Results tagged ‘ John Farrell ’

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.”

MLB: No discipline against Pineda

In the latest much ado about nothing episode in baseball, Major League Baseball has no plans to discipline Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda for his apparent use of pine tar on his right hand in Thursday night’s victory over the Red Sox.

“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox,” MLB said in a statement. “Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”

The incident was spurred by social media as photos of Pineda’s hand circulated across the Internet. Boston manager John Farrell said before Friday night’s game that the Red Sox were made aware of the situation, but by the time they knew about it Pineda had washed off the substance.

Pitchers often resort to using pine tar in cold weather to improve their grip. The Red Sox had two separate incidents last year of their pitchers putting foreign substances on the ball.

Derek Jeter’s two hits Thursday night moved him past Joe DiMaggio into third place on the Yankees’ career hit list against the Red Sox. DJ entered play Friday night with 324 career hits against Boston pitching, one more than Joe D. The only Yankees players with more career hits against the Red Sox than Jeter not surprisingly are Babe Ruth with 404 and Lou Gehrig with 347.

Happy Birthday to Mark Teixeira, who turned 34.

Ellsbury on Yanks’ side of the rivalry

Thursday night marked Jacoby Ellsbury’s first game for the Yankees against his former Red Sox teammates. Ellsbury, who started in center field and batted third, became the latest player to jump to the other side of the American League’s longest rivalry, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Red Ruffing, Sparky Lyle, Mike Torrez, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon.

“I always thought it was a decent possibility,” Ellsbury said of changing uniforms. “I think of the Yankees as a top-flight organization, world class. I think of the championships, the history, the great players who play here and when I signed over here those were reasons why I did it. Derek [Jeter] called me and said, ‘You are going to enjoy it here, it is a first-class organization. It is a special place to play.’ From then on, I had the highest expectations and they’ve met them and exceeded them. I spent nine years in the [Boston] organization, seven years in the big leagues, roughly a third of my life. I left it all on the field for the Red Sox.”

Grady Sizemore was signed by the Red Sox to take Ellsbury’s place in center field, but he found himself in left field Thursday night as Jackie Bradley Jr. was inserted in center. At Fenway Park, Sizemore has been in center field and Bradley in right field. Red Sox manager John Farrell said he preferred a different alignment at Yankee Stadium because of the expanse in left-center field as opposed to that in right-center at Fenway.

Yanks don’t take advantage of big rally

How many big rallies begin with a walk? It is a rhetorical question. I am not looking it up. Leave us just say a lot.

So when Ichiro Suzuki walked to lead off the seventh inning for the Yankees Thursday night it hardly seemed dramatic considering the score at the time was 7-2 Red Sox. But as Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch used to say famously during his managerial days, “Oh, them bases on balls.”

Perhaps Red Sox manager John Farrell had similar thoughts. If he didn’t, he should have. The leadoff walk has an ominous look to it regardless of the score. Suzuki’s stroll to first base was just the ominous sign the Yankees needed to get started toward a six-run rally that turned the tables in the game, yet another startling crooked-number inning that the Yanks have constructed regularly during their offensive renaissance of the past month.

In the blink of an eye, Ichiro was standing on third base after a pinch single by Vernon Wells chased Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who departed with a five-run lead but by inning’s end was still winless in his career against the Yankees.

Brett Gardner greeted lefthander Matt Thornton with a single to score Ichiro. With Derek Jeter at bat, Wells shook up the Red Sox with a steal of third, one of the Yanks’ season-high six swipes in the game. Thornton walked Jeter, which loaded the bases for Robinson Cano, who hit a bases-loaded double earlier in the game. This time he hit into a fielder’s choice but another run scored.

Alfonso Soriano also did an about-face from previous at-bats. Boston used an exaggerated shift against him all night. Twice he hit into it and flied out. This time against righthander Junichi Tazawa Sori poked a single to the right side for an RBI single that made the score 7-5. The Red Sox’ collective collar was tightening.

Curtis Granderson doubled to make it a one-run game. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Lyle Overbay pushed the Yankees into the lead with a ground single to right for two more runs. 8-7 Yanks, and what made it even cooler was that the situation was set up for them out of the bullpen with David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Robertson did his part with a hitless, two-strikeout eighth. In the ninth, Rivera came within one strike of registering a save that would have matched his uniform No. 42. But he walked – there’s that stat again – Mike Napoli on a full count. Pinch runner Quintin Berry stunned everybody by breaking for second base on Mo’s first pitch to Stephen Drew. The throw from Austin Romine, just into the game behind the plate, bounced in front of Jeter and went into left-center field as Berry wound up on third base.

Rivera’s save and the Yankees’ lead disappeared when Drew hit a flare single to right for a single that knotted the score. Career save No. 650 would have to wait for Rivera, whose blown save was his sixth of the season.

Sabathia gets Yankees back on track

Subway Series hangover over. A little dose of CC was a big help.

In this case, the CC wasn’t Canadian Club whiskey but a pitcher named Sabathia, who not only righted the Yankees Friday night but also himself. The lefthander found his rhythm early amid hot and humid conditions and rang bells on the velocity pole he had not reached previously.

“I hadn’t seen a lot of 94s until tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over Boston that ended their five-game losing streak and got Sabathia his first winning decision in six starts since April 27.

Sabathia hit 94 miles per hour on his fastball occasionally and was regularly between 91 and 93 mph with his heater. CC talked after the game more about location than velocity but admitted he felt more like himself than he has for a while.

“It just felt good to get us back on the right track,” Sabathia said. “I always feel like it’s my responsibility to go out and have a good game and give us a chance to win, especially after what happened to us against the Mets.”

Sabathia was not part of the Subway Series sweep, but the five-game losing streak began on his watch with a poor outing last Sunday at Tropicana Field in an 8-3 drubbing by the Rays. Friday night was a different story.

“This is the kind of game we’re used to seeing from CC,” Girardi said. “This is almost where he is every year since he has been with us. When the weather warms up, he gets on a roll.”

Sabathia not only registered a few more ticks on the radar gun but had the bite back on his slider, the pitch he used for six of his 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The only run he allowed was in the seventh on doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. CC did not walk a batter.

“Anytime he was in a fastball count, he’d go to his breaking ball or his changeup to keep us off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He didn’t compound an issue by issuing a base on balls.”

Speaking of walks, the Yankees drew four of them off Jon Lester, twice as many as they had in the four games total against the Mets. Mark Teixeira started the Yankees’ two-run second inning with a walk. After Vernon Wells doubled, the Yankees scored on a single by Jayson Nix and one out later on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

That would be all the support Sabathia would need, but the Yankees pushed across two more runs against Lester, who had defeated them back on Opening Day, on RBI singles by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth and Brett Gardner in the seventh.

It was also important to see Mariano Rivera get back on the bike again. Three nights after his stunning loss at Citi Field, Mo withstood singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz in the ninth to nail down his 19th save in 20 tries and 36th in a row at Yankee Stadium.

Many collaborators in Hughes’ first victory

It was not surprising that Derek Jeter did not play Sunday. With all eight games on the Yankees’ current trip to be played on artificial turf, manager Joe Girardi was wise to keep the Captain off the carpet at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Yanks move on to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., for a four-game set against the Rays starting Monday night, so expect Jeter to get a night off in that series as well.

DJ’s replacements did fine in his absence as the Yankees gained a split of the series against the Blue Jays with a 7-2 victory that got Phil Hughes his first winning decision of the season. Splits of four-game series always look positive after a team has lost the first two games, which is what happened to the Yankees.

Eduardo Nunez played errorless ball at shortstop and contributed a keep-the-line-moving single in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning off Carlos Villanueva that sort of broke the game open. Nunez has played third base while Alex Rodriguez (right knee arthroscopic surgery) is on the disabled list. Ramiro Pena played third Sunday and drove in a run with a fly ball in the fourth.

The big hit of that inning was a two-run double by Curtis Granderson, who added a third RBI in the ninth to raise his season total to 68 taking over the club lead from Mark Teixeira, who has 66.

In Jeter’s leadoff spot was Brett Gardner, who finished off a terrific series by reaching base four times with three singles and a walk, stealing two bases and scoring three runs. Gardner has 10-for-16 (.625) on the trip with three doubles, three stolen bases and five runs. He has raised his season batting average from .265 to .286.

Among the more satisfying aspects of the Yankees’ victories Saturday and Sunday was that they did not rely on the long ball as none of their 21 hits in the two games was a home run.

Hughes resembled more the pitcher that won 18 games last year than the one who struggled in April and landed on the DL due to a dead arm. “A big step forward” was how Girardi described the outing by Hughes, who gave up two runs, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings. The righthander had zip on his fastball and break on his curve. His next start will be on regular rest, which will be yet another test.

One of the weirdest defensive alignments occurred in the ninth inning against Teixeira, who sees the shift used against him many times when batting left-handed. Blue Jays manager John Farrell deployed a quirk to the maneuver by having third baseman Edwin Encarnacion hold the runner, Granderson, on at first base while first baseman Adam Lind played back. It had no effect on the game as Tex flied out to left field.

A most satisfying CG for CC

Not to make any excuses for CC Sabathia, but he sort of got dinked to death in the fourth inning Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when the Blue Jays first-and-thirded their way to a three-run rally that at the time appeared to put the big lefthander in a ditch out of which the Yankees would be sore-pressed to emerge.

The Yankees managed to make the game close with some late-inning fire but were 1-18 in games in which they trailed after eight innings. Their track record suggested that despite his impressive get-back-on-the-bike performance Sabathia was destined for a tough-luck loss. Make that stat 2-18, which tells you all you need to know about how big that 5-4 Yankees victory was Tuesday night.

That Sabathia was still in the game and eligible for the winning decision as the Yankees scored two runs in each of the eighth and ninth innings was a credit to his ability and stamina. After being blooped into a 4-1 deficit, CC kept moving down the Blue Jays and ended up with the first complete game for a Yankees pitcher this season.

Of course, it would have been a complete game for Sabathia even if the Yankees hadn’t rallied in the ninth against Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco and gave A.J. Burnett the chance to smash a pie in Mark Teixeira’s face after his game-winning hit. Pitchers love those W’s even more than complete games.

And how terrific was it that Jorge Posada, on the bench because the Blue Jays had started Ricky Romero, a lefthander, made a huge contribution as a pinch hitter from the left side with a double off the right-handed Francisco. Curtis Dickerson, pinch running for Posada, took third on Derek Jeter’s grounder to shortstop for the second out and scored the tying run on Curtis Granderson’s fourth hit, a single to right.

Granderson’s home run hitting (16) this year has obscured the fact that he is a speedster on the bases, which he reminded everyone with a steal of second base that put him in position to score the winner on Teixeira’s hard single off first baseman Juan Rivera’s glove. The euphoric spirit of the victory was not wasted on Sabathia, who was as important to the outcome as anyone.

Go back to that fourth inning. Rivera’s double that began the inning was a legitimate blow, a well-struck liner to right-center that might have been a triple for a faster runner. Then the dinking began.

J.P. Arencibia’s single to left-center that scored Rivera was of the flare variety. So were the one-out singles to right by Edwin Encarnacion and Rajai Davis, the latter driving in the second run of the inning. The third run scored on a squeeze bunt by John McDonald, who had pulled the same maneuver against the Yankees April 19 at Toronto to tie the score in the ninth of a game that the Blue Jays won in extra innings.

The Yankees lost an out at first base as well when Robinson Cano dropped Sabathia’s throw to first base for an error. It was the fifth error this year by Cano, two more than he committed all of last season.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell liked the result so much that he had Yunel Escobar do the same thing, but his bunt went right to Sabathia, who held Davis at third before throwing out Escobar at first. Escobar had batted cleanup Monday night when he bunted for a sacrifice in a key spot, but he was the leadoff hitter Tuesday night so a bunt from him wasn’t as surprising.

What was surprising was Sabathia walking Corey Patterson, which loaded the bases for major-league home run leader Jose Bautista, who is by no means a dinker. The game was on the line at that point, which was decidedly a turning point for Sabathia. He got Bautista on a ground ball to shortstop that ended the inning and was the first of 16 consecutive outs by Sabathia that kept the Yankees in the game provided their offense would wake up.

Russell Martin’s home run (No. 9) in the second inning accounted for the Yanks’ only run until the eighth after Romero had departed. The Yankees got nowhere with the lefthander but made it a one-run game with two runs off the Toronto bullpen. Cano, who had driven in Granderson three times Monday night, made it a fourth with a two-out double. Martin’s second RBI hit, this time a single, got the Yankees to 4-3.

Sabathia went out for the ninth and set down the Blue Jays 1-2-3 for the fifth straight inning. He then sat back and watched his teammates construct a victory that he richly deserved.

More ‘small ball’ at Stadium

The sacrifice as an offensive weapon has made a big comeback this week at Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, it was Curtis Granderson, the 16-home run hitter, asked to lay down a bunt to move runners to second and third. It worked, too, as the Yankees broke open the game with an eight-run seventh inning to beat the Mets, 9-3.

Monday night, Blue Jays manager John Farrell followed Joe Girardi’s plan and had his cleanup hitter give himself up in the sixth inning with the score 1-1 to push up runners and fuel a rally that resulted in a five-spot as Toronto took a 6-1 lead against Bartolo Colon, who had been pretty strong up to that point, on the way to a 7-3 victory.

The only blemish in Colon’s first five innings was Jose Bautista’s 19th home run with two out in the first. Next time up, Bautista walked in the third. Colon had learned his lesson. Colon also put Bautista on with a walk in the sixth. This one was intentional, which made sense considering that first base was open after a leadoff double by Corey Patterson.

Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar, who granted is not your normal cleanup hitter, then bunted the runners to second and third. Farrell has had to play around with his lineup since Adam Lind went on the disabled list last week with a lower back injury. Escobar has never hit more than 14 home runs in a season. Still, it is not every day you see a guy batting cleanup asked to sacrifice.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, it worked this time, too. Aaron Hill singled in a run. Colon then shot himself in the foot with a four-pitch walk to Eric Thames to force in a run. J.C. Arencibia, who had been called out on strike his previous two times up, jumped on a first-pitch fastball and doubled to center, clearing the bases.

That one bad inning kept Colon winless in five starts since April 27. The Yankees managed only one run and two hits off Carlos Villanueva, whose previous 13 appearances this year had been in relief and who was making his first start since Oct. 3, 2009 for the Brewers against the Cardinals. Farrell hoped to get five innings out of the righthander, which he did.

Granderson and Robinson Cano collaborated on all three Yankees’ runs. Granderson had three walks and was driven home each time by Cano on a sacrifice fly, a fielder’s choice and a single. The Yankees had another rough game in the clutch (2-for-15 with runners in scoring position).

Positive signs included two hits apiece for Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner that raised their batting averages to .289 and .274, respectively. Gardner also had two stolen bases. Hector Noesi took over for Colon and allowed one run in three innings in another effective performance.

The American League East tightened up even more. Only 1 ½ games separate the top four clubs – the Yankees, Red Sox, Ray and Blue Jays. Even the last-place Orioles are just 3 ½ game out of first. This is looking like quite a dogfight.

Foiled case of entrapment

The play that never works finally worked, and then it didn’t work.

Huh?

Stay with me on this one. You have seen the maneuver many times when there are runners on first and third. The pitcher goes into the stretch, then fakes a throw to third base and quickly turns toward first base prepared to throw. The idea is to trap the runner off first base by giving him the idea that the pitcher is going for a pickoff attempt at third base.

The play works about, oh, once a decade. It also looks bad, yet there are some pitchers who like to try it. David Robertson is apparently once of those pitchers. What was weird about his use of the maneuver in the sixth inning Friday night against the Blue Jays is that it actually did what it was designed to do, but Robertson lost the out anyway and let in a run besides.

With Rajai Davis on third base and Jose Bautista on first with one out, Robertson tried the fake-to-third play, which older Yankees fans will recall was resorted to often by another right-handed reliever, Jeff Nelson. Bautista bought the bait and headed to second. Robertson had him dead to rights, but he threw the ball into the outfield. That allowed Davis to score and Bautista to make second. He eventually scored on a two-out single to left by Juan Rivera.

In Robertson’s defense, he was attempting to control the running game, which the Blue Jays have stepped up under new manager John Farrell. Toronto entered the game with 24 stolen bases – twice as many as the Yankees – in 25 games. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had said before the game that keeping an eye on Jays base runners was vital. Robertson tried and almost succeeded.

Yanks clinched trying to clinch

For so long we heard about how the Yankees were playing not for the American League East title and not just to clinch a post-season berth, which seemed inevitable only four short days ago. Mariano Rivera was even quoted in the New York Post as saying that the players would not celebrate clinching a playoff spot but to wait until they had clinched the division title.

It is beginning to look as if they wait that long the Yankees would sip any champagne at all.

That was the situation they found themselves in Saturday night after a second straight loss to the Red Sox following two straight losses to the Rays, who have overtaken the Yankees for the AL East lead and are amid playing a string of games against last-place teams while the Bombers are matched against their hated rivals this weekend and next with a stop in unfriendly Toronto in between.

Saturday’s game followed the same pattern as Friday night’s. The Yankees fell behind by a lot early and had to claw back into the game while counting on the second tier of the bullpen to keep matters close. It didn’t work either time.

Not even a pep talk from Tony Dungy could help. I must say that I was a bit skeptical about that. Yankees manager Joe Girardi is a long-time admirer of Dungy and was gratified to have the former NFL coach and current TV analyst say a few words, which centered on the attributes of family, faith and sticking together as a team when the going gets rough.

I admit I don’t know all that much about pro football, but I seem to remember that Dungy was the coach of a Colts team that had a chance to run the table a few years ago but tanked the last game to have players fresh for the playoffs. Was that justified when they won it all? Not to me. Did the Colts win the Super Bowl because they had rested players or BECAUSE THEY HAD PEYTON MANNING?

At least Dungy’s Indianapolis football players had their playoff berth clinched before taking a blow in the final game. The Yankees haven’t clinched anything, although we all know it would take a miracle for the Red Sox to get back into the wild-card mix. Despite winning the past two nights, they are still 5 games behind the Yankees with eight to play.

Yet the reason for that partially has been the Yankees’ lack of going for the jugular by using lineups minus resting veterans and not over-taxing bullpen arms. Sunday’s starting pitcher is Dustin Moseley, not Phil Hughes. Girardi defends his maneuvering by saying that he has managed the same way all season. On that score he is correct, and on that defense the Yankees’ case rests.

Yankees fans surely remember the September collapse the team had in 2000 when a pitching staff breakdown led to their losing 15 of their last 18 games and wheezing to the playoffs with 87 victories. That they ended up winning the World Series has been used as a sign of encouragement for the fans.

But this is a different team – older at many of the positions and a pitching staff with as many growing question marks. The wild card may not be the Yankees’ only ticket to the post-season, which would mean needing to have CC Sabathia win two games on the road rather than giving him the luxury of starting at Yankee Stadium where he has been mostly dazzling for two years.

CC won’t like this, by the way, but Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester improved his Cy Young Award credentials with seven shutout innings in improving his record to 19-8 with a 2.96 ERA.

What seems missing in this series from the Yankees is the passion and grit of a team trying to nail down a playoff spot.

Who knows? Maybe it’s contagious. In the seventh inning, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli leaned over the railing of the Red Sox dugout to try for a foul ball. Cervelli would have crashed to the floor but was held up by Boston pitching coach John Farrell, catcher Victor Martinez and outfielder Daniel Nava. Martinez then lifted Cervelli back onto the field unharmed.

Somehow, I don’t think the Red Sox of old would have done that for Thurman Munson.

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