Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Teixeira not overwhelmed by all the heat

Mark Teixeira saw his share of blazing fastballs last week. At the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, he faced the Reds’ hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman and ended the game by swinging through a 103-mph heater from the game’s hardest thrower.

So after that, what is a 98-mph fastball to Teixeira? Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney, another of baseball’s muscle men among pitchers, got ahead in the count 1-2 on Teixeira with 98-mph gas with two out in the eighth inning Sunday. Rodney then made the mistake of throwing the same pitch in the same location on the next delivery, which Teixeira crushed to right field for a home run that broke up a tie game and sent the Yankees toward a 2-1 victory.

There were an abundance of contributions Teixeira made to this victory, which increased the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to four games over the Orioles, who moved into second place Sunday and will arrive at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to open a three-game series.

Teixeira had two other hits in Sunday’s game, both singles, including a knock in the sixth inning off Felix Hernandez that sent Brett “White Shoes” Gardner to third base from where he scored on a clutch, two-out single by Carlos Beltran, who was fresh off the disabled list, that tied the score. Tex also made a dazzling catch leaning over the railing behind first base on a ball hit by the dangerous Nelson Cruz for a big out in the top of the eighth.

The home run was Teixeira’s first hit off Rodney in 10 career at-bats against the righthander, who lost his closer job last month and has been used in a set-up role ever since. Tex’s play on Cruz helped the Yankees’ set-up reliever, Dellin Betances, get through the eighth in which he allowed two walks. The homer created the winning decision for Betances (6-2), thanks to Andrew Miller’s 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.

Although he was not involved in the decision, CC Sabathia had his second straight encouraging outing. He gave up one run, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, Sabathia appeared strong despite the 92-degree heat. CC worked both sides of the plate, utilizing the cut fastball he has been working on and a hard-biting slider.

Sabathia’s only troublesome inning was the fifth when he gave up singles to Jesus Montero and Chris Taylor, who were sacrificed to third and second bases, respectively, by .158-hitting catcher Mike Zunino.

Austin Jackson singled to center for one run as Taylor stopped at third. He stayed there, too, as Sabathia came back to strike out Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano, who had combined for four home runs and seven RBI over the previous two games. Justin Wilson stranded a runner at third base in the seventh before the late-inning combination of Betances and Miller did their magic.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked with Sabathia before the All-Star break and reminded him of his importance to the staff both as a performer and a motivator.

“He is the one guy who has been there,” Girardi said, referring to pennant races among pitchers in the rotation. “We need him to be big for us. The ability is there. It has been a matter of consistency of pitches. He expects to do well and works hard at his trade. He understands this is his time of year.”

Teixeira continues to be a prime candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors. His 23 home runs and 63 RBI exceed his output in those categories for all of last year (22 homers and 62 RBI in 123 games). Of his 23 home runs this season, 12 have either tied the game (four) or given the Yankees the lead (eight), and of his 74 hits this season, 40 have gone for extra bases (17 doubles, 23 homers).

Another Comeback Player of the Year candidate, Alex Rodriguez, singled in the first inning for his 3,023rd career hit to tie Lou Brock for 24th place on baseball’s all-time hits list. A-Rod is batting .320 in 41 games and 147 at-bats at home this season . . . Over his past 15 games since June 16, Beltran is batting .340 with six runs, five doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games and 50 at-bats . . . The Yankees have a 6-1 record this season in games started by former Cy Young Award winners.

A-Rod’s homer leads to bullpen formula

The timing of Alex Rodriguez’s 19th home run of the season Friday night could not have been better. A-Rod drove a 1-0 pitch from left-handed reliever Joe Beimel (0-1) into the Yankees’ bullpen with one out in the seventh inning that unlocked a 3-3 score.

The round-tripper, career No. 673, allowed manager Joe Girardi to utilize his winning bullpen combination by bringing in Dellin Betances to work the eighth inning and closer Andrew Miller the ninth. Each did his job and the Yanks had a 4-3 victory over the Mariners in front of a Friday night, sellout crowd of 47,086 at Yankee Stadium.

Home runs made up a big part of both club’s offenses. Kyle Seager took Masahiro Tanaka (6-3) deep twice to account for all of Seattle’s runs. Tanaka allowed only three other hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings to earn his second consecutive victory.

Chris Young continued his torrid hitting against left-handed pitching with a home run in the second inning and a double in the fourth, both off Seattle starter Mike Montgomery. Young scored the Yanks’ second run on a single through the middle by Chase Headley in the fourth.

Against left-handed pitching this year, the righty-swinging Young is batting .365 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI in 85 at-bats. Against righties, Young is a .178 hitter with four doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI in 129 at-bats. With switch-hitting Carlos Beltran on the 15-day disabled list, Young and lefty-swinging Garrett Jones have formed a nice platoon in right field.

Rodriguez also had a part in the Yankees’ fifth-inning run that had tied the score. He led off with a single and after a walk to Mark Teixeira came home on a single by Brian McCann. A bigger inning was thwarted as Young flied out and Headley grounded into a double play. The Yankees made seven outs in a row before A-Rod’s tie-breaking homer in the seventh.

Fresh from his scoreless inning of work Tuesday night in the All-Star Game at Cincinnati, Betances handled the eighth inning flawlessly with two strikeouts and an infield out. Miller, on the other hand, had to deal with some drama in the ninth.

The lefthander retired the first two batters on ground balls to third base, but pinch hitter Mark Trumbo lined a two-strike pitch to left field for a single. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon then turned to Jesus Montero as a pinch hitter.

The former Yankees prospect who went to Seattle in the trade that brought Michael Pineda, Saturday’s starter, to the Bronx, has been largely a bust for the Mariners. Called up from Triple A Tacoma eight days ago, Montero had a chance to seek revenge against the Yankees, but he struck out as Miller chalked up his 19th save.

The Yankees held the Mariners’ 3-4 hitters in check. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz were each 0-for-4 with the latter striking out three times.

The Yankees’ victory in their first post-All-Star break game allowed them to open up some ground in the American League East. Their lead swelled to 4 1/2 games over the Rays and Blue Jays. Toronto pulled into a tie with Tampa Bay by beating the Rays Friday night. Meanwhile, the Orioles, who come to the Stadium next week, fell a game below .500 (44-45) with a loss at Detroit. At 49-40, the Yankees are the only team in the division with a record above .500.

Yankees deflate sloppy Red Sox

Just when they thought they might work themselves out of last place in the American League East and give the Yankees a run for their money, the Red Sox shriveled up and died Friday night and had the steam of the weekend series at Fenway Park blow away.

Boston entered the series on a four-game winning streak and with victories in eight of its past 10 games to cut in half the 10-game deficit they faced in the division a fortnight ago. Not only that, on the mound they had their hottest pitcher, Clay Buchholz, who had pitched to a 0.67 ERA in winning each of his previous four starts.

But Buchholz walked off the mound in the fourth inning with an ailing elbow that had turned his pitches into flat, batting-practice stuff. Alex Rodriguez pounded such a pitch over the Green Monster in the first inning in striking the first blow for the Yankees. With Buchholz gone, the Red Sox infield then shot themselves in the feet with two costly errors that helped the Yankees to three gift runs.

Michael Pineda, meanwhile, was keeping Red Sox hitters at bay with another glowing start that raised his season record to 9-5. His only mistake in 6 2/3 innings was a hanging slider to Mookie Betts, who crushed it for his 10th home run with one out in the fifth.

Boston lefthander Reggie Ross retired nine straight batters into the seventh inning to keep the Red Sox close at 4-1, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi was taking no chances. Sensing the importance of winning the series opener to deflate Boston’s newfound confidence, Girardi went to his bullpen in the seventh with a runner on second and two out. Justin Wilson struck out Betts to end the threat.

After the Yankees tacked on an eighth-inning run on a two-out, RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury, Girardi went to his hammer and used Dellin Betances in the bottom of the eighth (two strikeouts, one flyout) and closer Andrew Miller in the ninth. An error by third baseman Cole Figueroa put a runner on base, but Miller finished off a big victory by striking out pinch hitter Shane Victorino.

The Yankees maintained their three-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles and pushed the last-place Red Sox 6 ½ games back. The Yanks have won five straight games at Fenway and are 8-1 in their past nine games there dating to Aug. 2 last year. Since the start of 2014, Yankees pitchers have held Red Sox batters to a .244 batting average in 431 at-bats at Fenway and have allowed double-digit hits just twice in 13 games while Yankees batters are hitting .282 in 478 at-bats and averaging 5.9 per game. Over that span, Yankees relief pitchers have a 2.33 ERA in 46 1/3 innings and have allowed one earned run or less in 11 of the 13 games.

After the game, the Yankees also announced plans to recall second baseman Rob Refsnyder from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Refsnyder was batting .290 with a .387 on-base percentage in 81 games for the RailRiders. He had 17 doubles, seven home runs, 37 RBI and was 10-for-11 in stolen bases but also committed 13 errors as the converted outfielder is still somewhat unsteady at his new position.

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 (www.alz.org) 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 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.

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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.

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