Results tagged ‘ Rajai Davis ’

Sweet sweep continues Yanks’ turnaround

The brief homestand turned out a nice rest stop for the Yankees, who continued their dominance of the Blue Jays this season with a four-game sweep that improved their record against Toronto to 12-1. The dustup of the Jays was just the sort of momentum builder the Yanks needed as they headed for St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game showdown with the Rays.

It was not too long ago that the upcoming set at Tropicana Field would not have much at stake, back when the Yankees were 11 ½ games out of first place in the American League East and 7 ½ games out of the second wild-card spot. How things change when a few potent bats are added to the lineup.

After Thursday’s 5-3 victory, their fifth straight, the Yankees stood six games behind the first-place Red Sox in the division and 3 1/2 back in the wild-card chase. Considered buried in the not so distant past, the Yankees are now very much in the hunt for another postseason berth.

“We’re continuing to make up ground and winning series,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It makes [postseason play] seem more attainable.”

After suffering through eight straight non-winning series, the Yankees have run off four winning series in a row and have won 10 of their past 12 games. The trade for Alfonso Soriano and the return from the disabled list of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez are major factors in the Yankees’ recent turnaround.

As Girardi said, “You feel you can back into the game pretty easily.”

The Yankees came from behind in all four games against the Jays. In Thursday’s game, Toronto went ahead on a home run by J.P. Arencibia off Andy Pettitte. Rodriguez made a fine maneuver to pull off a rally-killing double play in that inning and Granderson answered Arencibia’s home run with one of his own off J.A. Happ, the pitcher who broke his wrist in spring training, to tie the score.

Yet another questionable umpiring call helped the Yankees later in the fifth when a fly ball by Vernon Wells that appeared to have been caught by center fielder Rajai Davis was ruled a trap as a run scored. Video replays indicated that Davis had indeed caught the ball. There was no reason for the Yankees to feel bad about that because Rodriguez was called out at first base on an earlier play that replays showed he clearly had beaten.

The Yanks scored three runs with only one hit in the sixth as they took advantage of three walks that loaded the bases for Eduardo Nunez, who singled in two runs. In all, the Yankees received six free passes in the game.

Pettitte pitched a sturdy six innings (one run, four hits, three walks, three strikeouts) in winning his second straight decision and getting his record back to .500 at 9-9. He continued his career success against the Blue Jays with a 24-13 mark. Shawn Kelley had a bit of a hiccup in the seventh when he allowed two runs, but effective relief work by Preston Claiborne and David Robertson (second save) put a nice finish to a very long day.

The start of the game was held up for 3 ½ hours because of rain. The sun finally broke through around the time of the first pitch. The Yankees remained in the sunshine the rest of the way.

Variation on an over-shift

These over-shifts employed by teams against certain dead pull hitters get weirder by the day. In the second inning Thursday with Curtis Granderson at the plate for the Yankees, the Blue Jays went with an over-shift that had third baseman Brett Lawrie trot across the diamond and play in shallow right field.

Most such shifts merely move each infielder over one position. The one used by Jays manager John Gibbons was interesting because it allowed the second baseman and shortstop to remain in their usual spots. For the life of me I still do not understand why batters don’t take advantage of these defense and bunt their way on. I know Yankees fans would prefer that Granderson put one in the seats, but with two outs and nobody on what’s wrong with getting on base? Granderson swung away, of course, and flied out to left field.

The Blue Jays utilized the same formation when Granderson came to bat in the fifth inning. This time he did exactly what the fans wanted and drove his fourth home run of the season into the second deck in right field. That matched the homer J.P. Arencibia had hit in the top of the inning for the Blue Jays, who later loaded the bases before Rajai Davis grounded into an inning-ending double play.

There must have been a great measure of satisfaction for Granderson because his home run was off Jays lefthander J.A. Happ, the same pitcher who hit him with a pitch and broke his right wrist during spring training.

With Toronto making its final appearance at Yankee Stadium this season, the clubs were determined to get the game in and sat through a 3-hour, 32-minute rain delay before the first pitch was thrown by Andy Pettitte at 4:37 p.m. just as the sun broke through for the first time in the afternoon.

Yanks continue to overcome injuries

The Yankees are certainly going through some severe tests in the early part of the 2013 season. They opened the schedule without their regular shortstop, without their regular third baseman, without their regular first baseman and without their regular center fielder. One of their starting pitchers was also on the disabled list.

Now less than a full month into the season, they have lost their starting catcher and perhaps another starting pitcher. Yankees manager Joe Girardi never identified Francisco Cervelli as the Yankees’ regular catcher, preferring to say that he and Chris Stewart were sharing the position. Yet Cervelli played in twice as many games as Stewart, so you do the math.

Cervelli will be lost to the team for the next six weeks at least because of a fractured right hand that will require surgery, the result of being struck by a Rajai Davis foul ball in the first inning of Friday night’s 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays. That makes Stewart the regular with Triple A Scranton call-up Austin Romine serving as the backup.

“I know it is disappointing for all [Cervelli] has been through,” Girardi said of his catcher who spent most of 2012 in the minors before getting another big-league shot this year. “A lot of times when a catcher gets hit there you end up with a bad bruise. But it must have hit just perfect.”

Ivan Nova has struggled since the start of the season, and now we may know why. He came out of Friday night’s game in the third inning because of a right elbow that is barking. In four starts, Nova had yet to pitch one out into the sixth inning with his ERA an unbecoming 6.48. Opposing hitters are batting .354 in 56 at-bats against Nova, who has allowed 23 hits, eight walks and three hit batters in 16 2/3 innings.

Nova mentioned to Girardi after the second inning that the elbow had stiffened and that he would give it a try to get loose in the third. When it didn’t, Girardi did not hesitate to remove him. After the game, Girardi said that the Yankees would wait until the results of an MRI before deciding how to proceed with his rotation.

David Phelps is the likeliest candidate to take Nova’s place should he go on the disabled list. Phelps got the winning decision Friday with four strong innings that featured nine strikeouts. Mariano Rivera loaded the bases by yielding three singles, but he struck out Colby Rasmus to register his eighth save in eight tries.

The Yankees got a lot of help from Toronto pitchers in winning for the fourth time in five games against the Blue Jays this year. The Yankees had only six hits but took advantage of 10 walks, a hit batter, a wild pitch and a passed ball. Runs scored on the wild pitch and passed ball, which proved to be the margin of difference in the game.

Brett Gardner got a big home run in the eighth inning that created a two-run lead for Rivera to work with in the ninth.

“Guys keep stepping up, just like they did tonight,” Girardi said about the Yankees’ dealing with injuries. “They just keep finding ways. Injuries are part of the game. When you continue to win games, it is very satisfying.”

Cervelli lost for 6 weeks with broken right hand

The worst of Yankees fears was realized Friday night. Francisco Cervelli indeed sustained a right hand fracture when struck by a foul ball off the bat of Rajai Davis in the first inning. The catcher will require surgery and is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks.

No pun intended, but it was a bad break for Cervelli, who was off to a good start, batting .269 with three home runs and eight RBI in 16 games and 52 at-bats. The Yankees are expected to call up catcher Austin Romine from Triple A Scranton to replace Cervelli on the roster.

The Yankees also announced that pitcher Ivan Nova, who was forced out of the game as well in the third inning, experienced pain in his pitching elbow. The righthander was to undergo an MRI later Friday night.

Yankees’ battery battered

Two innings after losing their starting catcher, Francisco Cervelli, to injury, the Yankees also lost their starting pitcher. Ivan Nova left the game after giving up a single to Rajai Davis, the Toronto designated hitter who was also responsible for Cervelli’s departure with a foul ball that struck the catcher in his right hand.

It was not immediately clear just what was wrong with Nova. He began the third inning by hitting Munenori Kawasaki with a pitch and then gave up a single up the middle to Davis. The ball was hit behind Nova and did not appear to touch him. It did hit the second base bag and went into center field, allowing Kawasaki to reach third base.

Nova was limping noticeably as he returned to the mound, prompting a visit from trainer Steve Donohue. Manager Joe Girardi wasted no time in bringing in another pitcher, David Phelps, who gave up a hit to his first batter, Colby Rasmus, that gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.

Edwin Encarnacion had led off the second inning with a home run in front of the second deck in left field, his sixth homer of the season and his fourth in four consecutive games. The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the second but made the least of a bases-loaded, none-out situation by getting just one run as Eduardo Nunez grounded into a fielder’s choice before Lyle Overbay hit into a double play.

There was a fear on the Yankees’ part that Cervelli may have suffered a fracture. Austin Romine was rumored to have been removed from Triple A Scranton’s game after one at-bat. He could be summoned to take Cervelli’s place on the roster. Romine is batting .333 with one home run and four RBI in 42 at-bats for the International League affiliate.

Cervelli early KO from game

The Yankees lost a starting player before an out was made Friday night. Catcher Francisco Cervelli took a foul ball off his right hand during Blue Jays leadoff hitter Rajai Davis’ first-inning at-bat and had to come out of the game.

Manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue bolted out of the dugout to check with Cervelli, who was flexing his right hand. Donohue centered on the area above the knuckles on the back of Cervelli’s throwing hand. Cervelli didn’t even take any practice throws before Girardi signaled to the bullpen to have Chris Stewart come into the game.

Yanks take advantage of extra outs

The slick artificial surface at Rogers Centre played havoc with both the Yankees and the Blue Jays Saturday. Of course, without such a surface the clubs might not have been able to play at all. Snow and freezing temperatures hit Toronto Saturday morning, but with the flick of a switch at the domed facility the roof allowed the teams to get in a game without the sort of conditions the Mets faced on their recent trip to snow-bound Minneapolis and Denver.

The Yankees prevailed, 5-3, but not without a struggle. They had the dubious defense of the Blue Jays to thank for this one. A two-base throwing error by relief pitcher Aaron Loup let what proved the deciding runs to score in the 11th inning. Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie ranged too far off third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ichiro Suzuki, a daring move infielders often make on the fast surface there, and could not get back to the bag in time to make a play on Loup’s throw that went down the left field line and let the tiebreaking runs score.

Back in the fifth inning, Lawrie couldn’t handle a scorching line drive by Kevin Youkilis that went off his glove and into left field for a two-run single that had given the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Youkilis ended up having to come out of the game when his back stiffened up playing on the hard turf. Shoddy defense hurt the Blue Jays Friday night as well with the Yankees getting two gift runs due to a throwing error by center fielder Colby Rasmus that might have just as well been charged to catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was out of position to take the rally.

The Yankees will always take advantage of being given extra outs by the opposition. The turf played a part in the Jays’ tying the score with a three-run eighth that hung a tough no-decision on Hiroki Kuroda, who stretched his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 before that inning and lowered his season ERA to 2.35.

Lyle Overbay, who replaced Youkilis at first base, could not stop a rug-cutting grounder by Rasmus that went into right field for a one-out single. David Robertson came on and got a big strikeout of Maicer Izturis for the second out. But a walk to pinch hitter Adam Lind preceded a single by Rajai Davis on a hanging curve on a 0-2 count to score the run that ended Kuroda’s streak.

Davis then made a big play with a steal of second base. And the day after Overbay and Vernon Wells hurt their former Blue Jays team, Melky Cabrera did the same to the Yankees with a single to center that knotted the score.

Mariano Rivera withstood a leadoff double by Jose Bautista in the bottom of the 11th for his fifth save. The winning pitcher was Sean Kelley, who did a nice job of relief in the 10th after Toronto got a runner to second base with one out against Boone Logan. Kelley retired Davis on an infield pop and Cabrera on a grounder to the right side.

Kuroda was coming off a complete-game shutout last Sunday against the Orioles and was just as stingy over the first six innings by limiting the Jays to two hits. He finished with a three-hit effort with one walk and seven strikeouts. Wells had another big game at his old yard with 3-for-5, including his fifth home run.

Yanks more than umps at fault for one-run loss

Some questionable decisions by umpires Saturday went against the Yankees, but they really had no one but themselves to blame for a 3-2 loss at Toronto that cost them the opportunity to be in a position to clinch a postseason berth. Instead, the Yanks faced the possibility of falling back into a tie for first place in the American League East with the Orioles, who were scheduled Saturday night at home against the Red Sox.

If the Yankees had broken the game open when they had the chance in the early innings, then the calls that went against them later on would not have mattered. Their record in one-run games fell to 21-25, but this should never have been a one-run game for the Yankees.

They had the bases loaded with none out twice and came away with their only two runs, both on sacrifice flies in the first inning by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. When they filled the bags with none out in the third, they failed to score at all. Eduardo Nunez in making the third out at least hit the ball hard, but Blue Jays second baseman Adeiny Hecchavarria made a diving grab.

The Yankees even caught a break when Jays starter Ricky Romero was forced out of the game with an aching left knee, but five Toronto relievers combined to shut them down on three hits and two walks over the last six innings. The Yankees had 2-for-11 (.182) with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners – eight over the first five innings and five in scoring position.

Andy Pettitte gave up his first run in his third start since returning from a fractured left fibula in the first inning on a home run by Rajai Davis, who is on fire in this series (7-for-8). Pettitte had problems working hitters inside and was not as sharp as his previous two starts but got his pitch count up to 94 and appeared perfectly healthy, both positive signs.

The bad calls? Toronto tied the score in the fifth on an infield hit by Davis that looked to be a foul ball. Both plate umpire Mike Everitt and third base ump Paul Schrieber signaled “fair” on the chopper down the third base line that Alex Rodriguez gloved while charging. It seemed to me that A-Rod caught the ball in foul ground, but obviously the umpires thought otherwise. It might have been better for Rodriguez to have let the ball go past him and into foul territory, but that is hindsight, which is always 20-20.

Pettitte came close to working out of a first-and-second, none-out situation by getting two fly balls to Granderson in center. Yanks manager Joe Girardi decided to lift Pettitte to have Joba Chamberlain face Hechavarria, who put the Blue Jays in front with a double off the right field wall. First baseman Nick Swisher made an alert play as the cutoff man and threw to A-Rod at third base to nail Yan Gomes, who had rounded the bag too far.

The second umpires’ decision that hurt the Yankees came in the ninth when Brett Gardner, pinch running, was caught attempting to steal second base. Video replays indicated that Gardner’s left hand hit the bag before shortstop Yunel Escobar tagged him, but second base umpire Tim Welke called him out.

Those are calls that are killers in one-run games, but this was a one-run game that the Yankees brought on themselves.

Yanks lose some ground on 4-3 trip

CC Sabathia’s absence has already been felt by the Yankees. With David Phelps needed to take Sabathia’s turn in the rotation Monday night when the Yankees open a four-game set against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, the righthander could not be called on for long relief duty Sunday at Toronto.

Phil Hughes had his second straight horrid outing in giving up seven runs and nine hits in four innings. Ryota Igarashi, recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help in the bullpen, threw gas on the fire with a three-run fifth inning as the Blue Jays widened their lead to 10-1. The Yankees cut it to 10-7 with three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh, but they could not get any closer in dropping the finale to finish the Great Lakes trip to Detroit and Toronto at 4-3.

That is not bad considering the Yankees lost the first two games of the trek in Motown. Frankly, however, Sunday’s loss was a bit embarrassing. Edwin Encarnacion, who clocked his 30th home run, was the only player in the Jays lineup who was in Toronto’s opening day batting order. The Jays were without Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind yet still managed to scorch the Yankees for 14 hits in ending a six-game losing streak and halting the Bombers’ four-game winning streak.

Despite the winning record on the trip, the Yankees lost 1 ½ games in the American League East standings over the past week. Their lead in the division is down to five games over second-place Tampa Bay, which has won six games in a row, and 5 ½ over third-place Baltimore.

Encarnacion and Moises Sierra had three hits apiece, but the guy who broke the Yankees’ back was left fielder Rajai Davis, who drove in five runs with two doubles and stole a run with a sensational, over-the-wall catch of a potential home run by Casey McGehee in the seventh inning.

The Yankees had only one hit over the first four innings against Jays starter J.A. Happ and were nine runs behind before their bats started to make some noise. Doubles by Andruw Jones and McGehee got the Yankees on the board in the fifth. The next inning, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter homered to account for three runs. Doubles by Jayson Nix and Jeter and a single by Nick Swisher netted the Yanks three more runs in the seventh.

Jeter’s home run was his ninth of the season and first in 73 at-bats since July 25. It was a strong trip for the Captain, who batted .382 with two doubles, one home run, four RBI and five runs in 34 at-bats and is now hitting .318, the highest his average has been since June 15 when it was at .321.

Unforruntately, Hughes put them in a big hole and Igarashi further buried them. It was a poor trip for Hughes, who also failed to go five innings in his previous start Aug. 7 at Detroit. In his two starts on the trip, both losses, Hughes allowed 11 earned runs and 17 hits in 8 1/3 innings as his ERA grew from 3.96 to 4.44.

The starters need to step it up over the next two weeks while Sabathia recovers from left elbow soreness. One outstanding quality the Yankees have shown this season has been to overcome injuries – outfielders Raul Ibanez and Jones for Brett Gardner, closer Rafael Soriano for Mariano Rivera, reliever Cody Eppley for Joba Chamberlain, starting pitcher Freddy Garcia for Andy Pettitte, and third basemen Eric Chavez, McGehee and Nix for Alex Rodriguez. The starters did a good job the previous time CC was disabled, and they need to do so again.

Yanks can’t recover from horrid 1st inning

The Yankees got off to a pretty rocky start post-All-Star break Thursday night at Toronto. Talk about rocky starts, how about Bartolo Colon? The feel-good story for the Yankees in the first half, Colon failed to survive the first inning as the Blue Jays struck for eight runs. The only Toronto player who did not score that inning was Adam Lind, and he joined the pack when he scored in the second to make the score 9-0.

Colon’s lack of mobility on the mound was a factor in the inning. He did cover first base to get an out on Lind, but two dribblers to the left side later in the inning became RBI singles for Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar. When Eric Thames doubled beyond the reach of Curtis Granderson in center field, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had seen enough and yanked Colon from the game.

Despite the onslaught of runs, Colon’s ERA didn’t take that much of a hit. It rose from 3.20 to 3.47. That was because only three of the eight runs off him were earned. A damaging error by Eduardo Nunez prolonged the inning.

The defensive problems that Nunez experienced at shortstop followed him to third base where he is spelling Alex Rodriguez, who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. With three runs in and runners on first and second with two out, Nunez failed to glove a bouncing ball near the bag by J.P. Arencibia. The error loaded the bases, and the next three batters combined to knock in four runs. The fifth unearned run scored on a balk by Luis Ayala in a very ugly inning.

All those unearned runs came back to haunt the Yankees when they made a game of it later on with huge contributions from Andruw Jones. He hit a home run to start a four-run third inning that also featured a two-run triple by Granderson, who then scored on an infield out. Jones got his second homer of the game with two on in the sixth that made the score 9-7. Jays starter Jo Jo Reyes barely pitched long enough (5 1/3 innings) to qualify for a winning decision and seemed to be doing everything in his power not to get one.

Jones started as the designated hitter against the left-handed Reyes, but with righthander Shawn Camp in the game in the eighth, Girardi sent Jorge Posada up as a pinch hitter (he grounded out). In doing so, history was made. It marked the 1,661st time that Posada and Derek Jeter were in the same game, breaking the franchise record for teammates previously held by Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri.

Despite losing slugger Jose Bautista in the fourth inning due to a twisted right ankle while sliding into third base, the Blue Jays kept putting runs on the board and finished with a 16-7 victory on 20 hits. The loss ended a string of victories by the Yankees in the first game back from the All-Star break dating to 2002. The nine-year streak tied a record the Yankees set from 1940-49 (there was no All-Star Game in 1945) and matched by the Montreal Expos from 1984-92.

Thursday night began a 22-game stretch in which the Yankees were scheduled to play 18 times against clubs with records at or below .500. Toronto moved to one game below .500.

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