Results tagged ‘ Prince Fielder ’

Cano knocked out of All-Star Game; Mo honored

How bad has the Yankees’ luck been this year? In terms of health, I mean. The disabled list has been almost as crowded as the dugout. Even in the All-Star Game, the Yankees could not stay healthy.

Robinson Cano, the American League second baseman and one of the few Yankees regulars to stay on the field all season, made an early exit Tuesday night from Citi Field. Cano, the second hitter in the AL order, came up after a leadoff double by the Angels’ Mike Trout and was struck on the side of his right knee by a 96-miles-per-hour fastball from Mets righthander Matt Harvey.

Cano winced in pain and tried to stay in the game. He went to first base but after Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera struck out Cano came off the field and was replaced by pinch runner Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. As Cano walked off the field, he had a friendly exchange with Harvey.

“He said, ‘My bad,’ ” Cano said. “I said, ‘No problem.’ I know he don’t want to hit nobody. It’s part of the game, so what can you do?”

This is just what the Yankees did not need. Managers across baseball watch the All-Star Game with trepidation and hope one of their players does not get hurt. Harvey, the National League starting pitcher who pitched two scoreless innings, said, “I feel bad. I didn’t mean to hit Cano.”

X-rays on Cano’s knee were negative.

“It’s a little tight, but I’m walking good,” Cano said. “You want to play the game and enjoy the nice city in New York with the fans, but that’s part of life. Got to get it better and take it easy. Yeah, I’ll be good for Friday.”

“Obviously, the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure somebody,” Harvey said. “As [Cano] was walking by, I was trying to get his attention as he was going to first. He then came off the field, and I apologized and made sure that he was okay. I think he understood that it wasn’t intentional.”

Cano had been enjoying himself at the All-Star Game as opposed to a year ago at Kansas City when he was the target of booing from local fans because as captain of the AL Home Run Derby squad he did not name the Royals’ Billy Butler to the team. Cano got revenge Monday night as a player he promoted for the Home Run Derby team even though he was not on the All-Star squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, won the competition.

Not surprisingly considering the Yankees-Mets rivalry, Cano was booed by most people in the Citi Field crowd in pregame introductions. Conversely, Mariano Rivera was accorded a healthy ovation. In a lot of ways, Mo is his generation’s Yogi Berra, the one Yankee that even fans who hate the Yankees like.

The best was yet to come for Mo. To guarantee that Rivera would pitch in the game, AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers put him in the game in the eighth inning. After all, if the NL had gone ahead in the bottom of the eighth and held the lead then there would have been no bottom of the ninth.

Rivera was treated with another standing ovation as he trotted to the mound to his usual entrance song, “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica. When he reached the rubber, Rivera was the only player on the field as the players from both sides stood on the top steps of the dugouts and joined the crowd in showing their appreciation to the game’s all-time saves leader who is calling it a career at the end of this season at the age of 43.

It was quite a sight. Mo acknowledged the applause by removing his cap and waving to each portion of the crowd. Mariano retired the side in order and was given the game ball by first baseman Prince Fielder after the third out of the inning. It was a more pleasant final appearance at Citi Field than the May 28 Subway Series game when he sustained his first blown save of the season in a stunning loss to the Mets.

Mo Mariano Rivera (USA Today photo)

“I wanted to pitch in the game and in baseball anything can happen,” Rivera said of pitching in the eighth instead of the ninth. “The plan worked out perfectly. This was right up there with winning the World Series. To do this in New York with all the fans here and all the players and the coaches and the managers standing in the dugouts. . .that was priceless.”

There turned out to be a bottom of the ninth inning as the AL had a 3-0 lead. Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked the ninth and can always say he earned a save in a game after Mariano Rivera had pitched, which had not happened since 1996 when Mo was the setup man for Yanks closer John Wetteland.

Rivera was voted the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and was able to thank the fans and told them it was a “privilege” to pitch in front of them all these years. Let’s face it, fans, the privilege was ours to watch him.

Butler’s homer a stinging reminder to Cano

It would figure that the day the competitors in the All-Star Home Run Derby were announced that the Royals would be in town to remind everyone of the situation last year in which Kansas City’s Billy Butler was not picked for the American League squad by captain Robinson Cano, who was the target of boos from the crowds at Kauffman Stadium both nights.

As if to punctuate the situation, Butler clubbed a home run in his first at-bat off the Yankees’ Phil Hughes in the second inning when the Royals took a 2-0 lead in a game interrupted by thunderstorms.

Say this for Butler. He took the high road and in every interview during All-Star week last year asked Royals fans to lay off Cano. The Yankees second baseman was tabbed for the assignment again this year but did not have the same problem for next week’s game at Citi Field because the Mets will be represented in the Home Run Derby. In fact, third baseman David Wright is captain of the National League team.

Joining Cano will be first baseman Chris Davis of the Orioles and Prince Fielder of the Tigers. There is one more spot open as Cano is waiting to hear back from his final choice. Davis leads the AL in homers with 33. Fielder is a two-time winner of the event, last year and in 2009 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Cano won the competition in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Wright’s picks as teammates are outfielders Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, both of the Rockies. There are no former winners in the group. Wright came the closest as the runner-up to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The Yankees wasted no time in getting new first baseman Travis Ishikawa, plucked off waivers from the Orioles, into the mix. He was in the lineup batting sixth as he became the 43rd player used this season by the Yankees, who employed 45 all of last season. To make space on the 25-man roster for Ishikawa, the Yankees optioned infielder David Adams to Triple A Scranton.

Cano to captain AL Home Run Derby squad again

Robinson Cano probably won’t run into the same problem next month that he had a year ago in Kansas City when he was the captain of the American League team in the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game. You may remember all the booing Cano endured throughout the competition when he was shut out trying to reach the fences.

But that was not why Cano was the object of scorn for fans at Kauffman Stadium. The Yankees second baseman was targeted because he did not include the Royals’ Billy Butler on the squad. Cano’s selections in addition to himself were Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo. It was a pretty strong group, but the KC faithful were unforgiving to the point that Cano was still booed last month when the Yankees played at Kauffman Stadium.

“You play for the Yankees, everywhere you go you get booed,” he said.

A similar situation should be avoided this year. Once again, Cano has been named AL captain for the Home Run Derby that will take place July 15, the night before the All-Star Game at Citi Field. The venue this time, however, should keep Cano from getting hammered by fans except, of course, for the usual Bronx cheers reserved for Yankees players from Mets fans. Those who cheer for the Mets cannot get on Cano for his choices, however, because their favorites are in the other league.

The choice of Mets third baseman David Wright as the National League captain takes care of the possibility that the host team will be snubbed at the Home Run Derby. This was a good call by the powers that be in Major League Baseball. Wright is among the most popular players in Mets history and one of the truly good guys in the game. Whatever he decides will win approval from the Mets faithful.

Each captain has the task of selecting three other hitters from his league to compete in the Home Run Derby. Though the event is an individual competition, the leagues are pitted against each other in teams of four. Cano did not clear the fences himself last year, but his AL team clobbered the NL overall, 61-21. The individual winner was Fielder, once of Cano’s picks. Cano won the competition in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Cano entered play Tuesday night with 15 home runs, tied for fifth in the AL. Wright had eight with only one coming at Citi Field May 27 against the Yankees off Phil Hughes.

Fans may once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. You will have the opportunity to select three players in each league. All-Star voting is also still underway. Cano is currently the leader among AL second basemen. Wright ranks second at third base behind the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval. Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period and can earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots.

To access additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, visit http://www.mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Youkilis draws Verlander’s ire

It looked as if there might be some fireworks early on in Sunday’s game when Tigers starter Justin Verlander had words with the Yankees’ Kevin Youkilis as the third baseman stood on second base after whacking a double in the first inning.

Lip readers could detect Verlander saying to Youkilis, “Did you say something?” a couple of times. Youk just responded, “What?” Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher and Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder trotted to the bag to make sure anything between Verlander and Youkilis didn’t get any more heated.

A replay of Youkilis running to first base after the hit showed that he may have said something. At least his mouth was open at one point. Why that bothered Verlander is anyone’s guess. The issue did not carry over into Youkilis’ next at-bat, however. No close pitches by Verlander, who ended up walking Youk in the third inning.

As great a pitcher as Verlander is, he has not been invincible against the Yankees. He entered Sunday’s game with a 5-4 career record against them with a 3.74 ERA and 83 hits allowed, 10 of them home runs, in 77 innings. The Yankees struck for three runs against the righthander in the second inning on an RBI double by Francisco Cervelli and a two-run home run by Jayson Nix. The bomb was good to see from Nix, who had been 0-for-7 with five strikeouts this season. He was starting again at shortstop because Eduardo Nunez still cannot throw with his bruised right bicep.

Yanks’ pitchers stumbling out of gate

Much of the concern about the 2013 Yankees has centered on the offense, what with the loss of 194 home runs in players gone from the 2012 team and the season-opening injuries to four key position players – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. What the Yankees were counting on to offset the lineup changes was quality pitching. Yet it is the pitching that has been a main culprit in the club’s 1-4 start.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers was the latest example of shabby pitching. The Yankees were hoping for a boost from Phil Hughes, removed from the disabled list and thrust into the rotation over David Phelps, who returned to long relief. Well, Phelps got into the game anyway because Hughes lasted only three batters into the fifth inning and was hit hard – four runs (three earned) and eight hits.

Boone Logan, the Yankees’ lone lefthander in the bullpen, had another troublesome outing against Detroit’s left-handed hitters. Friday, he yielded a three-run home run to Prince Fielder, who was the first batter Logan faced again in the fifth inning Saturday. Logan kept Fielder in the park this time, but a single gave the Detroit first baseman his sixth RBI of the series. Logan gave up an RBI single later in the inning to another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks.

The Yankees came back from a 5-1 deficit to make it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the sixth. A tiring Max Scherzer walked Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis to start the inning and yielded a single to Travis Hafner that resulted in the righthander’s departure. Al Alburquerque walked Vernon Wells to load the bases, but Brennan Boesch lined into a double play. After another walk, Alburquerque gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay.

Just when the Yankees got back into the game, Phelps failed to produce a shut-down inning and allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Tigers began to pull away again. Joba Chamberlain, whose ERA is a glaring 21.60, was wild (two walks, one wild pitch) in allowing a run in the eighth.

The Tigers finished with 17 hits, including four by Miguel Cabrera and three apiece by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. It could have been worse for the Yankees, but Detroit had 4-for-15 (.267) with runners in scoring position.

The amount of hits Yankees pitchers have allowed is alarming – 61 in five games, an average of 12.2 knocks per game. Opponents are batting .339 in 180 at-bats against the Yanks. Meanwhile, Yankees hitters are batting only .219 in 160 at-bats. They do have six home runs (Wells got his second of the season Saturday), so the power outage expected has not actually materialized, but the offense has been unable to compensate for the pitching problems. The Yankees have been outscored, 33-17. Detroit relievers have combined for seven scoreless innings against the Yanks the past two games.

Staff ace CC Sabathia gets the opportunity to be a stopper Sunday in the series finale at Comerica Park. One major hurdle, however, is that the Tigers’ scheduled starter is Justin Verlander. It is a dream matchup of former American League Cy Young Award winners, and the pressure is on CC to turn the staff in a positive direction.

Nunez latest Yankees casualty

The Yankees’ return to Detroit Friday turned out just as negatively as their last visit when the Tigers completed a sweep of the 2012 American League Championship Series. An erratic Ivan Nova failed to last five innings, and the Yankees could not solve Detroit lefthander Drew Smyly, who provided four perfect innings of relief for Doug Fister with five strikeouts.

Prince Fielder did the most damage with a pair of home runs for five RBI. His three-run shot off Boone Logan in the fifth wiped out a 3-2 Yankees lead. Fielder’s two-run blow off Sean Kelley in the seventh opened up a five-run Tigers spread. Kelley had also yielded a solo homer to Alex Avila the previous inning.

The Yankees are hoping to see more of the Ivan Nova of 2011 when he was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and less of the Ivan Nova of 2012 when his ERA bloated to 5.04 despite a 12-8 record. The Yankees got the Nova who struggled last year. The righthander fell into deep counts throughout his outing and was up to 96 pitches by the time manager Joe Girardi made the move to Logan with two down in the fifth inning.

Andy Pettitte apart, Yankees starting pitcher has been inconsistent. The rotation will make its first full turn with Phil Hughes being activated to start Saturday at Comerica Park. The Yankees originally planned to have David Phelps start at Detroit while Hughes was to make an injury-rehabilitation start at Triple A Scranton.

The Yankees’ offense was limited to a three-run fifth. Fister wild-pitched one run home. The other two runs were courtesy of Kevin Youkilis’ first home run with the Yankees. The former Boston villain has been the Yankees’ hottest hitter in the first week of the season, batting .375 and slugging .688.

The worst news of the day was that Eduardo Nunez had to leave the game after being struck in the right bicep with a pitch in the fourth inning from Fister, who had also hit Brett Gardner with a pitch in the third. Nova plucked Miguel Cabrera, the last batter he faced, in the bottom of the fifth.

Jayson Nix took over at shortstop and is likely to play there again Saturday. X-rays on Nunez were negative, but such a nasty bruise on his throwing arm won’t heal immediately. Shortstop has been the steadiest of positions for the Yankees since Derek Jeter took over as the regular in 1996, but that is not the case now. Jeter, by the way, just began soft tossing in his rehab in the extended spring training and is not expecting back for several weeks, which makes the absence of Nunez critical at this point.

So what happens if Nix should get hurt Saturday and Nunez is unable to throw? Girardi said he would use catcher Francisco Cervelli as an emergency infielder, not that the skipper wants to see that scenario.

It was good to see Brennan Boesch get a nice hand from the sellout crowd of 45,051 while the other Yankees players were booed during pre-game introductions at the Tigers’ home opener. Boesch played the past three seasons for Detroit and was a crowd favorite. He got his first hit with the Yankees, a single in four at-bats, and made a fence-crashing catch in right field to rob Fielder of a potential extra-base hit in the third inning.

Tigers deal early KO to CC

CC Sabathia had been every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame the Yankees’ ace down the stretch of the regular season and in the American League Division Series. What better guy to have on the hill to avert an early exit in the AL Championship Series than the big lefthander whose career record in postseason play for the Yanks entering Game 4 Thursday at Detroit was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA?

Yet after coming within one out of pitching two complete-game victories over the Orioles in the ALDS, Sabathia’s lone outing in the ALCS was nowhere near up to par. He was hit often and hit hard, and his fourth-inning exit trailing 6-0 was a disappointing sight to Yankees fans.

They had been able to rely on him most of the year, especially in that complete-game gem CC tossed six days ago at Yankee Stadium to finally shake the Orioles off the Yanks’ tail. He even had an extra day’s rest because of Wednesday night’s rainout, although that may not have been to his advantage, since it meant Sabathia could not come back and start Game 7 if the Yankees were fortunate enough to push the series that far.

One of the six runs Sabathia allowed in his 3 2/3 innings was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira, but CC was not at the top of his game. The Yankees had not had the lead in this series and trailed right at the beginning of this game as well when Sabathia gave up a run on two-out singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.

The unearned run came in the third, but Sabathia recovered by getting out of a bases-loaded jam. The next inning, however, CC was lit up on two-run home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta before yielding a double to Andy Dirks that ended his day. As bad as 6-0 looked, it could have been a lot worse, considering the Tigers stranded eight runners over the first four innings.

Mates couldn’t back up Andy’s sound effort

Not much fault can be found in Andy Pettitte’s performance Saturday night in ALCS Game 1 even though he stood to get a losing decision when he left the game. The lefthander gave up two runs in the sixth inning on a nook-and-cranny triple by Austin Jackson and a pair of soft singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.

Jackson hit a ball that struck the right field line just past first base and hit a barrier along the stands and rolled along the wall. I have never seen a ball hit in that area or behave that way. Considering Jackson’s considerable speed, a three bagger was the result.

The inning might have been worse for Pettitte, but he worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by retiring Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia on infield pops. Andy lasted two out into the seventh when he walked Omar Infante with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera coming up.

Pettitte just couldn’t get any run support from his teammates, who stranded the bases loaded three times. The Yankees tied a franchise record with 10 grand slams this year but hit only .247 overall with the bags juiced.

Umps go 1-for-2 in early calls

The Yankees loaded the bases in each of the first two innings of ALCS Game 1 but failed to score with each frame ending with a close play for the third out. One call by an umpire was correct. One was not.

Tigers starter Doug Fister walked Derek Jeter to begin the home first and issued two more free passes after two were out. Alex Rodriguez hit a hard grounder that shortstop Jhonny Peralta gloved with a back-hand stab. Peralta threw to second for a force on Raul Ibanez. The play was close, but second base umpire Sam Holbrook got it right.

The second inning was another story. Two-out singles by Russell Martin, Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki had the bases jammed again. Ichiro’s hit was in the infield, which is why Martin could not score. Robinson Cano then hit a one-hopper to the mound that caromed off Fister’s body to Peralta, who threw to first base to get the final out.

Or did he? First base umpire Rob Drake called Cano out, but video replays clearly indicated that Cano’s foot was on the base before the ball was in first baseman Prince Fielder’s glove. A crucial call went against the Yankees.

Too much Verlander for Yanks

For the second time in three games, the Yankees were dominated by one of the best pitchers in the major leagues. Two days after suffering a 1-0, two-hitter at the hands of the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, the Yankees were contained for eight innings by the Tigers’ Justin Verlander and got off to a bumpy start on the trip with a 7-2 loss at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

Verlander, who won both the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards last season, has not been a Yankee killer over the years. He entered Monday night’s game with a 4-4 career record against them and a 4.14 ERA. Those are hardly dominating numbers, but he was plenty dominating in this game.

The two runs he allowed the Yankees were essentially gifts. Verlander’s own error in the fifth inning when he dropped a relay at first base opened the door for the Yankees’ only real rally of the game. After flubbing what should have been the third out, Verlander gave up RBI singles to Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano to surrender a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers’ runs came on homers by their twin sluggers, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, off Ivan Nova, who had another rough outing. The long balls were the only hits off him over the first four innings, but the Tigers began stringing singles together in the fifth and sixth innings to score five runs and pull away from the Yankees.

In the fifth, Nova gave up five straight singles and a sacrifice fly that resulted in three runs. In the sixth, he gave up three more consecutive singles, and Detroit made it four in a row with a single off Joba Chamberlain. The result was two more runs.

The advantage was more than sufficient for Verlander, who gave up eight hits but walked only one batter and struck out 14, the most Ks for a Detroit pitcher in a game against the Yankees since 1958 by Hall of Famer Jim Bunning. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Ichiro Suzuki struck out three times apiece. For Ichiro, whose 12-game hitting streak came to an end, they were the first strikeouts he had since joining the Yankees after 50 non-K plate appearances.

That was how dominant Verlander was in that one of the most difficult players to strike out went down on strikes three times. The Yankees had not lost to Verlander and scored in the first inning of each of his previous five starts against him. They had no such success this time. The one hitter to give Verlander a hard time was Eric Chavez, who had two doubles and a single. Jeter’s two hits raised his career average against Verlander to .361 in 36 at-bats.

The most worrisome part of Monday night’s loss was that of Nova, who is winless in his past five starts in which his record is 0-3 with two no-decisions and an 8.36 ERA in 28 innings. The righthander, who has been a consistent winner the past season and two-thirds, has one victory over his past nine starts. In those games, Nova is 1-4 with four no-decisions and a 5.94 ERA in 53 innings.

During his losing streak, Nova’s walk-to-strikeout ratio of 10 walks to 24 strikeouts is good, but he has allowed 44 hits, including six home runs, in 28 innings, which is by no means good. Nova in his brief career has shown an ability to pitch well with runners on base. In his prior start when he blew a 5-0 lead and gave up seven runs in one inning, the Orioles had 5-for-11 (.455) with runners in scoring position. Monday night, the Tigers were 3-for-4 (.750) in those situations off Nova.

It is a trend that needs to be reversed.

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