Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’

Tex & Mac get the fireworks started early

How many times can a team lose a game and still win? Well, for the Yankees Friday night, twice. They looked beaten in the eighth inning until Mark Teixeira tied the score with a three-run home run for their first scores of the night. They also appeared headed for defeat when the Rays scored two runs in the top of the 12th inning, but the Yankees were not ready to call it a night.

They chipped away for a run on a leadoff walk to Brett Gardner and one-out singles by Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira before another three-run homer, this time by Brian McCann, got the Fourth of July Weekend of fireworks off to an early start.

For seven innings, the Yankees seemed to have brought the lethargic offense they experienced on the recent trip to Houston and Anaheim home with them as longtime nemesis Chris Archer put them through the paces. The righthander, who has never lost to the Yankees, kept that record intact with 6 2/3 brilliant innings in which he allowed three hits and three walks with a hit batter, a wild pitch and eight strikeouts.

Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier saved a run with a leaping catch in front of the wall to rob Stephen Drew of an RBI, extra-base hit in the third inning. That was as close to scoring as the Yankees got until the eighth when Chase Headley and Rodriguez singled with one out off Kevin Jepsen and Teixeira smoked a 1-0 fastball from the righthander for his 20th home run.

For the Yankees, Nick Rumbelow came up big out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth after Chris Capuano had given up singles to the first two batters of the inning. Rumbelow retired Joey Butler on an infield fly and then got Evan Longoria on a fly to right and James Loney on a ground ball to third base.

Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson also pitched well in relief before the Rays got to Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve for two runs in the top of the 12th. Things looked dismal at that point, but the Yankees proved to have another comeback in them.

The Rays had scored twice in the first inning off Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed a third run in the fifth. Overall, it was an encouraging night for the Japanese righthander, who was off two bad starts but rebounded with six innings of three-run, six-hit, one-walk, five-strikeout work in six innings. But this was a game that had more to do with the end than the start.

After hot homestand, bats turn cold on road

First place in the American League East was all theirs for the taking Tuesday night, but the Yankees failed to take advantage of losses by the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays by suffering the same fate.

For five innings, it appeared as if Iva Nova would drive the Yanks back to the top of the division. In his second start since coming back from Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow, Nova took a shutout into the sixth inning. He wiggled out of danger in the first two innings as the Angels were hitless in five at-bats with five runners in scoring position and stranded five runners, three of them in scoring position.

Then in the sixth, the Angels struck quickly and deeply as Nova was tagged for back-to-back home runs by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar for the first runs the righthander had allowed in 12 innings this year.

The blows offset the solo home run Mark Teixeira hit leading off the second inning against Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who allowed only one other hit through seven innings and earned his first major league victory. Other than Tex’s 19th home run, the Yankees had only five other base runners on a single by Brett Gardner, two walks, an error and a wild-pitch third strike. None of them got past first base with the Angels turning three double plays along the way.

It was a tough loss for Nova, who scattered eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. A nasty curve served him well in the game until he could not keep the ball in the yard. Adam Warren, back in the bullpen after having done a good job as a starter, did his part in keeping the Yankees close with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit, one-walk, two-strikeout relief.

The bats have turned cold on this trip, which ends Wednesday. After a homestand in which they batted .351 with 19 home runs and averaged 7.5 runs per game, the Yankees through six games on the trip are hitting .192 with five home runs and are averaging 2.5 runs per game. Of the Yankees’ 15 runs on the trip, nine came in one game.

Nova good as new in return from TJ surgery

A homestand that began so promisingly and then seemed to fall apart ended on a very high note Wednesday for the Yankees as Ivan Nova made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow 14 months ago.

The Phillies, owners of the worst record in baseball, threatened to complete a embarrassing sweep of the Yankees behind veteran Cole Hamels, who seems to be auditioning for a variety of clubs in need of a quality starter. Nova followed disappointing starts by CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against a team that had scored 22 runs over the previous two games.

Yankees pitchers were banged around for 34 runs and 44 hits in three straight losses. Nova’s outing was just what they needed, not that they could have expected it from him. Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery do not often have so impressive a first outing as did Nova in a 10-2 victory over the Phillies.

The Yankees gave their teammate some working room by jumping out to a 5-0 lead off Hamels by the fourth inning, a continuation of their offensive combustibility throughout the homestand in which they scored 60 runs in eight games, an average of 7.5 runs per game. On the 5-3 homestand, the Yanks batted .351 with 19 home runs to offset a staff ERA of 5.50.

As for Nova, his ERA is 0.00. In his first start since April 19, 2014, the righthander allowed three hits and two walks. He had only one strikeout but kept the Phillies off base with routine outs. Center fielder Brett Gardner had nine putouts behind Nova.

Gardner also continued his ferocious hitting with an RBI single, a walk and two runs. On the homestand, he had 17-for-36 (.472) with three doubles, one triple, four home runs and 10 RBI. Gardy scored 12 runs and raised his batting average 30 points to .292.

Everybody on the Yankees hit Wednesday except for Carlos Beltran (0-for-5; there is always one player who doesn’t get to the dance floor). After missing two games because of a stiff neck, Mark Teixeira banged out three singles and knocked in two runs.

Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Young, Didi Gregorius and Jose Pirela had two hits apiece. Hamels was gone after five innings in which he allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks, and the Yankees piled it on against two Phillies relievers.

Finally, the Yankees were able to put a net over infielder Maikel Franco, who was 0-for-4 after having gone 6-for-8 (.750) with 10 RBI and five runs over the two prior games.

The Yankees are 12-4 in their past 16 home games since May 25 and have outscored opponents, 115-67, during that time. Nova’s stint was the longest stretch of scoreless innings by a Yankees pitcher in his season debut since Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-hit ball April 26, 2002 against Tampa Bay.

The victory coupled with the Rays’ loss to the Blue Jays inched the Yankees to one game of first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.

Teixeira’s 18th homer only support for Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka’s strong work since coming off the disabled list earlier this month continued Monday night in the Yankees’ first appearance at Miami’s Marlins Park in the opener of a home-and-away, four-game, inter-league series.

The previous two seasons, the Yankees had such series against the Mets, but that meant the two teams merely had to cross the East River after two games. This two-and-two with the Marlins has the two teams traveling all the way down and up the Eastern seaboard, another example of empty-headed scheduling.

For all of Tanaka’s sound pitching Friday night, he was done in by one pitch — a 2-0 fastball that Derek Dietrich drove to right field for his first home run of the season that unlocked a 1-1 score in the seventh inning. It held up for a 2-1 Miami victory that knocked the Yankees out of first place in the American League East to the other Florida club, the Rays, 6-1 winners over the Nationals. The Yankees had at least a share of first place for 20 straight days since May 26.

Tanaka pitched seven innings and allowed nine hits, which were pretty much scattered. He did not walk a batter and struck out six. Unfortunately, the Yankees mustered next to no offense against native New Yorker Tom Koehler other than Mark Teixeira’s 18th home run of the season, leading off the second inning.

Miami came right back against Tanaka in the bottom of the second. Dietrich, the third baseman who was recalled from Triple A New Orleans three days ago with regular Martin Prado ailing (right shoulder sprain), doubled to left with one out and scored on a single to left by Adeiny Hechavarria.

The second is a pivotal inning for the Yankees. They are 18-5 (.783) when leading after two innings and 16-24 (.400) when tied or trailing at the conclusion of the second.

Koehler also pitched seven innings and other than the Teixeira homer allowed only two other hits, both by Didi Gregorius, a single and a double. Alex Rodriguez, back in his home town, got to bat as a pinch hitter with two out in the ninth and a runner on first base but flied out to right to end the game.

The losing decision was Tanaka’s first since opening day April 6 and ended a personal four-game winning streak. In three starts since coming off the DL, the righthander is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings in which he has allowed 17 hits, including four homers, with no walks and 21 strikeouts. Over his past five starts, Tanaka is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 34 1/3 innings with two walks and 35 strikeouts.

The other pitching highlight of the night for the Yankees was the relief effort of Sergio Santos in the eighth inning after Jose Ramirez had loaded the bases with none out on a hit, a hit batter and a walk. Santos kept the Marlins from breaking the game open at that point with strikeouts of J.T. Realmuto and pinch hitter Marcell Ozuna and retiring Hechevarria on a fly ball to shallow right field.

The Yankees put the potential tying run on base in the ninth against Marlins closer A.J. Ramos when Brian McCann walked and was lifted for pitch runner Brendan Ryan, but Teixiera and Garrett Jones struck out before A-Rod’s lone time at the plate.

Tuesday night’s game at Marlins Park will be a matchup of pitchers traded for each other in the off-season: Nathan Eovaldi for the Yankees and David Phelps for the Marlins. Prado and Jones also were in that exchange. Ivan Nova will not return to the Yankees’ rotation this week. The club wants the righthander to make one more minor-league start on injury rehabilitation before considering returning him to the rotation.

Rookie’s debut lone highlight for Yankees

Mason Williams broke into the major leagues with a bang Friday night. Williams, part of several roster moves by the Yankees after Andrew Miller’s assignment to the 15-day disabled list, made his big-league debut as the starting center fielder at Camden Yards.

Williams, 23, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, found out how hitter-friendly the Baltimore park is. Batting ninth in the order, Williams drove a 0-1 fastball from righthander Ubaldo Jimenez into the right field bleachers in the fourth inning, a home run for his first hit in the majors. And among those in the crowd of 33,203 were Williams’ mother and brother.

What was interesting about Williams going yard was that he had not homered at all this year in 201 at-bats combined at SWB and Double A Trenton. Williams hit 23 home runs in 1,832 at-bats over his six minor-league seasons.

Williams, who also made two good plays in the field, will always remember this night, but the Yankees would love to forget it. The first inning was a bad omen when the Yankees loaded the bases with none out and failed to score. The Orioles had no such woes and coasted to an 11-3 victory.

Michael Pineda, pitching on 10 days’ rest after being skipped one turn in the rotation to conserve innings, was off his game and was tagged for six runs (five earned) and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. It was a bad omen for him as well when he walked the first batter he faced. That runner eventually scored on a single by Chris Davis, who did greater damage two innings later with a three-run homer.

Yankees starting pitchers had allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of their previous 11 starts (since May 29), during which they were 6-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 67 2/3 innings.

It was also a miserable night afield for the Yankees. Third baseman Chase Headley committed his 14th error and had to leave the game in the fifth inning because of a groin injury. First baseman Mark Teixeira had his streak of errorless games end at 108 when he made a wild throw over second base in Baltimore’s four-run sixth inning. Caleb Joseph reached base and pushed a runner to third base when his fly ball fell between center fielder Brett Gardner and right fielder Carlos Beltan, each of whom thought the other was going to catch it. The runner who got to third base on that “hit” eventually scored.

It was an unsightly night for the Yankees’ first game against an American League East opponent since May 14 at Tampa Bay. The Yanks went 12-11 against non-divisional opponents in that span. After this three-game series, the Yanks will not face another divisional foe until July 3-5 at Yankee Stadium against the Rays.

Tanaka bests Scherzer in old-fashioned duel

So now I see why Max Scherzer went into Tuesday night’s game with a 6-4 record despite a 1.85 ERA and a WHIP under 1. A combination of scant run support and shaky defense behind him has made the former Cy Young Award winner vulnerable.

That was the case again in his latest start. He also had to come up against Masahiro Tanaka, who showed he is quite healthy in winning his second straight start since coming off the disabled list.

Tanaka might have been hung with a tough no-decision, but the Yankees rallied for four runs in the seventh inning to break up a 1-1 game and went on to a 6-1 victory that pushed their winning streak to seven games, their longest in four seasons. They also pushed Scherzer’s numbers to 6-5 with a 2.13 ERA.

For 6 1/2 innings, this was an as-billed pitchers’ duel. The only runs were on solo homers, by Stephen Drew in the third off Scherzer and by Bryce Harper in the fourth off Tanaka. Harper’s homer, his 20th, was a bomb just to the left of Monument Park in dead center field. The blow was so impressive that Harper had a lot of heads scratching his next time up in the seventh inning when he struck out — on a bunted foul third strike!

The Yankees had a head-scratcher as well. With Mark Teixeira on third base and one out in the sixth, he failed to score on a force play in which the center fielder fell down. Michael Taylor trapped a liner by Carlos Beltran and was able to force Brian McCann out at second. Meanwhile, Teixeira, who had broken for the plate upon contact, did not return to the bag to tag up and was stuck on third while Didi Gregorius struck out to end the inning.

The seventh inning absolved in the seventh. Ramon Flores, who had three hits, started the Yankees’ rally with a one-out single. A broken-bat single to left by Brett Gardner was much softer off the bat than Chase Headley’s dart to right that ended up in Harper’s glove for the second out.

Scherzer now had to deal with Alex Rodriguez, who also hit the ball hard but on the ground to the left of shortstop Ian Desmond. His momentum taking him toward third base, Desmond decided to go for the force at third, but his throw struck Flores on the base path with the ball rolling into the Nationals’ dugout that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The error was Desmond’s 14th in 58 games.

The Yankees did not settle for the single run. Lefthander Matt Thornton replaced Scherzer and walked Teixeira to load the bases for the left-handed batting McCann, who crossed up the strategy with a line single past first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and into right field for two more runs. The fourth run came home on a single to left by Beltran.

Drew, who cannot hit .200 but finds the fences on occasion, hit his second homer of the game and ninth of the season leading off the eighth against righthander Taylor Hill. Drew is batting .175 but is on a pace to hit 25 home runs.

Tanaka was nothing short of brilliant. He gave up five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six. Since returning from the DL, the righthander has 15 strikeouts and no walks. Manager Joe Girardi spoke highly of Tanaka’s efficiency and said his stuff since coming back has been as good as it was last year.

Over his past four starts, Tanaka is 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA that has lowered his season ERA from 7.00 to 2.48. He certainly likes to pitch at Yankee Stadium. He improved his career record at home to 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 85 2/3 innings.

Just like American Pharoah, Yanks go wire-to-wire

Fresh in the Yankees’ minds was the memory of the Angels turning an 8-1 game into an 8-7 game with a six-run rally in the ninth inning Friday night, so the Yanks broke out of the gate much the same way American Pharoah did a few minutes earlier at Belmont Park in ending a 37-year drought of Triple Crown thoroughbred winners.

The Yankees flat-out mugged Garrett Richards, who failed to make it out of the first inning. They quickly loaded the bases on walks to Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez book-ending a single by Chase Headley. American League RBI leader Mark Teixeira got his 44th on a fly ball to center field.

After Richards wild-pitched Headley home, Brian McCann launched a two-run home run to right. The Yankees weren’t finished, either. Carlos Beltran re-started the rally with an infield single against the shift. Didi Gregorius also singled on a flare to center. Center fielder Mike Trout’s throw to third base trying for Beltran hit the runner in the back, which also allowed Gregorius to get to second. First baseman Albert Pujols tried to trap Gregorius off second on a ground ball by Stephen Drew, but shortstop Eric Aybar missed the tag, as the replay showed, which reversed the umpire’s call and loaded the bases for the Yankees.

Richards had a brief reprieve when he struck out Ramon Flores, but Gardner in his second at-bat of the inning lined a single to right field for two more runs, a 6-0 Yankees lead and the end of the line for Richards. The Yankees tagged on another run in the second inning off lefthander Cesar Ramos on successive singles by Teixeira, McCann and Beltran, the last of which was actually hit off another lefthander, Hector Santiago.

Now the question was whether this seven-run lead would hold up without an onslaught similar to the previous game.

Benefiting from all the runs was Adam Warren, who has not had a bevy of run support this year. The righthander retired the Angels in order the first time through the batting order. Aybar was the Halos’ first base runner on an infield single leading off the fourth. Headley made a diving, back-handed grab of a scorching line drive by Trout, which proved an important out because Warren walked the next two batters to load the bases. He got out of the jam by getting David Freese to ground into a double play.

Santiago, normally a starter, brought some order to the Angels’ pitching with 3 2/3 shutout innings in which he allowed two hits and struck out three. Los Angeles got on the board against Warren in the fifth, although the inning could have been uglier after a leadoff double by Matt Joyce and Warren hitting C.J. Cron with a pitch. A sacrifice fly by Johnny Giavotella accounted for the run. Trout got the Angels a second run in the sixth with a home run, his 15th, to right field.

Warren nearly made it through seven innings. A two-out walk in the seventh ended his night, but he evened his record at 4-4 with lefthanders Justin Wilson and Chris Capuano mopping up. The Yankees had only one hit from the third through the seventh but picked up another run on a bases-loaded walk to Teixeira (RBI No. 45) in the eighth.

And this time the visiting ninth was tame, thanks to Capuano’s perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Angels put a devil’s scare into Yanks in 9th

Stuck in a 0-for-22 slump, Stephen Drew was benched for two games on the recently-completed Yankees’ West Coast trip and speculation was ripe that he might lose his second base job. He had two big hits in a come-from-behind, extra-inning victory for the Yankees in Seattle to give manager Joe Girardi more reason to stick with him and opened the homestand Friday night with two home runs in an 8-7 victory over the Angels.

Drew got pushed to the side a bit as the game took a weird turn at the end. Who would have thought with the Yankees up by 8-1 entering the ninth inning that Dellin Betances would get in the game and be in a save situation? And come close to blowing it?

Esmil Rogers faced five batters, did not get any of them out, and all of them scored. One hit was tainted. Chase Headley, shifted to first base in what seemed a blowout, and second baseman Jose Pirela let a popup drop between them for a single by Grant Green.

Betances did not stop the bleeding right away. He gave up a hit and two walks and, finally, an earned run for the first time in 27 appearances and 29 2/3 innings. His strikeout of Kirk Neuwenhuis was the first out of the inning — to the ninth batter! A force play at second ended Betances’ scoreless season and put the potential tying run at third base, but he ended the debacle of an inning by striking out pinch hitter Carlos Perez.

How many times have you seen it? A player hits a foul home run and despite cries from the crowd “Straighten it out,” invariably makes an out on the next pitch. It almost never happens that the hitter does indeed straighten it out.

Drew did so, however, in the second inning in jumping the Yanks out to a 2-0 lead over the Angels’ Jered Weaver. Batting with two out and a runner on first base, Drew, who showed some signs of life offensively in the recent series at Seattle, hit a loud foul near the right field foul pole. You figured at that point that might be his shot.

Then on the next pitch, Drew put another charge into the ball and it made it over the right field wall on the fair side for a two-run home run. Call it a Yankee Stadium homer if you want (it landed maybe two rows over the fence), but a homer is a homer.

Another Stadium homer came two innings later from a more regular source of power — Mark Teixeira. It also came after two were out and barely cleared the right field barrier. It was No. 17 for Tex, who is now one behind American League leader Nelson Cruz of the Mariners. Teixeira also raised his league-leading RBI total to 43.

Speaking of RBI, Alex Rodriguez took over sole possession of second place on the all-time list with No. 1,997 on a two-out single in the fifth that scored Brett Gardner, who had tripled to left-center one out earlier. A-Rod, who had four hits and is batting .284 with 11 homers and 28 RBI, has a ways to go to catch the career RBI leader, Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, with 2,297. Only 300 RBI to go.

Drew connected for his second home run, a two-run shot, with two out in the sixth that sent Weaver to the clubhouse. Fans got excited an inning later when Drew batted with the bases loaded, but he grounded out.

Considering how Drew has struggled — he is still well below the Mendoza line with a .173 batting average — the two-homer, four-RBI game offers some encouragement for the future.

Nathan Eovaldi (5-1) was rolling along for five innings until he lost the plate in the sixth and walked the bases loaded. Chasen Shreve kept the damage to a minimum with one run on an infield out and got a big strikeout of Eric Aybar to end the inning.

Tanaka of old surfaces in comeback start

The Yankees could not have asked for a better outing from Masahiro Tanaka in his first start back after spending the past five weeks on the disabled list because of right wrist tendinitis and a right forearm strain. Oh, yeah, he could have pitched a no-hitter with 20 strikeouts. That would have made the Yanks happier, but what he did Wednesday against the Mariners was just fine, thank you.

The Yankees just wanted to see a healthy Tanaka capable of throwing between 80 and 85 pitches and pitching with the kind of command that has characterized his brief but impressive time with the club the past two seasons. That they saw. The righthander made it through seven strong innings in 78 pitches with stuff the Yankees had not seen from him since last year before his right elbow injury ended his dazzling rookie year.

“This was the highest velocity we have seen from him all year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I did not expect seven innings from him. I was hoping that at 80, 85 pitches he could get to the sixth. His stuff was sharp. He had the ability to move the ball around. I know there had been questions about his last start, but I don’t make too much of Triple A starts.”

It was a major league effort in every way for Tanaka, who retired the side in order in six of his seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine. Only the third inning was troublesome when he gave up the three hits Seattle had off him.

Brad Miller tripled to center to lead off the inning and scored on a double by Dustin Ackley that tied the score at 1. One out later, Logan Morrison singled to left, but rookie Ramon Flores choked off a potential run by throwing out Ackley at the plate. It was the second assist for Flores in his first week in the major leagues.

Other than that inning, Tanaka was perfect. A sign that he had the Seattle hitters off balance throughout the game was that seven of his strikeouts were on called third strikes.

And right after the Mariners tied the score, the Yankees quickly jumped back in front on a two-out, two-run home run in the fourth inning by Garrett Jones, who had won Tuesday night’s game with a three-run blast as a pinch hitter in the 11th inning.

People say Safeco Field is a tough place to hit home runs, but the Yankees had four in three games — two by Jones and two by Mark Teixeira, who had put the Yankees ahead with a solo shot in the second inning. Teixeira, who had six RBI in the series, finds Safeco just as comfortable for him as Yankee Stadium. Tex is a .287 career hitter at the Seattle yard with 22 doubles, one triple, 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 300 at-bats. The homer total is the most for a visiting player.

Wednesday was the Yankees’ 54th game, the one-third mark of the season. With 16 home runs and 41 RBI, Teixeira is on a pace for 48 homers and 123 RBI. That would be a monster season.

The Yankees in general play well at Safeco. They have won eight consecutive games there since June 8, 2013, and are 14-3 over the past four seasons. Since 1999, the Yankees have had just two winning streaks of more than eight games against one opponent on the road: nine games at Oakland from July 5, 2010 to May 27, 2012 and 10 games at Texas from July 20, 2005 to May 3, 2007.

Despite Tanaka’s brilliance, this victory did not come easily. In the bottom of the eighth, Girardi brought in Andrew Miller for a five-out save with a runner on first base and one out. Miller, who threw 23 pitches in saving Tuesday night’s game, loaded the bases with a hit batter and a four-pitch walk. But did he ever recover.

Miller struck out Morrison on a slider out of the strike zone and retired Austin Jackson on an force play. In the ninth, Miller got Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz on called third strikes before Kyle Seager got an infield single to bring the potential tying run to the plate. Miller got Justin Ruggiano on a grounder to third and made it 17-for-17 saves.

The three-game sweep of the Mariners made it a winning West Coast trip for the Yankees, who began it by losing three of four games at Oakland. They remained in first place in the American League East and have had at least a share of the top spot for nine straight days and 36 of the past 41 days

There was one downside as the Yankees made their way back home. Brian McCann had to come out of the game in the second inning because of a sore left foot. The catcher has been bothered by the injury and undergoing treatment the past two weeks, but the pain was too severe for him to continue Wednesday. He will undergo an MRI Thursday in New York.

Losing McCann for any length of time would be a blow. He had heated up recently with home runs in four straight games, RBI in eight straight games and a productive trip in which he batted .316 with two homers and four RBI in 19 at-bats.

Pineda thrives as Yanks pound King Felix

So much for that pitchers’ duel that had been widely anticipated. It looked as if the match-up between the Yankees’ Michael Pineda and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez Monday night at Seattle might live up to its billing for the first three innings anyway.

Then Fernandez, who had not allowed a ball to reach the outfield in setting down the Yankees in order the first time through the order, somehow fell off his throne. King Felix was lucky to get off with two runs allowed in a fourth inning in which he gave up two hits and three walks. A run-scoring double play kept the inning from completely collapsing for the Mariners.

The fifth inning was another story. A leadoff walk to .155-hitting Stephen Drew was an indication this was not the King’s night. A single by rookie Ramon Flores and a walk to Brett Gardner filled the bases. Chase Headley got a run home with a fly ball, and the Yanks soon had the bags full again on a singe by Alex Rodriguez.

Hernandez fell behind 2-0 in the count to Mark Teixeira. Big mistake. Tex smoked the next pitch for a big fly to right-center. His ninth career grand slam made it 7-0 Yanks. One out later, King Felix was headed for the dugout after allowing a double to Carlos Beltran.

After a bruising weekend in Oakland where they lost three of four games to the club with the worst record in the American League, the bust-out against Fernandez was an antidote for the Yankees, who bloated the King’s ERA from 1.91 to 2.63.

Hernandez was undefeated in his previous six starts against the Yankees with a 3-0 record and 1.50 ERA in 36 1/3 innings and holding the Yankees to a .189 average with nine walks and 33 strikeouts. Monday night, the Yankees batted .333 against him with five walks and three strikeouts.

The Yankees have given Hernandez some trouble at Seattle over the years. While he is 9-6 with a 3.26 ERA over the Yanks in his career, his record against them at Safeco Field is 3-4 with a 4.52 ERA.

Pineda lived up to his end of the bargain, at least for twice as long as did Hernandez. Making his first start against the club that dealt him to the Yankees three years ago, Pineda had a four-hit shutout going through six innings with nine strikeouts.

Then almost as suddenly as what happened to his former teammate, Pineda could not get anybody out. He was reached for a single by Kyle Seager, a triple by Seth Smith and a double by Austin Jackson for two runs. After issuing his second walk, Pineda was replaced by Justin Wilson, who did a first-rate snuff job with a strikeout and a double play.

Still, it was an impressive game for Pineda against his old team, which is something Robinson Cano could not say. The former Yankees second baseman is struggling (.246, 2 HR, 16 RBI) and was 0-for-4.

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