Results tagged ‘ Marco Scutaro ’
Yankees manager Joe Girardi took a lot of heat in the media for the way he managed the ninth inning Thursday night against the White Sox, who pulled out a 4-3 victory on Dayan Viciedo’s three-run home run off David Robertson. I do not think all the criticism is warranted.
One area in which Girardi has showed real expertise as a manager is handling the bullpen, which is a far easier job we all know when Mariano Rivera is around. Mo has been out of the picture since early May and yet the Yankees have thrived largely because of their relief work. Rafael Soriano, an experienced closer, has done a good job spelling Rivera and the other relievers have responded well to Girardi’s mix-and-match system.
Boone Logan and Cody Eppley did great work getting out of an eighth-inning jam Thursday night to bail out Ivan Nova. Had Soriano been available, he surely would have worked the ninth with the Yanks ahead, 3-1, and been in line for a save. The righthander had pitched four of the previous five days and was not sharp in his last outing, so Girardi decided to let Eppley start the ninth against a right-handed batter, Alex Rios, who singled, and bring in lefthander Clay Rapada to face the left-handed batting A.J. Pierzynski.
Girardi looked pretty smart when Pierzynski hit a dribbling roller back to the mound that had “double play” written all over it. Then Rapada threw the ball wide left of Derek Jeter covering second base and into center field, and suddenly Girardi got a whole lot dumber. That forced him to bring in Robertson, who gave up the Viciedo bomb on a 1-0 fastball.
Why didn’t Girardi simply let Robertson start the ninth inning? That is what a lot of reporters wanted to know after the game. Truth be told, so did Robertson, at least judging from his body language in the clubhouse after the game. Girardi explained that Robertson missed considerable time this year because of injury and he is being cautious with him.
To me, that is a reasonable explanation. Besides, if Rapada doesn’t throw away two outs, there is probably no need to have a conversation about all this. Managerial moves are judged positively or negatively based on execution. Rapada’s lack of it is what cost the Yankees in that inning, not the bullpen manipulation by the manager.
The home run allowed to Viciedo was the first go-ahead jack allowed by a Yankees pitcher in the ninth inning working with a lead since the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki hit a walk-off, two-run homer off Rivera Sept. 9, 2009 at Seattle with the Yanks leading 2-1. It was the first such homer with the Yanks leading by at least two runs since Marco Scutaro’s three-run walk-off homer off Rivera April 15, 2007 at Oakland with the Yankees up, 4-2. The previous time an opponent hit a go-ahead homer when down by at least two runs in the ninth or later at Yankee Stadium was the Red Sox’ Bob Montgomery July 28, 1972 off Sparky Lyle in the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees ahead, 5-3.
An uplifting trip for the Yankees ended on a real downer Sunday night. They had Mariano Rivera poised to finish off a 2-1 victory, but the great Mo suffered his fifth blown save of the season and the 14th of his career against the Red Sox, by far the most against any one team.
That forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to use Phil Hughes out of the bullpen in extra innings. Hughes was available out of the pen because the Yankees are currently going with a six-man rotation. This was Hughes regular day to pitch, and the idea was to have him available out of the pen in case of a breakdown by starter Freddy Garcia.
Instead, the breakdown came from Rivera. He gave up a leadoff double to Marco Scutaro, who had four hits. Mo at first thought Scutaro’s ball had cleared the Green Monster, but it banged off it. A crucial play came next on a sacrifice attempt by Jacoby Ellsbury (a Most Valuable Player Award candidate bunting? Yeah, the Red Sox really wanted this one).
Eduardo Nunez broke too quickly from third base, costing Rivera a chance for an out there when Ellsbury’s bunt went right to the pitcher. Mo got the out at first, but Scutaro reached third from where he scored on Dustin Pedroia’s fly ball to left to tie the score and extend an interminably long night even later.
Hughes got in trouble one out into the 10th by giving up a double to David Ortiz, the only one of Boston’s 11 hits that went for extra bases. Carl Crawford, who was 9-for-12 (.750) in the series, was walked intentionally, as Hughes faced Josh Reddick. The rookie, who is batting .338 playing right field for injured J.D. Drew, drove a curveball into the left field corner for the game-winning hit.
In truth, the Yankees were lucky to be leading heading into the bottom of the ninth. Both their runs were on home runs by Nunez and Brett Gardner, who had a terrific game with three hits and two stolen bases. They were hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 base runners.
Garcia pitched one-run ball for five innings, and Boone Logan, Corey Wade, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson supplied first-rate relief before Rivera crashed. The Yankees were 5-2 on a trip that ended bumpily with two losses in three games at Fenway Park.
Since joining the Yankees, CC Sabathia had made four starts in which they were in danger of being swept in a series and had kept the broom away each time. He seemed destined to do so again Thursday night and Friday morning against the Red Sox, but his streak came to an abrupt end.
It may be hard to tell by looking at the final score – Red Sox 8, Yankees 3 – that Sabathia was working on a two-hit shutout entering the seventh inning. Staked to a 2-0, first-inning lead on Curtis Granderson’s 18th home run, CC held the Red Sox in check for six innings and put David Ortiz in his place after Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez had been plugged by Josh Beckett. The Yankees seemed on their way back into first place in the American League East by stopping a five-game losing streak to their rivals.
The Red Sox and especially Ortiz had the final say, however, with a seven-run outburst to stun Sabathia and complete Boston’s second three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium this year. And to make matters worse, the Red Sox got good news about their injured second baseman while the Yanks got bad news about their injured relief pitcher. Dustin Pedroia did not play because of a bruised right kneecap but will be back in the lineup Friday night at Toronto. Joba Chamberlain has a torn ligament in his right elbow and appears headed for Tommy John surgery.
Ortiz had two hits, a single and a two-run double, in the Boston seventh in which the Red Sox scored seven runs with eight hits. A triple by Jed Lowrie on a ball in the right field corner that eluded Nick Swisher and a well-struck double by Mike Cameron on a two-strike pitch cost Sabathia his lead, and the Red Sox kept piling on. Only a sensational, running catch by Brett Gardner in left-center to rob Marco Scutaro of an extra-base hit kept Boston from possibly going into double figures in runs that inning.
Sabathia, who had a personal four-game winning streak stopped, would have been better served had the Yankees done some piling on themselves, but Beckett gave up only three hits and hit a third batter through the seventh in running his season record against them to 3-0 with an ERA of 0.86. The two runs they got on Granderson’s jack are the only runs the Yankees have scored off Beckett in 21 innings this year.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Yankees this homestand as another first-place club, Cleveland of the AL Central, comes to the Stadium for a weekend series starting Friday night. The Indians are also likely to be better rested. The Yankees didn’t get off the field from the game that began 3 ½ hours late due to a rain delay until 1:43 a.m.
The second shoe on Joba Chamberlain’s injured right flexor muscle dropped Thursday, and the sound was deafening. The reliever was placed on the disabled list Wednesday and was expected to be out for three to four weeks. It now appears as if he will be out for the remainder of the 2011 season.
A contrast MRI on Chamberlain’s right elbow Thursday revealed a torn ligament. The Yankees made no official announcement about what happens next beyond saying the MRI results will be sent to noted orthopedist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. They will await his diagnosis. If Dr. Andrews’ opinion confirms the MRI results, Tommy John surgery would be the next step for Chamberlain. The best-case scenario for recovery is 10 to 14 months.
“There is no way to sugar-coat this; I shed some tears when I heard the results,” Chamberlain said before Thursday night’s finale of the Yankees-Red Sox series. “The strange thing about all this is I don’t have any pain. I’ve had some stiffness, and my forearm got tight after pitching, but I haven’t felt any actual pain. You’d have to cut my arm off to stop me from pitching.”
Fortunately, doctors won’t have to go that far. The perplexing factor is that Chamberlain has not experienced the normal symptoms for such a condition. Pitchers who have had the problem talk about feeling discomfort just trying to open a jar or turning a door knob or faucet handle. “I have not had any of that,” Chamberlain said.
“It was a surprise,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Much was made of the infamous “Joba rules,” regarding the close monitoring of his workload when Chamberlain joined the staff as a minor-league call-up in 2007. Cashman and manager Joe Girardi said that there would be no change in the organization’s handling of young pitchers
“Those ‘rules’ have always existed in the minor leagues,” Cashman said. “They got publicized up here four years ago because you don’t really have them at this level.”
What this means for the time being is that David Robertson will have to step into the eighth-inning relief role for Chamberlain, who had been stepping in for Rafael Soriano, who is also disabled due to right elbow inflammation. Girardi has said he will need to rely on lefthander Boone Logan and righthander Luis Ayala in Robertson’s former seventh-inning spot. In the meantime, Cashman will continue manning the phone lines for help from elsewhere since there are no plans to dip into the minor-league organization at this point.
The Red Sox also had health issues. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston to have his right knee examined by Dr. Tom Gill, the Red Sox medical director. Marco Scutaro was in the starting lineup at second base Thursday night. The Red Sox got good news. Pedroia has a bruised right kneecap and is expected back in the lineup Friday night at Toronto.
Three starts into the season and CC Sabathia still does not have a victory to show for his exemplary 1.45 ERA.
Oh, that’s right; victories aren’t supposed to matter to pitchers anymore, now that they can win Cy Young Awards with as few as 13 W’s. This may be CC’s plan to do better in the Cy Young race than he did last year when he finished third despite leading the league in victories with 21.
Sabathia hasn’t had much support from his teammates, who scored the go-ahead run in the Opening Day victory after he left the game, blew a 4-0 lead in his second outing and managed merely two hits against the Red Sox in Sunday night’s 4-0 loss.
CC pitched in and out of trouble all night at Fenway Park as he toiled for 118 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed only one run on a no-man’s-land, infield single by Mike Cameron in the third inning. Sabathia made pitches when he had to and kept the Red Sox from making it all the way around the bases they occupied. Boston had runners on base every inning and more than two in five of the six innings Sabathia pitched. But they had one hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position off CC and left 12 runners on base over the first six innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were completely stymied against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, whom they pushed all over the lot a year ago. The righthander had a 10.04 ERA in five starts against the Yankees in 2010. They batted .339 off him with a .627 slugging percentage on the strength of nine home runs.
This was more like the Josh Beckett the Yankees faced in the 2003 World Series when he was with the Marlins and seemed like a miniature Roger Clemens. The Yankees hit only four balls to the outfield off Beckett, who shut them out on two hits for eight innings. Other than the singles by Eric Chavez in the third and Robinson Cano in the fourth, the only other balls to reach the outfield were flies by Cano in the second and Russell Martin in the eighth. Beckett walked one batter, hit one and struck out 10. He also got 12 outs in the infield.
Still, because of the Red Sox’ futility with runners in scoring position (3-for-14, 16 LOB), it was a one-run game until Marco Scutaro doubled off Joba Chamberlain with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and David Ortiz knocked in Boston’s fourth run on a 420-foot double off Freddy Garcia in the eighth.
The Yankees sort of let the Red Sox off the carpet a bit in losing two of three games in the series. With free agent acquisition Carl Crawford having a miserable time of it at Fenway Park (1-for-15), the Red Sox got a boost instead from Dustin Pedroia, who had three hits in each game and five RBI overall.
After slugging four home runs Saturday, Yankees hitters hit only one ball as far as the warning track Sunday as several slumps were extended. After reaching base in each of his first four times up with a double, a triple and two walks, leadoff man Brett Gardner went hitless in 10 at-bats. Mark Teixeira has gone 18 at-bats without a hit and Jorge Posada 17. Derek Jeter was 2-for-13 in the series and Nick Swisher 1-for-11. Chavez and Martin have given the Yanks some muscle at the bottom of the order, but the batting order without flu-bitten Alex Rodriguez in the finale was pretty feeble.
As the Yankees went into a four-game series against the hated Red Sox Friday night, I couldn’t help thinking about what Boston did in the 2004 post-season. Down 3-0 in the American League Championship Series, they followed their manager’s mantra of winning the next night’s game. Don’t think about anything else, Terry Francona told his players, but that night’s game.
The Red Sox did this, of course, for eight straight games, knocking off the Yankees and then sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series for their first championship since Babe Ruth was in their rotation. That always stayed with me about Francona, who is probably the best manager never to win a Manager of the Year Award. The stakes aren’t so high in this series, but dire consequences could set in if the Yankees push Boston around.
“We’re at a point of the season where every game is meaningful,” Francona said. “We have to embrace the challenge rather than whine about it.”
Boston is pretty beat up. The Red Sox have been without 2008 Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia for a month and just lost first baseman Kevin Youkilis, the team’s spine, for the rest of the season. The Sox came to Yankee Stadium in third place trailing the Yankees by six games. After Friday night’s 6-3 victory, Boston is five games behind the Yankees. Francona is back to one game after the next.
The Sox lineup had some unfamiliar faces, none more so than left fielder Ryan Kalish. The recent callup has been tearing it up, batting .471 entering the game. WCBS radio’s Suzyn Waldman made him the subject of her pre-game interview and went on at length about him over dinner with Lee Mazzilli, John Sterling and me. She mentioned that Kalish grew up in Red Bank, N.J., and had left six passes for friends and relatives. He said he was too embarrassed to ask for more.
Kalish struck out in his first two at-bats, but he gave his people in the sellout crowd of 49,555, the largest gate at the Stadium this year, a moment to remember with his first major-league home run, a two-run shot in the sixth off Javier Vazquez, who had a rough outing and lost for the first time in six starts since June 30.
Vazquez, who was skipped over in the rotation twice earlier in the season to avoid pitching against the Red Sox, gave up a first-inning home run to David Ortiz, which was trumped by Mark Teixeira’s two-run blow in the bottom of the first. It marked the fourth straight game in which the Yankees had a two-run homer in the opening frame, but they have lost three of those games.
A player who scored ahead of the homer hitter in each of those games was Derek Jeter, whose first-inning single tied him with the Babe on the career hit list with 2,873. Unlike Jeter, not all of Ruth’s hits were with the Yankees. Jeter had the most impressive at-bat of the game, with two out and nobody on in the ninth. He outdueled Red Sox closer Jonathan Paplebon for 12 pitches, including six straight fouls on two-strike pitches, before drawing a walk. It went for naught.
The Red Sox are playing for relevance, trying to get back into the AL East mix with the Yankees and Rays. The Yanks maintained their half-game lead in the division over Tampa, which lost at Toronto. Vazquez and his catcher helped the Red Sox in the second inning when Boston scored three unearned runs to regain the lead. One out after a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre, Cervelli dropped a popup by Mike Lowell, who sauntered up the line and was lucky the ball fell far enough away from Cervelli to get to first base safely.
Vazquez was on the verge of working out of trouble as he struck out Kalish, who swung at a ball around his ears for strike three. Vazquez then did the unthinkable, walking 9-hole hitter Jed Lowrie to load the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury walked as well, forcing in a run, before Marco Scutaro doubled in two more runs.
Okay, so it wasn’t like giving up that grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, but it was a chance to put the Red Sox away wasted.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s comment the other night that his bullpen is “a mess” would have to be considered an understatement. Sloppy fielding by the Yankees contributed just as much to their 7-6 loss to the Red Sox Tuesday night as ineffective relief, yet Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera could not overcome the defensive breakdown.
For the second straight night, the Yankees blew a 5-0 lead. They were able to take back Monday night’s game on the ninth-inning heroics of Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames with dramatic two-run home runs. Ironically, errors by those same two players doomed the Yankees in a game that played into the early minutes of Wednesday morning.
The Red Sox were equally sluggish afield. Two errors by shortstop Marco Scutaro led directly to three runs for the Yankees, including one in the bottom of the ninth before Jonathan Papelbon doused the rally for his 10th save. The conditions were not ideal. It rained heavily most of the day, forcing back the starting time of the game for 59 minutes. After that came 4 hours, 9 minutes of less than crisp baseball.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia gutted through seven innings. He left the game with a 5-1 lead, the only blemish being the 100th career home run of Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Then the bullpen faltered again as it has during the homestand. Yankees relievers have combined to allow 17 runs (14 earned), 25 hits and 7 walks in 15 innings for an 8.40 ERA. The bullpen was involved in four decisions, winning two, but one of those victories went to Javier Vazquez, who is actually a starter that got one out Monday night before the Yankees rallied to win.
Chamberlain suffered his second poor outing in a row in allowing four runs (three earned) in the eighth, an inning that began with a throwing error by Rodriguez. Three of the next four batters got hits off Chamberlain, who has given up six earned runs and six hits in his past 1 2/3 innings watching his ERA rise from 2.30 to 4.91. It might have been worse for Chamberlain, but David Ortiz did him a favor by going into his Cadillac trot on his drive to right that he obviously thought was over the fence. What is the problem with running out of the box hard? Ortiz, who runs like a tree anyway, tried to speed himself and make it to second but was thrown out. He would have made it if he had run hard from the get-go, but he decided to “style” instead, a very satisfying out to witness.
Girardi called on Rivera to pitch the ninth, a good move at home. The idea is to use your closer to shut down the other team for an inning and give yours a chance to pull the game out in last licks. A one-out single by Darnell McDonald seemed harmless until a fly to shallow right by Scutaro was dropped by Thames, who never seemed to have the ball lined up but called off second baseman Robinson Cano anyway.
The error put runners on second and third. Rivera, stung by a grand slam in his previous outing Sunday, got Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to first, and the runners had to hold. Jeremy Hermida then doubled over left fielder Randy Winn, who was playing very shallow, to send home both runners. Another point of irony is that Hermida was a late entry as a right fielder for J.D. Drew, who pulled up lame running out a double in the eighth.
Winn’s positioning is not really a major issue. Left-handed hitters rarely hit the ball with authority against Rivera. They are more inclined to hit flares to the opposite field, so a shallow left fielder is almost a prerequisite for Mo.
What is more disturbing is the recent shallowness of the bullpen.
The Red Sox emphasized improving their defense in the off-season, but Boston’s fielders displayed a lot of uncertainty in the two-game series against the Yankees. One night after outfielders Jeremy Hermida and Darnell McDonald had trouble tracking fly balls, shortstop Marco Scutaro booted a ground ball that eventually cost the Red Sox two runs.
With Alex Rodriguez at first base after a leadoff single in the second inning, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to the left of second base. It appeared that Scutaro would pick up the ball, tag the bag and throw to first for a double play. He failed to catch the ball, which dribbled behind him. So instead of two out and the bases empty, the Yankees had two runners on and none out. Both runners subsequently scored on a single by Juan Miranda and an infield out by Randy Winn.
As brutal as Boston’s pitching has been, the Red Sox cannot afford to give up outs in the field. They entered the game with the worst ERA in the league at 4.99. The two runs in the second were not earned, but Josh Beckett was touched for three more runs on a home run by Miranda in the fourth and a two-run double by Cano in the fifth and left the game with a 7.29 ERA.
Beckett’s departure caused some controversy. After Cano’s double, Red Sox manager Terry Francona removed Beckett claiming an injury, and reliever Manny Delcarmen was permitted as many warmup pitches as necessary. Yankees manager Joe Girardi disputed this and after discussing the situation with the umpires lodged an official protest, even though the Yankees had a five-run lead at the time.
Protests are usually withdrawn if the protesting team wins the game, but the Yankees just might pursue this one on principle. After all, who is to say Beckett was hurt? The righthander does have a history of back trouble. He missed his previous start due to back spasms. But what is to prevent any manager from claiming a pitcher is hurt and being allowed to have a reliever take as long as he needs to warm up? If Beckett’s back acted up that inning, why didn’t Francona have someone up in the bullpen? It was sort of strange that Beckett’s back hurt at the same time he gave up a run-scoring hit.