Results tagged ‘ Juan Rivera ’
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.
The groans in the Yankee Stadium crowd of 42,460 started from the moment Juan Rivera’s bat made contact with a 93-mph cutter from Rafael Soriano and the ball made its way toward the outer reaches of right field. With a runner on first base and the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning, fans were fearful that the Blue Jays just might take control of the game.
Rivera’s fly ball didn’t have enough legs, however, as Nick Swisher gloved it on the warning track. Disaster averted. Soriano’s adjustment from closer with the Rays for whom he had a league-high 45 saves last year to setup man with the Yankees has been closely scrutinized, to the point that already it has been suggested in some media circles that maybe manager Joe Girardi should find somebody else for that job.
Yet it is hard to argue with the skipper’s logic that if Soriano is going to get comfortable making the adjustment from ninth-inning specialist to eighth-inning specialist he is going to have to keep pitching in the eighth inning.
Soriano’s scoreless eighth Saturday was one of the important elements of the Yanks’ 5-4 victory Saturday over Toronto. This was one of those games where the Yankees seemed to allow the opposition back into the game.
A.J. Burnett didn’t have much of a breaking ball and had to gut his way through six innings in which he allowed four earned runs and nine hits. He didn’t walk a batter, however, and while the Blue Jays again ran rampant (three more stolen bases, giving them 30 in 27 games), A.J. got one huge out with a pickoff of speedy Rajai Davis at first base.
This came in the fifth inning when it appeared Toronto was working itself back into the game. Rookie second baseman Mike McCoy hit his first major-league home run leading off the inning to trim the Yanks’ lead to 5-3. One of the best plays after a long home run is a bunt, which Davis pulled off nicely.
Burnett is among the easiest pitchers to run against and is not known to have much of a pickoff move, but he looked like a right-handed Andy Pettitte by catching Davis leaning and getting an important first out. The Blue Jays helped the Yankees again in the sixth, A.J.’s last inning, by running into trouble. Rivera got greedy trying to steal third and was gunned down by catcher Russell Martin to complete a strike-‘em-out’-throw-‘em-out double play.
Joba Chamberlain, Soriano and Mariano Rivera (ninth save) took over from there. The Yankees prevailed in that rare game when they did not hit the ball over the fence. This was only the fourth time they have not homered in a game, and they are 2-2 on those occasions. They took advantage of a wild Kyle Drabek (four walks in 2 1/3 innings) and showed some aggressiveness of their own on the bases.
A break-up slide at second base by Eric Chavez in the second inning avoided a double play as the Yankees grabbed the lead with three runs on singles by Martin and Curtis Granderson and a sacrifice fly by Derek Jeter. Robinson Cano, who led off the third with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Chavez.
“I love it when the guys play hard,” Girardi said. “I don’t care how we get runs so long as we get them.”
The play that never works finally worked, and then it didn’t work.
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.
Freddy Garcia’s scoreless string came to an abrupt end in the third inning Friday night at Yankee Stadium. He had pitched 14 innings without yielding a run before Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista creamed a 3-2 slider into the second deck in left field for his ninth home run.
There is no shame for a pitcher to be damaged by Bautista, who led the majors in home runs last year with 54 and is proving that 2010 was no fluke with a continued display of offensive muscle in 2011. Bautista entered the game leading the American League in batting average, home runs, runs, times on base, walks, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS (on-base plus slugging).
Bautista’s two-run shot wiped out a 1-0 Yankees lead achieved on Russell Martin’s two-out double in the second that scored Robinson Cano, who led off the inning by working a walk in a nine-pitch at-bat off Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero.
Garcia struggled with his control. He walked two batters in the second but worked out of a jam and also walked the hitter in front of Bautista in the third. Considering how regularly Bautista loses baseballs, walking the guy ahead of him is not smart. What is smart is walking Bautista on purpose with a runner at second if first base is open. That was what Garcia did in the fourth. It was the 27th walk in April for Bautista, setting a Blue Jays club record for the month.
Quite unintentionally, Garcia walked Adam Lind, which loaded the bases. The Jays already had a run in that inning on the leadoff home run by J.P. Arenicibia. Garcia held the damage to that by striking out Juan Rivera looking at a cut fastball on a 3-2 count. The Blue Jays may have had a 3-1 lead, but it could have been worse. Toronto was hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners in the first four innings.
There isn’t a major-league player who cannot remember everything about his first home run in the big leagues. In the case of Colin Curtis, he will have quite a story to tell years from now.
Okay, so it may not be as hard to believe as the Red Sox’ Daniel Nava hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer June 12, but Curtis will be able to spin a pretty good yard and get his fair share of “I can’t believe it” looks.
There was the rookie outfielder sitting on the bench of the home dugout at Yankee Stadium wondering with the rest of his teammates just what Brett Gardner did to get ejected from the game for beefing to plate umpire Paul Emmel about a called strike in the seventh inning. Emmel was the same ump who threw manager Joe Girardi out of Tuesday night’s game, so this is not the Yankees’ favorite crew.
Curtis was snapped into action by the voice of bench coach Tony Pena, who chirped, “Ready to hit, CC!” I’m just surprised that CC Sabathia, who is always ready to swing a bat, didn’t get to his feet first and volunteer to celebrate his 30th birthday by taking some hacks.
A player sort of knows where he stands on the depth chart when he is the one chosen to pinch hit and inherit a count of no balls and two strikes. Curtis, a testicular cancer survivor, has been a feel-good story for the Yankees this year, but he is a rookie, and this was a situation for a rookie. Man, did he never make the most of it.
Curtis hung tough against Scot Shields and worked the count full before getting a fastball to his liking and driving the ball into the right field stands, a three-run blow that turned a 7-5 score into 10-5 on the way to a 10-6 Yankees victory.
This was a game that the Yankees should have put away but were on the verge of losing several times. Only some uncharacteristically strange base running by the Angels kept them from coming back completely from an early 6-0 deficit. The Halos closed to 6-5 against a withering Javier Vazquez in the sixth on a two-run homer by 2009 World Series hero Hideki Matsui, his second bomb of the series and third at the Stadium this year.
The Angels left the bases loaded that inning against David Robertson with Juan Rivera oddly held at third base on a single by Erick Aybar that should have tied the score. Aybar had pulled a rock on the bases in the fifth. At second base with one out and left-handed hitting Bobby Abreu, who owns Vazquez (.316, 10 homers) at bat, Aybar tried to steal third and was thrown out by a wide margin by Francisco Cervelli, who had a clear shot at the runner.
Los Angeles left the bags full again in the seventh before the Yankees took charge in the bottom half on Juan Miranda’s solo homer that preceded Curtis’ dramatics. And if you don’t think the Yankees wanted this game badly, consider that Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth in a non-save situation with a four-run lead.
Mo preserved the victory for Vazquez, who beat the Angels for his first time in his career to join lefthanders Jamie Moyer of the Phillies and Barry Zito of the Giants as the only active pitchers in the majors to have defeated all 30 clubs. Still, Vazquez lasted merely two batters into the sixth, forcing the bullpen to log four innings, raising its total to 20 over the past four games.
Each team had 15 hits and was 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but the Yankees had one more home run and did not do anything stupid on the basepaths. Robinson Cano was walked twice intentionally but also found time to hit his 18th home run. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira had three hits apiece. Tex also drove in three runs to keep up his scorching July pace. He is batting .383 with eight doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI in 16 games covering 60 at-bats this month and hiked his batting average 25 points to .256.
For all that, Wednesday’s game could easily have gone into the L column and was saved by a rookie down to his last strike the moment he stepped to the plate coming through and providing his team and himself a special memory.