Results tagged ‘ Juan Bautista ’

With Ellsbury out, Yanks’ attack toothless

In the bottom of the first inning Saturday at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, Michael Pineda gave up a two-run home run to Jose Bautista on a 0-2 pitch. As former sportscaster Warner Wolf used to say, “You could have turned your set off right there.”

The way the game began is the way it ended, 2-0 for the Blue Jays, who went back above .500 (68-67), and a major downer for the Yankees, who managed merely one hit and one threat over the course of nine innings and need a victory in Sunday’s finale for a winning trip.

Probably not coincidental was that the Yankees’ lineup was minus Jacoby Ellsbury, their hottest hitter. The center fielder sprained his left ankle Friday night while sliding home into an out in the ninth inning. His ankle apparently slammed into a shinguard of catcher Dioner Navarro. Ellsbury played the field in the bottom of the ninth but was too sore to play Saturday. Whether he can return to the lineup Sunday remains to be seen.

Ellsbury has struggled on the road much of the season but not during this trip through Kansas City, Detroit and Toronto. He is batting .440 with six runs, one triple, four home runs, nine RBI and two stolen bases in 25 at-bats. Over his past 11 games and 44 at-bats, Ellsbury is batting .455 with eight runs, one double, one triple, four homers,11RBI and six stolen bases.

Yet as several players pointed out to reporters in the clubhouse afterwards, the loss of one player should not shut down a whole team. Drew Hutchison, who had lost three of his four stars with a 7.08 ERA this year against the Yankees entering the game, did not allow a base runner until two out in the fourth inning when he hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch. Mark Teixeira doubled to right-center, which turned out to be the Yankees’ only hit. Hutchison loaded the bags when he struck Brian McCann with a pitch, but Martin Prado flied out to center.

And that was that. The Yankees had only two base runners after that, both on walks. It was a tough fate for Pineda, who gave the Yankees another fine outing. The righthander pitched two batters into the seventh inning and gave up seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. In four starts since missing 86 games because of a right shoulder injury, Pineda is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA, one walk and 15 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.

Surrendering a home run to Bautista is no great crime. The Jays right fielder has 28 of them this year and has homered in each of his past four games. It was also his 23rd career home run against the Yankees. Pineda got in trouble in the seventh after yielding a single to Edwin Encarnacion and a double to Navarro. But Shawn Kelley came to the rescue by striking out Danny Valencia and getting Kevin Pillar on a grounder and Jose Reyes on a fly ball. David Huff also supplied a shutout inning of relief, but the offense was shut out for nine.

This important trip has had its highs and lows, among them the setback in his desire to pitch again this season for Masahiro Tanaka. He pitched a simulated game Thursday in Detroit and was sent back to New York after reporting general arm soreness, which is not unusual in recovery situations such as his. The one positive element is that the soreness was not related to his elbow that was treated for a partial ligament tear. Just the same, odds of his pitching at all for the Yanks this season were greatly reduced.

Cooler heads prevail

Curious as to what Yankees manager Joe Girardi and catcher Russell Martin were talking to plate umpire Tom Hallion about after the Blue Jays’ Juan Bautista greeted reliever Rafael Soriano with a home run, his 40th, into the left field bleachers in the eighth inning Sunday?

It turns out that Martin disputed some of Hallion’s calls in the Bautista at-bat. Girardi joined the conversation to make sure Martin did not get ejected. Players and managers are not allowed to question balls and strikes. Plenty of umps with short fuses take no guff at all and throw them out of the game.

Hallion, however, kept his cool. He let Martin have his say and didn’t run him.

“I give Tommy credit for not tossing Russell out,” Girardi said. “Russell disagreed with a couple of calls. They discussed it, and we went forward from there. It turned out to be a good situation.”

Yanks too much for sloppy Brew Crew

The Zack Greinke the Yankees faced Tuesday night was not the Zack Greinke who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009. Now in the National League with the Brewers, Greinke went into the game with a good record – 7-2 – but a poor ERA – 4.77 – which only got worse – 5.63 – after his two dreadful innings.

The Yankees had success against Greinke in his years with Kansas City when he was 2-3 with a 5.27 ERA against them, but Tuesday night was simply ridiculous. They knocked him out with seven runs on five hits and three walks in two innings. Greinke also hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and gave up a well-struck home run to Nick Swisher, who has been on fire lately.

The first inning was truly bizarre. Greinke began it by hitting Brett Gardner with a pitch. Curtis Granderson followed with a fly ball that center fielder Nyjer Morgan misplayed into a triple. Morgan turned the wrong way and then tripped as the ball fell free without his touching it. The Brewers played the infield back conceding the second run as Granderson scored on a grounder to second by Mark Teixeira.

Milwaukee next applied a shift defense against Alex Rodriguez with the second baseman, Rickie Weeks, playing behind the bag. This didn’t make sense to me since A-Rod has been hitting the ball to the right side quite a bit lately. Sure enough, he hit a grounder to the right side for a gift single.

One out later, the Yankees had the bases loaded after a walk to Swisher and a weird fielder’s choice on a grounder inside third by Jorge Posada. Third baseman Casey McGehee made a diving, back-handed stop but instead of going straight to the bag for the third out on a force he tried to tag Rodriguez, who eluded him and arrived safely.

Greinke avoided further damage when Russell Martin flied out to end the inning, but the Yanks started up quickly again in the second. Eduardo Nunez led off with a single. Gardner won a nine-pitch at-bat and walked. The two pulled off a double steal. Teixeira got his second RBI grounder, which was the second out, but Greinke couldn’t finish the inning off. He walked A-Rod, gave up a run-scoring single to Robinson Cano and grooved a 2-0 fastball to Swisher, who connected for his 10th home run.

Swish hit .213 with three home runs and 20 RBI over the first two months of the season in 169 at-bats. His low point was May 27 when he was batting .204. In 29 games since then, Swish has batted .320 with 14 runs, 8 doubles, 8 home runs, 23 RBI and 23 walks in 97 at-bats. The switch-hitter had been atrocious from the left side, but he has gradually worked those stats up to where he is finally over .200 (.211) with 7 home runs and 29 RBI in 175 at-bats.

Swisher, who got a fourth RBI with a double in the eighth, was active on both sides of the field Tuesday night. He threw out Corey Hart trying to score to end the sixth and was part of another inning-ending play in which a Brewers runner, Mat Gamel, was thrown out on the bases in the fourth.

After getting two RBI on balls that did not leave the infield, Teixeira picked up two more RBI in the sixth on a ball that left the yard, for his 24th home run. That kept Tex in a tie for the home run lead with the Blue Jays’ Juan Bautista, who also slugged his 24th at Toronto.

The Yankees poured it on to the extent that by the seventh when he was trailing, 11-2, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke started emptying his bench. So did Yanks manager Joe Girardi. That same inning, Hector Noesi took over for Freddy Garcia and threw 34 pitches – 24 combined to only two batters. Jonathan Lucroy got a well-earned single in a 13-pitch at-bat, and Noesi struck out Weeks on the 11th pitch of that at-bat.

There was plenty of weird stuff to go around in this one, but it was a great night all around for the Yankees, who pushed their lead in the AL East to 1 ½ games over the Red Sox, who were shut out by Cliff Lee at Philadelphia, and moved to a season-high 15 games over .500.

Last week of All-Star voting

The Yankees are still leading in five positions of the American League voting for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. There are eight days remaining in the balloting for fans to make sure a large contingent of Yankees players qualify for the AL starting lineup.

Second baseman Robinson Cano is the second leading vote-getter among AL players with 3,664,498 behind only Blue Jays right fielder Juan Bautista (4,156,940). Cano’s lead is more than a million votes over runner-up Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox.

Also leading in the infield are shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Despite being on the disabled list since June 14, Jeter has totaled 2,654,040 and is ahead of the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera (2,242,157). A-Rod has 2,876,537 votes and leads by more than half a million over the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (2,307,380).

Curtis Granderson ranks second among the outfielders with 3,473,227 votes, followed by the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton (2,400,408). Granderson has more than 1.2 million more votes than fourth-place Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox for one of the three starting spots. Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner are eighth and ninth, respectively, among the outfielders.

The other position leader for the Yankees is catcher Russell Martin with 2,226,797, leading the Tigers’ Alex Avila (1,730,511).

Mark Teixeira was leading early in the voting at first base but has since been passed by the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, who continues to lead, 3,017,960 to 2,407,665. Jorge Posada (1,120,830) is running a distant third in the designated hitter voting behind leader David Ortiz (3,116,578) of the Red Sox and runner-up Michael Young (1,760,195) of the Rangers.

Fans may cast their votes for starters up to 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and Yankees.com – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint, which offers English- and Spanish-language versions of the online ballot as well as audio CAPTCHA functionality for the visually impaired.

When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes Friday, June 24, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com and Yankees.com until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 30.

Tex and Grandy making like Rog and Mick

Shades of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, the Yankees have two players battling each other for the home run title. With his 31st career multi-home run game, Mark Teixeira moved into a three-way tie with teammate Curtis Granderson and Blue Jays right fielder Juan Bautista for first place in the American League homer race.

Teixeira connected from both sides of the plate Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 12-4 victory over the Rangers. It marked the 11th time he has done that, tying Hall of Famer Eddie Murray and Chili Davis for the most in major-league history. Since the other two are retired, Teixeira has a good chance to take sole control of this record at some point.

That Teixeira is a contender for the home run title is no surprise. He tied the Rays’ Carlos Pena for the league lead in his first year with the Yankees in 2009 with 39 and his as many as 43 one year, in 2005 for the Rangers. Bautista, of course, led the AL a year ago with 54 homers, so he is no stranger to this activity.

But Granderson? Sure, he has shown muscle at the plate in the past. He had a career-high 30 homers in his last year with the Tigers in 2009 and despite a slow start with the Yankees a year ago managed to swat 24. That Granderson is already at 21 a month before the All-Star break is simply amazing.

Tex and Grandy are on a 52-homer pace. The Yankees haven’t had a player hit more than 50 homers in one year since that magical season 50 years ago when Maris slugged 61 and Mantle 54. The 1961 Yankees hit 240 home runs, which stood as the major-league record for 35 years.

With five more jacks, the 2011 Yankees have 103 in 66 games. That’s a pace of 252, which would top the club record of 244 in 2009, the first season of the new Yankee Stadium.

All four Yankees infielders homered in this one, an oddity in itself and especially because two of those infielders were not Alex Rodriguez, who was the designated hitter, or Derek Jeter, who is on the disabled list. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez and third baseman Ramiro Pena joined Teixeira and second baseman Robinson Cano in the home run derby.

The Yankees have been particularly powerful against the Rangers this year with 22 home runs, including six by Granderson and four by Teixeira, in eight games. Granderson did not go deep Wednesday night, but he made an outstanding defensive play in the sixth inning by throwing out Yorvit Torrealba at the plate from center field.

It was a close game at that point, the Yankees holding a 6-4 lead. Had Torrealba been safe, it would have been a one-run game with the potential tying run on third base and Josh Hamilton up. That can get lost when the score turns into 12-4, which happens when a lot of batted balls go over the fence.

One goal achieved, one to go

Okay, now Yankees manager Joe Girardi can rest all the regulars he wants and not have to hear any questions about it. The American League East title is still the Yankees’ ultimate goal, but they have clinched a playoff spot, which is the first step.

Now it’s strictly between them and the Rays, who also clinched a post-season berth and remained a half-game ahead of the Yankees in first place, to determine the division championship. The Red Sox are officially out of the picture after having threatened to get back into the wild-card mix as recently as last Saturday night.

All year long, Girardi has said the Yankees and Tampa Bay would take this race down to the wire, so here they are. The Yankees placed their foot on the accelerator Sunday night by starting Phil Hughes over Dustin Moseley and overcoming a blown save opportunity by the normally invincible Mariano Rivera by returning the favor to Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon.

After hitting a pothole Monday night in Toronto, the Yankees rode the reliable left arm of AL Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia Tuesday night to win handily against the Blue Jays with Rivera returning to form by nailing down the final two outs.

An indication of how much the Yankees wanted to erase that magic number came in the third inning when Nick Swisher, who has whacked 28 home runs this season, laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Derek Jeter to third base. The captain led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Kyle Drabek. Swish’s bunt made it possible for Mark Teixeira to score Jeter with a fly ball.

Up by four runs in the ninth and with runners on first and second with none out, Brett Gardner bunted down the third base line for a single that loaded the bases. It led to a score on Greg Golson’s first career run batted in.

This was 1960s National League stuff. The Yankees were not going to rely on the long ball, not against a Toronto club that leads the majors in home runs. In fact, the Yankees did not have an RBI hit in the game. Their six runs were the result of three sacrifice flies (Teixeria, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano), a fielder’s choice (Jeter), an infield out (Golson) and a bases-loaded walk (Rodriguez).

Sabathia personified the staff ace with 8 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit, eight-strikeout pitching to improve his record to 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA. Travis Snider’s 12th home run was the lone blemish. No other Blue Jays hitter got to second base until the ninth inning when Snider singled and Yunel Escobar walked. CC kept Juan Bautista in the yard for the first out before Girardi brought in Mo to finish it off.

Rivera had said last week that he didn’t think the Yankees would overdo it celebrating clinching a post-season berth. Wrong. The champagne and beer were spraying in the visitors’ clubhouse at Rogers Centre after the game. It was only a sip, however. The rest of the week will determine whether the Yankees will be able to gulp by taking the AL East title.

Burnett unfixable at this point

The drill has been going on since June when A.J. Burnett’s season began to come apart. His stuff is too good for him not to be able to turn it around, so many people around the Yankees kept saying. Except for a brief period in June, it has been the same, tortuous trek for a pitcher the Yankees have invested $82.5 million over a five-year contract that is in its second year.

It’s a good thing the Yankees pulled out that victory Sunday night against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium or there would have been a lot more hand wringing around the team Monday night at Rogers Centre while watching Burnett get torched often and early in another horrible outing.

About the only positive for Burnett was keeping fence-buster Juan Bautista in the yard, although the slugger knocked in Toronto’s first run with an infield out in the first inning. A leadoff home run by John Buck in the second was an ominous sign, and matters got really ugly in the third.

A.J. opened the inning with a walk and a hit batter, and one out later surrendered a bomb of a three-run home run to Vernon Wells, the first of four straight well-struck hits that knocked Burnett out of the game. It continued a messy string of 11 starts for the righthander over the past two months in which he had pitched to a 6.98 ERA allowing 46 earned runs, 70 hits and 26 walks in 59 1/3 innings. He is 1-7 and the Yankees 2-9 in those starts.

The Yankees didn’t do much but strike out early on. Blue Jays starter Marc Rzepczynski, who was racked by the Yankees in two previous starts (14.14 ERA), had nine punchouts over the first four innings. A two-run home run by Curtis Granderson in the fifth off Rzepczynski and a three-run shot by Mark Teixeira in the seventh off Brian Tallet were still not enough to lift the Yankees out of the seven-run hole in which Burnett dumped them.

You hear people say that the Yankees need to straighten Burnett out, but isn’t it a bit late for that? What can possibly happen in one more start to make anyone think that the team won’t be walking a tightrope with Burnett in the post-season, which is just around the corner?

The Yankees will not have the luxury of a year ago in getting away with three starters for the duration. They will need four this time. Burnett was one of the three lasts year and had a huge victory in Game 2 of the World Series after the Phillies had beaten CC Sabathia in Game 1.

Monday night was a big game, too. The Yankees could have moved back into first place over the Rays, losers at home to the Orioles. Burnett came up small again. It is almost unfathomable to believe a starter on this team can have a 10-15 record, but only if you have not watched Burnett pitch.

Plenty of blame to go around

The easy thing to do would be to blame the Yankees’ 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays Friday on the three right-handed relievers who couldn’t get the job done and continue to make manager Joe Girardi long for the hopeful return of Alfredo Aceves, who is on the disabled list because of a back ailment.

Joba Chamberlain, who suffered his second blown save of the season in the eighth, and David Robertson and Chan Ho Park, who were torched for five runs in the 11th, certainly had a hand in letting Toronto end a five-game losing streak, but this game would have gotten nowhere near extra innings if the Yankees hit the ball just a little.

They managed only five hits, all singles, in 11 innings, and none of them had anything to do with the run they scored. A return to form by A.J. Burnett had that run hold up for seven innings before Chamberlain opened the gates for the Blue Jays to come back.

Toronto starter Brett Cecil had been almost as bad as Burnett lately with three straight losses and a 9.19 ERA in 15 2/3 innings. Yet the lefthander spun off the ropes repeatedly despite six walks in six innings. The Yankees’ first two batters of the game walked, and an infield out and a fly ball by Thursday’s hero, Alex Rodriguez, made it 1-0.

The third inning proved the killer for the Yanks. After a leadoff single by Derek Jeter, Cecil walked Nick Swisher on four pitches and Mark Teixeira on five. A-Rod and Robinson Cano awaited and a huge inning could have been expected. Instead, Cecil came up huge by striking both of them out and then getting Jorge Posada on a ground ball.

“We had a great opportunity in the third but didn’t cash in,” Girardi said. “That was the difference in the game.”

Toronto was doing a pretty good imitation by stranding 11 base runners in regulation, but this is a lineup whose 5- and 6-hole hitters, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, are toeing the Mendoza line. Yet their hits off Chamberlain with two out in the eighth manufactured the tying run.

Joba, whose ERA is 5.40, caught a big break when left fielder Brett Gardner banged into the left field wall to rob Alex Gonzalez of an extra-base hit. Chamberlain celebrated that by walking Juan Bautista after having been ahead 0-2 in the count. Joba got Vernon Wells on a fly to right, then surrendering a ground single to center by Lind and a well-struck single to left by Hill.

Chamberlain heard plenty of boos as he came off the field at the end of the inning, and the crowd had more in store for Robertson and Park when matters got gross in the 11th. Robertson allowed three hits and an intentional walk, and all four runners scored. Park walked Wells with the bags full forcing in a run and gave up a bases-clearing triple to DeWayne Wise, batting average .211.

“I don’t think I am struggling,” Park told reporters after the game as if a 6.66 ERA isn’t a pretty good indication. He is not alone above 6.00 in ERA. Robertson’s went to 6.15.

As unsightly as those figures are, it bears repeating that there would not have been so tender a margin for error if the Yankees didn’t display such an offensive offense. And it is not a one-game thing. They are hitless in their past 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position and are 2-for-25 (.080) in those situations on the homestand. They went down in order the last four innings and after a one-out single in the eighth by Nick Swisher made 14 consecutive outs.

Blame could not be confined to the bullpen.

Stopper Vazquez

Whoa, get a load at who the Yankees’ stopper is – none other than the much-maligned Javier Vazquez.

The righthander fit the mold of the starting pitcher who stops losing streaks Sunday with a one-hit performance over seven innings in a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays to avoid a series sweep the day after a 14-inning loss. Javy needed help. The hit he yielded was a two-run home run to Vernon Wells in the sixth. The Yankees had to come to his aid, which they did in the eighth against a Toronto bullpen that had kept them scoreless for seven innings in the series.

The Blue Jays have had trouble holding leads this year, and that inning was an example of their problems. So it was a satisfying combination for the Yankees as the offense came alive to reward a starter who pitched well enough to give the team a chance to win.

Vazquez walked four batters, but only one was damaging, the two-out pass to Adam Lind that preceded Wells’ 15th home run and the 97th of the season for Toronto. Javy bounced back with a strikeout of AL home-run leader Juan Batista to end the sixth and followed that with a 1-2-3 seventh. He is back at .500 with a 5-5 record and is bringing that ERA down to earth at 5.63.

This is the same Vazquez who was skipped twice in the rotation to avoid pitching against the Yankees’ other AL East rivals, the Red Sox and the Rays, after that disastrous first outing April 9 at Tampa Bay (eight earned runs in 5 2/3 innings). He has now won his past two appearances against AL East teams, Sunday against the Jays and May 17 against Boston at Yankee Stadium when he came out of the bullpen for a rally-killing strikeout of Kevin Youkilis.

Back in the real AL East

After a 6-1 homestand against two last-place teams, the Yankees were thrust back into the American League East rumble Friday night under the dome of Rogers Centre. This time the numbers 6-1 reflected the final score that did not go the Yankees’ way.

It was the Yankees’ first up-close look at Toronto, the latest point in a season that these teams faced each other for the first time. The Blue Jays have been bludgeoning the ball, and Friday night was no different. A.J. Burnett was reached for three home runs, two by league leader Juan Bautista, one of the surprise stories of the year.

The two bombs, which raised his season total to 18, was part of a perfect night for Bautista, who also walked and doubled, scored three runs and drove in three. Bautista never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, which he did in 2006 with the Pirates. Last year, he hit 13, but 10 came in September and October. Bautista was just as powerful the first two months of this year as he was the last two months of 2009.

The other Toronto home run was by Edwin Encarnacion, the 9-hole batter who is batting .210 but has eight home runs. The Jays have a few guys handing around the Mendoza line – Lyle Overbay .224, Adam Lind .218, Aaron Hill .198 – but they are hitting the long ball. Toronto’s 94 home runs lead the AL by a 17-jake margin over the runner-up Red Sox. By contrast, the Yankees have 61 home runs, none Friday night.

Burnett has a history of success at Rogers Centre with an overall record of 22-10 there, but it was 22-8 before he returned there wearing a Yankees uniform. He is 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in two starts for the Yankees there this year and last.

Lefthander Brett Cecil, a Maryland native who grew up a Yankees fan and admirer of Andy Pettitte, stared over his glove for eight innings and allowed one tainted run and five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The Yankees might have been shut out if Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells hadn’t played Chad Moeller’s flare to center from a single into a double. Moeller eventually scored from third base on a double play.

This was a much different Cecil than the Yankees saw last year when they tagged the lefthander for 10 earned runs, 16 hits including three home runs, and eight walks in eight innings for an 11.25 ERA. Cecil is now 6-2 with a 3.43 ERA and the top winner on an impressive rotation that includes two other five-game winners, Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero, who will start Saturday.

The Jays’ problem of late has been closing games. They blew two ninth-inning leads to Tampa Bay earlier this week. Jason Frasor had a five-run cushion in the ninth and withstood a leadoff walk to preserve the victory. The final out was a fly to left by Robinson Cano, who also struck out twice and fouled out as his 17-game hitting streak ended.

Toronto’s 10-9 record against AL East teams features a 6-0 mark against the Orioles, so the Jays have feasted off Baltimore pitching as much as the Yankees, who definitely had a wakeup call Friday night. They are back in the real AL East, not for what passes for it these days at Camden Yards.

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