Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Yankees triple their pleasure behind CC

There are probably hundreds of first basemen in major league history who were never part of a triple play. Getting an inning’s full compliment of outs on a single play is rare. But there was Scott Sizemore in his first career game as a first baseman Thursday night completing a triple killing that was the third turned behind CC Sabathia over the past five seasons.

Sizemore, who does not even own a first baseman’s glove, played a major part in the triple play that wiped out a potential Tampa Bay rally in the second inning. Sabathia was working with a 4-0 lead but got into trouble when Evan Longoria doubled to right-center and Wil Myers walked.

Sean Rodriguez followed with a grounder down the third base line. Yangervis Solarte gloved it a foot from the bag, stepped on it and fired to second baseman Brian Roberts for the force there. Roberts’ relay was in the dirt, but Sizemore made a fine scoop to complete the trip-up. He made the play wearing Kelly Johnson’s glove. Manager Joe Girardi went with Sizemore at first base to get another right-handed bat into the lineup against Price, a move that paid off. Sizemore doubled leading off the top of the second and scored on a triple by Roberts, who was back in the lineup after missing three games because of lower-back stiffness.

One out later, Jacoby Ellsbury also tripled. This inning was all about triples one way or the other. Derek Jeter made it 4-0 with a single to center off a two-strike slider from Price, who was not as formidable as he often has been against the Yankees.

The Yanks are hoping the first-base situation will clear up perhaps as early as Sunday when Teixeira could return from the disabled list. Tex is working out in the extended spring program at Tampa, just across the Bay from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

The Yankees got a scare in the third inning when Carlos Beltran toppled over a fence down the right field line chasing a foul ball by Desmond Jennings. Beltran apparently landed safely because he climbed back over the wall and continued playing. With the Cardinals in the World Series last year, Beltran fell into the bullpen at Fenway Park. Beltran has got to familiarize himself with American League yards.

Tanaka proving a wise investment for Yankees

For a while there Wednesday, it appeared that Masahiro Tanaka might have pitched a tainted no-hitter. The Cubs’ only hit through the first six innings off the Japanese righthander came in the second inning on a bunt single by Junior Lake, which originally had been called an out but was a single after a replay review.

Except for Lake himself, the happiest guy in the yard about the hit may have been Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who did not have to wrestle with himself later in the game about keeping Tanaka in an early-season game with a mounting pitch count working on a no-hitter. Managers do not like to put stress on pitchers this early in the schedule, but pulling a pitcher during a no-hitter is something they know fans dislike.

It all became academic when Anthony Rizzo dumped a bunt single down the third base line leading off the seventh inning against an over-shift. I for one was glad to see some hitter take what the defense is giving him in this year when over-shifting in the infield has become so prevalent.

It drove me crazy in the Yankees’ sixth inning when Brian McCann led off and made no attempt to hit the ball to the left side where one player was stationed. I know, I know, hitters do not want to mess up their swing by going the other way, but in a low-scoring game why not go for the easy hit and get a really started?

The over-shift was first employed in the late 1940s by Indians shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau against Ted Williams. The Splinter stubbornly refused to change his swing and always tried to hit through the shift, but he was Teddy Ballgame, a career .344 hitter and six-time American League batting champion. These guys that won’t attempt to cross up the defense are good hitters, but they are not Ted Williams. How many outs are hitters going to make on ground balls to right field before they wake up?

I have been harping on this since Jason Giambi was with the Yankees and have kept it up watching Mark Teixeira make outs into the shift. A Chicago writer told me that Rizzo has bunted for hits against the shift three times already this year. Good for him, not that it do him much good Wednesday because the Cubs did not get anyone else on base that inning. Another challenge by Cubs manager Rick Renteria on an out at first base was not reversed.

Tanaka certainly had no-hit stuff. Two bunt singles were all the Cubs could muster against Tanaka, who walked one batter and struck out 10 in his eight innings to improve his record to 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

“He had outstanding command of his splitter and slider and threw some curves to get ahead in the count,” Girardi said. “He was tremendous.”

The Cubs got only three runners as far as second base and none beyond. Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth and earned his fourth save.

The only run the Yankees would need came in the first inning on Carlos Beltran’s fourth home run. The Yankees added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Dean Anna and another in the fifth in an unusual way.

With Brett Gardner at third base and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Cubs catcher John Baker collided with Ellsbury while fielding the ball and was called for interference as he threw the ball to first base while Gardner crossed the plate.

Plate umpire Jim Reynolds originally sent Gardner back to third base and instructed Ellsbury to stay on first base before Girardi came out of the dugout to point out a seldom-seen rule. In such cases, the manager has the option to take the completed play. That meant Ellsbury was out at first base and Gardner scored.

Girardi remembered a game in 1990 when he was catching for the Cubs and the Pirates’ Bobby Bonilla hit a three-run home run. Girardi was called for interfering with Bonilla’s swing but was told the home run counted because the Pittsburgh manager had the option to accept the play.

“Had there been no outs, I might have let the call stand,” Girardi said, “but with one out, I thought it would be better to take the run.”

It certainly was not needed by Tanaka, whose 28 strikeouts are the most for any Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts, surpassing by three the total Al Leiter had in 1987. Leiter was in the YES television booth for Wednesday’s game. Tanaka also became the first Yankees starter to pitch at least eight innings while striking out at least 10 batters and allowing two or fewer hits since Randy Johnson July 26, 2005 at the Stadium against the Red Sox (8 innings, 2 hits, 11 strikeouts).

Jeter plenty rested for Wednesday night game

Do not panic, Yankees fans. Derek Jeter’s absence from the lineup in Wednesday night’s matinee portion of the split-admission doubleheader against the Cubs was not injury-related. Jeter did not play Saturday or Sunday night against the Red Sox while resting a tight right quad. The Captain was not in the lineup for the afternoon game because manager Joe Girardi wanted to limit him to one game and preferred to start him in the night game against a lefthander, Travis Wood.

Girardi has made no secret of being cautious with Jeter, who at 39 and coming off an injury-riddled 2013 season is past the time when he can be expected to play every day. Jeter has not lost his sense of humor. The Yankees had their first off day Monday and with Tuesday’s scheduled game rained out Jeter said he felt that with four straight days off it was like an early All-Star Game break.

The Cubs were playing at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 2005 and became the 25th different opponent to play in the current Stadium. The Yankees are 19-5 in an opponent’s first-ever game at the Stadium since its opening in 2009. They won all three such contests in 2013 — April 16 over the Diamondbacks, 4-2; June 19 over the Dodgers, 6-4, and Sept. 20 over the Giants, 5-1.

The Yankees and Cubs will play each other again at Wrigley Field May 20-22 as a part of a weeklong trip to Chicago that includes a stop at U.S. Cellular Field May 23-25 against the White Sox.

The Yankees played their first doubleheader of the season today. They swept one doubleheader and split two last year. Since 2000, the Yanks have swept 15 doubleheaders, split 18 and were swept once (Sept. 17, 2006 by the Red Sox at the Stadium.

Yanks’ bench growing short with injuries

The Yankees went with an eight-man bullpen to get through the four-game series against the Red Sox, but it left them with a shallow bench that was pretty hollow in Sunday night’s finale when injuries mounted.

Francisco Cervelli, who started at first base, had to come out of the game in the fourth inning when he hurt his right hamstring trying to avoid hitting into a double play. A DP call was overturned through replay, which so infuriated Red Sox manager John Farrell that he was ejected for arguing the call, the change of which gave the Yankees a run for a 3-1 lead.

Meanwhile, Cervelli was exiting the field as Ichiro Suzuki took over as a pinch runner. Suzuki stayed in the game in right field with Carlos Beltran, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning, coming in to play first base for the first time in his major-league career. Other than an occasional game as a designated hitter, Beltran has only played the outfield.

With Mark Texeira on the disabled list, Kelly Johnson has played first base, but he was needed at third base Sunday night because Yangervis Solarte had to play second base with Brian Roberts nursing a sore back. Dean Anna was at shortstop for Derek Jeter, who was out with a tight right quad.

Once Ichiro got in the game, it left the ailing Jeter and Roberts as the only position players on the bench. And with Cervelli gone, the Yanks were without their backup catcher. Manager Joe Girardi told the ESPN crew that his third-string catcher was Anna, “although he doesn’t know it yet.”

Jeter riding the pine again

Yankees fans coming to see Derek Jeter play Sunday night at Yankee Stadium were disappointed again. For the second straight game, Jeter was on the bench as rookie back-up infielder Dean Anna was the shortstop for the Yankees in the four-game series finale against the Red Sox on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi intended to play Jeter Sunday night but decided to be caution because the Captain has a strained right quad. The area tightened up on him Friday night. Jeter did not play Saturday. Girardi reasoned that with an open date Monday Jeter will have sufficient time for the injury to heal and be ready to play Tuesday night against the Cubs in an inter-league game at the Stadium.

“He’s not real happy,” Girardi said of Jeter, who is batting .286 in 35 at-bats. “I told him missing one game is better than missing four to six weeks, if something were to happen.”

Jeter has a history of hating the bench, and with this being his final season following an injury-riddled 2013 season that reduced his output to 17 games he is all the more anxious to play.

“He has been that way since Day 1,’ Girardi said. “He used to fight Joe [Torre]. ‘How am I going to break Cal’s [Ripken Jr.'s] record if you keep doing this to me?’ he would say. It is never a real comfortable situation when you tell him you are going to give him a day. I think he understands what I’m trying to do. In his heart he just wants to be out there. He’s 39 years old. I think you have to be smart about it. There are times where you are going to have to give him a day off.”

Bronx Bombers are back

Welcome back, Bronx Bombers!

The long ball returned to Yankee Stadium Saturday on a sunny, breezy afternoon. The Yankees launched five home runs, nearly matching their season total prior to the game, in a 7-4 victory over the Red Sox. Four of the blows came off Boston starter John Lackey, who had allowed only one home run previously in 13 innings of his first two starts when he was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. That ERA took a hit Saturday in jumping to 3.86.

As recently as two years ago, the Yankee set a club record in home runs with 245. This year has been a different story. They did not hit a home run in 2014 until the season’s sixth game. Entering play Saturday, the Yanks’ home run total was seven through 11 games, which put them on pace for a measly 103 over the 162-game schedule. In one game, they increased that season pace to 162.

It was good to see Brian McCann break out of an early-season slump. The catcher clouted two home runs, a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run blast in the sixth. They were the first extra-base hits this season for McCann, who went into the game batting .162.

“Every day he has come to the park with a smile on his face, but I am sure he was storing up some emotions, although he never went over the top,” manager Joe Girardi said. “When you come to a new place, you want to get off to a fast start and show why the club signed you in the first place.”

McCann had already drawn rave reviews for his handling of the pitching staff, a quality that marked his success in Atlanta. That is one element of the catcher’s role on a team. He works so closely with the pitchers that taking batting practice is often the last thing on his mind.

“I stayed the course,” McCann said. “I’ve tried to stay positive. That first home run felt pretty good. Absolutely.”

Carlos Beltran started the home run derby with a two-run rocket to right field in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano, making his first career start in right field, followed McCann’s fourth-inning jack with a solo tater of his own to take the club lead at three. Kelly Johnson tied Soriano with his third home run of the season in the eighth off Burke Badenhop.

It was McCann’s 10th career multi-homer game and first since May 28 last year at Toronto. His and Soriano’s back-to-back showing was the first for the Yankees since June 6 last year by Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira at Seattle.

Soriano’s only previous appearance in right field was in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series for the Yankees at Miami when he played one inning. Girardi thought he would give Sori a break from the tough sun field in left at the Stadium. Soriano made an error in the sixth when he dropped a fly ball Xander Bogaerts, but it caused no damaging effect other than embarrassment.

Hiroki Kuroda (2-1) benefit from the homer onslaught to notch the winning decision. He was touched for a two-run homer in the second by A.J. Pierzynski. Kuroda came out in the seventh after walking two batters, both of whom later scored, but Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley (second save) did a strong job in relief.

Girardi’s toughest job is keeping Jeter fresh

Memo to Yankees fans: Do not expect to see Derek Jeter in the starting lineup just because you bought a ticket.

That was the message Saturday from manager Joe Girardi, who gave Jeter a day off and started rookie Dean Anna at shortstop, which must have been a disappointment to most people in a sellout crowd of 48,572 at Yankee Stadium for the afternoon game against the Red Sox.

This will be Jeter’s final season in the major leagues, and many a fan will want to get one more look at the Captain in person. But as the manager in charge of the lineup and keeping his players fresh, Girardi feels the need to give his aging shortstop (DJ turns 40 in June) a blow now and then.

“I have to manage him with a focus of winning games and keeping him healthy, not being a farewell tour,” Girardi said before the game. “I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour.”

And yet, this is the second consecutive season that Girardi has had to oversee a star player in his final season. Jeter follows Mariano Rivera’s swan song from 2013. But in Mo’s case, fans could never be sure they would see him in a game because of his role as closer. There was no guarantee that Rivera would get into a game whereas the absence of Jeter as a regular position player is more noticeable.

“There is not a whole lot I can do about that,” Girardi said. “When you start running guys out there too much, you risk injury. I think people would be a little bit more upset if he were out two weeks or a month or something like that. I understand that fans want to see him play. I want to see him play. I would like to run him out there 162 times. But I have to do what is best for him and the team.”

Let’s face it; Jeter cannot start every game at his age, and Girardi is taking the correct approach in trying to ensure that the Captain stays healthy enough to start as many games as possible.

One bad inning sinks Sabathia

For five innings Friday night, CC Sabathia was pitching as the ace that Yankees fans have come to appreciate. With a fastball that was in the 90-miles-per-hour range and a devastating slider, the big lefthander held the Red Sox in check. He limited them to one hit and two walks, struck out six batters and got eight other outs in the infield.

It was not vintage Sabathia from his Cy Young Award days when the fastball was more muscular, but it was a cagier and slyer Sabathia who had Boston hitters guessing and oft times wrong. The lone hit to that point was a leadoff double by Red Sox catcher David Ross in the third inning. Sabathia retired the next three batters on ground balls to prevent Ross from scoring.

Then came the sixth inning, and everything went wrong for the big guy. Jonny Gomes led off with a home run off a 1-0 fastball that tied the score. Alfonso Soriano had given CC a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a home run off Jon Lester.

After striking out Dustin Pedroia, Sabathia gave up a single to David Ortiz on an excuse-me, half-swing of a dribbler to the vacated left side of the infield as the Yankees were employing an over-shift on Big Papi. Mike Napoli singled on a soft line drove to center field, but there was nothing soft about Grady Sizemore’s drive off a hanging slider on 0-1 that reached the second deck in right field for a demoralizing, three-run homer.

“I thought he had good command and threw the ball decent,” manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. “He hung a slider, and Sizemore did not miss it. One pitch in a tight game sometimes it’s going to beat you.”

No one welcomed the offensive display more than Lester, who before that inning had watched his teammates score merely one run in his first 19 1/3 innings on the mound this year, which explains why he entered the game with a record of 0-2 despite a 2.51 ERA.

The Yankees tried to get Sabathia off the hook with a two-out rally in the seventh but got only one run on a Kelly Johnson single that chased Lester.

Sabathia’s ERA actually came down from 7.50 but is still an unseemly 6.63 after three starts as his record fell to 1-2. His nine strikeouts lifted his total with the Yankees to 1,017, which moved him past Roger Clemens into 10th place on the franchise’s career list. Next up in ninth place at 1,028 is Al Downing.

Pineda comeback gaining momentum

It certainly looks as if Michael Pineda is the real deal. The Yankees had to wait it out for the righthander to recover fully from shoulder surgery in May 2012, only four months after he was acquired in a trade from the Mariners that sent catching prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to Seattle.

Pineda did not pitch in the major leagues last year or the season before, a long wait for the Yankees to find out if the trade was to their benefit. He pitched in 40 2/3 innings in three minor-league stops in the Yankees’ system in 2013. But with Montero lingering in the minor leagues and Noesi released by the Mariners, the swap is leaning in the Yankees’ favor.

Pineda turned in another solid outing Thursday night and earned his first victory since 2011 as the Yankees turned back the Red Sox, 4-1. Pineda took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the defending World Series champions and lasted two batters into the seventh before manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen.

Through two starts covering 12 innings, Pineda is pitching to a 1.50 ERA. He did not allow a hit Thursday night until the fifth inning when Xander Bogaerts led off with a single to left and held Boston scoreless until the seventh when Daniel Nava led off with his first home run of the season. Bogaerts followed with a single up the middle, which brought Girardi to the mound.

The manager was delighted at what he saw for six-plus innings from Pineda, an imposing 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds who walked two batters and struck out seven. The Yankees gave him the lead with two unearned runs off Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning and tacked on two runs in the fifth, including second baseman Dean Anna’s first career home run.

“We’re very encouraged,” Girardi said of Pineda. “He threw first-pitch strikes and gave us length, which we really needed.”

Girardi was hit with post-game questions about video replays circulated on social media showing a substance in Pineda’s right hand. On cold nights, it is not uncommon for pitchers to use pine tar to improve their grip. I saw Buchholz reach back at a spot on his neck to touch something, which was probably the same thing. Pineda made no secret of whatever it was to umpires as he exposed his palm numerous times.

In his first game against his old team, Jacoby Ellsbury had 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Derek Jeter raised his batting average to .290 with a single and a double. David Phelps earned his first career save with 2 1/3 innings of hitless, three-strikeout relief.

Yanks keep playing ‘Who’s on first?’

With Mark Teixeira on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has to look elsewhere for a first baseman. The Yankees do not have a pure first baseman as a back-up to Teixeira. Girardi had used Kelly Johnson there for two games, the fourth and fifth at the position for Johnson in his major-league career.

Eyebrows were raised a bit in the Yankees’ clubhouse Tuesday when the lineup showed Francisco Cervelli at first base. Yes, that Francisco Cervelli, the Yankees’ back-up catcher. Cervelli had a good spring training with the bat so Girardi wants to find ways to get him in the lineup. With the Yankees having called up Austin Romine, another catcher, from Triple A Scranton, Cervelli can be used while still having the safety net of a back-up catcher available.

Cervelli, who has been taking grounders at the corner infield spots during batting practice, was realistic about his new role. He told Suzyn Waldman on her WFAN Radio pre-game show that he thought about calling Don Mattingly to get his permission to play the position the current Dodgers manager manned so well in his playing days with the Yankees.

Cervelli was tested in the second inning when Ryan Flaherty bunted to the right side for a single that gave the Orioles runners on first and second with none out. Cervelli did his job fielding the ball, but neither pitcher Ivan Nova nor second baseman Brian Roberts rushed to cover first base. Nova and Flaherty atoned for the situation by collaborating on a pickoff of Steve Lombardozzi at second base on the next play.

The Yanks have been utilizing players in various roles in the early going. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that for the first time in franchise history the Yanks did not have a player start the first six games of the season. The previous team to have that situation were the Tigers in 1980.

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