Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Niese ’
For a while there, it looked as if Frank Francisco would not get into Friday night’s game. He is the Mets closer with the big mouth, the guy who before the Subway Series called the Yankees “chickens,” as quoted in the New York Post. Some of the Mets had fun with this, playing “The Chicken Dance” and other poultry-related tunes in the clubhouse before the game.
To their credit, the Yankees did not overreact to the charge, which Francisco based on his belief that the Yankee complain about everything. That’s rich. He plays for a team that tried to stick their own hero, third baseman David Wright, with an error on an official scoring change in an effort to get R.A. Dickey a no-hitter. Even Dickey was embarrassed by such a bush maneuver. Thank goodness Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations, upheld the original ruling.
The chances that Francisco would get into the game looked pretty slim after the Mets broke out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and were up, 6-2, through seven. But Robinson Cano’s two-run home run in the eighth off Miguel Batista made it a two-run game, creating a save opportunity for Francisco.
The righthander had also said that he looked forward to striking out the side against them, which he apparently he did once some years ago. Francisco did manage to chalk up his 18th save in the Mets’ 6-4 victory, but there was nothing chicken-livered about the Yankees’ at-bats that inning.
Francisco got a huge boost from his center fielder, Andres Torres, who made a sensational running catch to rob Russell Martin of a potential extra-base hit at the start of the inning. The play loomed large when Francisco walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez and gave up a lightning bolt of a single to left by Derek Jeter.
The one strikeout Francisco got that inning was indeed impressive, locking up Curtis Granderson on a 95-mph fastball. Francisco hit 95 on the gun twice more against Mark Teixeira, who made the last out on a pop to shortstop.
The Yankees’ third straight inter-league loss this week was particularly bitter because of the opponent, but Yankees fans can come away with some satisfaction that their team did not go down quietly. Plenty of other clubs might have folded up after trailing by five runs in the first inning, especially when opposing pitcher Jonathan Niese was throwing so well.
They used their greatest ally – the long ball – to make a game of it. Solo shots by Alex Rodriguez in the sixth and Andruw Jones in the seventh plus Cano’s bomb in the eighth had the Mets reeling after they had failed to knock out Pettitte, who tagged on five shutout innings after the first.
Wright doubled in the Mets’ only run after that first inning, and he was doubled up after a diving catch by Jones off a Scott Hairston liner in the seventh. Yes, it was a tough loss for the Yankees, but they did not complain about it.
The Yankees were reminded of life without Mariano Rivera Sunday. Rafael Soriano, who is filling in for Mo as the Yankees’ closer while the best ever at that job prepares for right knee surgery this week, suffered his first blown save. Soriano, who was 9-for-9 in save opportunities, failed to protect a 4-3 lead over the Mets that had been hard-earned by the Yankees with a pair of late-inning rallies.
Doubles by Lucas Duda and Ike Davis tied the score, but Jayson Nix and Boone Logan teamed to prevent the Mets from going ahead. The game was not deadlocked for long. Russell Martin, whose bat has awakened this month, completed the Yankees’ sweep with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off Jon Rauch.
It was the second homer of the game for Martin, who had 7-for-19 (.368) with four home runs and eight RBI in 19 at-bats on the homestand. Over his past 12 games since May 25, Martin has hit .342 with four doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI in raising his season average from .173 to .216.
The workmanlike effort of Andy Pettitte aside, Sunday was looking like the Mets’ day in the finale of the Subway Series. A glaring error by Robinson Cano helped fuel a three-run rally for the Mets in the second inning, and those runs were holding up behind the equally strong work of Mets starter Jonathan Niese.
The Yankees were hitless in five at-bats and grounded into three double plays until they finally broke through with two out in the seventh. An errant throw by third baseman David Wright was just enough of an opening.
In the Mets dugout, manager Terry Collins recalled saying to himself, “This isn’t good, not here.”
Here, of course, is Yankee Stadium where a home run is sometimes only a routine fly ball away, such as the one Martin hit immediately after the error. The ball went over the glove of right fielder Scott Hairston, hit the very top of the fence and fell into the hands of a fan in the first row.
By that slimmest of margins, the Yankees were back in the game, thanks to two unearned runs. Pettitte had pitched to the minimum number of batters from the third through the sixth to keep the Yankees within reach. A scoreless inning apiece from Clay Rapada and Cory Wade put the Yankees in position to come back. The Mets’ bullpen was not as effective.
Again, it was a Mets error that got them in trouble as the Yankees struck for two runs off Bobby Parnell in the eighth to take the lead. Shortstop Omar Quintanilla failed to glove a slow roller by Derek Jeter, who was credited with a single but hustled into second base on the misplay.
Curtis Granderson, who had homered off Parnell Saturday night, drilled a tracer of a single to left, a ball struck so hard that Jeter was held at third base by coach Rob Thompson. It proved a momentary pause. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground single to center that scored Jeter with the tying run. The go-ahead run came in on a flare single to right by Alex Rodriguez. That was his 1,918th career run batted in, putting him in seventh place on the all-time list.
“I’ve said all along that we are not a team that can afford to make mistakes,” Collins said, “not against good teams like the New York Yankees.”
The Yankees could have used some more runs, but lefthander Tim Byrdak got Cano on a fielder’s choice and Nick Swisher on a fly to right before Rauch struck out pinch hitter Raul Ibanez.
The Mets probably felt the same away about the ninth. Instead of sacrificing Davis to third, Collins allowed Quintanilla to swing away, an option he allows hitters in that spot because the object is to get the runner at second to third, so any ball hit to the right side will do. Quintanilla did not pull the ball, however, but hit a grounder to the left of the mound that Nix, spelling Jeter at shortstop, gloved and then threw to third base to nail Davis, not a swift runner.
“I’m never surprised when Nix makes a heads-up play,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You see him every day working out at third base, shortstop, second base, left field. I haven’t used him in right field yet, but who knows? We’re going to two National League cities on this trip.”
After Daniel Murphy singled Quintanilla to third, Girardi decided to lift Soriano for Logan, who got a big strikeout of pinch hitter Josh Thole looking and got Kirk Neuwenhuis on a grounder to second.
“It has to come from different players every day,” Girardi said about contributions from players. “It comes from different guys in different ways.”
The various contributions made it a very satisfying weekend for the Yankees, who won New York bragging rights and earned a huge boost in confidence as they veer into the unfamiliar NL territories of Atlanta and Washington, D.C.