Results tagged ‘ Josh Tomlin ’

Yanks need more than A-Rod’s power

Two nights ago, one home run by Alex Rodriguez was enough for the Yankees to win a game. Thursday night, one homer by A-Rod was not enough, although he provided the bulk of the offense in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.

In Monday night’s victory over the Twins, Rodriguez turned things around with his 25th career grand slam. The bases were empty in the fourth inning when he homered off Josh Tomlin, which they were often against the journeyman righthander, 30, coming back from shoulder surgery. The Yankees had only other hit off Tomlin in seven innings, a leadoff double in the third by Chase Headley, who was stranded.

Rodriguez triggered a ninth-inning rally as the Yanks threatened to pull this one out. He led off against closer Cody Allen with a single, and when the reliever did not pay attention to him at first base A-Rod swiped second.

Allen got a big strikeout of Brian McCann, who disputed the call but not as much as manager Joe Girardi, who took up the beef and got ejected for the third time this season. Plate umpire Dan Iassogna actually ran Girardi before the skipper even opened his mouth. Girardi then made sure he got his money’s worth.

In truth, the breaking ball Allen threw for the third strike on McCann was over the plate. Girardi’s argument indicated that he was more upset with Iassogna over a called third strike on Jacoby Ellsbury the previous inning on a pitch from righthander Bryan Shaw that video replays revealed was clearly off the outside corner of the plate. Girardi made a line in that area in the right-handed batter’s box to demonstrate to Iassogna where he thought the pitch was.

Carlos Beltran followed the McCann strikeouts with a solid single through the shift into right field to score Rodriguez and make it a one-run game. A walk to Greg Bird pushed pinch runner Chris Young into scoring position and put the potential winning run on base.

Those runners advanced when first baseman Carlos Santana bobbled a potential double-play grounder by Headley and had to settle for one out at first base, but Didi Gregorius could not get the hit the Yankees needed in flying out to left field.

The Yankees have done well against American League Central teams this year with a 17-9 record but continue to have trouble with the Indians, who are 3-1 against them this year. Ivan Nova had control problems and lasted only five innings in which he gave up three runs, six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Adam Warren and Chris Capuano supplied two shutout innings of relief apiece, but the Yanks ultimately fell a run short.

2 ex-Yanks beat former mates

A couple of former Yankees combined to beat their old team Monday night at Cleveland in a 6-3 Indians victory that was a scoreless pitching duel for six innings between A.J. Burnett and the Tribe’s Josh Tomlin.

The key hits in Cleveland’s four-run seventh inning were an RBI single by Shelley Duncan and a three-run home run by Austin Kearns.

Duncan, son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, played in 68 games over the 2007, ’08 and ’09 seasons with the Yankees and batted .219 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI in 146 at-bats. Kearns was a mid-season acquisition by the Yankees last year and hit .235 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI in 36 games and 102 at-bats. The second of those homers came Aug. 22, and was the last one he hit before Monday night.

An irony is that neither Duncan nor Kearns might have batted that inning had Alex Rodriguez or Brett Gardner been able to catch a foul ball near the left field line by Lonnie Chisenhill. There were two outs and a runner on second base with Burnett holding a 2-0 lead when Chisenhill hit the foul ball.

A-Rod, running with his back to the infield, seemed to have a beat on the ball, so Gardner sort of backed off, but the ball fell free. Chisenhill eventually walked, Burnett’s second base on balls of the inning. That brought up Duncan, who won a seven-pitch at-bat with a flare single to right that made the score 2-1. Burnett lost the lead when he grooved a 1-0 fastball to Kearns, who crushed the pitch and drove it through the wind blowing in from right field at Progressive Field.

It marked the second straight game when a fielding miscue factored in a Yankees loss. An error by shortstop Ramiro Pena proved costly in the Yankees’ 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Mets Sunday at Citi Field.

Curtis Granderson made it a one-run game in the eighth with his 23rd home run, but Corey Wade gave up his first runs as a Yankee in eight games in the bottom half when he gave up a single to Travis Hafner and a home run to Carlos Santana.

It was a whole different game over the first six innings. Tomlin, who improved his record to 10-4, had a no-hitter through six that was broken up by Mark Teixeira’s leadoff single in the seventh. Nick Swisher followed a one-out, infield single by Robinson Cano with a double to left-center for two runs. The Yankees failed to get Swisher home as Jorge Posada and Russell Martin both grounded out.

Burnett entered the seventh working on a two-hit shutout with both hits by All Star Game-bound shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. A.J. seemed more upset after the game about the two walks in the seventh rather than the two hits. He was right, too. Those hits became productive for the Indians because of the walks.

It was a disappointing return for Derek Jeter, who was hitless in four at-bats and remains at 2,994 for his career.

Jeter tested immediately

It didn’t take Derek Jeter very long Monday to test his right calf in his first game back since he strained it June 13 and wound up on the disabled list. Returning to his familiar leadoff spot for the Yankees, Jeter had to run hard right away as he sped to first base after hitting a dribbler near the third base line.

Jeter made it down the first base line without difficulty and reached base, although he did not reduce the number he needs to get to 3,000. His career figure remained at 2,994 because Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was correctly charged with an error for bobbling the ball.

There had been some speculation that Yankees manager Joe Girardi might keep Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching and bat Jeter second, which he did earlier this year in an experiment that was eventually abandoned. Gardner had alternated with Nick Swisher as a leadoff hitter in Jeter’s absence.

The Indians started a righthander, Josh Tomlin, but Girardi had Jeter leading off and Gardner batting ninth. The early-season experiment was done before Curtis Granderson had gotten off to his big start. To have batted Gardner first and Jeter second Monday night would have meant that Granderson would have had to bat lower in the order, which doesn’t make sense now that he has locked himself in as the Yanks’ 2-hole hitter.

Building blocks instead of stumbling blocks

Is there any way the Yankees could bottle the fifth inning from Sunday’s game and bring it out whenever things are going bad for them? The five-run rally was a classic example of sustained offense, an element that has been in relatively short supply for them this season.

Of course, the Yankees might have to bottle Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin along with it. The righthander, who won his major-league debut against the Yankees with seven strong innings July 27 last year at Progressive Field, was pretty hittable Sunday at Yankee Stadium as he allowed 12 knocks in five innings, half of them in the fifth.

The Yankees have relied heavily on the long ball this season with a major-league leading 95 home runs in 63 games that have accounted for 47 percent of their 2011 run total

They had 18 hits Sunday, appropriately on Bat Day, but no hit went over the fence. A rally such as the one the Yankees manufactured in the fifth to beat the skidding Indians turned what had been a one-run game toward a 9-1 blowout.

Brett Gardner started things off with his second double, showing his usual good hustle out of the box and taking advantage of a somewhat circulatory route taken to the ball by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Derek Jeter, who hit the ball hard his first two times up with nothing to show for it, fouled off a bunt attempt with third baseman Jack Hannahan playing even with the bag. Good idea by DJ, who started thinking right side in the rest of the at-bat to get Gardner to third and did even better by lofting and lofted a single to right field for career hit No. 2,992 that scored Gardner.

The Yanks didn’t stop there. Curtis Granderson, who had four hits but did not add to his home run total of 20, singled to center. After Mark Teixeira was out on an infield fly, Alex Rodriguez doubled over Austin Kearns in left field for a two-run double. A-Rod came home on a single to right by Robinson Cano.

Nick Swisher sent Cano to third with a single past first baseman Matt LaPorta. Jorge Posada, who had two hits and is now batting .226, drove in the fifth run with a fly ball to left field. In the inning, the Yankees had 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position while keeping the line moving.

“That’s how you would draw it up every day, if you could,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We kept putting together good at-bat after good at-bat.”

The Yanks also had 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position in a three-run eighth, again started by Gardner, this time with a triple to left-center. Jeter’s 2,993rd career hit, a single past a tight Cleveland infield and into center field, scored Gardner.

Eduardo Nunez, who ran for Jeter, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Chad Durbin and scored on Granderson’s fourth hit, a single to center. One out later, A-Rod got his third RBI of the game with a single. It would be nice to bottle that inning, too.

Here is one of the great things about Jeter. He is aware how close he is to 3,000 hits and how everyone from his parents on down would love to see him to that milestone at Yankee Stadium. Yet as he showed in each at-bat, Jeter remained a situational hitter. With Gardner in scoring position in the fifth and eight, DJ concentrated on making contact and putting the ball in play.

“My job there is to move the guy over,” Jeter said. “We’re still trying to win games here. The two balls I hit the hardest were caught. All I can do is have a good at-bat and hit the ball hard.”

He has four more games left on this homestand with seven hits to go for 3,000, and with Texas coming to town Tuesday the quality of pitching will definitely improve.

Speaking of quality pitching, how about Freddy Garcia? One start removed from his worst outing of the year (4 earned runs and 4 hits in 1 2/3 innings last Tuesday against the Red Sox, Garcia left Indians on base constantly through his 6 2/3 innings. Cleveland stranded 12 runners in the game, including at least one in each inning, and was hitless in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position, all but one at-bat against Garcia.

That is one area where the veteran righthander has been outstanding. Opponents are batting .198 in 106 at-bats with runners on base and .134 in 67 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Garcia this year.

“In those situations, you have to be able to make a good pitch,” Garcia said. “I had a much better fastball [Sunday], which makes all my other pitches better.”

“He allowed us to build our lead,” Girardi said.

Build was the apt verb.

Go figure

Trying to figure out baseball will drive you nuts. Or drive you broke if you gamble on games. One night after the Yankees could do next to nothing against a pitcher making his major-league debut, they faced the Indians pitcher who represented the franchise in the All-Star Game two weeks ago and knocked him out of the game in the third inning.

The Yankees made Tribe rookie Josh Tomlin look like Bob Feller Tuesday night by scratching for merely one run and three hits in losing to a pitcher starting his first game in the majors for the sixth time in the past seven such occasions. They turned that around Wednesday night and made Fausto Carmona look like Herm Feller (the late Red Sox public address announcer, the only other person named Feller I know) by unloading on him for seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Yankees fans surely remember Carmona. In Game 2 of the 2007 American League Division Series, the infamous game in which a swarm of midges surrounded the infield at Progressive Field, Carmona held the Yankees to one run and three hits in nine innings. Joba Chamberlain, then a rookie, was attacked by the midges in the eighth and gave up the tying run on a wild pitch, his second of the inning. The Indians won in the 11th and went on to take the series in four games.

Carmona entered play Wednesday night on a three-game winning streak with a 2.41 ERA over 18 2/3 innings that improved his record to 10-7, impressive for a club playing .420 ball for the season. Big deal, the Yankees bats said.

Alex Rodriguez set the tone in the first inning, not with his 600th career home run but with a two-out, RBI single that got the Yankees on the board quickly. They followed that with a small-ball second inning in which four singles and a stolen base added up to three runs. Extra-base power showed up in the third – doubles by Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner and a triple by Curtis Granderson – an inning that Carmona could not survive.

After Cano opened the fourth with a home run (No. 19) off reliever Hector Ambriz, Jorge Posada singled, which left Derek Jeter as the only Yankees regular without a hit. Posada was back in the lineup one night after missing a game due to a sore left knee. It turns out that Jorgie has a cyst behind the knee as the result of years of squatting behind the plate, which may reduce even more his time as a catcher, although Posada says that he has been treating the ailment for the past four years.

Posada has already had health issues this year with foot and shoulder injuries. It’s tough to be a catcher at age 38.

35 candles, not 600

The Yankees did their share to help teammate Alex Rodriguez celebrate his 35th birthday with career home run No. 600. They created a dramatic situation Tuesday night at Cleveland’s Progressive Field in the ninth inning wherein A-Rod’s 600th would have tied the score.

In the end, it was another oh-fer for Rodriguez as the wait to become the seventh member of the 600 Home Run Club continues. A-Rod is 0-for-8 in two games at Cleveland, but he wasn’t the only Yankees hitter who suffered Tuesday night against Indians rookie righthander Josh Tomlin, who was making his major-league debut and held the Bombers to one run and three hits in seven-plus innings.

Rodriguez grounded out twice and flied out against Tomlin. Derek Jeter gave A-Rod a fresh count when he tried to steal second base on a 1-2 pitch from Tomlin to Rodriguez and was thrown out for the final out of the inning. That meant A-Rod could start anew against Tomlin in the fifth, but he grounded out.

Tomlin’s efficiency and that of three Tribe relievers nearly prevented Rodriguez from getting a fourth at-bat. Entering the ninth, the Yankees needed two men to get on base for A-Rod to have one more shot provided there were no double plays.

They did just that as Brett Gardner and Jeter singled to put runners on the corners with none out and bring the potential tying run to the plate. Nick Swisher struck out and Mark Teixeira flied out, leaving it up to A-Rod to square things against the Indians with his 600th dinger.

Tribe closer Chris Perez yielded Rodriguez’s 590th homer, a grand slam May 31 at Yankee Stadium, but there was no drama this time. Perez got a called strike one on a fastball, then came back with a slider that A-Rod hit softly on the ground to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who got the last out on a force play at second base.

Rodriguez has now gone 21 at-bats since he reached 599 last Thursday night against the Royals at the Stadium. Is he pressing? Of course. He has a history of this, going long stretches of at-bats as he approaches a milestone. Maybe in this case, however, Rodriguez knows that there is something hollow about this achievement.

Think back to when he hit his 500th career homer August 4, 2007 at the Stadium off Kansas City’s Kyle Davies. The feat was widely applauded, and A-Rod was perceived as the antidote to Barry Bonds. Many fans believed Bonds had surpassed Hank Aaron in home runs with the help of performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez’s pursuit of Bonds’ record was a major part of the contract extension he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2008 season that awards him bonuses on passing certain milestones.

Fast forward to the spring of 2009 when A-Rod admitted that he, too, had used anabolic steroids during his three seasons with the Rangers, and the PED stain fell on him as well. It was to Alex’s credit that he did not smirk at baseball fans as Bonds had done and offered confession. Rodriguez found a new appreciation for the game and performed incredibly last October to earn his first World Series ring. And while his image has been altered to a more positive note because of those accomplishments, the fact that a number of his home runs came under the influence of PEDs cannot be dismissed.

In his Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday at Cooperstown, N.Y., Andre Dawson touched on this issue pointedly when he said, “It bothers me when I hear people knock the game. There’s nothing wrong with the game of baseball. Baseball will from time to time, and like anything else in life, fall victim to the mistakes that people make. It’s not pleasant, and it’s not right. Those mistakes have hurt the game and taken a toll on all of us. Individuals have chosen the wrong road and have chosen that as their legacy. Others still have a chance to choose theirs. Do not be lured to the dark side. It’s a stain on the game, a stain gradually being removed. But that’s the people, not the game. There’s nothing wrong with the game. Never has been. I think people just forget why we ever got involved in the game in the first place. When we were nine of 10 years old, we just loved playing the game. What we found was that if you put your heart into this game, if you love this game, the game will love you back.”

Just the same, the Yankees will be relieved when 600 is come and gone and they can all go about the business of winning games and pennants.