Results tagged ‘ Omar Quintanilla ’
No sooner had a I filed the previous blog about how the Yankees are the top fielding team in the majors this season that Derek Jeter booted a hard liner by Scott Hairston for an error that gave the Mets runners on first and third base with one out in the second inning of Saturday night’s Subway Series game at Citi Field.
Such misplays have a way of opening the door for teams, but Ivan Nova slammed it shut. The righthander got a big out when he struck out Omar Quintanilla on a nasty slider that the Mets shortstop foul-tipped into Russell Martin’s mitt.
Pitching carefully to Josh Thole with the pitcher on deck, Nova walked the Mets catcher on four pitches. Chris Young, who was batting for only the third time this year, went after the first pitch and hit a chopper up the middle that was gloved by Jeter, who stepped on second for the inning-ending force play that made his error insignificant.
The same could not be said of a muffed ground ball by Alex Rodriguez two innings later. A-Rod failed to grab a grounder by Hairston, and Quintanilla lined a double to left. With none out, Nova had to go after Thole and got him on a grounder to first as Hairston scored on the contact play. It increased the Mets’ lead to 2-0. They had gotten on the board in the third on Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ seventh home run of the season.
What was even weirder about the two errors is that the Yankees had not made an error with Nova on the mound this season, spanning a stretch of 86 1/3 innings.
Mets closer Frank Francisco’s pre-series reference to the Yankees as “chickens” continued to stir the pot of the latest match-up. Mets reliever Tim Byrdak went so far as to bring a live chicken into their clubhouse.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he could not remember hearing of a chicken being in a major-league clubhouse. But he did recall a time when Yankees teammates Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key went turkey hunting on an open date late one season but failed to catch anything. Girardi said the next day Key brought a frozen turkey from the supermarket to the clubhouse and gave it to Boggs, saying, “Here’s your turkey.”
The Yankees were reminded of life without Mariano Rivera Sunday. Rafael Soriano, who is filling in for Mo as the Yankees’ closer while the best ever at that job prepares for right knee surgery this week, suffered his first blown save. Soriano, who was 9-for-9 in save opportunities, failed to protect a 4-3 lead over the Mets that had been hard-earned by the Yankees with a pair of late-inning rallies.
Doubles by Lucas Duda and Ike Davis tied the score, but Jayson Nix and Boone Logan teamed to prevent the Mets from going ahead. The game was not deadlocked for long. Russell Martin, whose bat has awakened this month, completed the Yankees’ sweep with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off Jon Rauch.
It was the second homer of the game for Martin, who had 7-for-19 (.368) with four home runs and eight RBI in 19 at-bats on the homestand. Over his past 12 games since May 25, Martin has hit .342 with four doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI in raising his season average from .173 to .216.
The workmanlike effort of Andy Pettitte aside, Sunday was looking like the Mets’ day in the finale of the Subway Series. A glaring error by Robinson Cano helped fuel a three-run rally for the Mets in the second inning, and those runs were holding up behind the equally strong work of Mets starter Jonathan Niese.
The Yankees were hitless in five at-bats and grounded into three double plays until they finally broke through with two out in the seventh. An errant throw by third baseman David Wright was just enough of an opening.
In the Mets dugout, manager Terry Collins recalled saying to himself, “This isn’t good, not here.”
Here, of course, is Yankee Stadium where a home run is sometimes only a routine fly ball away, such as the one Martin hit immediately after the error. The ball went over the glove of right fielder Scott Hairston, hit the very top of the fence and fell into the hands of a fan in the first row.
By that slimmest of margins, the Yankees were back in the game, thanks to two unearned runs. Pettitte had pitched to the minimum number of batters from the third through the sixth to keep the Yankees within reach. A scoreless inning apiece from Clay Rapada and Cory Wade put the Yankees in position to come back. The Mets’ bullpen was not as effective.
Again, it was a Mets error that got them in trouble as the Yankees struck for two runs off Bobby Parnell in the eighth to take the lead. Shortstop Omar Quintanilla failed to glove a slow roller by Derek Jeter, who was credited with a single but hustled into second base on the misplay.
Curtis Granderson, who had homered off Parnell Saturday night, drilled a tracer of a single to left, a ball struck so hard that Jeter was held at third base by coach Rob Thompson. It proved a momentary pause. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground single to center that scored Jeter with the tying run. The go-ahead run came in on a flare single to right by Alex Rodriguez. That was his 1,918th career run batted in, putting him in seventh place on the all-time list.
“I’ve said all along that we are not a team that can afford to make mistakes,” Collins said, “not against good teams like the New York Yankees.”
The Yankees could have used some more runs, but lefthander Tim Byrdak got Cano on a fielder’s choice and Nick Swisher on a fly to right before Rauch struck out pinch hitter Raul Ibanez.
The Mets probably felt the same away about the ninth. Instead of sacrificing Davis to third, Collins allowed Quintanilla to swing away, an option he allows hitters in that spot because the object is to get the runner at second to third, so any ball hit to the right side will do. Quintanilla did not pull the ball, however, but hit a grounder to the left of the mound that Nix, spelling Jeter at shortstop, gloved and then threw to third base to nail Davis, not a swift runner.
“I’m never surprised when Nix makes a heads-up play,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You see him every day working out at third base, shortstop, second base, left field. I haven’t used him in right field yet, but who knows? We’re going to two National League cities on this trip.”
After Daniel Murphy singled Quintanilla to third, Girardi decided to lift Soriano for Logan, who got a big strikeout of pinch hitter Josh Thole looking and got Kirk Neuwenhuis on a grounder to second.
“It has to come from different players every day,” Girardi said about contributions from players. “It comes from different guys in different ways.”
The various contributions made it a very satisfying weekend for the Yankees, who won New York bragging rights and earned a huge boost in confidence as they veer into the unfamiliar NL territories of Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Now this was more like it. Yankees fans surely loved Friday night’s 9-1 victory over the Mets, but from a purely baseball sense it was a game lacking drama once the Bombers took an early lead off Johan Santana, who had pitched a no-hitter in his previous start.
Saturday night was a different story, however. This was a Subway Series game filled with action and intensity. And Yankees fans could still be happy that the game went in their favor, 4-2.
Phil Hughes continued his hot hand of late with his third straight winning decision. Over his past seven starts, Hughes is 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA in 46 1/3 innings. It also continued a strong run this month by Yankees starting pitchers. The rotation is a combined 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA in June.
Both of the runs Hughes allowed were on home runs (by Omar Quintanilla and David Wright), but his teammates countered with a pair of homers as well. Mark Teixeira’s two-run blow in the sixth off Dillon Gee put the Yanks ahead for good. Curtis Granderson, who had walked and scored on Tex’s 11th homer of the season, added insurance with a solo shot (No. 18) in the eighth off Bobby Parnell that stopped a hitless string that had reached 18 at-bats.
Granderson also made the defensive play of the game. Boone Logan relieved Hughes with one out and a runner on first base in the seventh to face Quintanilla, who had the only hit in seven innings off Hiroki Kuroda Friday night, a double. The Mets shortstop made a bid for another double with a drive to deep left-center, but Granderson caught up to it with a splendid, leaping, one-handed grab.
Quintanilla also represented the potential tying run in the ninth against Rafael Soriano and singled to center with two out to keep the Mets’ rally alive with runners on first and third. Soriano retired pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin on a fly to left to chalk up his ninth save in nine opportunities.
Cory Wade and Clay Rapada also were effective in relief as manager Joe Girardi negotiated the pen adroitly. Rapada was key because the Mets bunch three left-handed batters in the middle of the order with Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis. That makes them vulnerable to the move Girardi made in the eighth by bringing in Rapada to face Duda and Murphy after Wade had set down Wright on a ground ball. Rapada got the two lefty swingers on grounders as well.
The sellout crowd of 44,575 at Yankee Stadium also proved a strong chorus in backing up MaryKay Messenger’s moving rendition of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. It was that kind of night at the yard.
Johnny Vander Meer’s record of consecutive no-hitters in 1938 remains intact. Mets lefthander Johan Santana in his first start since his historic no-hitter seven days ago at Citi Field was quite the contrary Friday night at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees proved he was very hittable to open the Subway Series with a 9-1 victory.
They flat out teed off against Santana, who last week ended a 51-season drought of no-hitters in the Mets’ history. Robinson Cano ended Santana’s bid for a back-to-back no-hitter by following a leadoff walk to Alex Rodriguez with a two-run home run off a first-pitch fastball. But that was nothing compared to what happened the next inning to Santana, who had a scoreless string of 19 innings ended.
Once again with A-Rod on first base, this time after a two-out single, Cano jumped on the first pitch, a hanging slider, and smoked another home run. Two bombs and four RBI on two swings of the bat from the Yankees’ second baseman. The barrage continued when Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones also connected with long home runs to left field.
It was the first case of back-to-back-to-back home runs for the Yankees since the same three players connected in order in the second inning of the night game of a split-admission doubleheader Aug. 28 last year at Baltimore. It was the first time Santana gave up three homers in a row and the fourth time he allowed four homers in a game.
It was Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda who flirted with a no-hitter over the first five innings instead of Santana. Kuroda was perfect until one out into the fourth when Derek Jeter botched a grounder by Josh Thole for an error. Kuroda erased that blemish by getting David Wright to ground into a double play. Wright’s bat shattered in such a manner that the top half of the bat landed just to the right of Rodriguez as he was fielding the grounder, which made the play all that much more difficult.
Kuroda had still pitched to the minimum number of batters two outs into the sixth when his no-hit big came to an end as shortstop Omar Quintanilla, the 9-hole hitter, drove a liner to left-center for a two-out double. The sellout crowd of 48,566 accorded Kuroda an appreciative ovation, and he reciprocated by retiring Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a grounder to first base.
Quintanilla’s hit was the only one off Kuroda, whose final out looked like a hockey kick save. Daniel Murphy’s liner to the mound struck Kuroda on the left ankle, shot into the air towards third base and was gloved by Rodriguez for a painful out. Kuroda came out of the game, which was the bad news. The good news was that x-rays were negative, the only thing negative about the night for Kuroda.
With the seven-inning, one-hitter, Kuroda over his past three starts is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and has lowered his season ERA from 4.56 to 3.46. The righthander has allowed two earned runs, 12 hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts in 22 innings.
The Yankees even had some hits with runners in scoring position – a ground-rule double by Swisher and a single by Jones in the three-run seventh. The Mets didn’t get on the board until two outs in the ninth on a double by Lucas Duda, only their second hit.
Santana was done after five innings – real done – with six earned runs, seven hits (including four home runs) and one walk with five strikeouts. What a difference a week makes. Mets manager Terry Collins blamed himself for giving Santana two extra days’ rest out of concern for the 134-pitch workload in the no-hitter for a pitcher in the season after serious shoulder surgery.
“We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us a game,” Collins said. “He wasn’t as sharp after the layoff. He left a lot of pitches up, especially the two to Cano.”
But it wasn’t so much about Santana’s failure as it was about Kuroda’s success. While with the Dodgers, Kuroda had problems against the Mets (1-5, 5.75 ERA). The only problem Friday night was being forced out of the game. “Absolutely,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said when asked if Kuroda would have come out for the eighth inning if not for the ankle injury.
“He had great command of his slider and curve and moved his fastball up and down,” Girardi said. “In short, he pitched.”