Results tagged ‘ Robinson Cano ’

Girardi: Cano will be tough to replace

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not want to tip his hand about how the new-look Yankees will, well, look in 2014. In his manager’s session Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, Girardi said he would wait until spring training to decide how the team will shape out.

The main question was with regard to center field. Does the incumbent Brett Gardner stay or move to a corner in deference to Jacoby Ellsbury, the free-agent acquisition? And if Gardner moves, how does that affect Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki? Not now, Joe said.

“I don’t think we’re finished yet,” Girardi said about possible future Yankees transactions. “The off-season is far from over.”

This off-season has already had a major impact on the Yankees, specifically the loss to free agency and the Mariners of Robinson Cano that creates a huge hole in the center of the infield.

“It’s a wonderful deal for Robbie,” Girardi said. “That is going to take care of him and his family for a long time. I thought the Yankees made a great offer, but in free agency with a player of his caliber something bigger can come along. We had added some guys offensively, but Cano is not an easy guy to replace. We’re going to have to find offense from other places. There are not too many second basemen that can put up Robbie’s numbers.”

My own feeling on the Cano signing with Seattle is that someday and not in the distant future he will wake up and realize he may have taken the better deal in terms of time and money but not in terms of competition or comfort. Robinson better get used to air travel. No club travels more miles than the Mariners, whose closest neighbor in Oakland, Calif., is two hours away by air. The Mariners will make six separate trips to Texas in 2014.

Cano will also find that Safeco Field is one of the most beautiful facilities in all of the major leagues and very much state of the art but that the fences are much farther from the plate than they are at Yankee Stadium. The Mariners have Cano and King Felix Hernandez and not much else. Back in the Bronx, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is working to revamp a club that missed the playoff this past season for only the second time in 19 years.

A surprising remark at the Meetings came from former Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is moving across the Triboro Bridge to Citi Field in 2014. Introduced by his new team, Granderson talked about a desire to stay in the city and said, “True New Yorkers are Mets fans.”

What about it, Yankees fans? Are you going to take that lying down?

Nova makes scoreboard watching easy

There was not too much scoreboard watching for the Yankees Saturday. The only game other than theirs against the Giants in the afternoon that involved the clubs ahead of them in the wild-card hunt was the Orioles at St. Pete where the Rays won, 5-1. The Indians, Rangers and Royals were all scheduled at night.

So the best scoreboard watching for the Yankees was their own as inning by inning Ivan Nova kept tossing zeroes at the distant cousins from San Francisco. The righthander, who has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher in the second half, finished up with a six-hit shutout, his second complete-game blanking of the season. This one, a 6-0 final, was clutch because of the timing when the Yankees simply have to win every game they play.

“If we play like we did today, there is no reason why we can’t win all seven games we have left,” Alfonso Soriano said.

Soriano ranks right up there with Nova as the most important Yankees post the All-Star Game. Sori smacked out another home run Saturday. That gives him 17 in 52 games with the Yankees, the same total he had in 93 games with the Cubs. He also raised his RBI total to 101 in becoming only the fifth player in history to drive in 50 or more runs each for two different clubs in the same season. The others were Matt Holliday with the Athletics and Cardinals in 2009, Manny Ramirez with the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2008, Carlos Beltran with the Royals and Astros in 2004 and David Justice with the Indians and Yankees in 2000.

Similar to what Justice did for the Yanks 13 years ago; Soriano has re-ignited the team’s offense with 50 RBI in 52 games and 36 RBI in 26 games at Yankee Stadium.

“He has been special since he got here,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it is because he is excited to be here. He had fond memories of being here before and enjoyed it so much.”

Soriano’s 34th home run of the season overall was icing on the cake Saturday. The way Nova was pitching the three runs he got in the fourth were plenty sufficient. They came essentially from the bottom third of the order against Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong on singles by Mark Reynolds and Brendan Ryan and a walk to Chris Stewart that loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki, an infield out by Alex Rodriguez and a two-out single by Robinson Cano scored all the runners. Eduardo Nunez contributed a two-run homer in the fourth, two innings before Soriano connected.

In the meantime, Nova (9-5) held the Giants to six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in an efficient, 108-pitch effort. Nova had been the American League Pitcher of the Month for August but was 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in his first three starts in September before Saturday’s gem. He had better command of his breaking ball and a good sinker that resulted in 14 groundouts. Splendid defense up the middle by Ryan at shortstop made this the kind of day to get ground balls.

So the Yankees pulled even with Baltimore again in the wild-card standings and would pay close attention to the night games to see where they stand heading into Sunday, which will be a special day for Mariano Rivera and they hope for the rest of the team as well.

Behind the 8-ball, Yanks erupt in the 8th

For seven innings Wednesday night, it looked like “second verse same as the first” for the Yankees, who were shut out Tuesday night by the Blue Jays and were six outs from having that happen again at a time when losing is not an option if the Bombers want to take that wild-card ticket into the playoffs.

Toronto lefthander J.A. Happ took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning but was removed after giving up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan. Even with the emphasis on bullpens, there is nothing more welcome to opposing hitters than the departure of a starting pitcher whom they have not solved all night.

The Happ-less Blue Jays were hapless as the Yankees struck for four runs on three straight RBI hits off reliever Steve Delabar (5-5) and knocked off Toronto, 4-3, with Mariano Rivera coming through with a four-out save.

Delabar entered the game after lefthander Aaron Loup allowed a single to Curtis Granderson that gave the Yankees runners at the corners with none out. Delabar struck out Alex Rodriguez on a nifty changeup, but the righthander did not get another out. Robinson Cano singled to center to send home Ryan with the Yankees’ first run in 17 innings.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to make the score 3-2. Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have gone to a left-handed batter, Lyle Overbay or Ichiro Suzuki, to bat for Vernon Wells, but he stayed with him and Wells came through with a double to left to put the Yankees in front.

Whereas Toronto’s bullpen came apart, the Yankees’ pen was a key to the victory. David Huff took over for Phil Hughes one out in the fourth after Colby Rasmus belted a two-run home run into the second deck of right field at Rogers Centre. Huff (3-1) gave up another second-deck homer, to Ryan Goins (the first of his career), but the lefthander retired the next 10 batters in order.

The eighth-inning rally by the Yankees set up the last two innings perfectly for them with David Robertson and Rivera plenty rested to finish things off. Girardi was just as quick to lift D-Rob as he was for Hughes in calling for Mo with two outs and a runner on second base. The skipper was in no mood for one of Robertson’s Houdini acts. Girardi wanted the sure thing, which is what he is used to getting from Rivera.

The Blue Jays created some drama when Adam Lind and Rasmus started the ninth with singles. Pinch hitter Munenori Kawasaki got off a lousy sacrifice attempt and Overbay cut down the lead runner at third base. Mo took care of the rest of it by getting Goins on a grounder to second and striking out J.P. Arencibia on three pitches.

It remains very much an uphill climb for the Yankees, but they avoided a major slide to stay on the incline.

Momentum from Baltimore stalled in Boston

With a bullpen gasping, the last thing the Yankees needed Friday night was for their starting pitcher to blow up in the early innings. That is precisely what happened to Hiroki Kuroda, who soon after righted himself and pitched into the seventh but that first-inning damage did not go away. Although the Yankees evaporated the four-run deficit stemming from that inning, the weakened bullpen could not keep the Red Sox at bay and help the Yankees to another stirring, come-from-behind victory.

Instead, it turned out to be a night out of, well, Friday the 13th for the Yankees, whose movement in the American League wild-card chase stalled as the result of the 8-4 loss. In essence, the score was the same after the first inning when the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead off Kuroda, who threw 33 pitches and looked as if he might have to make an early exit.

The Red Sox threatened to blow the game wide open by loading the bases with one out in the second inning, but Kuroda worked out of it without giving up a run and did the same in the third after a leadoff double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In fact, Kuroda retired 12 of the next 13 batters and was in a tie game by the time he reached the seventh inning.

John Lackey, who has had run-support issues all season, allowed the Yankees to chip away at the four-run spread. The Boston righthander gave up a Green Monster home run to Brendan Ryan in the third and needed a splendid, running catch from hamstrung right fielder Shane Victorino on a sacrifice fly by Lyle Overbay in the sixth to prevent that from becoming a much bigger inning.

The bottom of the Yankees’ order – Ryan and Chris Stewart – pushed Lackey out of the game in the seventh with one-out singles, and left-handed reliever Craig Breslow lost the lead as Robinson Cano drove in two runs with his third double and fourth hit of the game.

The Yankees came from behind in two of their three victories in Baltimore leading into this series and appeared bound to do so again before the Red Sox started putting runners on base in the bottom of the seventh beginning with a scorching single off Kuroda that Eduardo Nunez at third base could not handle.

The back end of the Yankees’ bullpen was not up to the task. Manager Joe Girardi, with Mariano Rivera and David Robertson unavailable because of recent use and Boone Logan disabled, went with a pair of rookies. Lefthander Cesar Cabral hit the only batter he faced, David Ortiz. Righthander Preston Claiborne walked the bases loaded and after a big strikeout of Daniel Nava got creamed on a 0-1 fastball to Saltalamacchia for a grand slam.

So all the positives the Yankees achieved in Baltimore blew up in one bad night in Boston. The Rays shut out the Twins to maintain a 1 ½-game lead for the second wild-card spot over the Indians, who moved a half-game ahead of the Yankees. Looking at just the loss column, the Yanks, Orioles and Royals all have 69 losses, three more than the Rays, and the days are withering down.

Shift this

I have worn myself out over the years complaining about sluggers not taking advantage of these exaggerated defensive shifts by crossing them up with bunt hits. Jason Giambi and Mark Teixeira ignored me so often I almost quit the campaign. I am not talking about doing it in RBI situations but certainly when the bases are empty to get something started.

So naturally I was deliriously happy to see what Robinson Cano did in the first inning Friday night at Fenway Park. With two out, no one on base and the infield shifted all the way around to the right, Cano pushed a bunt that rolled past third base far enough from any fielder that he ended up with a double.

Beautiful. It did not result in a run as Alfonso Soriano struck out, but what Cano did by getting on base sure beat making an out by hitting into the shift. Too many hitters have a macho attitude about bunting, that it is some sissy-Mary sort of thing. What is wrong with taking what the defense give you? Particularly in situations like two outs-none on or leading off an inning. Makes sense to me.

A ground-gaining night for the Yankees

The Yankees finally had a good night Tuesday in their wild-card chase. They won and all the teams in front of them lost. They beat one of them, the Orioles, 7-5, while the Rays and Indians both were defeated. The Yanks are now two games out of the second wild card spot and a half-game behind Baltimore and Cleveland.

It was not a totally pleasant night, however. A team that has kept the medical staff working overtime since Opening Day had more bumps and bruises to report. Alex Rodriguez, who had two doubles and one RBI, came out of the game in the eighth inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. The Yankees are hoping it is not serious and that A-Rod be able at least to be the designated hitter Wednesday night.

Ivan Nova, who has pitched well despite dealing with a nagging right triceps, was lifted after six innings and 79 pitches and the Yankees trailing, 4-3. Again, the Yanks have their fingers crossed that he won’t have to come out of the rotation. Catcher Austin Romine took a nasty foul ball off his mask in the eighth inning and may have a concussion.

Before the game, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Boone Logan has not responded to a cortisone injection and that the club will send the reliever’s medical records to Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist in Pensacola, Fla., which may not be a good sign.

The Yankees’ acquisition late Tuesday night of slick-fielding shortstop Brendan Ryan from the Mariners for a player to be named could be an indication that Derek Jeter may be unavailable for an even longer period than originally anticipated.

The state of the Yankees’ bullpen with David Robertson ailing (right shoulder) is such that Mariano Rivera was called on for a four-out save. He retired all four batters he faced for his 42nd save this season and career No. 650.

It was an impressive, comeback victory for the Yankees, who were behind, 4-1, through five innings. Solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds in the sixth made it a one-run game, and the Yankee exploded ahead with a four-run eighth. Soriano and Reynolds did some more damage that inning against Orioles reliever Kevin Gausman.

Rodriguez got the Yankees started with a double. He tweaked the hammy while sliding into the plate and scoring on a single by Robinson Cano. Soriano followed with his second home run of the game, his 15th this year for the Yankees and 32nd overall this season. Sori leads the majors in multi-homer games with seven, four of which have come in his seven weeks with the Yankees. Doubles by Curtis Granderson and Reynolds marked five straight hits for the Yanks that inning and produced another run.

Nova, who entered the game with a 2-0 record and 1.52 ERA against the Orioles this year, gave up Chris Davis’ 49th home run of the season, a two-run shot, in Baltimore’s four-run fifth, an inning that was extended because of a throwing error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

Adam Warren (2-2), who ended up with the winning decision, pitched a perfect seventh. Shawn Kelley hurt himself with two wild pitches that helped the Orioles to a run in the eighth before Mo came on the scene to restore order. As he told everybody last Sunday, “I’ll be there.”

Ichiro saves one for Mo

If you didn’t think Sunday’s game was important to the Yankees, consider this: Mariano Rivera was called on for a six-out save. This was something out of postseason play, which is what the Yankees are hopeful for qualifying for this season.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate in using Mo for such a stretch. One, it is that time of year and, two, what would you save Rivera for? As the skipper said after the game, noting that the career saves leader will retire at the end of the season, “He’s at a point where he’s not saving anything for 2014.”

The only problem is that it didn’t work. Rivera blew the save opportunity for the seventh time this season and the second time in this series when he allowed a leadoff home run to Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning that made the score 3-3. Perhaps the only people at Yankee Stadium who thought the ball was a homer were those seated in the first two rows of seats in right field. To everybody else, Rivera and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, it seemed as if it were a high fly ball that would eventually become an out instead of going out.

In the bottom of that inning, however, Rivera would have a smile on his face as wide as the Grand Canyon after Suzuki scored from third base on a wild pitch by Brandon Workman that clinched a 4-3 victory.

Eight runs were not enough Thursday night. Eight runs were not enough Friday night. Nine runs were not enough Saturday. As it turned out, four runs were sufficient for the Yankees Sunday.

The ninth-inning run was an Ichiro special. He singled to left-center field with one out and then quickly moved into scoring position with a steal of second base. Vernon Wells’ flyout to right field was deep enough for Suzuki to scamper to third base. Any battery has to be careful about a wild pitch or a passed ball with a player as quick as Ichiro on third base. There was no doubt that when the pitch by Workman eluded catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia that the Yankee would get the run they needed to avoid a four-game sweep by Boston and give them some momentum headed to Baltimore for another challenging, four-game set against an Orioles club that is battling for the same prize as the Yankees, a wild-card postseason berth.

“Anybody could have made it,” Ichiro said of the winning run, “anybody with a good read.”

Well, that does not just happen with anybody but with a player of Suzuki’s instinct on the bases. This was the first time the Yankees had a walk-off victory on a wild pitch since Sept. 27, 1977 against the Indians and Jim Bibby when the run was scored by Thurman Munson, who made up for lack of speed with an abundance of smarts.

The game might have turned into a disaster if not for that play. The Yankees had overcome a 1-0 deficit to Jon Lester, who pitched eight strong innings, to take a 3-1 lead behind Hiroki Kuroda, who threw 117 pitches over six innings. Shawn Kelley worked the seventh without issue before the strains of “Enter Sandman” were heard surprisingly at the start of the eighth.

Rivera had not pitched for two days, so Girard felt confident that he could use him for a lengthier period. Mo had the same confidence and said he will feel the same way Monday night at Camden Yards.

“If they need me, I’ll be there,” Rivera said. “I have to be ready for any situation. We’re trying to get to the playoffs.”

That pursuit can often find players doing odd things. In the second inning with runners on first and second and none out, Mark Reynolds tried to bunt them over and fouled out to the catcher, the same Mark Reynolds who is usually feast or famine with his home run or strikeout mentality.

“We’ll let that go for now,” Girardi said, clearly indicated that Reynolds was bunting on his own and something he will be told never to do again.

The Yankees failed to score that inning, but Reynolds atoned for his mistake by driving in the Yankees’ first run of the game in the fourth with a booming double to center field. A clutch, two-out single by Robinson Cano an inning later gave the Yankees their first lead in the series since that 8-3 spread entering the seventh inning Friday night that the bullpen flushed.

The Red Sox cut it to 3-2 with a run in the sixth on a double by David Ortiz and two infield outs. One-run leads are usually as good as gold for Rivera, but he has proved a bit more vulnerable in his final season. He last blew as many as seven saves in 2001.

Don’t be surprised, however, that if the Yankees need him to nail down a victory Monday night that, in his words, Mo will be there.

Pettitte comes up big but not bullpen

On a night when the Yankees were in a must-win situation and with the knowledge that neither setup reliever David Robertson nor closer Mariano Rivera was available, Andy Pettitte handled the pressure of coming up big time in a big situation. This should come as no surprise, of course, considering the pitcher in question has logged 276 2/3 innings in postseason play and is used to stressful workloads.

Pettitte would like to add to his postseason resume and did his part to help the Yankees remain in contention toward that goal Friday night with six sturdy innings that continued a successful run for the lefthander that belies his age, 41, and adds to his reputation as a go-to guy. The Yankees helped his cause by continuing to put up multiple-run innings – four two-run frames during his six innings of work.

It also did not hurt the Yanks’ cause that Red Sox starter Felix Doubront handed out free passes on a regular basis. Doubront walked six batters in his 3 2/3 innings and four of them scored. Alfonso Soriano got the Yankees off to a quick start with his 30th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left, in the first inning.

Doubront walked Vernon Wells to start the second inning, and Eduardo Nunez tripled him home. Chris Stewart’s sacrifice fly scored Nunez. Doubront walked two more batters with two out in the fourth and both scored on a triple by Brett Gardner. The Yanks didn’t need any walks to score twice in the fifth off righthander Rubby De La Rosa on a double by Robinson Cano and singles by Wells, Nunez and Mark Reynolds.

Pettitte was masterful. He allowed three runs, five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts and left with the Yankees ahead, 8-3, through six. Over his past six starts, Andy has pitched to a 1.75 ERA in 36 innings in lowering his season ERA from 4.71 to 4.03. He is 3-0 over that stretch with three no-decisions. Unfortunately, one of those no-decisions was Friday night.

Phil Hughes took the ball from Pettitte and, well, dropped it. In his first relief appearance of the season, Hughes gave up three hits and a walk and left the game in the seventh with the bases full, one run in and one out. Boone Logan did a nice job of striking out David Ortiz, but Mike Napoli proved stiffer competition.

Napoli worked the count full and fouled off two fastballs in the mid-90s before driving a third one to right field off the top of the wall just beyond the reach of Ichiro Suzuki. It was the sixth career grand slam and third this season for Napoli, who victimized Hughes earlier this season.

With that one swing, the score was tied. It only got worse. Preston Claiborne gave up a two-run home run to Shane Victorino in the eighth, and Joba Chamberlain had another rough outing in allowing the Red Sox two more runs.

All of Pettitte’s work went for naught, which was an absolute shame.

Yanks don’t take advantage of big rally

How many big rallies begin with a walk? It is a rhetorical question. I am not looking it up. Leave us just say a lot.

So when Ichiro Suzuki walked to lead off the seventh inning for the Yankees Thursday night it hardly seemed dramatic considering the score at the time was 7-2 Red Sox. But as Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch used to say famously during his managerial days, “Oh, them bases on balls.”

Perhaps Red Sox manager John Farrell had similar thoughts. If he didn’t, he should have. The leadoff walk has an ominous look to it regardless of the score. Suzuki’s stroll to first base was just the ominous sign the Yankees needed to get started toward a six-run rally that turned the tables in the game, yet another startling crooked-number inning that the Yanks have constructed regularly during their offensive renaissance of the past month.

In the blink of an eye, Ichiro was standing on third base after a pinch single by Vernon Wells chased Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who departed with a five-run lead but by inning’s end was still winless in his career against the Yankees.

Brett Gardner greeted lefthander Matt Thornton with a single to score Ichiro. With Derek Jeter at bat, Wells shook up the Red Sox with a steal of third, one of the Yanks’ season-high six swipes in the game. Thornton walked Jeter, which loaded the bases for Robinson Cano, who hit a bases-loaded double earlier in the game. This time he hit into a fielder’s choice but another run scored.

Alfonso Soriano also did an about-face from previous at-bats. Boston used an exaggerated shift against him all night. Twice he hit into it and flied out. This time against righthander Junichi Tazawa Sori poked a single to the right side for an RBI single that made the score 7-5. The Red Sox’ collective collar was tightening.

Curtis Granderson doubled to make it a one-run game. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Lyle Overbay pushed the Yankees into the lead with a ground single to right for two more runs. 8-7 Yanks, and what made it even cooler was that the situation was set up for them out of the bullpen with David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Robertson did his part with a hitless, two-strikeout eighth. In the ninth, Rivera came within one strike of registering a save that would have matched his uniform No. 42. But he walked – there’s that stat again – Mike Napoli on a full count. Pinch runner Quintin Berry stunned everybody by breaking for second base on Mo’s first pitch to Stephen Drew. The throw from Austin Romine, just into the game behind the plate, bounced in front of Jeter and went into left-center field as Berry wound up on third base.

Rivera’s save and the Yankees’ lead disappeared when Drew hit a flare single to right for a single that knotted the score. Career save No. 650 would have to wait for Rivera, whose blown save was his sixth of the season.

It’s a different month for Nova

Ivan Nova was the American League Pitcher of the Month for August. He is off to a rocky start in contention for AL Pitcher of the Month for September.

The righthander, who was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA last month, made it through only four innings Thursday night and left the game trailing due to Will Middlebrooks’ home run into the second deck in left field that unlocked a 2-2 score.

So much for all that excitement that was forecast about the Yankees-Red Sox showdown. It was snore, snore for a couple of innings. Things got lively in the third inning, however, as Yankee Stadium began to rock ‘n roll like the good, old Yankees-Red Sox days.

Boston broke the silence in the top of the inning with two runs off Nova, who had trouble keeping his fastball down in the strike zone or getting his curveball over. Ryan Lavarnway and Middlebrooks reached him for singles, and Jacoby Ellsbury put the Red Sox on the board with a double over the fence to right-center.

The Yankees kept the infield back and conceded another run when Shane Victorino grounded out. Dustin Pedroia did, too, but after walking David Ortiz intentionally Nova walked Daniel Nava quite unintentionally on four pitches to load the bases. Nova went to a full count on Mike Napoli before getting him on a called third strike.

After the top half of that inning awoke Red Sox fans, it was Yankees fans’ turn in the bottom half against Jake Peavy, who had lost all four of his previous starts against the Bombers. Ichiro Suzuki got the Yankees’ first hit on a single to center and then promptly stole second base. Chris Stewart made the second out on a popup, but Brett Gardner kept the inning alive with a bunt single.

Peavy got himself in trouble with a walk to Derek Jeter that filled the bases for hot-hitting Robinson Cano, who whacked the first pitch off the wall in right field for a two-run double that tied the score. The Red Sox put one of those exaggerated shifts on Alfonso Soriano, who hit into it and flied out to left field.

Nova’s brief outing was a decided disappointment. The Yankees had been counting on him to continue his hot hand and get them off to a good start in the four-game set against the Red Sox. Nova had pitched into the seventh inning and higher in 11 of his previous 12 starts but ran his pitch count up to nearly 100 (96) through the fourth.

Preston Claiborne, recently recalled from Triple A Scranton, did not help matter when he faced five batters in the fifth inning and got none of them out. Shane Victorino started Claiborne off with a home run to left. Pedroia and Ortiz followed with singles before Nava walked to fill the bases. An infield single by Napoli and an infield out brought in two more runs.

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