Results tagged ‘ Reed Johnson ’
The sixth inning Saturday was filled with mistakes by the Yankees until Brett Gardner, who had committed one of them, erased the miscues with a splendid play. And did the Yankees ever need it in what turned out to be another close game at Wrigley Field with them prevailing this time, 4-3.
The game was getting out of their hands even after they regained the lead on a sacrifice fly by Curtis Granderson in the top of the sixth. Gardner made the third out of the inning when he was caught off first base and thrown out in a rundown.
The Yankee had failed to make Cubs starter Ryan Dempster pay for walking six batters, none of whom scored (which is really strange; the odds are usually pretty good that at least of couple of the runners would have made it all the way home) but had taken a 3-2 lead behind A.J. Burnett.
Then just as quickly, the Yankees nearly gave it away. Burnett had good stuff, an above-average fastball and an effective curve, but as usual he was all over the place. He struck out eight batters but also walked three, threw a wild pitch (increasing his league lead to 11) and hit a batter.
The plunked batter came with one down in the sixth. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez then booted a ground ball (his eighth error in 37 games) and Robinson Cano dropped a throw for a potential force play (his sixth error, twice as many as he had all of last season), which loaded the bases for the Cubs.
Between the errors, Burnett was replaced by Corey Wade, who was able to get out of the jam in large part because of Gardner. Geovanny Soto hit a fly ball to left field. Gardner timed his catch perfectly and had his momentum taking him toward the infield when he unleashed his throw to the plate. It was straight and reached catcher Russell Martin on one bounce in plenty of time to get Carlos Pena trying to score to complete a double play. Pena tried a Pete Rose/All-Star Game move on Martin by running into him, but the catcher took the hit and held on to the ball.
Wade was the first of four relievers for the Yankees, and it isn’t every day that the least effective of them is Mariano Rivera. That is how strong the ensemble work of the Yanks’ bullpen has been these days. Hector Noesi and David Robertson followed Wade with a scoreless inning apiece to raise the pen’s steak of shutout work to 22 1/3 innings dating to June 10.
Cano and Nunez made up for their boots with ninth-inning doubles for an insurance run that proved necessary when Mo gave up a leadoff homer to Reed Johnson in the bottom half. This Johnson has been a ninth-inning Yankees killer in the series. Friday, he made a sliding, tumbling catch down the left field line to rob Cano of a potential extra-base hit.
Alfonso Soriano followed Johnson’s bomb with a single off his old teammate. Soto then did the Yankees another favor. Inter-league play is supposed to show the difference in the how the game is played in each league, right?
Okay, so with a National League team at home in the bottom of the ninth, and the potential tying run on first base and no outs, where was the sacrifice? Heck, Soto didn’t even make an attempt to push the runner into scoring position. He swung away on the first pitch and hit a ground ball near second that Cano gloved to start a rally-killing double play. That was the biggest mistake of all, and the Yankees took advantage of it.
Let’s face it; the Yankees-Cubs matchup at Wrigley Field has a lot less juice than it did eight years ago when the two legendary teams met for the first time in 65 years. Back then, you had the Yankees in the Friendly Confines for the first visit since Lou Gehrig’s final World Series in 1938, Derek Jeter patrolling shortstop and Roger Clemens going for his 300th career victory.
In addition, there was the idea that the pairing might have been a preview of the 2003 World Series, which was quite nearly the case before a Cubs fan named Steve Bartman unwittingly aided the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series and ruined the Cubs’ chances for a trip to the Fall Classic. The Yankees don’t have fond memories of that World Series, either, because they also lost to the Fish.
Granted, there are still some story lines. Yankees manager Joe Girardi grew up in Illinois and began his major-league career with the Cubs. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild had the same post at Wrigley for 10 years. Nick Swisher’s father, Steve, was a catcher for the Cubs. And the guys in the Cubs’ front office had to love the sight of 42,219 people going through the turnstiles. The latter situation, however, is one element that hurts this series. The Cubs are on the downside and trying to keep their heads above water in the post-Lou Piniella era.
Jeter’s stint on the disabled list also hurts the series. He might have gotten his 3,000th career hit here. Then again, he may have suffered the same fate as Clemens in ’03 and been turned away in his shot at the milestone.
So it is what it is, and Friday it wasn’t much of anything for the Yankees, who looked awfully flat in a 3-1 loss. Lefthander Doug Davis kept them off-balance for seven-plus innings with an assortment of off-speed junk, aided by the wind blowing in which derailed the Yankees’ power strokes. Davis was a winner for the first time in more than a year and in six decisions this season.
The Cubs struck for three runs in the first two innings against Freddy Garcia, who then got quite stingy and retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced through the seventh. It might have been 15 in a row had second baseman Robinson Cano covered first base on a bunt by Tony Campana that was fielded by Garcia, who had to eat the ball because there was no one to throw it to on the bag.
Swisher doubled in the eighth and scored the Yanks’ run on a two-out single by Mark Teixeira, but flame-throwing closer Carlos Marmol came in to strike out Alex Rodriguez. Reed Johnson, a defensive replacement in left field, made a sprawling catch on the line to rob Cano of a possible extra-base hit leading off the ninth and deserved as much of the save as Marmol. No one could imagine regular left fielder Alfonso Soriano, whom Johnson replaced, being able to make such a play.
Cano had already gotten a hit earlier to keep alive his streak of having hit in all 22 of the day games the Yankees have played this year. Friday was only the fourth time they lost without the lights on, ironically, in the last ballpark in the majors to accept night baseball.
One of the characteristics of the Yankees since Mariano Rivera took over as the team’s closer in 1997 is that they often rough up other team’s closers while Mo is seldom victimized.
The latest example was Sunday night’s 8-6, 10-inning victory at Dodger Stadium. The Yankees seemed dead as early as the fifth inning as they fell behind 5-0 due to some shaky infield play and two costly throwing errors by Andy Pettitte, who had a rare poor outing.
Alex Rodriguez’s 11th home run of the season and 594th of his career was all the offense the Yankees could muster as they entered the ninth inning down 6-2 with 6-foot-4, 295-pound Jonathan Broxton coming out of the bullpen.
When Mark Teixeira was called out on strikes for the first out, things looked gloomy, but by the time Broxton got the second out of the inning the Yankees had tied the score. It could not be considered a blown save since it was not a save situation, but Broxton blew a four-run lead in a 48-pitch horror chamber as one by one the Yankees showed the Dodgers how to wear down a pitcher regardless of his size.
Rodriguez started the comeback by turning back a 95-mph fastball for a single to left. Robinson Cano whacked a 94-mph fastball down the right field line for a double, scoring A-Rod. Jorge Posada won a 10-pitch duel with a single off 95-mph gas. Cano was held at third. Curtis Granderson worked a walk in an eight-pitch at-bat to load the bases.
The Yankees were at the bottom of the order now with peach-fuzzed bench players Chad Huffman and Colin Curtis facing the heat Broxton could bring. They handled themselves quite well. Huffman punched a single to right to score two runs and get Granderson to third. Curtis made contact and hit a bouncer to first baseman James Loney, who tagged the bag but would have been better off just throwing home to get Granderson rather than be late with his throw and watch the tying run cross. For Curtis, it was his fourth RBI in six career at-bats, all this week.
And the pitcher in place to win was Rivera, who retired the side in order in the ninth. Of course, Mo needed some runs, which Cano took care of with a two-run home run off George Sherrill in the 10th. With a runner on first base and none out, Dodgers manager Joe Torre called for Sherrill to pitch to Cano, who had been hitless in 11 career at-bats against the lefthander. Sherill was just another lefty this year for Cano, who is hitting .301 with 21 RBI against lefties this year and has nine of his 15 home runs off them.
Rivera yielded a leadoff single to Loney in the bottom of the 10th but coolly dispatched of Russell Martin and Reed Johnson with strikeouts and got Jamey Carroll on a fielder’s choice for the victory and lowered his ERA to 0.92. Yes, that is zero point nine two.
It was a scenario with which the Yankees are very familiar.
If it matters to anyone, A-Rod shook hands with Torre before the game, ending a silly media molehill story. What was more important to Yankees fans was what Rodriguez did in the series, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a double, two home runs, four RBI and five runs scored.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre must have been stunned to see Andy Pettitte throw the ball all over the infield in the third inning Sunday night.
The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew of Joe Morgan, Orel Hershiser and Jon Miller rattled on about the Yankees showing inexperience dealing with the bunting game that is more prevalent in the National League, which was a lot of nonsense. The Yankees only happen to have beaten NL competition more than any team in World Series history.
Besides, Sunday night’s finale of the series at Dodger Stadium was the Yankees’ 18th and last inter-league game of the year and the 12th consecutive game against an NL club. It is not as if they haven’t seen a pitcher bunt before.
You can be sure Torre knows better. His relationship with Pettitte was cemented in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series at Atlanta when the lefthander pitched 8 1/3 innings of a 1-0 victory over the Braves that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in games heading back to Yankee Stadium where they would win Game 6 and clinch the Series. Prior to that performance, Torre had viewed Pettitte somewhat skeptically telling friends he thought the pitcher was “soft.”
Baseball people of Torre’s generation don’t know what to make of a player like Pettitte who has deep religious convictions. Such players are often labeled “God squanders” and have their competitive grit questioned. Torre might have viewed Pettitte in that light at one time, but not after Game 5 in ’96. Not ever again. In fact, when the Yankees toyed with the idea of trading Pettitte to Philadelphia during the 1999 season, Torre campaigned hard with the front office to keep Pettitte in pinstripes.
Go back to that Game 5 in Atlanta, and one of the critical innings was the bottom of the sixth in which Pettitte’s defensive ability helped him snuff out a rally. Clinging to a one-run lead, Pettitte gave up singles to opposing pitcher John Smoltz and Marquis Grissom with none out. Mark Lemke attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but Pettitte pounded on the bunt and quickly threw to Charlie Hayes at third base to cut down Smoltz, the lead runner. Pettitte then handled a shot to the box by Chipper Jones and turned to second to start an inning-ending double play.
So you can imagine what might have been going through Torre’s mind Sunday night watching Pettitte commit two throwing errors on bunt fielding plays in the third. Reed Johnson was on second base after a leadoff double when Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw bunted in front of the plate. Pettitte tried for the lead runner at third, but Alex Rodriguez, who had charged for the bunt, was back pedaling to the bag and could not lunge for the throw that was wide to his left and ended up down the left field line, allowing Reed to score.
Rafael Furcal then bunted for a hit and got one. A third consecutive bunt came from Ronnie Belliard. Pettitte fielded the ball, but his throw to first on the sacrifice was into the runner and eluded second baseman Robinson Cano, who originally was charged with an error which the official score correctly amended later by assigning it to Pettitte. A run scored on that play, and Furcal was able to get to third from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.
A surprisingly sloppy inning by one of Joe Torre’s favorite players turned his reunion weekend with the Yankees in the Dodgers’ favor temporarily. The Yankees’ four-run uprising in the ninth against Jonathan Broxton, in a non-save situation, featured major contributions by Curtis Granderson, Chad Huffman and Colin Curtis, three Yankees never managed by Torre.
Huffman drove in two runs and Curtis one. A big mistake was by James Loney, the Dodgers first baseman who lost precious time stepping on the bag on Curtis’ grounder and was late throwing home as Granderson scored the tying run. Can’t these NL players handle balls in the infield?