Results tagged ‘ Kyle Drabek ’

Jays go bombs away on Kuroda

The Blue Jays beat the Yankees at their own game Wednesday night, that is, with the long ball. The Jays cranked four home runs – three off Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda – that accounted for all but one of Toronto’s runs in its 8-1 victory.

That is usually the way the Yankees win games, by going deep against opposing pitchers. They have not homered in eight games this year and have lost each of them. It is getting to the point that if the Yankees don’t homer they don’t score. Over the past four games, three of them losses, the Yankees have had only three hits in 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They are .240 hitters in clutch situations over the whole season.

With Derek Jeter out of a lineup that is already without disabled catalyst Brett Gardner, the Yankees are in a station-to-station rut. They are stranding runners at a regular rate. Wednesday night’s game might not have been the best example of what has affected them lately because the way Kuroda was giving up bombs there was very little chance of the Yankees coming back.

The Japanese righthander, who seems to follow good efforts with bad ones, gave up a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia, a three-run shot to Edwin Encarnacion and a lazar of a solo shot to Jose Bautista in a five-plus inning stint in which Kuroda yielded seven earned runs and eight hits and watched his ERA bloat to 4.50.

Kelly Johnson added a fourth home run with a solo drive off reliever Clay Rapada in the seventh. The Blue Jays ended a three-game losing streak and at 20-18 are only a half-game behind the 20-17 Yankees. Jays starter Kyle Drabek also put an end to a personal four-game losing streak and beat the Yankees for the first time. The son of 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek allowed more walks (4) than hits (3) in a strong seven innings.

Two of the Yankees’ hits were milestones. Robinson Cano got his 300th career double in the sixth and scored the Yankees’ lone run on a single by Mark Teixeira, which was his 1,500th career hit. Cano had an up-and-down game in the field. He turned a stylish double play in the eighth but botched a potential double play in the second and made an error in the seventh.

The American League East is bound to be a real dogfight this year. It is time for the Yankees to start growling.

Yanks keep game under control

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.”

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.

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