Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’
Could a game like Sunday’s give Mark Teixeira second thoughts about retiring?
The first baseman reiterated his stance from last week that he will step away from the game as a player at the end of the season.
“I love playing first base, but every year it gets tougher and tougher,” Teixeira said after the Yankees’ 3-2 victory over the Indians. “I only have a few of those [games] left.”
Perhaps it is his conscience being eased at making what he feels is the right decision, but Teixeira has appeared more comfortable in recent days than he has in recent years. Sunday, he was a central figure in a victory that unfortunately took second fiddle to the other slice of news, that Alex Rodriguez will end his playing career after Friday’s game when the Yankees return to Yankee Stadium for a weekend series against the Rays following a brief trip to Boston.
Teixeira drove in what proved the deciding run with an opposite-field double to left batting left-handed in the fifth inning. A more startling contribution came in the seventh when he beat speedy Francisco Lindor to first base with both sliding into the bag for the final out that prevented the Tribe from tying the score.
The Indians scored their first run in that inning and had runners on first and second with two out when Lindor hit a smoking grounder down the first base line. Teixeira gobbled it up, but reliever Adam Warren broke late for the bag and could not cover in time to beat Lindor. That was left to Teixeira, who got to his feet, hastened to the bag and then dived for it with his glove extended that hit the base seconds before the outstretched hand of an equalling diving Lindor.
“The first thing on a play like that is to make sure the ball doesn’t get down the line,” Teixeira said. “It would be two runs if that happens. I was hoping to flip it to Adam, but he wasn’t there. I knew I would have to dive because Lindor was coming down the line at full steam while I was starting from scratch.”
It was the type of play that demonstrated why Teixeira won three Gold Gloves for fielding during his exemplary career. The Indians made it a one-run game with a run in the eighth on a wild pitch by Dellin Betances, who atoned for that by earning his second save.
Masahiro Tanaka (8-4) pitched into the seventh and allowed six hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in what manager Joe Girardi called his best game of the season. “To shut down a team that beat him up badly the last time out was impressive,” Girardi said.
Brett Gardner opened the game for the Yankees with a triple off Carlos Carrasco (7-6) and scored on a sacrifice fly. Gardy tied Jake for the team lead with five triples, including three in his past six games. It was Gardner’s third leadoff triple this year, all in the past 18 games. No other major league team has more than two.
Didi Gregorius made the score 2-0 in the fourth with his 13th home run to put a nice touch on Didi Gregorius Bobblehead Day.
One weird sight came in the third when Ellsbury, on first base with a walk, kept running around the bases as Teixeira lifted a foul pop behind third and into a double play. So what happened?
“I asked him about it, and his answer might be stranger than why he kept going,” Girardi said. “It was a first for me. Put it down to a brain cramp.”
In his retirement announcement before Friday night’s game, Mark Teixeira repeatedly emphasized that his departure would not be until the end of the season and that there was still plenty of ball left to play for him and his teammates, several of whom attended his press conference.
“There are still games left for us to win,” he said. “We want to win as many games as we can. This is a team in transition, but we still have a shot.”
Teixeira did not look like a player on his last legs Friday night in the Yankees’ 13-7 victory over the American League Central-leading Indians. The Yanks took three of four games from the Tribe in Cleveland two weeks ago and continued their success in the opener of a three-game series. The loss trimmed Cleveland’s lead to two games over the Tigers, 4-3 winners over the Mets at Detroit.
Tex extended his consecutive stretch of reaching base to eight plate appearances with hits his first two times up. He doubled to right in the first inning to help the Yankees build a 1-0 lead off Josh Tomlin. In the fourth, Teixeira got an infield single that aided in setting the table for Starlin Castro’s first career grand slam that followed an RBI double by Brian McCann and an intentional walk to Chase Headley.
McCann was the designated hitter as recent Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Gary Sanchez got his first start behind the plate. He did a solid job working with Michael Pineda and was part of the 16-hit attack. Sanchez doubled in a run in the fifth and got a second RBI the next inning on a bases-loaded walk.
Jacoby Ellsbury led the way with four hits as everyone in the Yankees’ starting lineup took part in the hit parade. Teixeira, Castro, Brett Gardner and Rob Refsnyder had two hits apiece. Seven different players had extra-base hits — doubles by Teixeira, Ellsbury, McCann and Sanchez, a triple by Gardner and homers by Castro and Aaron Hicks.
Pineda overcame a three-run homer by catcher Chris Gimenez, the 9-hole hitter, and pitched into the seventh.
Upon reflection of when his playing days were nearing an end, Yankees manager Joe Girardi recalled praying that it would be revealed to him when to retire. Then he hurt his back. The daily struggle to stay healthy was all he needed to know that the time to walk away had come.
It is never easy for a gifted athlete who has known success at a high level. Many of them need to have the uniform torn off them before they can admit it is over. Mark Teixeira was not like that. He was more like Girardi.
“My body can’t do it anymore,” Teixeira said before Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. “It has been a struggle to stay on the field the last three or four years.”
That is why Teixeira called a late-afternoon press conference where he announced that he will retire at the end of this season. With the Yankees in a period of transition, he did not want to be a distraction. Tex has dealt with neck and knee issues all year. In recent seasons, he has seen more of the trainer’s room that he would like.
I remember Don Mattingly telling me years ago when back issues pushed him towards retirement that it took so much more energy and work to get into the shape needed for the 162-game grind of the Major League Baseball schedule that he knew it was time to walk away, as difficult as that was to do.
“Every kid playing whiffle ball in the backyard or playing Little League, you dream of being a major league baseball player,” Teixeira said. “After 14 years it’s time for me to do something else and after this season I’m going to retire and do something else. I got to live out my dream and had more success than I could ever imagined, but it felt like it was the right time to step away from the game. I want to finish this season on a high note.”
Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night only to be on the sidelines again Thursday night because of a sore knee, talked it over with Girardi and told him how he was leaning.
“Are you sure,” Girardi said to Teixeira. “At this point in a season, players are banged up and think along those lines.”
Teixeira assured Girardi he was certain about his decision and then added, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do. What would that be?”
Girardi answered, “Play first base.”
So Teixeira was back in the lineup Friday night. He intends to play out the season as much as his aching knee and neck allow. Tex has been playing with a cartilage tear in his right knee since early June. His neck sprain is a chronic condition.
It was just a year ago that a trimmed-down Teixeira belted 31 home runs and was in the discussion for American League Most Valuable Player consideration entering August, but a foul ball off his knee caused more damage that originally thought that ended his season prematurely.
He has struggled offensively much of this season and entered play Friday night batting .198 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Tex has picked it up lately. He has reached safely in six consecutive plate appearances and eight of his past nine. He was on base in nine of 13 plate appearances in his three Subway Series games against the Mets. Over his past eight games, Teixeira has had a slash line of .333/.484/.542 with five runs, two doubles, one home run and four RBI in 24 at-bats.
His 400th career double Tuesday night at Citi Field made him the first switch-hitter in major league history with 400 career doubles and 400 career home runs. His 404 homers rank fifth on the switch hitter list behind Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (468) and former Yankees teammate Carlos Beltran (415).
Teixeira grew up a Murray fan in Annapolis, Md., and was encouraged to switch-hit by his father, whom he thanked in a tearful address. “I need to let you know,” he said. “The Teixeira’s are cryers.”
He thanked the Rangers, who drafted him in the first round and signed him in 2001, and Buck Showalter, his manager in Texas who showed patience after Teixeira started his career with 15 hitless at-bats but finished the season with 26 home runs. He called second stop Atlanta his second home since he attended Georgia Tech and married a Georgia girl. He thanked the Angels for “two fabulous months” in 2008 and giving him his first taste of postseason play.
But it was his time with the Yankees that he loved most. Signing an eight-year contract prior to the 2009 season, he finished second in the MVP race that year with a 39-homer, 122-RBI output for the most recent Yankees team to win the World Series.
“2009 was a whirlwind, winning the World Series in the first year of the new Stadium,” Teixeira said. “I probably didn’t appreciate it as much at the time because you think you’ll win three or four more.”
The only personal achievement Teixeira mentioned was the pride he had in having eight seasons of more than 30 homers and 100 RBI.
Yet all that seemed so far away as the injuries piled up. And with free agency lurking after season’s end, Teixeira decided this was the moment to call it a career once the schedule is finished.
“Being a free agent at season’s end, and being 36, retirement is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “If I have to grind through the season not being healthy, I’d rather be somewhere else. I did not want to be a distraction. I would miss my kids way too much to be in some training room in Detroit not knowing if I can play while they’re in Little League or a play or something.”
With the Yankees in this period of transition, there is always the possibility a contending team might be interested in a player who won five Gold Glove and three Silver Slugger Awards and was a three-time All-Star.
“There has been no conversation about a trade, but I want to retire as a Yankee,” Teixeira said. “There is something about the Yankees. When you play against them you want to beat them or play well at Yankee Stadium. It was an unbelievable blessing to get to wear the pinstripes every day.”
Tex also had a message to Yankees fans: “They are the greatest fans in the world. I was far from perfect, but I appreciated your support. I gave you everything I had. It wasn’t always enough, but I tried very hard and am proud to have such fans rooting for the Yankees.”
And soon he will be among them.
“I’ll be watching,” Teixeira said. “I’ll be a Yankees fan forever.”
Alex Rodriguez has had a hard time getting in the Yankees’ starting lineup the past two weeks. Thursday night in Game 4 of the Subway Series seemed to be his best chance of cracking into the lineup because Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher for the Mets.
To say A-Rod has owned “Big Sexy” in his career is a huge understatement. In 52 career at-bats against Colon, Rodriguez has batted .442 with seven doubles, one triple and eight home runs.
Yet when manager Joe Girardi posted his lineup, there was no Rodriguez in it. For the second straight night, the designated hitter role was filled by Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ prized catching prospect who was recently recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez got his first major-league hit, a single to center field in the seventh inning, as part of a 1-for-4 game Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 9-5 victory.
Sanchez had two more hits Thursday night in the 4-1 loss to the Mets that turned this year’s Subway Series into a push as each club won two games. Sanchez scored the Yankees’ run in the seventh. He doubled with one out off Colon and scored on a two-out single by Aaron Hicks off reliever Jerry Blevins. Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia (38th save) to bring the potential tying run to the plate before Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play.
Otherwise, it was all Mets, due largely to Colon (10-6), the 43-year-old marvel who gave up one run, six hits and no walks with one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (9-8) had one bad inning in seven — the fifth — but it was a brutal one.
Kelly Johnson led off with a Yankee Stadium right field porch home run. One out later, Curtis Granderson doubled to left-center. Eovaldi then made a pivotal mistake on a check-swing grounder to the mound by Alejandro De Aza by throwing to second base in an attempt to cut down Granderson, but he slid back into the bag safely, costing the Yanks a possible sure out at first base.
After Neil Walker lined out, Jay Bruce, obtained earlier this week in a trade from the Reds, made his first contribution to the Mets with a three-run home run to right-center. Bruce had been 0-for-10 with four strikeouts since joining the Mets before that homer, his 26th, that raised his National League leading RBI total to 83.
Girardi acknowledged that Rodriguez’s statistics against Colon were “tremendous,” but also pointed out “most of those numbers came many, many years ago.”
Indeed, A-Rod ran up those stats against Colon in the previous decade while he was winning three American League Most Valuable Player Awards against a pitcher who copped an AL Cy Young Award, in 2005 with the Angels. Girardi added that when Rodriguez last faced Colon, in 2012, he was 1-for-6.
As frustrated as Rodriguez may be, at 41 he has not shown much at the plate to warrant his playing regularly. A-Rod started the first five games after the All-Star break and batted .188 with one home run and one RBI in 16 at-bats. He has started once in the past 12 games and struck out four times in that game. Rodriguez has one hit, a single, in his past 19 at-bats as his season batting average has shrunk to .204 with nine homers and 29 RBI in 216 at-bats. He has been stuck at 696 career home runs since July 18.
In defending his decision not to start Rodriguez against Colon, Girardi said most of his problems have come against right-handed pitching. True enough, A-Rod is hitting .196 against righties this year. Wednesday night, he also sat against a left-handed starter, Steven Matz, but Rodriguez has not exactly lit it up against lefties, either (.219).
Girardi denied that he was being told by the front office not to play Rodriguez, who is under contract through the 2017 season. And despite reports suggesting that the Yankees have discussed releasing Rodriguez and eating the $27 million due him over the remainder of his contract, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio there have been no such talks.
“First and foremost, you just have to flat-out admit, it is not easy to eat — meaning release — that kind of money,” Cashman said. “It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. You see players — and I don’t want to name them because they are still playing — but there are players around the game who are on big contracts that have been well-below-average players now for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs last year. This is a bigger media market and more attention, and there is certainly a tempest about what should be done. All I can tell you is, slow down a little bit and here is the counterarguments: There is a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as early as last year.”
The financial considerations are for the front office to worry about. That is not the manager’s concern. He has to put the players in the lineup that give his team the best chance to win. It has been some time since Rodriguez fit into that equation.
I remember years ago talking to a manager who had an aging superstar on his team. The manager said, “The best piece of advice I got from a managing mentor of mine was not to argue with your general manager over the 25th player on the roster and try not to let a star fall on you.”
It is one of the most difficult assignments for any manager, to find a way for a player well past his prime to maintain his dignity while dealing with severely diminished skills.
Also missing from the lineup was Mark Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night (three-run home run, two walks, hit by a pitch). The HBP by Matz left Tex with a bruised left shin.
Earning a return to the rotation was Luis Severino, who got his first victory of the season for not allowing an earned run in 4 1/3 innings in relief of Chad Green, who was optioned to SWB. Severino will start next Tuesday night at Boston.
Chad Green’s audition for the rotation spot that used to belong to Ivan Nova before he was traded to the Pirates did not go that well Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Subway Series, a 9-5 Yankees victory. Fortunately for Green, his teammates picked him up by battering Mets starter Steven Matz, who lost for the seventh time in his past eight decisions.
Green was lucky just to get through the first inning. He gave up a home run leading off the game to Curtis Granderson, the former Yankees outfielder who has made a career of hitting the long ball at Yankee Stadium, and let in another run on a walk and three singles. The Mets had two runs in and the bases loaded before Green got his first out, a strikeout looking on Michael Conforto. A double-play grounder by Wilmer Flores gave Green some needed relief.
The Yankees responded with three runs in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by Chase Headley and an RBI double by Didi Gregorius. Green let the Mets tie the score in the second on a double by Kelly Johnson and a single by Rene Rivera.
In the bottom half, the Yankees struck with two out on singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Rob Refsnyder and a three-run homer by Mark Teixeira. The next time Tex batted, in the fifth, he was struck below the left knee by a pitch from Matz and was not happy about it. Teixeira shouted at the pitcher as he went to first base while the dugouts emptied but no punches were thrown.
“Steven’s a good kid, and I like him,” Teixeira said later. “But if you hit a home run and the next pitch you see doesn’t come close to the plate and hits you it looks bad. I told him I didn’t appreciate it.”
Green was gone from the game by that point. His pitch count got up to 86 with two out and two on in the fourth when manager Joe Girardi brought in Luis Severino to face Yoenis Cespedes, who struck out.
Severino kept himself in position to get his first winning decision after six losses, even in the seventh when the Mets loaded the bases with none out on a walk to Granderson, a bunt single by Neil Walker and an error by third baseman Chase Headley on a hot grounder by Cespedes. Severino got a huge strikeout of RBI leader Jay Bruce before giving up an unearned run on an infield out and then struck out Conforto.
For Granderson, the game-leading home run was his seventh of the season and 42nd of his career, including a franchise-record 18 for the Mets, breaking the tie he had with Jose Reyes, who rejoined the Mets last month and is on the 15-day disabled list. Granderson has hit 68 career home runs at Yankee Stadium. Pitching him carefully after that, the Yankees walked Granderson three times.
Teixeira, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances, found himself in a weird situation in the seventh when while on second base he kept being stared down by Hansel Robles, the reliever who stepped off the rubber several times amid the taunts from the sellout Stadium crowd of 48,339.
“I guess he thought I had their signs, but I didn’t,” Tex said. “He started yelling at me, so I yelled back, ‘If you think I have the signs, you should change them.’ ”
The Yankees caught another break in the ninth when Cespedes tweaked his troublesome right quad that has bothered him for a month in striking out and was placed on the 15-day DL. The Mets had planned to keep him off the field as a DH in this series and in the weekend, inter-league set at Detroit.
On the day of the first Subway Series game in 2016, the best position player of those who spent time with both the Yankees and the Mets was on his way out of New York again. Carlos Beltran, the Yankees’ most productive hitter this season, followed the path of relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and was traded for three prospects.
Beltran was a major trade chip for the Yankees, particularly to American League clubs that could use him at designated hitter as well as in the outfield. The Rangers have been in need of added punch at the plate since Prince Fielder was lost for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury that required surgery.
Beltran will certainly provide that for Texas. At the age of 39 and despite nagging leg issues, Beltran hit .304 in 359 at-bats for the Yankees and led the team in hits (109), home runs (22) and runs batted in (64) and was tied for the club lead in doubles (21). He was an All-Star for the ninth time in his career and the first time as an American Leaguer.
Earlier this season, he reached 20 homers for the 12th time in his career (1999, 2001-04, ’06-08, ’11-13 and ’16), tied with former teammate Mark Teixeira for the fourth-most 20-homer seasons all time among switch-hitters. Eddie Murray had 16 such seasons, and Mickey Mantle and Chipper Jones 14 apiece. Beltran also became the second switch-hitter in major league history with a 20-homer season at age 39-or-older, joining Murray (21 homers at 39 in 1995 and 22HR at 40 in ’96).
Beltran was a five-time National League All-Star during his seven-plus seasons with the Mets. Only Darryl Strawberry rivals him as a major position player on both New York teams. The best pitcher who was on both clubs was David Cone, with Dwight Gooden a close second.
Of the four players the Yankees received in return for Beltran, the most promising is pitcher Dillon Tate, a righthander who was the Rangers’ selection in the first round (and the fourth overall pick) in the 2015 First Year Player Draft. The Yankees also got two other right-handed pitchers, Erik Swanson and Nick Green.
Tate, 22, was 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA (65.0IP, 37ER) in 17 games (16 starts) and 65 innings with Class A Hickory this year. He made his professional debut in 2015, posting a 1.00 ERA over six starts and nine innings with Hickory and short-season Class A Spokane. Entering the 2015 draft, Tate was tabbed by Baseball America as the top pitcher and third-best prospect overall. Following the 2015 season, the Claremont, Calif., native was ranked by the publication as baseball’s 69th-best prospect.
During his collegiate career at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Tate was named a 2015 Louisville Slugger All-America and UCSB’s first-ever Golden Spikes Award semifinalist after going 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 14 starts and 103 1/3 innings as a junior. In 2014, he earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, recording three saves while posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 appearances. The highest selection ever out of UCSB, Tate is a product of Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., where he played in tournaments across the United States and Japan as a teenager.
Swanson, 22, was 6-4 with one save and a 3.43 ERA (81.1IP, 31ER) in 19 games (15 starts) and 81 1/3 innings with Hickory in 2016 and was a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star. The Terrace Park, Ohio, native was originally selected by the Rangers in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Over three minor league seasons, he has combined to go 8-6 with two saves and a 3.52 ERA in 44 games (15 starts) and 120 innings.
Green, 21, was 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts totaling 34 1/3 innings with Spokane in 2016. Originally selected by Texas in the seventh round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, Green has posted a 6-8 record and 5.15 ERA in 31 career appearances (21 starts) and 108 1/3 innings over three minor league seasons. The Fountain, Colo., native was previously drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign.
In another transaction designed towards the future, the Yanks traded pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pirates for two players to be named. The Yankees added relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, who they acquired from the Diamondbacks Sunday, to the 25-man roster and recalled pitcher Nick Goody and outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not say who would replace Nova in the rotation. The candidates are Luis Severino and Chad Green. The manager was also unclear how he would replace Beltran.
“We lost the most important hitter in our lineup,” Girardi said. “This is a chance for young players to step up. I believe we can still win with the players in that room.”
After winning three consecutive series and going 7-3 against such contenders as the Orioles, Giants and Astros, the Yankees seemed to place themselves in contention as well, particularly since they were spending this weekend at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla, home of the last-place Rays.
That was the sound the Yanks made Friday night as they fell to Tampa Bay, 5-1, failing to take advantage of a Baltimore loss to Toronto, which moved the Blue Jays to a half-game of overtaking the Orioles for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees banged out 10 hits but all were singles, and only one, a two-out knock by Mark Teixeira in the eighth, came with runners in scoring position in nine such at-bats. A bright spot was a pinch-hit single in the ninth by Alex Rodriguez, only his second hit in 24 at-bats since the All-Star break.
A brighter spot was the work of rookie righthander Chad Green, who picked up from starter Ivan Nova in the fifth and pitched the rest of the way. Green’s command occasionally was as shaky as Nova’s (three walks), but he allowed only one hit and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings. Green might actually have been auditioning for a job in the rotation should Nova be dealt before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Nova (7-6, 4.90 ERA) was in trouble from the get-go. He gave up solo home runs to Logan Forsythe and Corey Dickerson on inside fastballs in the first inning. The first five hits the Rays had against Nova were for extra bases. Brad Miller tripled and doubled. Evan Longoria added an RBI double.
Green at least kept the Yankees within striking distance, but they failed for the most part to hit in the clutch. The Yanks got two hits in the first inning off eventual winning pitcher Jake Odorizzi (5-5), which is twice as many as they had over seven innings against him back on May 29 at the Trop. That day, Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the seventh only to lose it and the game on a two-run home run by Starlin Castro, the only hit for the Yankees in the game. Ironically, Castro was the only Yankees player in the lineup Friday night who failed to get a hit.
Any plans Alex Rodriguez may have had taking grounders at first base before Monday night’s scheduled game at Yankee Stadium were washed away as batting practice had to be canceled due to severe thunderstorm activity.
Then again, it might have been just a waste of time for A-Rod, who has stated a desire to play the position if it will get him into the lineup more often. Another injury to Mark Teixeira has opened up first base again, but manager Joe Girardi clearly prefers to use rookie Rob Refsnyder there if Tex is not available.
Teixeira, who has missed time this season because of right knee and neck issues, was out of the starting lineup Monday night for the second straight game. He fouled a ball off the area above his left ankle Saturday. A CT scan after the game was negative, but the area is very swollen. Girardi said he did not anticipate being able to use Teixeira Monday or Tuesday nights.
Rodriguez was in the lineup as the designated hitter against the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman and did what will keep him in the lineup, which was to hit a home run. His blow into the left field bleachers off a 2-0 meatball from Gausman in the second inning was A-Rod’s ninth home run of the season and career No. 696.
Before the thunderstorms hit, Rodriguez was able to hit into a BP session and banged several balls into the seats, so he was able to take that into the game.
A-Rod lost playing time at DH against right-handed pitching when Girardi used Carlos Beltran while he was recovering from a hamstring strain. Beltran was back in right field Monday night.
The Orioles tied the score in the third on a solo homer by Jonathan Schoop off Ivan Nova. Beltran helped build the run in the bottom of that inning that turned out to be the decider for the Yanks. Beltran went against the shift with a single to left field that pushed Brett Gardner to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by Brian McCann.
Nova got the Yankees to the seventh inning when Girardi began the merry-go-round of Dellin Betances in the seventh, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth for three more scoreless innings that ran the bullpen’s current shutout string to 22. Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd of 31,102 buzzing while pitching to J.J. Hardy when one pitch zoomed in at 105 miles per hour, the fastest pitch thrown ib the major leagues this season.
Rodriguez did not take well to playing first base last year when the Yankees asked him to work out at the position early in the season. He played poorly there and seemed content to be a permanent DH rather than have to wear a glove again, which he did with distinction as a Gold Glove winner at shortstop and third base.
But that was two hip surgeries ago for Rodriguez, who will turn 41 later this month. His .216 batting average is 79 points below his career mark. He is 2-for-13 (.154) on the homestand.
Refsnyder, who was an outfielder in college and an infielder in the minor leagues, has done a decent job at first base and has given the Yankees consistent if unspectacular offense. He is batting .269 with eight doubles and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats.
“He has just had the one day of work, so I’m not ready to commit to that yet,” Girardi said. “Right now I’m going with Ref there. Alex is DHing tonight so I’m going with Ref there. It’s something that we’ll continue to talk about but we’ll stick for Ref for now.”
The Yankees need to win games and not be giving auditions for an important position at this stage of the season. A-Rod had his chance to be a factor at first base and did not work hard enough when the Yankees needed him. Now that playing time as the DH is threatened, he picks up a first base glove. Girardi is making the right call here.
The Yankees escaped disaster over the weekend at San Diego, thanks to a spot starter and an on-the-spot finisher Sunday. A 6-3 victory over the Padres Sunday was achieved primarily due to the effective pitching of rookie Chad Green and two crucial home runs by Mark Teixeira, who avoided wearing the golden sombrero and in the process cleared the 400-home run plateau.
The Yankees remain the team with the best record in inter-league play since the format began in 1997 (although the Red Sox are right on their heels) but have struggled against National League competition this year. Sunday’s victory improved their mark in inter-league play this year to 3-7. What has hurt the Yankees this season especially in NL parks is a sparse bench. With a 12-man pitching staff and with aging veterans Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran hampered by leg issues, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been limited in options.
Despite the final score, Sunday’s game was a nail biter until the ninth. Green held the Padres to one run and three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings but departed the game with merely a one-run lead. Normally, that has been gold with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman in play, but the No Runs DMC combination had its perceived invincibility shaken Saturday night. Betances allowed an inherited runner to score on a double by Matt Kemp in the sixth inning that tied the score. San Diego almost took the lead that inning as well on a single by Melvin Upton, but left fielder Brett Gardner threw Kemp out at the pomerhlate.
Upton did more damage three innings later when he led off the ninth by driving the first pitch from Miller a long way into the left field stands for a walk-off home run. It marked the first loss in six decisions for Miller this season.
Although Betances allowed two hits in the seventh inning Sunday, he protected the one-run advantage with key strikeouts of Derek Norris and Ryan Schrimpf. Miller also put two runners on in the eighth with a single and a walk but retired the dangerous Kemp on a ground ball to work out of it.
Teixeira had given Miller an extra run to work with when he led off the top of that inning with his 400th career home run. Tex, who had struck out in his previous three at-bats, became the fifth switch-hitter to reach the milestone. The others are Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and his teammate, Beltran. Texeira connected again in the ninth following an RBI single by Gardner as the Yankees pulled away at 6-1.
That took Chapman out of the equation but only momentarily. Anthony Swarzak could not close it out as Yangervis Solarte singled for his fourth hit of the game and scored on a home run by Alex Dickerson. Chapman then was summoned to notch his 16th save, which he did by retiring the three batters he faced.
Green had been called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start in place of CC Sabathia because the Yankees did not want the lefthander to have to bat or run the bases at Petco Park. It could not have worked out better for the Yankees, who now must decide whether to fit Green, a righthander, into the rotation somehow. Green was named to the International League All-Star squad on the strength of his league-leading 1.54 ERA.
The victory was a face saver for the Yankees, who were defeated the previous two nights by the NL West cellar dwellers. They will return to American League play Monday afternoon at Chicago with a July 4th date against the White Sox on the birthday of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner and radio voice John Sterling.
Anyone tired of “No Runs DMC” yet? How could any Yankees fan be? Particularly in close games toward the late innings, the anticipation of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman having an impact on the game whets the appetite of any Yankees fan.
Naturally, this cannot be the formula every game or else the trio of power pitchers could get burned out. But for now, the only burning going on is to the opponents’ bats. The group that radio voice John Sterling calls “Murderer’s Throw” contributed to the Yanks’ third straight victory in this homestand, a 2-1 verdict over the Twins in which Minnesota May have derived satisfaction in at least having someone reach base.
Yankees relievers had retired 31 batters in a row before Joe Mauer’s opposite-field single to left off Chapman with two out in the ninth inning. It was only the third hit for the Twins, their first since the third inning and ended a stretch of 15 consecutive batters retired.
It was fools’ gold for Minnesota, however, as Chapman ended the game with a strikeout of Brian Dozier, who had accounted for the Twins’ run with a home run leading off the second inning against Michael Pineda.
That was the only blemish on the outing by Pineda, who allowed just one other hit and one walk with eight strikeouts in his six innings of work. The Yankees tied the score in the fifth against Twins starter Ervin Santana on back-to-back, two-out singles by Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran.
The Yanks threatened again in the sixth, but a rally was choked off when Starlin Castro grounded into a double play. Though the score was tied, manager Joe Girardi went to his favorite formula as he brought in Betances at the start of the seventh in hopes that the Yankees could push across another run.
That did not occur until the eighth against reliever Ryan Pressly. Alex Rodriguez started the inning with an infield single. A hard single to right by Brian McCann sent pinch runner Aaron Hicks to third base. After Mark Teixeira, back in the lineup after 20 days on the disabled list because of torn cartilage in his right knee, struck out, Castro hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, who booted the ball for his second error of the game as the eventual winning run scored.
The inning ended on a disputed double play in which McCann was thrown out at home by left fielder Robbie Grossman after catching a liner by Chase Headley. Video replays seemed to indicate that catcher Kurt Suzuki’s tag was high on McCann’s right leg as his left foot crossed the plate, but plate umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call stood after a Yankees challenge.
So the margin remained slim for Chapman, who from the Twins’ viewpoint was at least hittable compared to Friday night when he blew three hitters away with his high-octane fastball. Gardner needed to get on his horse to run down a drive to left-center by Eduardo Nunez. Grossman also hit the ball in grounding out to shortstop before Mauer’s line single. Dozier was not as fortunate as Chapman used sliders to put him away.
The Yankees, now a game over .500 at 37-36, improved their record to 12-0 when all three DMC pitchers appear in a game. They had combined for 10 consecutive 1-2-3 innings over the past four games before Mauer’s hit. Overall, Yankees relievers have 44 consecutive strikeouts since their last walk June 15 at Denver.
To make roster space for Teixeira, the Yankees placed first baseman Ike Davis on waivers. If he clears, he could be optioned to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as insurance in the event Teixeira’s knee flares up again. Rob Refsnyder’s surprising play at first base and overall versatility made him more valuable to the Yanks than Davis at this time.