Results tagged ‘ Matt Wieters ’
Division races do not get much tighter than this: two teams separated by only a half-game both locked in 1-1 games entering the ninth inning. That was the case for the Yankees and the Blue Jays Tuesday night.
Toronto ended up going into extras. The Yankees wished they could have done the same. After eight brilliant innings from Masahiro Tanaka, Chasen Shreve (6-2) gave up a home run to Chris Davis leading off the ninth and it held up for a 1-0 Orioles victory. Not long after the game at Yankee Stadium ended, the Blue Jays scored four runs in the 10th for a 5-1 victory at Fenway Park and took a 1 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
It was a tough no-decision for Tanaka, who gave the Yankees exactly the kind of start they needed on the heels of the loss of Nathan Eovaldi probably for the rest of the regular season due to right elbow inflammation and to spare the bullpen that may be needed Wednesday night with CC Sabathia coming back to the rotation after a stint on the 15-day disabled list because of right knee inflammation.
Tanaka was at his dominant best with 10 strikeouts. He flirted with a perfect game for four innings. That ended with a leadoff walk, his only base on balls, in the fifth, and soon the no-hit bid was gone as well when Matt Wieters singled on a dribbler against the overshift.
The shutout remained intact through that inning, but a home run to right by Ryan Flaherty at the start of the sixth put an end to the scoreless tie. The Yankees responded with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning by Alex Rodriguez off Kevin Gausman. It was an historic hit for A-Rod, career No. 3,056 that pushed him by Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson into 22nd place on the all-time list. In addition, Rodriguez reached the 30-homer plateau for the15th time in his career, tying the record established by Hall of Famer Henry Aaron.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, that would be the extend of their scoring as relievers T.J. McFarland, Darren O’Day (6-2) and Zach Britton (31st save) held them hitless over four innings. The last 11 Yankees batters went out in order.
That the game was so close was a testament not only to Tanaka’s pitching but also their defense. Third baseman Brendan Ryan made a remarkable stop of a scorching grounder by Jonathan Schoop and from his knees threw a dart to second baseman Stephen Drew to start a double play that loomed large when the next batter, Wieters, doubled off the wall in left-center. Shortstop Didi Gregorius followed with a good stop of a grounder by J.J. Hardy to get the third out of the inning.
After Davis’ homer in the ninth, the Orioles threatened to extend their lead with singles by Jimmy Paredes and Schoop. One out later, Shreve struck out Hardy for the front end of a double play as Ryan kept the glove on Schoop, who attempted to steal third base but over-slid the bag slightly. An offensive highlight to match that was not forthcoming, however.
Derek Jeter had to skip the All-Star Game last year at Citi Field because he was recovering from left ankle surgery. He may get back to the Midsummer Classic this year at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The first American League All-Start voting results were released Tuesday, and there was the Captain in his usual spot leading all shortstops in the balloting. Jeter had 602,525 votes in taking the lead at his position over the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez, who had 472,537.
Jeter’s total was the third highest overall in the Al voting behind only outfielders Mike Trout (764,007) of the Angels and Jose Bautista (675,290) of the Blue Jays. The third outfielder in the balloting was the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury with 417,452. Right behind him was teammate Carlos Beltran, currently on the disabled list, with 401,101.
No other Yankees player is leading at his position, but Brian McCann is the runner-up at catcher behind the Orioles’ Matt Wieters. Alfonso Soriano ranks fourth among designated hitters, Mark Teixeira fifth among first baseman and Brett Gardner 11th among outfielders.
“I would love to see it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Jeter making the All-Star team. “I think he has played extremely well. I know the young man Ramirez has played extremely well. I understand [Jeter] is third overall in votes and that is a great thing. He has meant a ton to this game.”
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star playing in his final season, entered play Tuesday night batting .273 with one home run and 10 RBIs. Ramirez has the stronger numbers at .320, seven homers and 36 RBI.
DJ is going to need the support of Yankees fans to maintain his lead, but as the standing ovations he has received throughout the major leagues on his farewell tour attests he may get plenty of support outside New York as well.
About the only good thing to say about Ivan Nova’s performance Tuesday in a 14-5 loss to the Orioles was that he kept the line moving in a string of walkless innings by Yankees starting pitchers. Nova may not have walked anybody, but the Orioles did not lack for base runners against the righthander.
Baltimore touched up Nova for 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings and scored seven runs. The first inning was an ill omen as the Orioles jumped out to a 3-0 lead on singles by Nick Markakis and Delmon Young, a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis and bomb of a two-run home run to center field by Adam Jones.
A successful pickoff play at second base seemed to get Nova out of a jam in the second until he gave up an RBI double to 9-hole hitter Jonathan Schoop, who is filling in for disabled third baseman Manny Machado. The Orioles stung Nova for three more runs and four more hits in the third before he was removed.
Yankees starters have gone an entire turn in the rotation — five starts — without allowing a walk, a stretch of 29 innings in which they have totaled 26 strikeouts. It is the longest such streak since a six-game period from Sept. 5-10, 2002, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Orioles did not have much use for bases on balls Tuesday as they sprayed 20 hits, including home runs by Jones, Young and Matt Wieters. The Yankees had their share of hits as well — 13 in all, including home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson — but they got only one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Nova’s start was far from ideal on a day when the Yankees’ bullpen was lean. Vidal Nuno had to take one for the team (7 earned runs and 8 hits in 3 1/3 innings) after Nova’s departure. He has not displayed his best stuff in both his starts. There was no sinking action on his fastball nor hard break on his curve.
On the plus side for the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury had a double and two singles and is hitting .414 in 29 at-bats. Rookie Yangervis Solarte continues to impress. Two more doubles raised his batting average to a team-high .438. Elias reports that he is the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles through his first seven career games. Soriano also showed signs that he is coming out of his slump with a homer and a double.
At the beginning of the same week that the National Football League will begin its schedule, the Yankees fumbled their chance to blow past the Orioles in the wild-card race. They caught one break this weekend with fellow contenders Tampa Bay and Oakland playing each other in the Bay Area so they would gain ground on one of them daily and were on the brink of sweeping Baltimore and putting the O’s in the Yanks’ rear-view mirror.
That was before the Birds changed their luck by rolling seven in the seventh inning that ruined yet another strong starting effort by Andy Pettitte (3-0, 1.20 ERA in past five starts) and jostled the Yankees back into fourth place in the American League East and kept them at least 3 ½ games back in the wild-card hunt with another calendar date torn off.
The 3-0 lead that Pettitte took into the seventh appeared pretty safe with the Orioles offering little resistance until newly-acquired Michael Morse and Danny Valencia opened the inning with singles. Yanks manager Joe Girardi turned to a well-rested bullpen but found no relief.
Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan each faced two batters without retiring either. Kelley did the most damage by giving up an RBI single to Matt Wieters and a three-run, opposite-field home run to J.J. Hardy on a ball that hit the top of the wall just beyond the reach of Curtis Granderson in right field. Logan yielded a bunt single to Brian Roberts and a walk to Nick Markakis before Joba Chamberlain got clobbered one out later by Adam Jones with the second three-run homer of the inning, this one onto the netting above Monument Park that created the 7-3 final score.
It marked the first time in 33 home games this season that the Yankees lost when they had a lead of at least two runs.
“They have been so good for us all for so long, it was surprising to see,” Girardi said of the pen.
Despite the pitching changes, all of this seemed to happen in a mini-second. What would have been Pettitte’s 256th victory went flying out the window and offset the decision to have him start instead of Phil Hughes, who is scheduled to get the ball Monday in the Labor Day afternoon tilt against the White Sox, a last-place team but one that swept the Yankees Aug. 5-7 at Chicago.
In games like this, you look back at missed chances for the Yankees to put up more runs. They were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 base runners. Cano, who usually rakes against Baltimore (.340, 27 HR, 99 RBI) was 0-for-5 and struck out three times in a game against the O’s for the first time in his career.
Derek Jeter had a sacrifice fly but was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The RBI was career No. 1,258, which pushed him past former teammate Bernie Williams into sixth place on the all-time franchise list. The Yanks’ 2-through-6 hitters in the Yankees’ lineup were a combined 1-for-19 (Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the third inning giving him 36 RBI in 34 games for the Yanks) with 10 strikeouts.
The Yankees were able to contain Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis in the series. The major-league home run leader had 1-for-10 with a walk, a hit by pitch, an RBI and 10 strikeouts. He was the only Orioles player who did not reach base Sunday as he made five outs.
It was Baltimore’s relief corps that held sway. After a shaky start by starter Wei-Yin Chen (three earned runs, four hits, five walks in four innings), four Orioles relievers teamed up to pitch five scoreless innings allowing three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The Orioles lead the season series, 8-7, with four games remaining against the teams Sept. 9-12 at Camden Yards.
Not that you would recognize it immediately on a day when the temperature peaked at 94 degrees but hell froze over Sunday.
Doesn’t it always seem that way when Mariano Rivera blows a save? The Yankees’ formula was in an ideal spot Sunday with starter Hiroki Kuroda pitching seven shutout innings of brilliance coming off a sore left hip flexor and David Robertson supplying a 1-2-3 eighth, setting it up for Mo to finish things off in the ninth, which he has done more often than any pitcher in history.
Pitching for the fifth time in seven days may have taken a toll on Rivera, who is after all 43 years old. A sign that he could not get his cutter inside enough was evident when Nick Markakis came within inches of a game-tying home run. Normally when a guy hits a ball like that he pops up the next pitch or swings through it. Markakis drilled the next pitch into center field for a single. The Orioles right fielder hit the ball hard off Rivera with two swings in one at-bat than most hitters do off him over a month.
Adam Jones had the killing blow, however, driving a 0-1 two-seamer over the left field wall. A stunned Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,218 watched a 1-0 lead suddenly evaporate. The save went instead to the Orioles’ closer, Jim Johnson, who had blown one two games ago and rebounded with a perfect ninth for save No. 30, the same number Rivera was trying to notch.
It was only the second time this season that Rivera did not convert a save opportunity. The loss ended a streak of 41 straight converted save opportunities at the Stadium for Rivera that dated to the start of the 2011 season. His previous blown a save at home was Sept. 26, 2010 to the Red Sox.
“Whenever it happens, you’re kind of shocked,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
This was a downer. The Yankees were primed to make up for getting swept last week at Camden Yards by returning the favor and adding to their six-game winning streak. The Orioles managed only three hits in seven innings off Kuroda, who walked one batter and struck out four. Rivera recognized more than anyone that this was a tough no-decision for a starting pitcher to accept.
“Kuroda pitched great and deserved to win,” Mo said. “That would have been a great one to save. I made a mistake on a professional hitter. Too bad. To do what I did. . .you can’t do that.”
“There are times like that for him, too,” Kuroda said, acknowledging that whether the Yankees like to admit it or not that Mariano is human. “There is nothing you can do about it.”
Rivera even felt bad that he may have hurt the All-Star candidacy of teammate David Robertson, who is one of the five players nominated for the Final Vote on the American League squad. As a sign of support, Mo wore his uniform stockings up above his calf the way Robertson does that led to his charity organization being named “High Socks for Hope.”
“I don’t think I helped him,” Rivera said with a rueful smile.
Asked if he would stop wearing his socks that way, Rivera said, “I have no superstitions.”
Rivera put the game squarely on his shoulders, but there was not much margin for error because the Yankees scored only one run, in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Nunez. All six hits for the Yankees Sunday were singles just as were all 10 of their knocks Saturday. Despite winning two of three games over Baltimore, the Yankees had only two extra-base hits – doubles both – in the series.
The Orioles got a one-out double from Matt Wieters in the second inning and a leadoff two-bagger from Markakis in the fourth but Kuroda kept them from scoring by frustrating the O’s with sinkers and splitters. Kuroda pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run for the 11th time in 51 starts since joining the Yankees in 2012, surpassing Felix Hernandez for the most such starts in the AL over the past two seasons.
The Yankees signed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. Ishikawa, 29, appeared in six games with the Orioles this season and batted .118 with one RBI in 17 at-bats before being designated for assignment June 29. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Norfolk, batting .316 with 29 runs, 16 doubles, seven home runs and 311 RBI in 49 games and 177 at-bats. Ishikawa, who bats left-handed, is a .260 career hitter over parts of six major-league seasons with the Giants, Brewers and Orioles.
It would have been an absolute shame if Ivan Nova did not get the victory Friday night, and yet the possibility was there before the Yankees rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning for one of the most satisfying triumphs of the season.
Nova was nothing short of magnificent. He gave up a two-run home run to Matt Wieters in the second inning (after hitting the previous batter, Chris Davis) and only two other hits all game. Nova went the full nine for his first complete game in the majors, but when he came into the dugout before the Yankees’ final at-bat he was staring at a 2-1 deficit. He tried to keep faith and recalled how Luis Cruz told him on the bench a couple of innings earlier that he was not losing this game.
Several other teammates came through for Nova to reward Cruz’s faith. David Adams started the inning against Orioles closer Jim Johnson with a well-struck single to right, which livened up a crowd of 43,396 at Yankee Stadium that had been silent much of the night as the Yankees squandered several opportunities.
Johnson opened the door even more for the Yankees when he mishandled a sacrifice attempt by Brett Gardner and did not get an out anywhere. Big error. Ichiro Suzuki bunted next, not a good one as Wieters grabbed it in front of the plate on the first hop. The catcher looked to third base, but Manny Machado had charged the bunt and was not in position to take a throw at the bag to get the lead runner. Wieters threw to first to get Ichiro, and the Orioles walked Robinson Cano intentionally to load the bases with none out.
Johnson then kicked the door wide open by walking Travis Hafner on four pitches to force home the tying run. Johnson fell behind 2-0 in the count to Vernon Wells, who took a strike and fouled off a pitch before sending everyone home with a ground single to left field. Hafner and Wells had come up short three innings earlier with a runner in scoring position when the Yanks needed a run to tie the score, so their at-bats in the ninth were wonderful atonements. The Yankees had come from behind for a walk-off victory against a division opponent that had swept them a week before in Baltimore and handed Johnson a league-high sixth blown save.
But the best thing about the inning is that it put a ‘W’ next to Nova’s name in the box score. Man, did he ever deserve it. Making a spot start for ailing Hiroki Kuroda, Nova held one of the American League’s fiercest lineups to three hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts over nine innings.
“We’ll probably start him again,” manager Joe Girardi said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “His curve was really, really good, but he also had a good fastball down in the zone and his changeup was really effective. We played good defense behind him. It was a great team win.”
“A great night” Nova called it. “Everything was working for me.”
Everything but the score until the ninth inning.
Look at it this way; it was Hiroki Kuroda’s turn. The way the Yankees have been besieged with injuries, it seems as if everyone on the roster is bound to be affected at some point. Wednesday night the arrow pointed at Kuroda, who was drilled in the right leg by a line drive from Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado in the second inning and came out of the game an inning later.
Kuroda had his first brush with injury in his first start of the season April 3 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium when he hurt his right hand trying to catch a line drive. This time, the ball struck Kuroda in the right calf.
Manager Joe Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue checked out Kuroda, who threw several warm-ups and stayed in the game. He got the final out of the second inning, but Girardi was back to the mound for another visit after Kuroda gave up hits to the first two batters of the third. Fearful that Kuroda was favoring the leg and altering his stride, Girardi decided to remove the righthander from the game.
This was not the Kuroda the Yankees have seen much of the year. He gave up two home runs in the first inning, a solo shot by Nick Markakis and a two-run jack by Chris Davis, who took over the American League lead with 14. Kuroda had never pitched at Camden Yards before, and the way Wednesday night went he probably wished he still hadn’t. With five earned runs charged to his record in two innings, Kuroda’s ERA shot from 1.99 to 2.67.
The injury was identified as a bruised calf and did not appear to be serious. Girardi told reporters after the game that he would be “shocked” if Kuroda did not make his next start, which could be a marque pairing with Mets rookie standout Matt Harvey at Citi Field.
Matt Wieters greeted reliever Preston Claiborne with a three-run home run to right-center that increased the Orioles’ lead to 6-1 on the way to a 6-3 final. It was the first run Claiborne allowed in the major leagues after nine scoreless innings over his previous seven outings. He got the next six batters out, and Adam Warren followed with four shutout frames to lower his ERA to 1.14 in 23 2/3 innings.
While Yankees relievers were holding down the Orioles over the last five innings, the offense could not muster a comeback attack except for the solo home runs by Curtis Granderson in the fifth inning and David Adams in the ninth. Robinson Cano had driven in the Yankees’ first run by following a double by Granderson in the third. Granderson, who was back in center field, batted leadoff and had a perfect night with his first home run, the double, a single and a walk.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel had been terrible at home (0-2, 7.79 ERA) as opposed to the road (5-0, 4.64 ERA) but finally got a victory this year at Camden Yards. The Yankees hit quite a few balls hard off Hammel, but he gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
With the score 6-2 entering the ninth, there was no save situation for Jim Johnson, who has been very undependable lately. He stayed in the bullpen, and the Orioles ended up winning the series.
First, it was Ichiro Suzuki making like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly dancing around the catcher to score a run. Next, it was Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez making like Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp in convincing the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy that a ball was caught instead of being a hit that should have scored him.
Baltimore rallied against Andy Pettitte in the bottom of the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. It could have been worse, except that Hardy didn’t get a full view of a grounder by Adam Jones slithering under Jeter’s glove and into left field for a single. A-Rod got into the act by feigning taking a throw from Jeter at the bag, so Hardy stopped, even though third base coach DeMarlo Hale was down the line waving him home.
It proved a big play because Matt Wieters popped up for the third out.
It is a good thing for the Yankees that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters never had Stump Merrill for a catching instructor. Merrill, who served in the Yankees’ organization for decades as a minor-league manager as well as the big club’s skipper in 1991 and ’92, was a former catcher who worked with backstops in spring training and the minors for many years. It was Stump who helped the transition from second base to catcher for a young guy named Jorge Posada.
I spent a lot of time talking baseball with Stump. One of his pet peeves was when catchers let base runners outfox them on tag plays at the plate. Stump used to say that it made no sense to chase a runner if the catcher missed the tag at first swipe and the runner missed the plate.
“Just sit on the plate and let the runner come to you,” Merrill said of his strategy. “If he wants to score, he has to try and get to the plate at some time.”
One of Merrill’s pupils over the years in the Yankees’ system was Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who is as smart about the game as there is in baseball. Buck’s catcher could have used that lesson Monday night in the first inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Wieters played into Ichiro Suzuki’s hands by lunging to tag the wiry outfielder, who used an assortment of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly moves to elude his pursuer and score the first run.
Suzuki appeared to be a dead duck as he tried to come home from first base on a double into the right field corner by Robinson Cano. Ichiro weaved his way around Wieters, then waited for the catcher to make a move toward him and reacted by swerving away from the catcher to slap a tag on the plate before he was tagged.
Anyone who has ever seen Suzuki’s stretching exercises realizes that he is half elastic. Trying to tag him in that spot was a waste of time. Had Wieters merely squatted on the plate, the game would have still been scoreless.