Results tagged ‘ Michael Kirkman ’
The Yankees sure know how to salvage a homestand, don’t they? Thursday’s 3-2, 12-inning victory completed a three-game sweep over the Texas team that beat them out for the American League pennant last year and followed taking three of four from AL Central leading Cleveland (the Indians were in first place during that series, that is).
That’s a pretty impressive finish for a homestand that began with the Red Sox clobbered the Yanks in three games by an aggregate score of 25-13 in a series in which Alex Rodriguez said “Boston embarrassed us.”
Most of his teammates felt the same way, but they showed their resilience by bouncing back against the Tribe and the Rangers, whose pitching staffs rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the AL. And the Yankees’ one loss in the past two series was by a 1-0 score to the Indians.
The Yankees finished off the homestand with one of the feel-good stories of the year so far. Brian Gordon, 32, who has spent 15 years in the minor leagues originally as an outfielder and until this year as a reliever, gave the Yankees 5 1/3 effective innings as a starter Thursday in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,487 that included his wife, two kids, parents and some other friends and relatives.
“I was more nervous with everything leading up to this,” he said. “But my agent told me to concentrate on my pitching and he’d do the rest. To do this against the Rangers made it even more special. Much of what I learned is due to my time with them.”
Gordon had what they call a cup of coffee with Texas in 2008. It was more like a sip. He got into three games totaling four innings and had a 2.25 ERA. Gordon went back to the minors and was eventually released by the Rangers after the 2009 season before the Phillies signed him, released him and then re-signed him. Gordon’s deal allowed him to opt out of the contract if he was not called up to the major-league club by June 15. He was 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA for the Phils’ Triple A Lehigh Valley club, but with the strongest rotation in baseball there was no room for Gordon at Citizens Bank Park.
There was room at Yankee Stadium for a pitcher, what with Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon on the disabled list. Gordon showed Thursday that he might fill the bill.
“He has definitely evolved,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t remember him being able to move the ball around like he did.”
Gordon said his development of a cut fastball has been a major part of his success, although he said he did not have much of a feel for it Thursday, which may be why he walked three batters and hit two. But he pitched out of trouble effectively and earned a stay in the rotation.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi likes the idea that Gordon, who hit 119 home runs in the minors, can handle the bat because his next start will be Tuesday night in Cincinnati, a National League park where pitchers have to hit in inter-league games.
Another twist for the Yankees is that the game-winning hit came from Brett Gardner off a left-handed reliever, Michael Kirkman, a single to right field. Gardner was not in the original lineup against Texas starter C.J. Wilson, a lefthander, and ended up being the hero. Gardner’s hit scored Curtis Granderson, who no longer has problems with lefties as his leadoff single suggested.
Grandy moved into scoring position with one out when Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch. That was the fifth HBP of the day, an unusually high number for a game in which the teams did not get into a fight. Several were of the ball bounced on the foot variety with no harm intended. The winning pitcher was Corey Wade, another Triple A find (from the Rays’ organization) that the Yankees signed this week. Chalk this victory up to the scouts.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees’ new lineup altered by Derek Jeter’s assignment to the 15-day disabled list to do something positive to offset the Captain’s loss. New shortstop Eduardo Nunez and new leadoff hitter Brett Gardner contributed RBI hits in the Yanks’ six-run second inning that drove previously unbeaten Rangers starter Alexi Ogandov from the game.
In compiling a 7-0 record, Ogando had joined Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven (1976 and ’77) as the only Texas righthanders to begin a season by pitching at least six innings in their first 12 starts. Well, that streak sure ended as Ogando was gone after 1 2/3 innings having yielded six runs and six hits.
Nunez started the Yankees’ scoring with a bases-loaded single to left that scored one run. After Francisco Cervelli struck out for the second out, Gardner got another run in with an excuse-me swing that resulted in a single inside third base.
That was the first of three straight two-out hits for the Yankees. Curtis Granderson, who has pounded Texas pitching this year (10-for-21) singled in two runs, and Mark Teixeira doubled home two more. The Yankees nearly added another two runs when Alex Rodriguez greeted reliever Michael Kirkman with a drive to the warning track in right-center that was caught by Nelson Cruz. Rodriguez had started the rally with a leadoff single.