Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’

The winning formula works again

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.

Beltran scratched with swollen left knee

With no designated hitter allowed in Denver, a National League city, it was no surprise that Alex Rodriguez was not in the Yankees’ starting lineup Tuesday night. But no Carlos Beltran? Now that was a surprise.

Beltran was scratched because of a swollen left knee, which raised some caution flags for the Yankees. Beltran has a long history of problems with his right knee, but this was the first time his left knee was an issue. The Yankees spent their open date Monday in Denver after flying there Sunday night. Beltran said he had dinner five blocks away from the hotel that night and did not experience any difficulty until he awoke Tuesday morning and felt stiffness due to swelling.

Aaron Hicks started in right field in place of Beltran, and second baseman Starlin Castro was moved into the third spot in the batting order. The loss of Beltran, no pun intended, hurts. He has been the Yanks’ most productive hitter with club-high totals in home runs (16) and RBI (44) that has put him in place as a possible choice for the American League All-Star team.

In addition, Denver’s Coors Field has been one of Beltran’s favorite stops dating back to his NL days with the Astros, Mets, Giants and Cardinals. He has a .526 career slugging percentage there and had his only career three-homer game at Coors Field May 12, 2011 with the Mets when he was 3-for-5 with three runs and six RBI. Beltran held out the possibility that he might be able to come off the bench as a pinch hitter and perhaps return to the lineup for Wednesday’s afternoon game.

With Mark Teixeira on the 15-day disabled list because of torn cartilage in his right knee, the Yankees signed former Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who was released from the Rangers’ Triple A affiliate and will be in a platoon with Rob Refsnyder, who started Tuesday night against lefthander Jorge De La Rosa. Davis is a second-generation Yankee. His father, relief pitcher Ron Davis, spent the first four of his 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees from 1978-81.

HOPE Week: ‘Barbershop Books’

Ronald Torreyes, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Alvin Irby and Dellin Betances read to children at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem.


Waiting for a haircut can be boring for a child, unless he or she happens to be at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. There in a corner of the 10-chair facility is a bookcase filled with reading material designed for children.
As part of the HOPE Week initiative Thursday, the Yankees paid a visit to Denny Moe’s where Alvin Irby, the founder of Barbershop Books, was reading “Precious and the Boo Hog” to a dozen first graders from nearby Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy.

Pretty soon, pitchers CC Sabathia and Dellin Betances, first baseman Mark Teixeira and infielder Ronald Torreyes got into the act and were joined by Bronx rapper Fat Joe. They took turns reading the pages of the popular children’s book, “No David,” to the youngsters while customers were getting their hair shorn.

“This is what it’s all about,” Betances said. “Education is a top priority. What better way to wait your turn than reading a book. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Neither had Irby, a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, until two years ago when he got the idea to create reading areas in barbershops to help children develop a healthy reading habit in hopes of it becoming an ingrained part of their lifestyle as they grow up. Barbershop Books is a community-based literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces for children ages 4-8 in barbershops.

“Everybody has a favorite barbershop, but this is a place where kids can get more than a haircut,” Sabathia said. “It was great to see their faces light up while we were reading. I have little ones at home, so I’m now reading a lot of Harry Potter books.”

“I read books to my kids,” Teixeira said. “It is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s important to bring attention to this program so it can expand. Maybe our donation will help.”

The Yankees presented a $10,000 check to Irby when the players along with translator Marlon Abreu joined the children for lunch at their school on West 129th Street where principal KiKi Walton looked on joyfully. The kids also received an assortment of books in Yankees carry bags as part of a large donation of reading material to the school and Barbershop Books. The program currently is in place in 11 barbershops — 10 in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Irby hopes to expand throughout the city and even beyond its borders.

“The issue of low literacy among children of color is too serious of an issue to wait,” he said. “The children who are coming in here to read when they are waiting or reading while their family members are getting a haircut can’t wait, either. I’m doing anything and everything I can to continue the work and to build those strategic partnerships that are going to allow us to grow, both here in New York City and across the country.”

3-run homer returns to Yankees’ repertoire

Why does it seem as though Carlos Beltran is always making history? The Yankees’ right fielder did it again with his game-winning home run in the eighth inning Monday night that unlocked a 2-2 score. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were on base after two-out singles when Beltran connected for his 14th homer of the season that turned back the Angels.

The three-run home run, which used to define the Yankees, has become a rarity this season. It was the first home run with more than two runners on board for the Yankees since Mark Teixeira’s three-run Jack April 7 against the Astros. MLB Network’s research showed that the 53-game drought between Yankees’ three-run homers or grand slams was the club’s longest in more than 40 years. They went 59 games without a three-run homer or grand slam in 1975 from June 20 through Aug. 19.

Just a year ago, the Yankees led the major leagues with a franchise-record 47 home runs of three or more runs (40 three-run homers, seven salamis), 18 more than the next-highest team (Blue Jays, 29) and the third-highest total in history (1996 Mariners, 53; 2000 Cardinals, 48). Only four of the Yankees’ 58 homers to date have been for three or fours runs.

Beltran’s blast batting right-handed off Angels lefthander Jose Alvarez was the Yanks’ second go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later this season. The other was Gardner’s walk-off solo shot in the ninth April 23 against the Rays.

Beltran’s four go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or later in three years with the Yankees are the most on the club since 2011. Three of the four were three-run homers: also Aug. 14, 2015 at Toronto (eighth inning) and June 20, 2014 at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles (walk-off in ninth). Monday night’s home run was the Yankees’ latest go-ahead homer of at least three runs since Greg Bird’s three-run shot in the top of the 10th Sept. 22 last year at Toronto.

The Yankees are 10-1 this season when Ellsbury and Gardner both score runs in the same game and 32-5 since the start of 2015. Brian McCann and Starlin Castro, who tied the score in the seventh with two-out solo homers off Matt Shoemaker, hit the Yankees’ fourth set of back-to-back homers this season, tied for third-most in the AL (Orioles, 9; Tigers, 5) and equals their 2015 total of back-to-back dingers

Teixeira injury opens possible spot for Refsnyder

Some Yankees fans may have been surprised not to see Rob Refsnyder in the lineup Friday night at Baltimore, the fourth and last stop on the trip. The rookie had a big game Thursday at Detroit (double, single, two runs, one RBI), and the Yankees can use all the offense they can find these days.

Although he was not in the starting lineup, Refsnyder got into the game in the third inning as a replacement at first base for Mark Teixeira, who left because of a right knee injury. Refsnyder had not played first base since college, but he is getting used to moving around the diamond. 

He played the outfield mostly at the University of Arizona but was converted into a second baseman in the Yankees’ minor-league system. During spring training this year Refsnyder played some third base as well but did not take to the position. Since coming up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this week Refsnyder has played right field and second base. He has also been working out at first base.

The Yankees have been vulnerable at that position even before Teixeira got hurt. Dustin Ackley is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Backup catcher Austin Romine has been used at first base, but he had to catch Friday night because Brian McCann was nursing a hyperextended left elbow.

Teixeira has had a dismal first third of a season (Friday night was game number 54, the one-third mark). The switch hitter is batting .180 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 167 at-bats. At this point a year ago, Tex had 16 homers and 40 RBI while batting .245.

His lack of productivity has been a factor in the Yankees’ woeful offense. They entered play Friday night last in the American League in batting (.232) and tied with the Twins for last in runs (198).

Scoring runs was not as much a problem for the Yankees Friday night as it was preventing them. The Yankees had not homered in the previous three games but took a 4-1 lead against Orioles righthander Chris Tillman on a two-run blast by Carlos Beltran and solo shots by Alex Rodriguez and Austin Romine.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis made the score 4-2 with his 11th homer, in the fourth. Nathan Eovaldi’s string of winning starts ended at five when he lost a 5-2 lead in the sixth. It was the first time in six starts that he failed to get through the sixth inning.

A bases-loaded single by Matt Wieters chased Eovaldi. Kirby Yates got a big strikeout but gave up a two-out double to Jonathan Schoop that tied the score. For his third floor straight appearance, Dellin Betances was scored upon, and the run he gave up in the seventh proved the decider. 

Singles by Adam Jones and Hyun Soo Kim put runners on the corners with none out. A slow grounder along the third base line by Manny Machado was well placed enough for Jones to score as Chase Headley had no other play but to get an out at first base

Yanks’ offensive woes cost Tanaka 1st loss in 11 starts

Game by game as the Yankees’ offense continues to sputter fans have to wonder when their team will hit rock bottom. Technically, that was back after the games of May 5 when the Yankees’ record was 9-17. A 13-5 run that included a six-game winning streak got the Yankees back to .500 at 22-22 May 24, but they have been free falling again in losing six of the past eight games.

A new version of rock bottom has come on the current trip as the Blue Jays finished off a three-game sweep at Toronto’s Rogers Centre Wednesday night with a 7-0 victory that handed Masahiro Tanaka his first loss of the season in 11 starts. The loss was tagged to Tanaka, but it was hardly his fault.

The righthander allowed only one earned run in six innings. An error by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury led to an unearned run in the fifth. It was a 2-0 game when Tanaka departed before the Blue Jays put up a five-spot in the seventh off Kirby Yates and Nick Goody on two-run singles by Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak book-ending an RBI double by Michael Saunders.

The feeble Yankees offense had scant chance to come back from that. They left nine runners on base and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position as they sustained their fourth shutout loss of the season. It was an unproductive series in general for the Yankees, who had two hits in 20 at-bats (.100) with runners in scoring position, neither of which scored a run but merely advanced a runner one base each.

This offensive malaise has hit epidemic proportions for the Yankees on the 2-5 trip in which one of their two victories came in a game in which they had just one hit. And if there is any finger-pointing to do, Yankees fans would need both hands to count the culprits.

Apart from Ellsbury (.320/.407/.493 last month) and Carlos Beltran (nine doubles, eight home runs in May), who had two hits apiece in the series finale, the Yankees’ failures with the bats have been top to bottom in the lineup. The collective slump has a come at a time when the pitching has kept the team in games for the most part, including Wednesday night for six innings at least.

Most glaring, however, has been the relative quiet of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the power duo that carried the Yankees in the first half last year. After the Yankees’ 52nd game of 2015, which was also June 1, A-Rod and Tex were batting a combined .257 with 18 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs and 66 RBI in 343 at-bats. The Yanks’ record was 27-25. Through 52 games this season, the pair have teamed to hit .181 with nine doubles, no triples, nine homers and 18 RBI in 254 at-bats. The Yanks’ record is 24-28.

Again, it is not fair to level all the blame on just those two aging sluggers. There are plenty of others who have yet to live up to expectations.

Yankees needed more than 1 hit to avoid this loss

Well, at least somebody on the Yankees broke out of a slump Monday night. Brian McCann had been hitless in his previous 21 at-bats before he crushed a two-run home run off the second-deck facade in center field at Rogers Centre in the ninth inning, but that was pretty much for the Yanks offensively in a 4-2 loss.

And if not for the every-night reliance on the bullpen these days maybe McCann would still be in an 0-for. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not give Marco Estrada a chance to pitch a complete game. Yes, Estrada threw 108 pitches, past the ridiculous magic number of 100, so naturally he had to come out of the game. Never mind that he was almost never in trouble and rarely had to throw a stressful pitch, but convention today says you must go to the bullpen. Well, that is what Gibby gets for turning the game over to Aaron Loup, who hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch with one out and gave up the humongous bomb to McCann.

Gibbons was forced to dip into his bullpen some more and brought in Drew Storen, who did not help matters right away by giving up a double off the right field wall to Mark Teixeira, who narrowly missed his first home run in 129 at-bats since April 113. Estrada’s second victory over the Yankees in a week’s time was clearly in jeopardy at that point, but they went quietly after that on a fly to right by Starlin Castro and a strikeout of Chase Headley.

If it seems as though I am spending too much time in the ninth inning, well, there was not much else going on for the Yankee offensively over the first eight. Estrada (3-2) scattered four hits and three walks with six strikeouts and faced only two at-bats with runners in scoring position, both futile. And this followed a game at St. Petersburg the day before where the Yankees had only one hit in nine innings yet somehow came away with a victory.

Sunday’s 2-1 comeback over the Rays on Castro’s two-run homer in the seventh marked the second time in Yankees history that they won a game with only one hit, and the first time in a game of at least nine innings. They also won a 1-0, six-inning game July 10, 1914 in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees have been held to one-or-zero hits in a game of at least nine innings 58 times. They had lost the first 57 games before Sunday. And yet, this has happened three times this year in the majors. The other two games involved the Mariners at Safeco Field. Seattle won, 1-0, April 29 against the Royals and lost, 3-2, April 4 to the Rangers.

The Yankees were going to need more than one hit Monday night in they were going to win because Toronto had four runs, the equivalent of a grand slam, by the fifth inning against Ivan Nova (3-3), who again lost to Estrada. Nova did not have his best sinker and paid for it as five of the Blue Jays’ eight hits off him went for extra bases.

Ryan Goins, the Jays’ 9-hole hitter, touched up Nova for a double and a home run. This is saying something. Goins had entered the game with a .244 slugging percentage. Not batting average, slugging percentage. He was in a 9-for-91 stretch, which works out to a .099 batting average.

More conventionally for Toronto, at the top of the order Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson each scored a run with Edwin Encarnacion driving both of them in.

Nova did pitch into the seventh inning, which is a plus. Yankees starters have completed at least six innings in 11 of their past 12 starts and are 8-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. Richard Bleier, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre last week, made his major league debut and retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning on ground balls.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kept running to first base and turning right when they were not striking out. The numbers are pretty ugly. Brett Gardner is hitless in his past 20 at-bats and was pinch-hit for by rookie Rob Refsnyder in the ninth inning. Alex Rodriguez, who was on the bench but likely will start Tuesday night against lefthander J.A. Happ, has one hit, a home run, in 16 at-bats (.063) with nine strikeouts since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list five days ago.

Dustin Ackley found himself on the DL because of a jammed right shoulder, which is why Refsnyder was recalled from SWB. The Triple A affiliate was the landing spot for struggling pitcher Luis Severino, who came off the DL Monday. Manager Joe Girardi made it clear that the righthander will have to work out his problems in the minor leagues.

The Yankees are 24-20 on Memorial Day since 1971 (when the holiday was first celebrated on the last Monday in May following the National Holiday Act of 1971). They did not play on Memorial Day in 1973, 2004 or 2005 and are 9-6 on Memorial Day since 2000. The Yanks played on the road on Memorial Day for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.

Castro has perfect timing in ruining no-hit bid

Starlin Castro picked an ideal time to break up a no-hitter with a two-run home run Sunday that gave the Yankees a one-run lead. After all, it came in the top of the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Yankees fans know what that means this season — here come Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to do their 7-8-9 magic in the late innings.

It was a startling turnaround for the Yankees, who were facing losing the series against Tampa Bay and falling back into last place in the American League East. On top of that, after being smashed, 9-5, Saturday, the Yanks were on the verge of being no-hit Sunday for the first time in 13 years.

Jake Odorizzi was that good.

If not for a change in an umpire’s decision that allowed Dustin Ackley to reach first base on an error by Rays shortstop Brad Miller, Odorizzi still would have had a perfect game going one out into the seventh. As it was, a no-hitter was in place even after he walked Brett Gardner. Then Castro came through with perfect timing. His home run to left-center was the first — and last — Yankees hit of the game, but it gave them a 2-1 lead in the very capable hands of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who teamed up for nine consecutive outs, seven on strikeouts.

Betances retired the side with two strikeouts in the seventh. Miller struck out the side in the eighth. Chapman duplicated Betances’ feat in the ninth for his seventh save. The 2016 back end of the bullpen formula was perfect again and gave the Yankees a lift leaving Florida for Canada and a three-game date in Toronto with the Blue Jays, who took two of three last week at Yankee Stadium.

As seems to be the custom these days, the Yankees were hit with another injury, a jammed right shoulder to Ackley diving back into first base. Ackley had been playing first base in place of regular Mark Teixeira, who has been out with neck stiffness that required a cortisone injection last week.

After Michael Pineda’s disappointing start Saturday that ended a stretch of nine straight six-plus-inning outings by Yankees starters, Nathan Eovaldi got the rotation on another hopeful roll. The righthander allowed one run, six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings and extended his personal winning streak to six games. Over his past seven starts, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits allowed, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka got the weekend off to strong start with seven innings of no-run, two-hit pitching Friday night in a 4-1 victory that featured home runs by Alex Rodriguez (No. 6 and career No. 693) and Carlos Beltran (No. 11 and career No. 403). Beltran raised those numbers to 12 and 404 with his 2,500th career hit Saturday off Matt Moore, the lone highlight in a loss that continued the slide of Pineda, who was battered for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings as his record fell to 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA.

Eovaldi did a terrific job keeping the Yankees close in a game in which they struggled to get a hit and settled for merely one. But it was good enough for an important ‘W.’

Yankees waste solid effort from Sabathia

It is tough to lose a two-hitter, but that is what happened to CC Sabathia Thursday. The lefthander gave up only two singles through seven innings, which marked the eighth consecutive game in which the Yankees’ starting pitcher lasted six or more innings.

That was the good part. The bad part is that Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ was just as stingy in limiting the Yankees to one run in seven innings. A home run with two out in the first inning by Starlin Castro accounted for the Yankees’ scoring in a 3-1 loss that allowed Toronto to jump ahead of them in the American League East standings.

The Yankees stayed out of last place in the division but fell two games under .500 in dropping two of the three games in the abbreviated home stand against a club that has had more than it share of turmoil lately. Losing the series stunted much of the momentum derived from a 5-2 trip to Phoenix and Oakland. The Yankees will spend the next 10 days on the road again with stops in St. Petersburg, Fla. (three games), Toronto (three), Detroit (one), and Baltimore (three). Only the rainout makeup game against the Tigers will be outside the AL East, so there will be plenty of chances for the Yanks to gain ground in the standings.

It hurt to waste so strong an effort by Sabathia, whose record fell to 3-3 butt whose ERA shrunk to 2.83. Neither of the two runs off Sabathia, who struck out seven batters, walked one and hit one, was earned because of an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius, whose defense has been inconsistent (eight errors in 42 games).

Gregorius booted a hard grounder by Devon Travis with one out. Sabathia retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center but loaded the bases by yielding a single to Jose Bautista and walking Josh Donaldson. Edwin Encarnacion lashed a single to left to score the two runs that gave the Jays the lead for what turned out to be for good.

Sabathia kept the Yankees in the game after that with four hitless innings, but the Yankees could not muster much of an offense against Happ and two relievers. Chase Headley and Gregorius singled with one out in the fifth before Austin Romine grounded into a double play. In the eighth against righthander Gavin Floyd, Jacoby Ellsbury batted for Romine and led off with a single. He reached second on an infield out but was stranded as Aaron Hicks flied out and Alex Rodriguez struck out.

Rodriguez was back from his two-game, injury-rehabilitation assignment at Double A Trenton and in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time since he went on the 15-day disabled list May 4. A-Rod was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Carlos Beltran, who had been the Yankees’ hottest hitter as a frequent DH in Rodriguez’s absence, was back in right field and had a brutal day at the plate (0-for-4, all strikeouts). He is now hitless in his past nine at-bats. Romine played first base in place of Mark Teixeira, who had an injection in his ailing neck and will be out of the lineup for several days. Relief pitcher Chasen Shreve was placed on the DL because of a sprained left shoulder.

The Blue Jays scored an insurance run in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman, who was not in a save situation and gave up three singles.

Thursday marked Sabathia’s 10th career start of seven or more innings pitched and two hits or fewer without allowing an earned run and his first since April 5, 2011 against the Twins (seven innings, two hits). With his seven strikeouts, Sabathia raised his career total to 2,610, surpassing Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (2,607) and tying Chuck Finley (2,610) for 23rd place on the all-time list.

Neck stiffness resurfaces for slumping Teixeira

While Alex Rodriguez is on the road back to good health and expected to rejoin the Yankees for Thursday’s late-afternoon series finale against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, there are other physical concerns disrupting the club.

Rodriguez homered in two at-bats for Double A Trenton Wednesday night after going 2-for-4 with a run batted in Tuesday night on an injury-rehabilitation assignment. It is too bad A-Rod did not take to playing first base a couple of years ago because the Yankees may have a real need there.

Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup Wednesday night because of neck stiffness, the same ailment that forced him to miss two home games earlier this month against the Royals. It has been a rough month for Teixeira, who is batting .164 with three doubles and two RBI in May that has driven his season batting average down to .195. Tex was 4-for-25 (.160) on the recent trip to Phoenix and Oakland. He went 16 games without an RBI from May 3-21, the longest stretch of his career. He was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Tuesday night’s 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Teixeira has not homered since April 13, another career-worst stretch of 124 at-bats.

Dustin Ackley was at first base batting sixth in the order Wednesday night. Manager Joe Girardi conceded he does not have that many options at that position. He said he could use backup catcher Austin Romine at first base or use Romine behind the plate and have regular catcher Brian McCann at first. Romine was taking grounders at first base during batting practice.

Gary Sanchez, the catcher Romine beat out in spring training for the role of McCann’s caddy, is also hurt. Playing at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Sanchez took a foul ball off his right hand Tuesday night and sustained a bone fracture in this thumb that placed him on the disabled list.

A former Yankees catcher was a primary reason the Yankees’ six-game winning streak came to an end. Russell Martin, who entered the game without a home run and only one extra-base hit in 122 at bats, cranked two home runs to drive in three runs for Toronto in its 8-4 victory that dropped the Yankees back below .500(22-23).

The Yanks got a pair of home runs on back-to-back solos by Chase Headley (No. 3) and Didi Gregorius (No. 4) in the seventh but it was too little too late. For the seventh straight game, the Yankees’ starter pitched six innings or more. Ivan Nova (2-2) lasted two outs in the seventh before he hit Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch and was replaced by Chase Shreve, who gave up a two-run homer to Patrick Saunders.

The Blue Jays were not finished with Shreve. Justin Smoak doubled and Martin followed with his second homer of the game. His first came leading off the sixth against Nova, who was charged with four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. A couple of two-out infield singles in the fourth hurt Nova, who then yielded a bases-clearing double by Ryan Goins.

Martin’s sixth-inning homer came in his 125th at-bat, the second longest drought at the start of a season in his career. Martin did not hit a home run in 2009 until his 218th at-bat for the Dodgers. Martin’s bid for a three-homer game came in the ninth but center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught his drive on the warning track.

Toronto starter Marco Estrada earned his first victory in eight starts since April 10. The righthander, who had received scant run support prior to Wednesday night, loaded the bases with none out in the second on singles by Headley and Gregorius and a four-pitch walk to Aaron Hicks but gave up only one run on an infield out. Gregorius had three hits, including a singe off lefthander Chad Girodo, which raised his team-leading batting average against southpaws to .368 in 38 at-bats.

Rodriguez has played only two games at first base, both in 2015, in his career and was not a bit comfortable on that side of the infield as he has been over the years as a shortstop turned third baseman. A-Rod made one error in his 9 2/3 innings as a first baseman.
The Yankees are hopeful Teixeira’s health issues are short-term. If the problem should linger, they would have to weigh all options. After a hot start at SWB, Nick Swisher has cooled off to a .260 batting average with four home runs and 13 RBI. He has been platooned there with Chris Parmelee, who is batting .244 with six homers and 18 RBI.

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