Results tagged ‘ Melky Cabrera ’
The All-Star Game will be at Citi Field in a couple of months, and there has been a lot of talk in Flushing about Matt Harvey, the Mets’ impressive rookie, perhaps getting the nod as the starting pitcher for the National League. Not to take any thunder away from Harvey, but it may not be a bad idea if the American League gave serious consideration to the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda as its starter.
Oh, sure, it’s far too early to get into that discussion. One thing is certain: when that topic does become heated, figure Kuroda to be in the middle of it, right up there with Felix Hernandez, Clay Buchholz, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and the other All-Star starter contenders.
Say what you want about the Blue Jays’ 17-25 start, but the Toronto lineup is still formidable. Yet Kuroda mowed through it seemingly without breaking a sweat.
“He had all three of his pitches going – fastball, slider, splitter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He pretty much gave the bullpen the night off. He has been doing that for us all season.”
The first inning was an indication that it might be a special night for Kuroda. Melky Cabrera led off the game with a double. Kuroda then struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and got the third out by gloving a searing line drive by J.P. Arencibia.
“I felt good after those first two strikeouts,” Kuroda said.
Asked how he was able to catch Arencibia’s dart, Kuroda said, “I don’t know.”
After Melky’s hit, Kuroda got 19 consecutive outs before yielding a second hit, Encarnacion’s one-out single in the seventh. Kuroda walked Muenori Kawasaki in the third inning but picked him off. The righthander had five strikeouts in his eight innings, and it was hard to believe that 41 of his 109 pitches were called balls.
Kuroda improved his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99, clearly the best of each in the rotation. He has been a one-man gang against Toronto with 12 consecutive scoreless innings against the Jays. Opponents are hitless in their past 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Kuroda and 2-for-30 for the season. He has pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run in nine of his 42 starts with the Yankees, which matches Hernandez and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most such starts in the majors over the past two years.
The Yankees tied the score right away by scoring off Mark Buehrle in the first inning. Brett Gardner tripled to left-center and scored on a groundout by Robinson Cano. The first of two sacrifice flies by Jayson Nix gave Kuroda the lead in the fifth, and the bottom of the Yankees’ order constructed the bulk of a three-run rally in the seventh.
How about the 3-4-5-6 hitters combining to go 1-for-16 and still the Yankees winning, 5-0? Nix had a 0-for-0 game with two walks and two sac flies, the first Yankees player to get four plate appearances in a game without an official at-bat since Derek Jeter Sept. 12, 2006 against the Rays. Rookies David Adams and Austin Romine had a double and a single apiece, and rookie pitcher Preston Claiborne tossed another scoreless inning (that’s eight now in six appearances). Gardner also walked and singled in a run. It was all nice to see, but the way Kuroda pitched was unnecessary.
So where is Russell Martin these days? Oh, that’s right; he took off for Pittsburgh as a free agent in the past off-season because the Pirates came up with a second year in their contract offer. Good for him; I hope he is happy.
I was thinking about Martin during the Yankees-Blue Jays game Sunday at Toronto when Chris Stewart hit a home run in the third inning and threw out Melky Cabrera trying to steal second base in the fifth.
I do not mean to pick on Martin as much as those who kept reporting all winter about how the Yankees blew it by not conceding to the catcher’s contract demands and would regret it. Look at what Stewart and Francisco Cervelli have done so far this year. Does anyone miss Russell Martin all that much?
The Cervelli-Stewart tandem was treated in a few media outlets as some sort of joke during spring training, but the duo have been a major part of the Yankees’ good start that hit a bump Sunday with an 8-4 loss. Stewart was involved in all the Yankees’ scoring innings. He got the Yanks on the board with his first home run of the season, began the two-run rally in the fifth with a single and bunted Jayson Nix to third base with one out in the sixth that preceded the sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead at that point.
In the first two games of the series – both Yankees victories – Cervelli was behind the plate and had 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two runs scored. He has gotten the bulk of the playing time of the two catchers, with 42 at-bats to Stewart’s 17, but manager Joe Girardi insists that they are sharing the position. However the breakdown, the catching situation has been in good hands.
Cervelli and Stewart are batting a combined .322 with a .525 slugging percentage, three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 59 at-bats. Martin? He is hitting .216 with a .353 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and three RBI in 51 at-bats. Again, not to pick on the guy, but I cannot remember just when it was that Russell Martin became the second coming of Thurman Munson, which seemed to be an off-season theme in some circles.
Martin had two decent seasons with the Yankees. Last year, he showed renewed power (21 home runs) and had some memorable game-winning hits, including a huge homer against the Mets, but hit .211 for the season. Now I realize that the seamheads who adore the boutique stats don’t make much of batting average anymore, but .211 is still .211, which is not good by any measure.
Stewart had his hands full Sunday with another erratic outing from Ivan Nova, who threw 101 pitches but was gone after giving up a walk and a double to the first two batters in the sixth that the Jays turned into a four-run inning with RBI hits off relievers Boone Logan and David Phelps to regain the lead they would not relinquish again.
The leadoff walk in the sixth was to Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind. I do not know what the Yankees’ scouting report was on Lind, but they sure pitched to him carefully in the series. Lind had five plate appearances and walked in every one, including all four times he stepped to the plate Sunday.
It was nonetheless a positive series for the Yankees, who move on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game set against another American League East rival, the Rays, who swept the Athletics over the weekend at Tropicana Field.
Despite being booed loudly and repeatedly in the city where he was once a favorite, Vernon Wells will miss Toronto. He had quite series, going 7-for-15 (.467) with a double and two home runs. He also made the defensive play of the game Sunday in the third inning with a fence-climbing catch in left field to rob Edwin Encarnacion of a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit and begin a rally-killing double play.
Gardner also found Toronto to his liking, as usual. He had 5-for-14 (.357) in the series with a double, a home run, a stolen base, two runs and two RBI. Gardner is a .370 career hitter at Rogers Centre with 18 runs, six doubles, six triples, one home run and eight RBI in 30 games.
The slick artificial surface at Rogers Centre played havoc with both the Yankees and the Blue Jays Saturday. Of course, without such a surface the clubs might not have been able to play at all. Snow and freezing temperatures hit Toronto Saturday morning, but with the flick of a switch at the domed facility the roof allowed the teams to get in a game without the sort of conditions the Mets faced on their recent trip to snow-bound Minneapolis and Denver.
The Yankees prevailed, 5-3, but not without a struggle. They had the dubious defense of the Blue Jays to thank for this one. A two-base throwing error by relief pitcher Aaron Loup let what proved the deciding runs to score in the 11th inning. Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie ranged too far off third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ichiro Suzuki, a daring move infielders often make on the fast surface there, and could not get back to the bag in time to make a play on Loup’s throw that went down the left field line and let the tiebreaking runs score.
Back in the fifth inning, Lawrie couldn’t handle a scorching line drive by Kevin Youkilis that went off his glove and into left field for a two-run single that had given the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Youkilis ended up having to come out of the game when his back stiffened up playing on the hard turf. Shoddy defense hurt the Blue Jays Friday night as well with the Yankees getting two gift runs due to a throwing error by center fielder Colby Rasmus that might have just as well been charged to catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was out of position to take the rally.
The Yankees will always take advantage of being given extra outs by the opposition. The turf played a part in the Jays’ tying the score with a three-run eighth that hung a tough no-decision on Hiroki Kuroda, who stretched his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 before that inning and lowered his season ERA to 2.35.
Lyle Overbay, who replaced Youkilis at first base, could not stop a rug-cutting grounder by Rasmus that went into right field for a one-out single. David Robertson came on and got a big strikeout of Maicer Izturis for the second out. But a walk to pinch hitter Adam Lind preceded a single by Rajai Davis on a hanging curve on a 0-2 count to score the run that ended Kuroda’s streak.
Davis then made a big play with a steal of second base. And the day after Overbay and Vernon Wells hurt their former Blue Jays team, Melky Cabrera did the same to the Yankees with a single to center that knotted the score.
Mariano Rivera withstood a leadoff double by Jose Bautista in the bottom of the 11th for his fifth save. The winning pitcher was Sean Kelley, who did a nice job of relief in the 10th after Toronto got a runner to second base with one out against Boone Logan. Kelley retired Davis on an infield pop and Cabrera on a grounder to the right side.
Kuroda was coming off a complete-game shutout last Sunday against the Orioles and was just as stingy over the first six innings by limiting the Jays to two hits. He finished with a three-hit effort with one walk and seven strikeouts. Wells had another big game at his old yard with 3-for-5, including his fifth home run.
All season long Derek Jeter has marched past Hall of Famers on the all-time hits and runs lists. Saturday was one of those days. In the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, Jeter singled and doubled. The two hits raised his total for the season to 150, second highest in the major leagues only to former teammate Melky Cabrera, who has 154 for the Giants.
It marked the 17th consecutive season that Jeter has had at least 150 hits. So what is the big deal about that? Well, the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps all the game’s numbers, reports that only one other player in history had 17 straight years of 150 or more hits, and that player was Henry Aaron, from 1955-71 for the Braves.
The record-tying hit was a two-out, run-scoring double to right-center in the sixth inning off former teammate Aaron Laffey that scored Casey McGehee, who had doubled with one out. It was McGehee’s first big day for the Yankees since his arrival from Pittsburgh 10 days ago in a trade for relief pitcher Chad Qualls. McGehee also got his first home run for the Yankees with a three-run blast to left in the fourth inning.
Like most new guys who come to the Yankees, McGehee has learned to appreciate Jeter even more as a player now that he is a teammate. “The approach he takes never wavers,” McGehee said of the Captain. “It’s a pleasure to play alongside him.”
Jeter, who is batting .315 overall, ranks third in the majors with 46 multi-hit games, one more than his total from all of last year. He is batting .379 with four home runs in 103 at-bats leading off games and .364 in 140 at-bats against left-handed pitching. His .345 batting average on the road in 249 at-bats is second in the American League only to Angels rookie Mike Trout (.348).
The most positive aspect of the Yankees’ fourth straight victory Saturday was the work of Ivan Nova, who pitched one out into the eighth inning and allowed two earned runs, five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. He was a bit erratic with two hit batters and a balk, but it was an outing that gave the Yankees some encouragement at a time when it is needed since CC Sabathia had to be placed on the 15-day disabled because of soreness in his left elbow.
Nova displayed effective curves and sliders consistently, which had been missing from his recent starts. His record went to 11-6 with the victory, his first after five winless outings and his second over his past 10 starts.
It was a strong game all around for the Yankees. Second baseman Robinson Cano made a splendid play to rob Moises Sierra of a potential run-scoring hit to end the sixth inning, and center fielder Curtis Granderson concluded the seventh with a back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a long drive by Adeiny Hecchavarria.
The Toronto bullpen held the Yankees hitless over the final 3 1/3 innings, but the Yanks’ pen was equally efficient. David Robertson got two outs with his only pitch in getting Omar Vizquel on a double play in the eighth. Rafael Soriano earned his 28th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
So after losing the first two games in Detroit, the Yankees have a chance to close out this Great Lakes trip at 5-2 Sunday with Phil Hughes going against the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ for some momentum heading into a challenging homestand upcoming against Texas and Boston.
Sabathia had been scheduled to start Monday night against the Rangers, but inflammation in his pitching elbow caused him to be shut down. It is the second stint on the DL for Sabathia, whose previous injury was to his left groin. CC felt stiffness after his start Wednesday night against the Tigers when he came out of the game in the seventh inning.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No one needs to tell Derek Jeter how important first baseman Mark Teixeira is to the Yankees’ infield. A good example was evident in the first inning of Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.
It turned out to be a disastrous start for the Tigers’ Justin Verlander, who gave up five runs on four hits and two walks. The big blow was a bases-loaded triple into the right field corner by Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
The next hitter, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, hit a grounder in the hole between shortstop and third base that Jeter gloved and went into his patented leap-and-throw maneuver to first base.
But that was not Teixeira across the way. Instead, it was the Tigers’ Prince Fielder, an amazing slugger but only a passable first baseman. Jeter’s throw came in on a bounce, but it most likely would have been handled by Teixeira. Fielder could not come up with it, so Uggla had an RBI single.
Robinson Cano continued to endure the wrath of Kansas City fans, who booed him during pre-game introductions and when he came to bat in the first inning immediately after Jeter had led off with an infield single. Chants of “Bill-y Butler” rang out during the at-bat. The crowd took delight in Cano’s fouling out to Sandoval behind third base. The reaction to Cano not naming Butler to the American League squad for Monday night’s Home Run Derby is getting old at this point.
The first-inning rally was started by Cano’s old buddy, Melky Cabrera, the former Yankees outfielder who played here last year and got a nice reception even though he was traded to the Giants this past off-season for pitcher Jonathan Sanchez in a deal that has not worked out for Kansas City. While Cabrera is batting .353 in San Francisco, Sanchez is 1-5 with 6.75 ERA. Cabrera kept reminding the Royals of their loss. In the fourth inning, he homered to left off Rangers lefthander Matt Harrison.
Cano finally heard cheers in the bottom of the fourth when he led off with a single to center off flame-throwing Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. Even Royals fans had to acknowledge that getting a hit off the pitching phenom is worth celebrating.
“I don’t have any hard feelings,” Cano said outside the AL clubhouse after he came out of the game. “It is part of baseball. Billy talked to me and said he understood. It was not his fault. The only thing I didn’t like is the way they treated my family when they went to the restroom. I did not think that was right.”
The Yankees will wake up Friday in second place, which is not the place they want to be as the Red Sox head into Yankee Stadium for a three-game series beginning Friday night. An 11-5 loss to the Royals Thursday night dropped the Yankees out of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 10.
The Yankees had moved atop the division April 13 and held it for 28 calendar days, but their grip has been slipping ever since the Rays came back strong from their 1-8 start and on the past trip to Detroit and Texas where the Bombers were 3-4 against teams that had been slumping before they arrived in those towns.
The Royals, who are looking as if they might stay in contention for a while in the AL Central, banged out 16 hits, including a home run and double by former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who had a fine return visit with two home runs, four runs, three RBI, a stolen base and some nifty play in the outfield during the series.
Kansas City’s Sean O’Sullivan became the first visiting pitcher in 10 years to win a start at Yankee Stadium without striking out a single batter. Staked to a 6-0 lead by the second inning, O’Sullivan pitched to contact and had only one bad inning, a four-run fifth after he had thrown four perfect innings and retired 13 consecutive batters before five straight Yankees reached base against him.
The Yankees hit two more home runs (Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez), but both were solos. They just could not crawl completely out of the hole an erratic Ivan Nova (10 hits, 8 hits, 2 home runs, 2 walks in 3-plus innings) put them in. They left five runners on base, 10 fewer than the night before, but could not avoid losing a series at home for the first time this year.
They are still not in danger of the Red Sox overtaking them as well in the AL East standings this weekend since the Yankees have a four-game lead over Boston, but the edge they once had over their division rivals who each stumbled out of the gate has dwindled considerably.
Freddy Garcia climbed back onto the bike Tuesday night after bumpy outings in his two previous starts. The righthander some help from his defense, not to mention some over-aggressive base running by the Royals.
The Yankees were aware Kansas City likes to run (44 stolen bases), which became evident right away when Chris Getz swiped third base with two outs in the first inning. Garcia stranded him there by retiring Billy Butler on a ground ball to shortstop.
The Royals ran themselves out of a potential rally in the third inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Matt Treanor, Garcia made a nice play to glove a sacrifice attempt by Alcides Escobar. Treanor, a catcher, wandered off first base and was thrown out trying to steal second by Garcia. Getz reached base with two out and also was gunned down trying to advance on a ball in the dirt but Russell Martin recovered nicely to get an out at second base.
Melky Cabrera’s home run off a 2-0 pitch leading off the fourth ensured that a Royals player would navigate his way around the bases without incident and tied the game at 1. Garcia gave up back-to-back, one-out singles to Mike Aviles and Treanor in the fifth but escaped damage with a strikeout looking of Escobar and then watched right fielder Nick Swisher skid across the grass to make a run-saving grab of a low liner by Getz.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi allowed Garcia to start the seventh (he had pitched into the eighth his last time out), but after Jeff Francoeur singled and Eric Hosmer walked made the move to the bullpen. David Robertson retired Aviles on a routine fly ball but walked Treanor to fill the bases. After a conference on the mound with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Robertson came back to strike out Escobar and Getz.
It was a key moment for the Yankees because usual eighth-inning reliever Rafael Soriano was not available because of a sore right elbow. He met with team physician Chris Ahmad before the game and is scheduled for an MRI Wednesday.
Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera finished off the 3-1 victory rather nicely to guarantee that Garcia, who lowered his ERA to 2.61, would even his record at 2-2. He has been a terrific addition to the staff. And before you get the idea that the Royals were some kind of pushovers out there, consider that they went into the game with a team batting average 15 points higher than the Yankees’.
This one finished with smiles all around, especially after Rivera made a Gold Glove stop of a hard grounder by Aviles and started a game-ending double play. Mo’s grin was particularly ear-to-ear as he notched his 13th save.
There were smiles, too, for Derek Jeter, who had his third straight multi-hit game and knocked in the Yankees’ first run with a two-out single in the third, and Alex Rodriguez, who unlocked a 1-1 score with a bases-loaded single in the fifth, also after two were out. After going eight games without driving in a run, A-Rod has three RBI in the past two games.
Among the most pleasurable things for Yankees fans to watch is Brett Gardner running out a triple. Those in attendance Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium got to view that thrill with two out in the bottom of the second inning when Gardner hit a ball in the gap in right-center and took off for the races.
It was the first hit for the Yankees off Royals starter Kyle Davies, who had set down the previous eight batters in order. The second hit came quickly for the Yankees as Derek Jeter hit a 3-2 pitch on the ground up the middle for a single to score Gardner. It was nice to see DJ keep showing the hitting stroke he showed on the recent trip.
The lead proved short-lived, however, as Freddy Garcia gave up a home run to Melky Cabrera leading off the third. The reaction from the crowd was mixed. Amid the usual boos one hears when an opposing players homers were some cheers for a former Yankees player who was a popular guy during his time with the team.
A much more conditioned Melky was on display. He dropped about 20 pounds in the off-season and appeared pretty ripped as the results of a new weight-training regimen. Cabrera already has four home runs and 22 RBI for Kansas City. He is also playing a strong center field and is tied with teammate Alex Gordon, the left fielder, for the American League in outfield assists with 4.
Speaking of outfield assists, how about Nick Swisher coming to Garcia’s aid in the fifth? Swish may be struggling with the bat, but with runners on first and second he saved the Yankees at least one run with a belly-flop catch in right field of a low liner by Chris Getz for the third out.
Not that he needed any further verification of his status as a player who can be counted on when a game is on the line, Mariano Rivera was the June winner of the 2010 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Award. The only question is: why did it take four years for the Yankees closer to win the monthly award presented by Pepsi?
Mo’s credentials were impeccable last month. He was 2-0 with seven saves in 11 appearances covering 13 innings in which the righthander allowed only four hits with 16 strikeouts. Rivera retired 24 consecutive batters from June 3-23. Twice in a five-day stretch he pitched two innings to preserve victories in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Although he had never won the monthly award, Rivera was a finalist for the MLB Clutch Performer of the Year in 2009 but lost out to Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier. At the conclusion of the 2010 regular season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the Clutch Performer of the Year from among six finalists selected by a special MLB.com editorial panel.
The Yankees have dominated this competition since its 2007 inception, with eight winners. Rivera joins current teammates Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez and former teammates Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang. Only the Cubs and White Sox have had as many as two winners.