Results tagged ‘ Paul Molitor ’

Yankees’ bats turn cold again

After seemingly breaking out of their offensive malaise with 13 runs total in their victories against the Twins Thursday night and Friday, the Yankees returned to meager production Saturday and went into extra innings.

They were actually fortunate to push the game that far because the one run they scored might have been a gift. Surely the winning run for the Twins in their 2-1, 11-inning victory was just that. A throwing error by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli trying for an inning-ending double play sent Josh Winningham home from second base with the deciding run.

Before Cervelli’s wild throw, it appeared that Matt Thornton had worked out of the bases-loaded jam. Minnesota filled the bags on a pinch double off the right field wall by Chris Colabello, a one-out intentional walk to Winningham and when Oswaldo Arcia was hit by a pitch for the third time in his past six plate appearances.

Trevor Plouffe followed with a dribbler in front of the mound that was pounced on by Thornton, who made an underhand toss to Cervelli for a forceout. Cervelli turned to throw to first base, but his peg sailed over Mark Teixeira and down the right field line as Winningham trotted home.

Cervelli had not been in the original lineup but turned out to be a central figure in the game. Brian McCann was supposed to be the starting catcher and batting third but was scratched because of persistent pain in his left foot. X-rays were negative, but McCann is in a day-to-day situation.

One day after collecting eight extra-base hits, all seven of the Yankees’ hits were singles. Their run was scored with a measure of luck. With two out in the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki stole second base. Or did he?

Video replays appeared to indicate that Suzuki was tagged in the chest by shortstop Eduardo Escobar before reaching the bag. Yet the Twins did not call for a review. Manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game earlier, so maybe there was a mixup in the dugout.

The Yankees took advantage of the break. Ichiro moved up to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left field by Cervelli.

David Phelps was making that run look mighty large the way he was pitching. The righthander retired 11 batters in a row until Willingham ended the stretch leading off the seventh by driving a 1-1 fastball off the second deck in left field for his eighth home run.

That tied the score and took Twins starter Yohan Pino off the hook. The late-blooming (30) rookie righthander held the Yankees to three hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings to keep pace with Phelps. Over his past five starts, Phelps is 2-0 with three no-decisions and a 3.16 ERA in that span covering 31 1/3 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 4.01.

The Twins did not do very well reviewing umpires’ calls. They did not challenge the Ichiro steal. In the 10th inning, they disputed an out call at second base after Sam Fuld had been picked off first only to have it verified by a video review.

The Yankees got a runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th when Derek Jeter singled to right with two out. That stopped a 0-for-14 slump for the Captain, whose 3,397th career hit was also his 2,539th single. Jeet stole second base but was stranded as Brian Roberts, who had four extra-base hits Friday, grounded out.

Before the game, Jeter received a nice parting gift from the Twins. Second baseman Brian Dozier presented DJ with the last second base bag used at the old Metrodome. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, now a Twins coach, on behalf of the organization gave Jeter a $10,000 donation to his Turn2 Foundation. A year ago, the Twins came up with the cleverest gift Mariano Rivera received in his farewell tour, a rocking chair made of bats broken by Mo’s legendary cut fastball.

Yankees take control in first inning

It was a positive sign for the Yankees to break out of the gate early Sunday. They had been pushed around in first innings to the tune of 7-2 in the first five games of the season. Sunday at Toronto, they gave CC Sabathia a 3-0 lead before he took the mound even though they had only one hit in the first inning.

That hit was a two-out, two-run double by Kelly Johnson that climaxed a rally fueled by two walks and a hit batter off Drew Hutchison, who had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winning first start last week.

The Blue Jays answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff home run by Melky Cabrera, the third homer of the series for the former Yankees outfielder. Sabathia had given up four runs in the first inning in his Opening Day start last week at Houston.

Derek Jeter made history with a leadoff single in the third inning. It was career hit No. 3,319 for DJ, who tied Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time list. Jeter moved past Molitor with a single in the fourth for No. 3,320.

“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in professional sports is pretty special,” Molitor told me back in 2011 when Jeter reached 3,000 hits. “Getting 3,000 hits is as much a product of longevity as ability. If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte has multi-hit games in each of his first three career starts to become the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat since Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio from May 3-6, 1936 (also three games), according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Solarte entered play leading the Yankees in hits (7), doubles (3), extra-base hits (3), RBI (4), on-base percentage (.600), slugging percentage (.769) and OPS (1.369).

Solarte picked up his fourth double and fifth RBI of the season with one out in the fourth and then scored on the Yankees’ first home run of the season. Brett Gardner ended the drought with a drive to right off a 3-2 pitch that chased Hutchison.

After rain delay, Yankees rain down hits and runs

It was Phil Hughes’ misfortune to have to come out of Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium due to a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay. That was the only misfortune suffered by the Yankees. They got a head start on making up for being swept by the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field last month by trouncing Chicago, 9-1, in the opener of a three-game series.

One day after losing to the Orioles because of Baltimore’s seven-run seventh inning, the Yanks constructed an eight-run fourth inning. The beneficiary instead of Hughes was David Huff, the lefthander who has pitched so well in relief since his Aug. 15 call-up from Triple A Scranton.

Hughes, who is winless in 10 starts since July 2, would have loved all that run support against his 4-13 record. What starter wouldn’t? For a career middle-innings reliever such as Huff, the eight-run bulge felt just as satisfying. Hughes was actually on the winning side of the ledger at the time the game was stopped with one out in the Chicago second and the Yankees leading, 1-0. Because of the duration of the delay, Hughes did not return to the mound with his teammates.

White Sox reliever Dylan Axelrod was not as lucky as Huff. The Yankees sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth in scoring eight runs (six earned), all charged to his record, although he was removed after the 10th batter. Robinson Cano was the only Yankees batter that inning who did not reach base. Cano had his hand in the victory with a couple of dazzling, back-to-the-infield grabs, one of which resulted in a double play.

The Yanks’ rally was aided by two White Sox errors and two walks but was fueled primarily by seven hits – doubles by Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano and singles by Vernon Wells, Mark Reynolds, Austin Romine and Derek Jeter. In essence, it was a team effort. The Yanks scored as many runs that inning as they did in the three games combined in Chicago last month.

Huff, who is in his second tour with the Yankees this season, had a 14 1/3-inning scoreless streak ended when he gave up Paul Konerko’s 10th home run with one out in the seventh. Huff, 29, is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings since his return Aug. 16 that has lowered his season ERA from 13.50 to 3.32.

The Yankees picked up Huff back in May off waivers from the Indians. After a four-game stint with the Yanks that month, Huff ended up being outrighted to Scranton where he was 1-6 despite a 3.84 ERA. He has pitched so well the past two weeks that Huff might even be considered for a start down the line.

It was also good to see Jeter run with authority when the Yankees scored their first run, off White Sox starter Jose Quintana. For the third consecutive game, Gardner led off with a double. He scored on a ground single between shortstop and third base by Jeter, who alertly took second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza bobbled the ball. DJ also crossed to third on Cano’s flyout to right field but was stranded there.

Jeter’s hit in the fourth inning was career No. 3,313, which tied him with Eddie Collins for ninth place on the all-time list and is six behind another Hall of Famer at No. 8, Paul Molitor.

The big lead allowed manager Joe Girardi to get some new people into the game. Pitcher Cesar Cabral and catcher J.R. Murphy made their major-league debuts. Cabral pitched a shutout inning of relief and Murphy, pinch hitting for Cano in the eighth, beat out an infield single for his first big-league hit.

Their appearances brought the total of players used by the Yankees this season to 52, a franchise record.

Yankee doodles on the Fourth of July

The Yankees, who played Tampa Bay for the first time on July 4, entered play Wednesday with a 28-28 record on Independence Day in the expansion era (since 1961). The Yankees had lost their past three road games on the Fourth of July and seven of the past nine.

They played on the road on the Fourth of July for the second straight year, the first time they have done that in consecutive seasons since 1996 and ‘97. The Yankees will not play at home on Memorial Day (May 28), July 4 or Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the same season for the first time since 2006.

The Yankees have posted winning records in the month of July in each of the past 19 seasons (1993-2011). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the longest winning stretch of Julys in major league history. The previous record was 15, held by the Pirates from 1899 to 1913.

Elias also reported that Derek Jeter became only the third major league player in the past 80 years to get his 100th hit of a season before the Fourth of July, in his age group (38 or older) on that date of the year. The others were Paul Molitor with 110 hits at age 39 for the Twins in 1996 and Pete Rose with 100 hits at age 38 for the Phillies in 1979.

The Yankees have long been associated with the Fourth of July. Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium. Other major events in Yankees history on the Fourth of July were Mickey Mantle’s 300th career home run in 1962, Dave Righetti’s no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1983 and Phil Niekro’s 3,000th career strikeout in 1984. Independence Day was also the birthday of former owner George Steinbrenner and current radio voice John Sterling.

Grandy nominated for Hank Aaron Award

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide whether Curtis Granderson is the American League Most Valuable Player or not, but Yankees fans can have a big say about whether the center fielder should win the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player.

Granderson is the Yankees’ nominee for the award that was established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, a mark that now belongs to Barry Bonds. Log on to Yankees.com or MLB.com to register your vote.

For the second consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron himself will join fans in voting for the award. Aaron added new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and another all-time great second baseman, Joe Morgan, to this year’s panel to join holdovers Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.

Granderson had a spectacular year for the Yankees, batting .262 and becoming the first player in major league history to get at least 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in the same year. Curtis led the majors in runs (136), ranked second in home runs (41) and extra base hits (81) and third in RBI (119) and total bases (332). He was the first player this season to get to 100 runs and 100 RBI and did so in his first 126 games.

Yankees players who previously won the Hank Aaron Award were Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2009 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007. A-Rod also won two twice when he was with the Rangers, in 2001 and 2003. Andruw Jones, currently with the Yankees, was the National League winner in 2005 when he was with the Braves.

Winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the World Series. It would be terrific if Curtis could pick up the award while the Yanks were in the Series. It’s up to you, fans.

Good & bad about All-Star selections

The good news is that the Yankees will have six players on the American League roster, four in the starting lineup, for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The bad news is that several deserving players from the Yankees will not be making the trip next week to Arizona.

Let’s start with the positive. The Yankees will make up three-quarters of the AL starting infield for the third time in franchise history with second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter.

The only other time the Yankees had three infielders elected to the starting unit was for the 2004 game at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Rodriguez, Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi.

The Yankees also had three starting infielders in 1980 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but only one – shortstop Bucky Dent – had been elected by the fans. Graig Nettles started at third base as a replacement for injured George Brett of the Royals. The Brewers’ Paul Molitor was voted the starter at second base but had to be replaced due to injury as well. The Angels’ Bobby Grich was added to the roster, but the Yankees’ Willie Randolph started the game at the position.

This will mark the 10th time that the Yankees have had at least three infielders on the All-Star roster. First baseman Mark Teixeira’s failure to make the squad this year cost the Yankees the chance to have four infielders overall for the third time. The Yankees had four infield All-Stars in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (Jeter, Giambi, 2B Alfonoso Soriano, 3B Robin Ventura) and in 1939 at Yankee Stadium (1B Lou Gehrig, 2B Joe Gordon, 3B Red Rolfe, SS Frankie Crosetti). Giambi and Soriano were starters in 2004 and Gordon in 1939.

Other years in which the Yankees had three All-Star infielders were 1950 at Comiskey Park in Chicago (1B Tommy Henrich, 2B Jerry Coleman, SS Phil Rizzuto), 1957 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (1B Moose Skowron, 2B Bobby Richardson, SS Gil McDougald), Game 1 in 1959 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (Skowron, Richardson, SS Tony Kubek), Game 2 in 1959 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Skowron, Kubek, McDougald) and 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez).

Yankees catcher Russell Martin had led in the voting until the last week when he was passed by the Tigers’ Alex Avila. At least Martin made the team as an alternate. His handling of the Yanks’ pitching staff has been superb.

Mariano Rivera was an obvious choice for the staff despite his blown save Sunday, which ended a 26-save streak against National League clubs in inter-league play.

Now for the head-scratching stuff – why no Teixeira or CC Sabathia? And has anyone other than Yankees fans been paying attention to the season David Robertson is having?

Tex fell out of the balloting lead at first base last month behind the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, an admitted Most Valuable Player Award candidate, but still ran a strong second in the voting. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cannot compare with Teixeira defensively and trails him in homers, 25-17, and RBI, 65-56, but his .328 batting average is 80 points higher than Tex’s.

Now, here’s the rub. Teixeira has been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby. Nice. He can’t be on the team but he can fly all the way to Phoenix and take part in an exercise that could ruin his swing. Ask Bobby Abreu or David Wright about that? Say no, Tex.

All Sabathia has done is lead the AL in victories with 11 and posted a 3.05 ERA. Oh, that’s right. Pitching victories do not count anymore. I guess that’s why there was room for Felix Hernandez on the staff. The word is that CC pitching Sunday before the Tuesday night All-Star Game hurt his chances of making the team. Dumb reason.

To his credit, AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers said nice things about Robertson when Texas was in town and that he was given him strong consideration. With so many other Yankees on the team, Robertson didn’t stand much of a chance, particularly since every team needs to be represented. When you see the Royals’ Aaron Crow in the pre-game announcements, think of Robertson. Crow, also a set-up reliever, is Kansas City’ lone representative.

It is a tough break for Robertson, but he is no more deserving than Sabathia, so it is hard to say he was snubbed. A lot of people don’t like the baseball rule about All-Star Games having to have players from each team, but I think it is a good thing. The 2012 game is supposed to be in Kansas City. It would be a shame if someone from the Royals was not on the team.

Each club no matter where it is in the standings has someone who deserves All-Star recognition. That the Yankees have so many is a testament to the terrific season the team is having.

Tremendous trio

When Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera made their 2011 debuts Thursday, they also continued to make history. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that they are the first trio of teammates in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to play together in each of 17 consecutive seasons, extending the record they established in 2010.

Jeter, Posada and Rivera have been teammates since 1995. Mo is the senior member of the trio. He came up in May of ’95 and pitched in 19 games, including 10 as a starter. He gained nation-wide attention for his outstanding work in that year’s first Division Series against the Mariners (0 runs, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings).

Jeter played in 15 games in May and June as a replacement for injured shortstop Tony Fernandez and hit .250 in 48 at-bats. Posada played behind the plate in only one inning of one game as a September call-up and did not bat.

The previous pro sports record for consecutive seasons by three teammates was 15 by the Brewers’ trio of Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount from 1978 through 1992. Tied for the second longest trio of Yankees who played 13 years together: Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing from 1930 through 1942 and Whitey Ford, Elston Howard and Mickey Mantle from 1955 through 1967.

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