Results tagged ‘ Magglio Ordonez ’

Everybody on short leash in Game 5

Just as in Detroit in Game 4 of the American League Division Series when A.J Burnett loaded the bases with three walks, Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate in making a call to the bullpen when Ivan Nova was wavering early on in Game 5.

The Tigers struck for back-to-back home runs (by Don Kelly and Delmon Young) in the first inning for the first time in their postseason history. When Magglio Ordonez led off the second with a double, Phil Hughes began warming up for the Yankees. While Hughes answered the call to the pen, Nova answered the wakeup call by getting out of the inning without any damage with two groundouts and a strikeout.

That’s the beauty of winner-take-all games in the postseason be they Game 5 in the ALDS or Game 7 in the Championship Series and World Series. Both teams have their backs to the wall and must pull out all stops. There can be no worrying about saving anyone for the next game. You’ve got to get to the next game first.

Sure enough, Girardi brought in Hughes at the start of the third inning. Considering how Nova had worked out of difficulty in the second, the move seemed premature. Obviously, the manager saw something lacking in Nova’s stuff and made the switch to Hughes, who when used in relief can just air it out.

Hughes’ fastball was clocked at 94 mph as he chalked up two quick strikeouts. Delmon Young, who has been a tough out in this series (3 home runs), got a long single on a drive off the right field wall, but Hughes got the Tigers’ most dangerous hitter, Miguel Cabrera, to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Doug Fister, who was battered by the Yankees in Game 1, was proving a tougher customer this time out. The righthander mixed speeds well on his fastball and added a cutter with late life. His breaking stuff was less effective, but he was keeping the Yankees off balance.

You remember all that stuff about Burnett being on a short leash in Game 4? Well, every pitcher on the Yankees had the short rope in Game 5. After Hughes gave up a single with one out in the fourth, Girardi summoned Boone Logan, who gave up a hit before retiring Jhonny Peralta on a fly to right and striking out Ramon Santiago.

At that point, CC Sabathia began throwing in the bullpen – very interesting.

Yanks limp out of Detroit

It’s official. The Yankees are in a funk. Until Thursday, they had been the only team in the major leagues that had not lost three games in a row. Now they are not. Their first three-game losing streak came at the hands of the Tigers, who had lost seven straight games after dropping the first game of the series Monday night.

The Yankees threw away Thursday’s game, a 6-3 loss, literally. Two of the three errors they committed led directly to three runs, the deficit in the game. The Yankees’ offense was pretty active with 10 hits, including 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position, but were overtaken by a Detroit club that had only four hits.

A.J. Burnett continued the run of Yankees starting pitchers going deep into games with a seven-inning outing, and only two of the five runs off him were earned. However, one of the errors was his errant pickoff throw in the first inning that put Don Kelly, who reached base because Burnett hit him with a pitch on a count of 0-2, at third base from where he scored on Brennan Boesch’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees took the lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez, who started as subs for resting Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Chavez had to leave the game, however, after suffering a bone fracture in the small toe of his left foot running out his first triple in four years. Chavez was headed back to New York to see club physician Chris Ahmad and may have to go on the disabled list.

That meant Rodriguez had to come into the game as a pinch runner, the first time he had such an assignment since his rookie season of 1995 with the Mariners when he spelled Tino Martinez. A-Rod, who had been on the bench not only resting his body but also a 7-for-50 (.140) slide, wound up with two hits and scored two runs, so maybe he is working himself back to form.

Detroit played some small ball in the sixth inning and tied the score after Ramon Santiago bunted Kelly to second base on a two-out single through the middle by Boesch, who topped off a big game in the eighth with a solo home run off lefthander Boone Logan.

The critical play came in the three-run seventh when the Tigers took control of the game. Burnett lost a 9-pitch duel with Victor Martinez, who singled to center leading off, then walked Magglio Ordonez and hit Ryan Raburn with a pitch to load the bases with none out. Brandon Inge broke the tie with a sacrifice fly, but Burnett should have been out of the inning after getting Santiago out on a bouncer to second baseman Robinson Cano playing in and Kelly on a grounder to short.

Nunez had all the time in the world to throw out Kelly but sailed his peg over first baseman Mark Teixeira. Two runs scored on the error, the second of the game for Nunez and his fifth in 22 innings in the field. For a backup infielder who is supposed to supply solid defense, this is unacceptable. Expect infield coach Mick Kelleher to work with Nunez to correct this part of his game.

Another coach with his work cut out for him is hitting coach Kevin Long. It is not a good sign when two of the three .300 hitters on the club are bench players – Nunez (.385) and Chavez (.303). Cano had two hits Thursday to get back over .300 (.303), but the Yankees had 6-for-32 (.188) with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base in the series.

One bad inning was all it took

It is easy to become spoiled by a player’s performance. Freddy Garcia may have done that to the point that Yankees fans might be disappointed by what he did Wednesday night. Think of this, though. When the Yankees signed Garcia, wouldn’t you have been pleased if you could count on his pitching into the eighth inning of a game?

I sure would, which is why Garcia deserves another passing grade even though he was on the losing side of a 4-0 score to the Tigers, a team he has handled over the years (18-8, 4.12 ERA). Garcia basically had one bad inning, but that was all it took for Detroit to take control behind the four-hit, nine-strikeout pitching for eight innings by Max Scherzer, who improved his impressive record to 5-0 with a 3.15 ERA.

Garcia seemed in big trouble in the second inning when Victor Martinez, Magglio Ordonez and Jhonny Peralta singled in succession to produce one run, but Freddy avoided further damage by getting the next three batters out.

The Tigers came right back in the third with three more runs on an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera and a two-run home run by Ordonez. It was the first time Ordonez went deep this year, in his 85th plate appearance, on a first-pitch fastball that Garcia later admitted he should not have thrown.

Ordonez has struggled this season coming off right ankle surgery, but he is a dangerous hitter, and Garcia had a base open. Coming inside with heat on the first pitch was a poor move, and he knew it. Garcia would have been better off pitching around Ordonez or trying to get him chase out of the zone, but it was too late.

The way Scherzer was pitching, the four-run lead might as well have been 10. The Yankees got only two runners in scoring position against the hard-throwing righthander, who walked two and struck out nine, and could not come to Garcia’s rescue after he held the Tigers in check for four-plus innings after the third.

The Yankees have fallen into a collective slump. Unless Eduardo Nunez starts at shortstop in the series finale at Comerica Park Thursday, the Yankees will field a batting order without a .300 hitter in it. Robinson Cano fell below .300 after going 0-for-4 to join his scuffling teammates.

The idea that Nunez could be in Thursday’s starting lineup surfaced when Derek Jeter was forced out of the game due to a sore right hip. As usual, he made light of the ailment and refused to consider it an injury, but manager Joe Girardi said Jeter was “day to day,” which could mean that Nunez will be in there Thursday to give the captain time to recover.

That the offense failed to generate anything against Scherzer does not take anything away from the effort by Garcia, who continued the Yankees’ recent stretch of solid starting pitching. In the past 16 games, starters have averaged 6 2/3 innings per game and have a combined 2.89 ERA. It is enough to make a fan spoiled.

A.J. gets an ‘A’ in 1st outing

Perhaps the best thing that happed for A.J. Burnett Saturday came while he was sitting on the bench after an impressive first inning in which he retired the Tigers in order with two strikeouts. The Yankees struck for three runs against Brad Penny, Burnett’s former teammate with the Marlins, right off the bat and then hung another three spot the next inning on Mark Texeira’s second three-run home run in two games.

A 6-0 cushion in the second inning was just what someone like Burnett, who is atttempting to come back from a horrendous 2010 season (10-15, 5.26 ERA), needed to help his relax in his first start of the year while still battling a nasty cold.

A.J. faced a threat in the second when Miguel Cabrera led off with a double to right-center. Last year, that might have set Burnett off, but he gathered himself and struck out Victor Martinez and Brennan Boesch on impressive fastballs that were all the more effective because of the twilight. A wild pitch allowed Cabrera to reach third base, but that was as far as he went as Jhonny Peralta flied out to center.

Austin Jackson got the Tigers on the board with a home run in the third, and they put a rally together in the fifth after Boesch, Peralta and Alex Avila all singled with none out for a quick run. Brandon Inge was credited with a sacrifice despite clearly bunting for a hit, and a walk to Jackson loaded the bases.

Burnett kept the damage to a minimum as Will Rhymes grounded to Teixeira at first base for a run to cut the Yanks’ lead to 6-3. Burnett held it there by striking out Magglio Ordonez.

It was a sound effort for Burnett, whose chances for a victory improved even more when his new catcher, Russell Martin, homered with two on in the sixth to boost the Yanks’ lead to 9-3.

Damage by Damon

Come on, Johnny, is that any way to treat a bunch of guys you still consider friends?

Johnny Damon, one of the key elements in the Yankees’ World Series run last year and one of the finest people to grace the Yankee Stadium clubhouse during his four seasons in pinstripes, hurt his old mates with a home run in the Tigers’ 5-4 victory Monday night at Comerica Park.

Now, this blow was not as stunning or decisive as his most famous home run against the Yankees. You remember that one. Javier Vazquez sure does. It was a grand slam that propelled the Red Sox to a Game 7 victory in the 2004 American League Championship Series to help Boston complete the only comeback from a 0-3 deficit in a post-season, best-of-seven series in baseball history.

Still, this one packed a bit of a blow. After all, it was a one-run game, and Damon’s shot was worth one run. It was only Damon’s second home run of the season, but the solo shot off Sergio Mitre with two down in the fifth inning looked very much like those one-handed clouts he sent sailing over the right field fence in the new Yankee Stadium a year ago.

If you can believe the Comerica Park scoreboard, Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya regularly reached 100 mph with his fastball. Despite that, the intimidating righthander was not untouchable. Yankees fans saw this type of act before when Kyle Farnsworth was in the Bombers’ bullpen.

For all the oo-ing and ah-ing coming from the Detroit crowd as Zumaya’s gun readings were flashed, the Yankees were getting back in the game against him in the eighth. Singles by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano and a four-pitch walk to Jorge Posada in between all those 100-mph offerings loaded the bases for the Yankees with none out. An infield hit by Marcus Thames and a fielder’s choice by Brett Gardner made it a one-run game.

Phil Coke, who went to Detroit in the three-team trade that brought Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, has pitched well for the Tigers and did so again Monday night by keeping the ball in the infield for two outs in relief of Zumaya. The real “hold” went to right fielder Magglio Ordonez for his sliding catch of a sinking liner by Derek Jeter robbing him of a game-tying hit.

Jeter is suddenly in a slump with two hits in his past 20 at-bats and an average down to .286

Perhaps determined to match Zumaya’s readings, Joba Chamberlain was in the upper 90s in the bottom of the eighth and struck out the side. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Tigers closer Jose Valverde (9 saves, 0.61 ERA) had similar readings and also struck out the side in the ninth.

Mitre did a decent job in his emergency start, but lefthander Boone Logan walked one left-handed batter (Damon) and gave up an RBI triple to another (Brennan Boesch) in the seventh for an insurance run that the Tigers held up.