Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’

McCann & Yanks continue to burn Atlanta

The Brian McCann lovefest in Atlanta continued Saturday night as the Yankees won again, although this time without the fireworks their offense showed Friday night in a 15-4 bashing of the Braves.

The winning score for the Yankees was a much more modest 3-1, but once again McCann and Didi Gregorius supplied some firepower to match the superlative pitching of Luis Severino (2-2), Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (28th save).

McCann, returning to his hometown and Turner Field where he was an All-Star catcher for the Braves before signing as a free agent with the Yankees last year, got his fifth RBI of the series with a double to right-center in the eighth inning that scored Chris Young, pinch running for Carlos Beltran, who had led off with a walk.

You would have thought McCann was still playing for the Braves the way so many fans in the sellout crowd of 49,243 reacted to his hit. Yankees fans seemed to be in every part of the stands.

That proved an important insurance run for Betances, who worked out of jams in the seventh and eighth innings as the Braves threatened to even the score. Atlanta got on the board in the seventh when Justin Wilson an ill-advised throw to first base by Gregorius for an error on a fielder’s choice.

Betances entered with two out and a runner on first base and got off to a shaky start by walking Cameron Maybin on four pitches. That brought up the dangerous Freddie Freeman, who hit a hard grounder up the middle that Betances gloved with a behind-the-back swipe and threw to first to end the inning.

After McCann’s hit made the score 3-1 in the eighth, the Braves put two runners on with singles in the bottom half, but Betances struck out Andrelton Simmons looking at a fastball on the inside corner, to which the shortstop objected demonstratively but was not ejected.

Miller made quick work of the Braves in the ninth by retiring the side in order with two strikeouts.

In a pairing of rookies, Severino got the better of Atlanta’s Matt Wisler, who gave up a run in the first inning on a wild pitch but held the Yankees down until the seventh when back-to-back doubles by Chase Headley and Gregorius gave the Yankees their second run. Gregorius’ two-bagger was their only hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position and his ninth RBI in the past three games.

Severino, who seems to get better with every start, pitched six innings and allowed only four hits with five strikeouts. He had some control issues with three walks but held the Braves hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position as they stranded six runners in his time on the mound.

The righthander has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his five starts and lowered his season ERA to 2.17. He has become a fixture in the rotation and has displayed composure unexpected of a 21-year-old.

Not all of the news in Atlanta has been positive, however. Mark Teixeira still experiences pain attempting to run and remains on the bench for an indefinite period. He is doubtful for Sunday’s series finale at the Ted and hopeful to return in Boston, the next stop on the trip.

McCann discovers you can go home again

Maybe that day off Thursday was just what the Yankees needed. They burst out of the gate Friday night at Atlanta at the start of a six-game trip that continues to Boston with five runs in the top of the first inning, which is one more run than they scored in all 27 of the innings in the recent three-game series against the Astros.

The Yankees were not content with that five spot. They poured it on again with four runs the next inning and four more in the eighth and two in the ninth off Jonny Gomes, Atlanta’s sixth pitcher and an outfielder by trade, for a 15-4 triumph. Just three days ago, the Yankees were on the other end of a 15-1 score.

It was an ideal homecoming for Georgia native Brian McCann, who walked three times, belted a three-run home run and got a fourth RBI with a sacrifice fly. He was even cheered by the Turner Field crowd when he homered.

As good as McCann was, Didi Gregorius was better. He set a career high with six RBI in a 4-for-5 game. Chase Headley had three RBI with a couple of doubles.

The Yankees were hitless in 14 at-bats in losing two of three games to Houston at Yankee Stadium, but they got off to a 2-for-2 start in those situations against the Braves and rookie righthander Williams Perez.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not play Wednesday while nursing a bruised right hip, was back in the lineup Friday night although he and Brett Gardner failed to reach base in the first inning. Carlos Beltran got the Yankees going with a two-out single that ran his hitting streak to 11 games.

McCann, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, followed with his first walk. McCann grew up in the region and was an All-Star catcher for the Braves before signing with the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 2014 season.

Perez walked fellow rookie Greg Bird, which loaded the bases for Headley, who ended the Yankees’ hitless stretch in the clutch with a double that bounced over the fence in left-center for two runs.

Gregorius then drove a 1-0 pitch to right field for a three-run home run, the Yankees’ second consecutive hit with runners in scoring position. It was the second home run in three at-bats for Gregorius, who had a two-run shot Wednesday.

Staked to the 5-0 lead, Masahiro Tanaka had a shaky bottom of the first inning and gave back two runs on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman and a sacrifice fly by Nick Swisher. It might have been worse for Tanaka if not for Ellsbury, who made a diving catch on that sore right hip on the center field warning track to rob Christian Bethancourt of a potential extra-base hit that probably would have scored two runs.

The Yankees followed a similar pattern in the second inning by putting up four more runs on the board with the rally again starting after two out. Singles by Gardner and Beltran and another walk to McCann filled the bases and spelled the end for Perez.

Reliever Ross Detwiler was not any better than his predecessor at throwing strikes. The lefthander walked Bird and Headley to force in two runs and gave up a two-run single to Gregorius, who has eight RBI in his past seven at-bats. After an intentional walk to Stephen Drew reloaded the bases, Tanaka tried to help himself as the 10th batter of the inning but struck out.

Tanaka did not do much wrong on the mound, however, as he shook off the uneven first inning. After giving up a solo home run to Freeman in the third, Tanaka retired 13 batters in a row before Adrelton Simmons doubled with two out in the seventh, which was the Japanese righthander’s last inning.

Bryan Mitchell pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, his first appearance in 11 days since he was struck in the face with a line drive by the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez and sustained a nasal fracture. But the day off did nothing to improve Mark Teixeira’s condition. The bone bruise near his right shin continues to hamper his running ability and kept him on the bench.

Yanks fail to capitalize on lengthy homestand

The schedule has been the Yankees’ ally since Aug. 2 when they were through playing any games outside the Eastern time zone and had 59 percent of the remaining games at home. They failed to take advantage of this situation in the 10-game homestand they completed Wednesday with a dreadfully dull 6-2 loss to Houston.

After beginning the homestand with a three-game sweep of the Twins, the Yankees dropped three of four games to the Indians and two of three to the Astros to finish a lackluster 5-5 while falling out of first place in the American League East.

The Cleveland series was particularly hurtful because the Tribe is a last-place team in the AL Central. As for Houston, these are no longer your father’s Astros. They have spent a good part of this season in first place in the AL West with the league’s top pitching staff and a power-laded if strikeout-prone batting order.

The Yankees were able to grab a 1-0 victory in the series opener but then were outscored by the Astros, 21-3, over the next two games with both starting pitchers, Ivan Nova Tuesday night and Michael Pineda Wednesday, failing to get out of the fourth inning.

Making his first start in a month since coming off the 15-day disabled list because of a right forearm strain, Pineda gave up the first of Evan Gattis’ two home runs in the second inning and came apart in the fourth as the Astros used four hits — including a squeeze bunt — a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch (by Chasen Shreve) to pull away with four runs.

“That inning just got away from him,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Gattis, who had a monster series, connected again in the eighth off Adam Warren for his 22nd home run of the year. The Houston designated hitter was 6-for-12 (.500) with three home runs and six RBI in the series.

The Yankees’ offense consisted of a two-run home run by Didi Gregorius in the seventh inning off eventual winning pitcher Collin McHugh to end a drought of 144 homerless at-bats by the Yanks.

“We’re just not hitting right now,” Girardi said. “That is the root of our problems.”

Talk about an understatement. The Yankees batted .165 with two extra-base hits and four runs in 91 at-bats against the Astros and were hitless in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

“A lot of guys are scuffling at the same time,” Girardi noted.

Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters who spearheaded the offense for most of the season, have both hit a wall in August. A-Rod is batting .138 with two home runs and eight RBI in 80 at-bats this month and is down to .255. With the DH not in use in National League parks, Rodriguez will be a bench player in the three-game set at Atlanta that begins Friday night and may benefit from the time off.

Teixeira started only one of the past eight games and got a pinch-hit at-bat Wednesday. He is bothered by a severe bone bruise to his right shin and can barely run. He is a .175 hitter in August with three home runs and six RBI in 57 at-bats as AL Most Valuable Player talk has faded.

Brett Gardner, 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Wednesday, is hitting .202 with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in 129 at-bats since the All-Star break and has lost 29 points on his season average. Jacoby Ellsbury did not play due to a bruised right hip and is indefinite for Atlanta.

Girardi said he hoped Thursday’s open date would give the club a chance to refresh.

“Guys are working hard but not having a lot of success right now,” he added.

Against Houston, the Yankees had a problem

What a weird night. While doing a little scoreboard watching in the first inning of the Yankees-Astros game Tuesday night, I noticed that eight teams around the major leagues had scored in the first inning of games.

I had plenty of time to see this because the top of the first inning at Yankee Stadium took 20 minutes to complete as Houston sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs against Ivan Nova, who threw 40 pitches. So that made it nine teams scoring in the first inning on the same night.

And the Astros did not stop there. They batted around again in the fifth and seventh innings. One night after being shut out with five singles, Houston burst through for a 15-1 drubbing featuring eight extra-base hits, including three home runs.

Nova got off to a nice start. Jose Altuve hit the first pitch to right field for a quick out and Jed Lowrie was called out on strikes. Then everything fell apart for Nova, who had struggled to make it through five innings in his previous start.

As what often happens in a rally, it started with a walk, to Carlos Correa. Colby Rasmus hit a liner to center field that froze Jacoby Ellsbury momentarily. He tried to recover and make a shoestring catch, but the ball got past him for a run-scoring triple. Just the night before, a bobblehead promotion depicted Ellsbury making a lunging catch. I do not remember if a ball was in that glove, either.

Nova walked Evan Gattis and gave up a booming double to left-center by Carlos Gomez for another run. Luis Valbuena followed with an opposite-field double off the left field wall to drive in two runs. He scored on a single past first base by Marwin Gonzalez that made it 5-0 Astros.

The third walk of the inning, of catcher Jason Castro, got things stirring in the Yankees’ bullpen as Branden Pinder began warming up. The relievers got caught a big break Monday night because Nathan Eovaldi pitched eight quality innings. Pinder sat down as Altuve, who had begun the inning, ended it as well with a forceout at third base.

This was not the night to fall behind by five runs early because Houston’s starting pitcher was All-Star Dallas Keuchel, who had shut out the Yankees June 25 with a six-hit, 12-strikeout effort at Minute Maid Park. In fact, Keuchel had complete games in both his career starts against the Yanks. He went eight innings Aug. 21 last year in a loss at the Stadium.

Minute Maid Park has been a palace for Keuchel this year. He has an 11-0 record with a 1.35 ERA in 15 99 2/3 innings at home. The road has been bumpier for the lefthander, who entered play Tuesday night with a 3-6 mark and 3.65 ERA in 79 innings away from home.

The Stadium played very much like Minute Maid Park Tuesday night for Keuchel, who did not have to go the distance with so cushy a lead. He allowed merely three hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings to improve his career record against the Yankees to 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24 innings.

The Yankees’ only run came in the ninth inning against reliever Vincent Velasquez on a single, a hit batter and two groundouts. Mark Teixeira returned to the Yankees’ lineup after missing seven games because of a bruised right shin. He was hitless in two at-bats and had trouble running out a ground ball and came out of the game after the sixth inning.

Nova settled down a bit until the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double to Rasmus and a two-run home run to Gattis. The Astros added two more runs that inning against Nick Rumbelow, one of which was unearned due to an error by second baseman Brendan Ryan, who shaved off his W.B. Mason mustache. The other run was very earned on a home run by Gonzalez.

Chris Capuano walked three batters in a six-run seventh and all scored on a two-run single by Gattis and a three-run home run by Gomez. The dinger was quite satisfying to Gomez, who an inning earlier got into a shouting match with manager Joe Girardi and some players in the Yanks’ dugout over his tossing his bat in anger with his team up by nine runs. Gomez has a history of disturbing opponents for his showboating demeanor.

Not wanting to waste any more pitchers, Girardi gave the ball to Ryan, who had never pitched in the majors before, for the last two innings in which he held the Astros scoreless. It is never a good sign when a team’s most effective pitcher is a utility infielder.

Starters must step up while Sabathia mends

It was not that long ago that Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke of CC Sabathia’s value during a stretch run because of all the pitchers on the staff, especially in the rotation, he had by far the most experience with dealing with the pressure of that time of the season.

There is a good chance now, however, that Sabathia’s presence as the Yankees head into September will be nothing more than as a consultant or cheerleader. The 6-foot-7 lefthander was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday because of inflammation in his right knee that cut short his start Sunday to 2 2/3 innings in an eventual loss to the Indians that knocked the Yankees out of first place in the American League East when the Blue Jays bounced back from a 5-1, first-inning deficit to beat the Angels, 12-5.

Sabathia sounded confident that he would be able to pitch again this season, but the reality is that he has pitched all season on a damaged knee that has undergone two surgeries and finally gave out after two drainings and a cortisone injection over the past two months.

What this does to Girardi’s plans of using a six-man rotation to give an extra day’s rest to his starters is to scrap them. “We will not need a sixth starter every turn through the rotation,” Girardi said.

The Yankees re-signed lefthander Chris Capuano to a major-league contract after his third designation for assignment over the past four weeks. The lefthander could be used as a spot starter at certain junctures.

Adam Warren, who began the season in the rotation but has done a splendid job in late-innings relief, will remain in the bullpen. So, too, will Bryan Mitchell, who is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Tuesday in his first time back on the mound since Aug. 17 when he sustained a broken nose after being struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez.

Girardi credited Sabathia, who has a 4-9 record and 5.27 ERA, with gutting his way through 24 starts this season with that knee.

“He is a real competitor and was extremely gutsy,” Girardi said. “He took the ball every fifth or sixth day and gave us everything he had. Now the other guys are going to have to step up.”

The stepping up had to begin Monday night with Nathan Eovaldi taking an eight-game winning streak against an Astros club that is leading the AL West by four games and just won three games in a row against the Dodgers, including victories over Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the last two games.

Mark Teixeira, still hobbled by a bruised right shin, took batting practice for the first time since hurting the leg a week ago, and had no problems swinging the bat but is still unable to run at full strength. Teixeira said he could be available as a pinch hitter, but Girardi may wait to use Tex in the field until Friday night when the Yankees open a three-game series at Atlanta.

The set against the Braves and the second Subway Series Sept. 18-20 at Citi Field against the Mets present Girardi the question of whether to use Alex Rodriguez in the field in preparation for the possibility of the Yankees playing in the World Series.

A-Rod has been exclusively a designated hitter most of the year. He started two games at third base and one at first base but has played only two innings in the field (one at third, one at first) since April 27. Girardi said he has no plans to start Rodriguez in inter-league competition but added, “If we have to double switch in the National League ballparks, then all bets are off.”

Yankees’ ‘Birdman’ flies high

Birdman won the Academy Award as Best Picture for last year, and the Yankees had their “Birdman” give an Oscar-winning performance Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in a 4-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the sinking Twins.

All four runs were driven in by rookie first baseman Greg Bird, who whacked a couple of two-run home runs off Ervin Santana. The initial homer, in the fourth inning following an infield single by Carlos Beltran, was the first of Bird’s major league career as was the curtain call urged on by the Stadium crowd of 38,086.

It provided a 2-0 lead for Nathan Eovaldi, who flirted with a perfect game for 5 1/3 innings before coming unglued somewhat in the sixth and allowed Minnesota to go ahead on two-out singles by Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe. Mauer singled with the bases full for two runs off a 3-2 fastball from Eovaldi, the one pitch of the 120 thrown by the righthander he wished he could have back.

“I tried to go middle-in,” Eovaldi said, “bad pitch selection.”

Plouffe’s hit was a dribbler between Eovaldi and third baseman Chase Headley that put the Twins ahead momentarily. Bird’s second homer, in the sixth following a walk to Beltran, returned the lead to Eovaldi, who protected it with a perfect seventh before Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances (eighth save) followed with scoreless innings that preserved the victory for Eovaldi, who ran his record to 13-2.

This has been quite a week for Bird, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a week ago and is hitting .333 with a double, two homers and five RBI. He started the winning rally Monday night, got his first major league RBI Tuesday night and his first homer Wednesday. He got the ball from his second homer because it landed in the Yankees’ bullpen. The first one wound up in the right field second deck.

“I don’t know yet,” he said about whether he can get that ball. “I’m just trying to do my job. It’s so much fun to come in here every day and hear what these guys have to say.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi described Bird as someone “with a slow heartbeat,” meaning that he does not get over-excited and keeps an even keel.

“Some players have to learn to slow the game down,” Girardi said. “That’s not the case with him.”

Bird concurred and said he inherited it from his parents, who were at the game seated in the terrace level behind first base. “I just like to be even-keeled and level-headed,” he said.

Bird got extra playing time during the series because regular first baseman Mark Teixeira has been sidelined with a badly bruised right shin. Bird does not play a position besides first base, but he might earn some more playing time if Girardi decides to sit Alex Rodriguez (0-for-3 Wednesday and hitting .131 in 61 at-bats in August) against some right-handed pitching and use Tex at DH to open up first base for Bird.

That is a consideration for the future. Bird was all about the present Wednesday, and what a present he gave the Yankees.

A-Rod’s slam takes bite out of dog days

What a way to break out of a slump. The dog days of August have had their clutches on Alex Rodriguez all month, but he did some major barking of his own with a grand slam off J.R. Graham in the seventh inning Tuesday night that turned a 4-1 deficit to the Twins into a 5-4 lead for the Yankees, who went on to an 8-4 victory to stay one game ahead of Toronto in the American League East.

How bad had things been going for A-Rod? Well, he was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats, had one hit in his past 27 at-bats and was hitting .125 with three doubles and two RBI in 56 at-bats in August.

But the inning was setting up in his favor as Twins lefthander Ryan O’Rourke kept putting runners on base — Chase Headley with a leadoff single and walks to Brendan Ryan and Brett Gardner. Graham was summoned to calm things down, but he threw gasoline on the fire with a flat fastball on a 1-0 count over the heart of the plate that Rodriguez crushed to right-center. The blow increased A-Rod’s major league record for grand slams to 25.

Yankees hitters have a major-league-high 32 home runs of at least three runs (25 three-run homers, seven grand slams. Just one other club has more than 20. The Yanks have scored 34 of 69 runs this month on home runs. Yankees pitchers meanwhile have allowed 3 homers of at least three runs (12 three-run homers, one grand slam).

It was the first home run for Rodriguez since July 27, his 40th birthday, at Arlington, Texas, when he joined Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield as the only players to hit home runs before their 20th and after their 40th birthdays. A-Rod had gone 72 at-bats between home runs, and the timing to end that drought could not have been better.

The salami took Yankees starter CC Sabathia off the hook. He retired the first 13 batters of the game and was in a 1-1 game in the top of the seventh when Minnesota took the lead on a two-run home run by Miguel Sano and added a run on three straight singles later in the inning.

But while Sabathia has not had much run support when he has been on the mound this season he has received it quite often after he has come out of games. Tuesday night marked the seventh time this year the Yankees have come back to score enough runs to spare CC a losing decision. His 4-9 record may be unsightly, but it could be 4-16.

Headley, who got the game-winning RBI in the 10th inning Monday night, was supposed to have Tuesday night off. He came off the bench to start the seventh-inning rally with a single, remained in the game at third base and knocked in two more runs in the eighth with a double. Some day off.

Mark Teixeira did get the night off with a shin bruise. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league RBI with a single in the fourth inning to score Carlos Beltran, who had doubled as part of a 2-for-4 performance that continued his torrid hitting since the All-Star break (.303, 13 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 12 RBI, 13 walks).

Yet this looked like a Twins night until A-Rod howled back at that August moon.

HOPE Week: Theater employs disabled

Across the United States, more than 57 million adults have some form of disability, 80 percent of whom are unemployed. Valerie Jensen grew up with a sister who has Down Syndrome and has seen first-hand how difficult everyday tasks and activities can be for individuals with disabilities, especially finding a fulfilling job. She recognizes that many who have disabilities face an internal struggle to feel as if they have a purpose in life.

One afternoon, Jensen was driving in Ridgefield, Conn., when she saw an old, vacant former theater that was going to be demolished. She immediately had a vision — to transform the building into a unique movie theater, staffed primarily by individuals with disabilities. Over the course of the next several months, she made her vision a reality as The Prospector Theater opened to the public in November 2014.

Staff members there are referred to as “prospects,” as a way to make them feel inspired to realize their own potential and give them the necessary training to advance to other jobs using their skills developed at the theater. In the 10 months since its grand opening, the staff of The Prospector Theater has grown to more than 100 people with no signs of slowing down.

As Jensen put it, “We really didn’t need more trips to the pond. We really didn’t need more trips to the zoo. We just needed meaningful employment.”

As part of the Yankees’ HOPE Week initiative, general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi, third baseman Chase Headley, catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira surprised Jensen and her staff at the theater Tuesday, took a tour and talked spoke with the theater’s prospects about the importance of teamwork

In many ways, The Prospector Theater is like a traditional theater; visitors purchase their tickets just inside the main entrance and can stop at one of two concession stands before going to see a popular new release. It has four theaters, ranging in capacity from 16-167 people, with the smallest theater designed especially for people with sensory issues who may not enjoy movies in larger settings. Each of the four theaters has handicap seating, along with fixed chairs so friends and families are able to watch movies together. All of the theaters are equipped with technology to aid those who are hearing and/or visually impaired. Each offers closed-captioning glasses and high-quality headphones.

“The answer to the unemployment epidemic among adults with disabilities is in our own backyard, on every Main Street in America,” Jensen said. “Small businesses are missing out on a huge resource that lies in the incredible talent pool of the 57 million talented Americans with disabilities, who are willing, competent and able to work.”

Beltran thrives in playoff atmosphere

No matter what happens Sunday, the Yankees are guaranteed to depart Toronto in first place in the American League East. They assured themselves of that by following Friday night’s exhilarating come-from-behind victory with a thoroughly commanding triumph Saturday that let the Blue Jays know they are in for a fight.

Masahiro Tanaka, in what was probably the most important start of his brief career in North America, gave the Yankees precisely what they needed Saturday with a route-going performance, his first complete game of the season and fourth of his career. The Yankees beat Toronto at its own game with home runs by Carlos Beltran (No. 12) and Mark Teixeira (No. 31) doing in Marco Estrada, who had shut them out for 6 1/3 innings last Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

This series has been a turnaround set for the Yankees, who have out-homered the Jays, 3-0, and beat two of the pitchers who shut them down last weekend.

Another sellout crowd at Rogers Centre of 46,630 had little to cheer about as the Yankees increased their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games (three in the loss column). The large crowds have conveyed a playoff atmosphere, which may be why Beltran has played so huge a role in the first two games.

After all, Beltran is among the greatest postseason players in major league history. In 51 postseason games and 180 at-bats, Beltran has batted .333 with 45 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 40 runs batted and 11 stolen bases. His OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) in postseason play is an incredible 1.128.

It began back in 2004 when a late-season trade sent him from Kansas City to Houston where he hit eight home runs in 12 games combined in the National Leage Division Series and NL Championship Series.

Mets fans glumly recall that Beltran took a 3-2 breaking ball from then rookie Adam Wainwright for the final out of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, who went on to win their first World Series in 24 years in a five-game victory over the Tigers. What Mets fans tend to forget is that Beltran batted .296 with three homers and four RBI against St. Louis.

Playing for the Cardinals in 29 postseason games over the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Beltran hit .306 with nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI. He finally got to the World Series in 2013 and hit .294 with three RBI, but the Cards lost in six games to the Red Sox.

If the Yankees can get to postseason play this year, they can thank Beltran for what he has done the past two games. His three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning Friday night off Aaron Sanchez was a game-winner, and Beltran got the Yankees off on a positive note Saturday with a first-inning solo homer off Estrada.

Beltran’s homer Friday night was the Yankees’ first go-ahead, pinch-hit homer when trailing in the eighth inning or later since Jorge Posada hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth Sept. 9, 2009 against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The previous Yankees player to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit homer on the road in the eighth inning or later was Don Mattingly July 24, 1994 at Anaheim, a three-run shot that erased a 4-2 deficit.

Beltran, who also doubled Saturday, extended his hitting streak to 10 games during which he has batted .375 in 32 at-bats. During Beltran’s 16-game on-base streak (since July 26), he is batting .346 with 10 runs, six doubles, five home runs, nine RBI and eight walks in 60 plate appearances.

It was still a 1-0 game in the fifth when it appeared the game was getting out of hand for Tanaka. He loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around an opposite-field single by 9-hole hitter Ben Revere with the power portion of the Jays’ batting order coming up.

The crowd got excited when Josh Donaldson lifted a high fly to left field but had to settle for a game-tying sacrifice fly. Tanaka bore down to strike out Jose Bautista on a nasty splitter and retire the equally dangerous Edwin Encarnacion on a soft infield fly.

Tanaka’s effort was rewarded the next inning when Teixeira, getting a day off the field as the designated hitter, lauched a home run to right field. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league hit, a single to left in the eighth, after Teixeira got his second RBI on a single that scored Chris Young, pinch running for Beltran, who had doubled with one out. John Ryan Murphy doubled and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the ninth.

Tanaka was masterful the rest of the way as he set down 15 of Toronto’s last 16 batters to give a weary bullpen a needed blow.

Yanks fall out of 1st place with 5th straight loss

First place no longer belongs to the Yankees, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The scoring deficiencies continued Wednesday night as they managed only four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. That is nine runs in the past seven games for the Yanks, who dropped out of the top spot in the American League East for the first time since July 1.

The Blue Jays pushed their winning streak to 10 games with yet another resounding victory over the Athletics, 10-3, to nudge a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the standings. While it is true that the Yankees still have one fewer loss than Toronto they now have two fewer victories that the juggernaut they will face again this weekend at Rogers Centre after completing the three-game series at Cleveland Thursday.

The Yankees have no beef with their pitching, which once more kept them in the game. CC Sabathia, back in his former stomping grounds at Progressive Field, went six innings the night after the Yankees needed eight pitchers to get through a 16-inning loss. He gave his teammates needed length and quality as well.

Sabathia was touched for nine hits but only two runs as the Tribe stranded seven base runners and had 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in his time on the mound. But with the Yankees scoring only one run Sabathia was hung with the losing decision that dropped his record to 4-9.

Brian McCann blasted his way out of a 0-for-16 slump with a home run in the second inning, but Indians starter Danny Salazar did not run into trouble again until the seventh but worked out of it. With runners on second and third and one out, Salazar retired Didi Gregorius on a pop in front of the mound and struck out Chris Young.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit for Young in that spot with Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not start, but chose not to. I cannot second-guess the skipper there. Ellsbury was benched for good reasons: he is in a 0-for-19 slide and is hitting .178 in 118 at-bats since coming off the disabled list July 8 as his season batting average has plummeted from .324 to .260.

Salazar walked Brett Gardner and Chase Headley with one out in the eighth, but Cody Allen came on and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play. The Yankees’ only threat in the ninth was when McCann reached first base on a third-strike wild pitch. John Ryan Murphy ran for him but was stationary as Carlos Beltran lined out to left and Gregorius struck out.

The Yankees had another solid defensive game, especially Gregorius at shortstop who has been the lone shining light in this dreary stretch of five straight losses. But he took a 0-for-4 collar as part of the slender offensive showing.

The dog days of August are begging to take their toll on Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters whose turnaround seasons from suspension and injury, respectively, were primary reasons the Yankees had been in first place for the better part of six weeks. A-Rod is batting .162 with two doubles and two RBI in 37 at-bats this month and Tex is hitting .175 with two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.

At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Gardner, who had been the catalysts earlier in the year, are a combined 3-for-39 (.077) with zero runs scored or stolen bases in the losing streak. There is no mystery as to what is sinking the Yankees right now. It is all right there in those unsightly statistics.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers