Results tagged ‘ Matt Wieters ’
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.
Somewhat appropriately, Derek Jeter was the first batter Sunday night in the first postseason game at Baltimore in 15 years. Jeter was the only position player on the Yankees’ roster who played against the Orioles in the 1996 American League Championship Series. Of course, Jeter was the central figure in that series with his famous fan-aided home run in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.
The Orioles played in the ALCS the next season as well, except this time against the Indians, who had upset the Yankees in the AL Division Series. Baltimore then went into a 14-season funk that ended this year with the Orioles qualifying for the postseason as one of the wild card teams and advancing to the ALDS by defeating the Rangers in the WC playoff.
This marked the first Division Series between division opponents. When the Division Series was added to the postseason format in 1995, division opponents could not play each other in the first round. The creation of the second wild card this year opened up the possibility of division foes opposing each other in the ALDS. So after 162 games with the Yankees beating out the Orioles by a two-game margin in the AL East standings, here the two teams were battling each other again following a 2 1/2-hour rain delay.
If anyone on the Yankees could attest to the Orioles’ turnaround, it was CC Sabathia, the Game 1 starter. Sabathia has a 16-4 record and 3.12 ERA in his career against Baltimore, including 10-3 with a 3.38 ERA at Camden Yards. This year, however, CC was 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA against the O’s in three starts, all in Baltimore. The Orioles hit .312 with four home runs in 77 at-bats off CC in his 18 1/3 innings.
The Yankees had some misadventures on the bases that shortened a couple of rallies. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Jason Hammel on a single by Jeter and a double by Ichiro Suzuki, who made his first postseason appearance since the 2001 ALCS for the Mariners against the Yankees.
Ichiro was a bit too aggressive as he tried to steal third base and was thrown out by catcher Matt Wieters. It was not a smart move considering the heart of the batting order was coming up with none out and a rare mistake on the bases by Suzuki.
Sabathia gave up the lead in the third on a two-run single by Nate McLouth, but the Yankees came back to tie the score the next inning. Again, questionable base running resulted in a key out. Mark Teixeira singled off the top of the right field wall to drive in Alex Rodriguez from second base with the tying run. Tex was gunned down by right fielder Chris Davis trying for a double.
Nick Swisher, who had walked as did A-Rod, got to third base on the play but was eventually stranded as Hammel walked Curtis Granderson intentionally and retired Russell Martin on a fly to center.
Orange was the predominant color at Camden Yards for an Orioles-Yankees game Thursday night for what might have been the first time in 15 years. Ever since 1998, the first of 14 straight losing seasons for the Orioles, games against the Yankees in Baltimore provided local fans the opportunity to scalp tickets to willing New Yorkers who traveled to the Chesapeake Bay to see their heroes.
The main attraction was Cal Ripken Jr., who had a statue unveiled in his honor 16 years to the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s streak of consecutive games with No. 2,131 that would eventually grow to 2,632 and earn the “Iron Man” a place alongside the “Iron Horse” in the Hall of Fame. The rest of the night, however, belonged to the upstart 2012 Orioles, who received a standing ovation from Cal and the others in the sellout crowd of 46,298 after a rousing victory over the Yankees that left the teams tied for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees nearly spoiled it all for all those orange shirts when they erased a 6-1 deficit in the eighth inning with a five-spot on the sort of rally they have lacked much of the year. The offense came alive in a game in which the Yankees fell behind, 4-0, in the first inning. Erratic relief work by Pedro Strop, who faced four batters and gave up two walks and two hits to spit up Baltimore’s lead, was welcomed by the Yankees, who got clutch hits from Alex Rodriguez (RBI double), Curtis Granderson (RBI single) and Ichiro Suzuki (a two-run single) and a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Chris Dickerson to force in a run.
Then it was the Yankees pen’s turn to falter. The Orioles treated David Robertson like a tomato can of a boxer with a 1-2 punch, a solo home run by Adam Jones and a two-run shot by Mark Reynolds. Robertson’s bell was still ringing in the dugout when his replacement, Boone Logan, was slugged for another homer, by Chris Davis.
The 10-6 Baltimore victory was definitely a knockout as the Orioles went yard six times. Reynolds had his third two-homer game against the Yankees in a week’s time. Over his past seven games, Reynolds has batted .423 with eight home runs, 16 RBI and eight runs in 26 at-bats. Six of those jacks have come against Yankees pitchers. This is a guy who was benched at mid-season when he was batting less than .200 and striking out twice a game.
The first of Reynolds’ home runs Thursday night was a solo in the sixth off Joba Chamberlain. The other Orioles’ homers were a big, three-run job by Matt Wieters in the first inning and a solo by Robert Andino in the third, both off David Phelps, who put the Yanks in 4-0 and 6-1 divots. Yet he was taken off the hook by the Yankees’ eighth-inning comeback.
Robertson, whose record fell to 1-6, is 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA in his past three appearances. Both home runs he yielded Thursday night were on two-strike pitches as he failed to put away Jones or Reynolds.
All the runs the Yankees scored in the eighth came after two were out, an encouraging sign, but more and more the fact that they have lived and died by the home run this year is starting to haunt them. The team that leads the majors in home runs is suddenly getting outslugged. Ten games into a 22-game stretch against AL East competition, the Yankees are 3-7 and have been out homered, 22-9. Thursday night was the 25th game in which the Yankees failed to hit a home run, and they are 4-21 in those games.
Camden Yards has always been a place where the Yankees have enjoyed playing with an overall record of 104-57 (.646), but they have to realize that the way the Orioles are playing now it will no longer seem like a home away from home.
Any concern the Yankees had about the condition of Robinson Cano’s left hip abated when he made a dazzling play at second base to rob Nick Markakis of a base hit in the first inning Thursday night at Baltimore. Unfortunately, it was the only out the Yankees got for a while because the next four guys all got hits off David Phelps and scored.
Cano was sore after Tuesday night’s game at St. Petersburg, Fla., and was the designated hitter Wednesday night. He was back at second base Thursday night and appeared his old self. Fans were probably delighted to see him dive for Markakis’ ball after he failed to dive for a ball that became a game-winning hit Tuesday night against the Rays.
A packed house at Camden Yards on a night honoring Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. on the 16th anniversary of his breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games was ecstatic over the first-inning outburst against Phelps. After three straight singles produced one run, Matt Wieters clouted his 19th home run into the second row down the left field line for three more. Wieters has had a hit in all 15 games the Orioles and Yankees have played against each other this year.
Phelps gave up another home run, a solo shot by Robert Andino, Baltimore’s 9-hole hitter, in the fourth, which turned out to be the righthander’s last inning. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate to go to the bullpen early as he treated this game as if were a playoff game. Phelps just did not have it. He allowed five earned runs, six hits, two walks and a balk with three strikeouts in four innings.
Cano gave the Orioles a scare in the top of the fourth when he hit a line drive off the right elbow of Jason Hammel. The ball ricocheted into left field for a single. Hammel, making his first start in seven weeks after recovering from right knee surgery, remained in the game. He allowed a two-out, RBI single by Curtis Granderson that inning and pitched one batter into the sixth before Orioles manager Buck Showalter lifted him after a walk. Reliever Randy Wolf threw a double-play ball that helped the Orioles get out of the inning without damage.
This was career game No. 2,500 for Alex Rodriguez, who is the fourth active player to reach the mark, joining teammate Derek Jeter earlier this season, Omar Vizquel and Jim Thome. Only two players had more hits (2,876) and extra-base hits (1,185) through 2,500 games than A-Rod – Stan Musial (3,176 hits, 1,233 extra-base hits) and Hank Aaron (3,044 hits, 1,200 extra-base hits).