched the Yankees to a 4-2 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Royals, who have a much more tortuous lineup than that of Texas.

Pineda’s work was part of a complete turnaround by the Yankees in the homestand. As bad as they looked in losing three games to the Rangers, that is how good the Yankees looked in winning three games from the Royals and regaining sole possession of first place in the American League East and reminding Kansas City how much more comfortable it is in the AL Central.

“Baseball is a strange game,” Yanks manager Joe Girardi said in a major understatement. “Over the long haul things balance out, but over a short span things don’t always balance out. Everything begins for me with starting pitching.”

That is where Pineda comes in, following quality starts from Adam Warren Tuesday night and Nathan Eovaldi Monday. Pineda gave up a first-inning home run to Mike Moustakas on a changeup and then slammed the door two outs into the seventh inning before he was victimized by the pitch-count police.

“I wanted to keep pitching, but I don’t have control of that,” Pineda said. “I asked how many pitches I had, and [Girardi] told me 106. So I guess that was it. A starting pitcher goes out every five days so on your day you want to pitch as long as you can, but that is not up to me. We have a good bullpen, so I know they can do the job.”

Girardi is known to be cautious with pitchers, particularly someone like Pineda, who has had two major surgeries.

“Michael has never pitched more than 170 innings in a season,” Girardi noted. “He’s on a pace for 220, 230 innings this year. It’s a long season.”

The key for Pineda was a return of his slider, which was missing entirely from his prior outing. He worked on some mechanical adjustments in his between-starts bullpen sessions. The results were positive. He allowed five hits other than the Moustakas homer and only one walk with eight strikeouts. While Masahiro Tanaka was having a rough injury-rehabilitation start for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Pawtucket (3 innings, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts), Pineda was pitching like a staff ace in improving his record to 6-2 with a 3.36 ERA.

Brian McCann got the Yankees even with a solo home run in the second off the other Chris Young, and Alex Rodriguez made it 4-1 the next inning with a three-run shot that raised his career RBI total to 1,995 to break Lou Gehrig’s AL career record. The long ball resurfaced for the Yankees in the series. They totaled six home runs in their six-game losing streak. They homered eight times in the three games against KC.

Pineda worked out of tight spots in the fourth and fifth innings and stranded two runners on base each time. He was particularly impressive in the fifth after Carlos Beltran misplayed a liner by Paulo Orlando into a double and Alcides Escobar singled. Pineda bore down and struck out Moustakas on a slider (no changeup this time) and Lorenzo Cain on an even nastier one.

An errant throw by shortstop Didi Gregorius led to an unearned run off Dellin Betances in the eighth (his stretch of unearned runs this season has reached 26 innings over 23 games), and Andrew Miller handled the ninth for his 14th save.

But as Girardi pointed out, it starts with the starter, and Pineda was every bit the good one.


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