Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’

Tanaka, Ellsbury handle pressure at Fenway

The Yankees originally intended to keep Masahiro Tanaka away from the Red Sox in the first two series against their rivals this year until the Japanese righthander had more solid footing in the major leagues. They did not pitch him against Boston in spring training, either.

But last week’s rainout at Yankee Stadium against the Cubs that led to a split-admission doubleheader the next day altered manager Joe Girardi’s rotation and resulted in Tanaka having to start Tuesday night at Fenway Park. He was certainly up to the task in a 9-2 Yankees victory, their fourth in five games against the Red Sox this season.

The Yankees gave Tanaka something of a comfort zone by taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Jon Lester, who was not at his best.

In his first game at Fenway since departing the Red Sox and signing with the Yankees as a free agent, Jacoby Ellsbury was celebrated by Boston fans, who cheered a pre-game video tribute to his contributions to two World Series championship teams. Once the game got under way, it was a different story as boos far outnumbered cheers for Ellsbury.

The fleet center fielder responded the best way he could — with his bat and his glove. Ellsbury began the game with a drive off the center field wall that was interfered with by a fan and was awarded a triple. Derek Jeter promptly got Ellsbury home with a single to center. That ran the Captain’s hitting streak to 11 games. It is the 47th double-figure hitting streak of Jeter’s career. That ties him with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker for the third highest total in history. The others in front of them are also Hall of Famers — Ty Cobb with 66 and Hank Aaron with 48.

A passed ball and throwing error by Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski helped the Yanks to an unearned run later on a single by Carlos Beltran. Surprisingly shoddy defense by the Red Sox did not help Lester. All four rune he allowed in the fifth inning were not earned due to an error by first baseman Mike Napoli. The Yankees earned their two runs in the third off Lester on successive doubles by Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann.

Yankees’ defense was just the opposite. Ellsbury set the tone in the bottom of the first with a sliding catch of a liner that robbed Grady Sizemore of a potential extra-base hit. Dustin Pedroia hit the ball hard as well for a double, but Tanaka came back to strike out David Ortiz and Napoli.

Those same two sluggers took Tanaka deep in back-to-back fashion in the fourth, but that was all the damage he sustained. The Yankees spent a small fortune on Tanaka, but at this point he looks like a bargain. He ran his record to 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA with another 7 1/3 sturdy innings. In 29 1/3 innings, Tanaka has allowed 22 hits and only two walks with 35 strikeouts.

His record in Japan last year was 24-0. Can he go 24-0 here this year?

Nova placed on DL, may require elbow surgery

Following two nights in which the Yankees surrendered 27 runs to the Rays, the news continued to get worse for the pitching staff. An MRI on righthander Ivan Nova late Saturday night revealed a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow. Nova was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday and will be further examined Monday in New York by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.

There was no decision yet as to whether Nova will undergo surgery, although that is often the case with such an injury. A Tommy John procedure would render Nova unavailable for 12 to 18 months. Lefthander Vidal Nuno was the emergency starter for the Yankees Sunday at Tropicana Field. The rotation was disrupted by last Tuesday’s rainout, which forced manager Joe Girardi to use two starters, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, on the same day in Wednesday’s split-admission doubleheader against the Cubs at Yankee Stadium.

Other reinforcements were recalled from the minors for Sunday’s game, righthanders Preston Claiborne from Triple A Scranton and Bryan Mitchell from Double A Trenton. Righthander Matt Daley, who was recalled Saturday and gave up six runs (four earned), five hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings in Saturday night’s 16-1 pasting, was designated for assignment. The Yankees also reinstated first baseman Mark Teixeira from the DL and optioned infielder Scott Sizemore to Scranton.

Yankees triple their pleasure behind CC

There are probably hundreds of first basemen in major league history who were never part of a triple play. Getting an inning’s full compliment of outs on a single play is rare. But there was Scott Sizemore in his first career game as a first baseman Thursday night completing a triple killing that was the third turned behind CC Sabathia over the past five seasons.

Sizemore, who does not even own a first baseman’s glove, played a major part in the triple play that wiped out a potential Tampa Bay rally in the second inning. Sabathia was working with a 4-0 lead but got into trouble when Evan Longoria doubled to right-center and Wil Myers walked.

Sean Rodriguez followed with a grounder down the third base line. Yangervis Solarte gloved it a foot from the bag, stepped on it and fired to second baseman Brian Roberts for the force there. Roberts’ relay was in the dirt, but Sizemore made a fine scoop to complete the trip-up. He made the play wearing Kelly Johnson’s glove. Manager Joe Girardi went with Sizemore at first base to get another right-handed bat into the lineup against Price, a move that paid off. Sizemore doubled leading off the top of the second and scored on a triple by Roberts, who was back in the lineup after missing three games because of lower-back stiffness.

One out later, Jacoby Ellsbury also tripled. This inning was all about triples one way or the other. Derek Jeter made it 4-0 with a single to center off a two-strike slider from Price, who was not as formidable as he often has been against the Yankees.

The Yanks are hoping the first-base situation will clear up perhaps as early as Sunday when Teixeira could return from the disabled list. Tex is working out in the extended spring program at Tampa, just across the Bay from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

The Yankees got a scare in the third inning when Carlos Beltran toppled over a fence down the right field line chasing a foul ball by Desmond Jennings. Beltran apparently landed safely because he climbed back over the wall and continued playing. With the Cardinals in the World Series last year, Beltran fell into the bullpen at Fenway Park. Beltran has got to familiarize himself with American League yards.

MLB: No discipline against Pineda

In the latest much ado about nothing episode in baseball, Major League Baseball has no plans to discipline Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda for his apparent use of pine tar on his right hand in Thursday night’s victory over the Red Sox.

“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox,” MLB said in a statement. “Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”

The incident was spurred by social media as photos of Pineda’s hand circulated across the Internet. Boston manager John Farrell said before Friday night’s game that the Red Sox were made aware of the situation, but by the time they knew about it Pineda had washed off the substance.

Pitchers often resort to using pine tar in cold weather to improve their grip. The Red Sox had two separate incidents last year of their pitchers putting foreign substances on the ball.

Derek Jeter’s two hits Thursday night moved him past Joe DiMaggio into third place on the Yankees’ career hit list against the Red Sox. DJ entered play Friday night with 324 career hits against Boston pitching, one more than Joe D. The only Yankees players with more career hits against the Red Sox than Jeter not surprisingly are Babe Ruth with 404 and Lou Gehrig with 347.

Happy Birthday to Mark Teixeira, who turned 34.

Yanks keep playing ‘Who’s on first?’

With Mark Teixeira on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has to look elsewhere for a first baseman. The Yankees do not have a pure first baseman as a back-up to Teixeira. Girardi had used Kelly Johnson there for two games, the fourth and fifth at the position for Johnson in his major-league career.

Eyebrows were raised a bit in the Yankees’ clubhouse Tuesday when the lineup showed Francisco Cervelli at first base. Yes, that Francisco Cervelli, the Yankees’ back-up catcher. Cervelli had a good spring training with the bat so Girardi wants to find ways to get him in the lineup. With the Yankees having called up Austin Romine, another catcher, from Triple A Scranton, Cervelli can be used while still having the safety net of a back-up catcher available.

Cervelli, who has been taking grounders at the corner infield spots during batting practice, was realistic about his new role. He told Suzyn Waldman on her WFAN Radio pre-game show that he thought about calling Don Mattingly to get his permission to play the position the current Dodgers manager manned so well in his playing days with the Yankees.

Cervelli was tested in the second inning when Ryan Flaherty bunted to the right side for a single that gave the Orioles runners on first and second with none out. Cervelli did his job fielding the ball, but neither pitcher Ivan Nova nor second baseman Brian Roberts rushed to cover first base. Nova and Flaherty atoned for the situation by collaborating on a pickoff of Steve Lombardozzi at second base on the next play.

The Yanks have been utilizing players in various roles in the early going. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that for the first time in franchise history the Yanks did not have a player start the first six games of the season. The previous team to have that situation were the Tigers in 1980.

Winning challenge contributes to winning rally

Technology came to the Yankees’ rescue in the third inning Friday night. Manager Joe Girardi’s first challenge of an umpire’s call worked in his favor and helped the Yankees regain the lead for Masahiro Tanaka, whose debut in the major leagues has been testy.

The play in question was a bang-bang call at first base in which Ichiro Suzuki was called out initially by first base umpire Dana DeMuth. Replays clearly showed that Ichiro beat the play. In the past, it would have been a case of too bad for the Yanks because the umpire had the last say.

But with new rules regarding replays, Girardi had the option to challenge the call and did so. After checking with a crew in New York reviewing the play, DeMuth’s initial call was reversed and Ichiro had a single. Even better for the Yankees, the hit kept the inning alive instead of Suzuki having made the third out.

Yangervis Solarte, who is becoming pretty familiar quickly to Yankees fans, then smoked a double to right-center to score two runs and put the Yanks back ahead, 4-3. Girardi made another challenge in the eighth inning, also at first base in which Jacoby Ellsbury was called, but the original call stood this time.

As an aside, for years I used to get teased in press boxes for scoring in pencil, which I still do while most of my comrades use pens. Well, with these challenges it might be a good idea for those who score games to follow my example. There are plenty of pencils to go around.

The Yankees gave Tanaka a bit of a comfort zone by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning off Toronto starter Dustin McGowan as five of their first six batters reached base with hits. It might have been a more productive inning, but the Yanks left the bases loaded when Suzuki struck out and Solarte popped out.

Tanaka got a rude welcome to the bigs when Melky Cabrera hit a home run off a 1-1 hanging splitter leading off the bottom of the first. The newcomer from Japan got the next three hitters, two on strikeouts, but was cuffed for two runs in the second. An errant throw by Mark Teixeira trying for a force at second base contributed to the rally climaxed by a two-run single by Jonathan Diaz, playing shortstop for injured Jose Reyes.

Teixeira came out the game in the second inning due to a strained right hamstring. That illuminated a situation that the Yankees had coming out of spring training in that they do not have a pure first baseman as a backup. Kelly Johnson, who started at third base, moved to the other corner with Solarte going to third and Brian Roberts inserted at second.

Johnson, who was playing only his fourth game at first base in the majors, may turn out to be decent insurance at that position after all. He made a diving, run-saving play to get the Yankees and Tanaka out of the third inning unscathed.

Tanaka settled in nicely after that. He pitched to the minimum number of batters in each of the next four innings. The only baserunner over that stretch — Edwin Encarnacion, who reached on an infield single in the sixth — was erased on a double play.

After a shaking beginning perhaps caused in some part by nerves, which would be understandable, Tanaka turned in a strong outing for his first major-league victory. He was backed by a 16-hit attack, including three hits apiece by Ellsbury and Ichiro.

The Yankees got to .500 (2-2) but are still looking for their first home run of the season. Their five extra-base hits were two doubles each by Ellsbury and Solarte and a triple by Johnson. The Yankees had runners in scoring position in all but one inning and were 9-for-24 (.375) in those situations.

Kuroda a victim of non-support

If not for Dexter Fowler, Hiroki Kuroda would have had an excellent chance to notch a victory that has been a long time coming. Fowler has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Astros in the Yankees’ season-opening series at Houston and was particularly rough on Kuroda in Wednesday night’s 3-1 loss.

Kuroda was stung early when Fowler drove a 1-0 pitch to right-center for a home run. Fowler, who had two doubles in Tuesday night’s 6-2 Astros victory, attacked Kuroda again in the third inning with a one-out triple to right-center. First baseman Mark Teixeira couldn’t handle Robbie Grossman’s hard smash, and Fowler scored on the error.

Apart from those incidents, Kuroda had a strong outing. While Fowler had 2-for-3 against the Japanese righthander, the rest of the Houston batting order combined to go 1-for-18 with one walk and four strikeouts off Kuroda. The one hit was a triple by Grossman with one out in the sixth, but Kuroda stranded him at third by setting down the next two hitters on shallow fly balls.

The Yankees’ offense let Kuroda down, however, which is nothing new. Kuroda had the poorest offensive support for any American League starter in 2013, and that pattern continued Wednesday night. The Yankees failed to score in Kuroda’s six innings. The inning Kuroda left the game the Yanks finally got on the board, albeit through a double-play grounder.

After the Astros regained a two-run lead on Matt Dominquez’s solo home run off David Phelps in the seventh, the Yankees posed a major threat in the eighth when Carlos Beltran doubled to left against an over-shift to lead off the inning against Matt Albers. The righthander worked out of it powerfully with strikeouts of Brian McCann, Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano.

The Yankees actually outhit Houston, 7-4, with new second baseman Brian Roberts going 3-for-4, but none of their hits came with runners in scoring position; they were 0-for-10 in those situations and are now 2-for-18 (.111) in the clutch thus far.

The loss marked the first in five career decisions against the Astros for Kuroda, who has a 1.56 career ERA against Houston in 57 2/3 innings. It marked the seventh consecutive road loss and ninth consecutive defeat overall for Kuroda going back to last year.

If Yankees fans expected a cakewalk by starting the season at Houston, they have been sadly mistaken.

No chance for closer in this opener

None of us expected the Yankees to go 162-0 this year, but the 6-2 loss in Tuesday night’s season opener to the lowly Astros started things off with a thud. The Yanks were six runs in the hole after the first two innings and while Houston was shut out the rest of the way the Yankees could not climb out of it.

A surprisingly effective Scott Feldman took a one-hit shutout into the seventh for the Astros, who won only 51 games last year. A sellout crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan and former President George H.W. Bush witnessed another dismal Opening Day effort by CC Sabathia.

The trimmed-down lefthander admitted afterward that his motor was running a bit too much early on as the Astros jumped him for six runs and six hits, including home runs by those household names Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes, in the first two frames. Sabathia eventually settled down and allowed only two singles over the next five innings long after the barn door was closed.

Opening Day has seldom gone smoothly for Sabathia, whose career mark in lid-lifters is 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA. With the Yankees, CC has been even worse in Opening Day starts — 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.

The Yankees escaped first-inning scares when Derek Jeter and Brian McCann sustained hand injuries that turned out minor. Jeter had one of the Yankees’ six hits. So did McCann, who drove in his first run with his team team with a single in the seventh. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to left crossing up an over-shift, which was a good sign.

Jeter and Teixeira were hurt at this time a year ago and with all the newcomers Brett Gardner was the only player other than Sabathia from the 2013 opener in the starting lineup. New right fielder Carlos Beltran had the Yankees’ first hit, a single in the fourth. New center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached base once in five plate appearances with a walk.

There certainly was not much to write home about. Dellin Betances may have been the highlight for the Yankees with a scoreless inning of two-strikeout relief. With David Robertson succeeding the retired Mariano Rivera in the closer role, there is the need for a setup reliever to emerge. Betances worked the seventh inning in the opener but continued impressive work could move him into the setup picture.

There would be no save opportunity for D-Rob in this one, however.

Stumbling out of the gate

After the first inning Tuesday night at Houston, the Yankees had nowhere to go but up. A nasty omen was Derek Jeter, who became the first player to appear in 20 seasons for the Yankees, getting hit in the left hand by a pitch from Scott Feldman. DJ took his base and later his position in the field as the Yankees breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The more damaging hits were by the Astros off CC Sabathia in the bottom half of the first. The big lefthander’s decreasing velocity last year and again this spring has been a cause of concern for the Yankees. With a fastball barely clicking 90 mph on the radar gun, Sabathia was roughed up for four runs.

A leadoff double by Dexter Fowler set the tone. Jose Altuve singled Fowler home and promptly stole second base. A wild pitch by Sabathia proved damaging as Altuve crossed to third from where he scored on a fielder’s choice. Mark Teixeira’s throw to the plate left something to be desired as the Yankees looked out of synch.

Jesus Guzman then crushed a first-pitch fastball to left for a two-run home run. CC was touched for a leadoff homer in the second by L.J. Hoes and another run on yet another combination of a Fowler double and Altuve single. The Yankees did not get their first hit until Carlos Beltran singled to left with one out in the fourth.

Shift this

I have worn myself out over the years complaining about sluggers not taking advantage of these exaggerated defensive shifts by crossing them up with bunt hits. Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira ignored me so often I almost quit the campaign. I am not talking about doing it in RBI situations but certainly when the bases are empty to get something started.

So naturally I was deliriously happy to see what Robinson Cano did in the first inning Friday night at Fenway Park. With two out, no one on base and the infield shifted all the way around to the right, Cano pushed a bunt that rolled past third base far enough from any fielder that he ended up with a double.

Beautiful. It did not result in a run as Alfonso Soriano struck out, but what Cano did by getting on base sure beat making an out by hitting into the shift. Too many hitters have a macho attitude about bunting, that it is some sissy-Mary sort of thing. What is wrong with taking what the defense give you? Particularly in situations like two outs-none on or leading off an inning. Makes sense to me.

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