Results tagged ‘ Orlando Hudson ’
Phil Hughes was back at zero Saturday night. No more concern about his workload now that the Yankees are in the post-season.
The Yankees kept close watch all season on the innings total for Hughes, who had pitched mostly out of the bullpen last year. He beat out Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre in spring training for the fifth starter’s job and had such a good year that he passed Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett on the rotation ladder and finished with the second highest victory total on the staff with 18, three behind ace CC Sabathia.
Hughes enjoyed the finest run support among pitchers who qualified for the ERA title at 7.45 runs per nine innings (7.49 in his starts; he also won one game in relief), and Game 3 of the American League Division Series was no different. The Yankees had to come from behind to win the first two games of the series but this time they had a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning.
Hughes didn’t pitch to the scoreboard but rather to the situation. His focus was such that the game may as well have been scoreless as far as he was concerned. The Yankees were poised to push him beyond 100 pitches, but Hughes dusted off the Twins on nine pitches in the seventh to keep the total at 99.
After three perfect innings, Hughes gave up a leadoff single in the fourth to Denard Span, who was quickly erased on a double play. Armed with the five-run lead, Hughes faced his first tough situation in the fifth after Delmon Young singled and Jim Thome walked. Hughes struck out Michael Cuddyer on a foul tip off a 94-mph fastball and got Danny Valencia on a popup.
In the sixth, the Twins put runners on first and second with two-out singles by Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer. Hughes then went to work on Jason Kubel, spinning a breaking ball for a called strike one, getting a foul ball off a 91-mph fastball and burning 93-mph heat past him for strike three.
Four singles and a walk were all the Twins could manage in seven innings against Hughes, who even outdid Sabathia and Andy Pettitte in his first career post-season start, a magnificent job.
The Yankees are on the cusp of advancing to the American League Championship Series by putting the Twins on the ropes in Game 2 of the ALDS, a 5-2 victory that was fashioned by the Core Four and the guru work of hitting coach Kevin Long.
Andy Pettitte corrected some mechanical sloppiness early and retired the side in order in five of his seven innings. His efficient 88-pitch outing belied the fact that Pettitte had worked only 13 1/3 innings since mid-July and gave up 19 hits in his previous 7 1/3 innings. Andy improved his remarkable post-season record to 19-9 with a 3.87 ERA.
His catcher, Jorge Posada, did not get a hit, but he worked out a walk on a full count leading off the seventh against the Twins’ Carl Pavano that began a two-run rally as the Yankees regained the lead.
Derek Jeter, still waiting to score his 100th post-season run, collected his 56th post-season RBI by poking a single to right in that seventh for a run and chasing Pavano. Jeter also sparkled in the field, especially in the first inning with an acrobatic maneuver at second base to complete a double play on the speedy Orlando Hudson.
Finishing it off was Mariano Rivera for the second straight night with his 41st career post-season save and No. 600 including his regular-season work.
How many times have we seen this over the years? The Yankees dust up another team’s closer but nobody gets to theirs. It happened again in the ninth inning. The Yanks picked up an insurance run against Matt Capps while the Twins did little against Mo in the bottom half other than the teasing leadoff single by Joe Mauer, who was erased on a double play.
Where Long’s handiwork comes in are the offensive contributions of reclamation projects Curtis Granderson and Lance Berkman. Both struggled this year and worked closely with Long to correct their swings.
Granderson quieted his hands which allowed him to get to the ball quicker. While he hit only .251 in 171 at-bats since Long began working with him intensely in August, Granderson displayed more power, slugging .544 with six doubles, one triple and 14 home runs. He tripled in two big runs in Game 1 and scored the Yankees’ first run in the second game. Granderson doubled off the right field wall and scored on a fly ball by Alex Rodriguez.
A leadoff single in the sixth was wasted as the Yankees failed to get him home, but Granderson got that insurance run in the ninth with a single to center that scored Brett Gardner, who had singled, crossed to second on an infield out and stole third.
Berkman, obtained from Houston at the trading deadline, was engulfed in a season-long slump and heard choruses of boos instead of welcoming cheers at Yankee Stadium. During a stint on the disabled list, Berkman worked with Long on his stride and hit .299 over the last month of the season although with not much power – one home run and five RBI in 67 at-bats.
Berkman, in his first post-season game since the 2005 World Series for the Astros, got his power back with two extra-base hits. He uncoupled a 1-1 score with a home run in the fifth, an impressive blow to left-center in homer-stingy Target Field. Two innings later, he unlocked a 2-2 score with a double that scored Posada. Jeter got Berkman home with his hit.
It all added up to the Yankees heading home with a chance to close the series out Saturday night at the Stadium. So who’s the underdog now?
The Twins drew first blood Thursday night in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, which means they were right where the Yankees wanted them. Minnesota couldn’t hold leads against the Yankees in the three ALDS games last year or in Wednesday night’s Game 1 of this series.
Andy Pettitte had his work cut out for him in his 41st career post-season start right from the beginning as Denard Span led off the first inning with a single on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Span also led off Game 1 with a hit and was sacrificed to second by Orlando Hudson.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire threw conservatism out of the window and allowed Hudson to swing away, which he did and grounded into a double play. That only proves that often it is damned if you do or damned if you don’t for a manager.
Pettitte gave up another leadoff hit in the second, to Delmon Young, which was his 12th hit in 22 career at-bats (.545) against the lefthander. Jim Thome fought off a fastball to punch a single to left-center, and the Twins had something going. A weak grounder by Michael Cuddyer advanced the runners, and Pettitte filled the bases with a four-pitch walk of Jason Kubel.
Danny Valencia’s fly ball to right got the first run of the game home. Right fielder Nick Swisher might have had a shot at Young at the plate but wisely threw to third base to keep Thome from advancing. Andy took care of the rest by retiring J.J. Hardy. Minnesota is still without a hit with a runner in scoring position. The Twins are 0-for-9 and counting.
In need of an economic inning, Andy got it in the third by setting down Span, Hudson and Joe Mauer on a total of six pitches. The only problem was that the Yankees hadn’t been able to solve Carl Pavano.
All it took was for the Twins to get ahead for the Yankees’ offense to wake up. Curtis Granderson, who had a big, two-run triple in the first game, banged another drive off the right field wall for a leadoff double in the second. He stopped at third on Mark Teixeira’s well-struck single to left.
Alex Rodriguez got the run home with a fly to right. Robinson Cano restarted the rally with a single that moved Tex to third, but Pavano held tough by starting a double play off a pepper shot by Swisher.