Results tagged ‘ Robinson Cano ’

2-for-2 for No. 2 in final All-Star Game

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MINNEAPOLIS — It did not take Derek Jeter very long to get involved in the 2014 All-Star Game. On the very first play of the game, Jeter made a diving stop of a hard grounder toward the middle by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, but the reigning National League Most Valuable Player beat the throw to first base for a single.

McCutchen never stopped running that inning. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch during the at-bat of Yasiel Puig, who struck out, and stole third base as Troy Tulowitzki struck out. Mac never made it home, however, as Paul Goldschmidt grounded out to third.

The Twins, who have done a magnificent job as host of the All-Star Game, came up with a nice touch by having a tape of the late Yankees public address voice Bob Sheppard announce Jeter as he stepped to the plate as the first American League hitter in the bottom of the first inning. The tape was apparently from the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

The Target Field crowd was generous with its applause and gave Jeter a standing ovation. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove and the ball on the rubber and stepped back off the mound in joining his NL teammates in applauding Jeter, who removed his helmet, waved to the crowd and pointed to both dugouts. He motioned to Wainwright to start pitching, but the Cardinals ace remained behind the mound for probably a full minute before taking position.

As play resumed, fans treated the Captain to a “Der-ek Jee-ter” chant familiar to the roll call the bleacher creatures at the Stadium salute him with every night, another cool touch. Jeet got things started for the AL with one of his patented line drives to right field that went into the corner as Jeter legged out a double. The crowd loved it.

And how about that to those who thought Jeter should not have been the AL’s leadoff hitter? One swing, and he was in scoring position. Not bad, eh?

Angels outfielder Mike Trout got Jeter home with the AL’s second extra-base hit of the inning, a triple off the right field wall that the Dodgers’ Yasieal Puig played poorly. After Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano struck out, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera got the AL’s third extra-base hit of the inning, a home run to left field. The score was 3-0, and the Americans had not had a single yet. Perhaps Wainwright should have stayed off the mound.

The National League, which was shut out at Citi Field last year, closed to 3-2 in the second on RBI doubles by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy to end a 15-inning scoreless streak dating to 2012 at Kansas City.

Jeter was a leadoff hitter again in the third inning against Reds righthander Alfredo Simon and got the AL’s first single on another hit to right field. A wild pitch advanced Jeter into scoring position this time, but he was stranded.

Before the start of the fourth inning, AL manager John Farrell of the Red Sox sent White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez onto the field to replace Jeter, who was showered with another round of long applause while the PA system played Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” that is heard at the end of every Yankees home game.

Jeter again waved to the crowd, pointed to the NL dugout and then shook the hands of every one of his teammates in the AL dugout and urged on by the crowd came onto the field once more to acknowledge their cheers. He left All-Star competition with a .481 career average in 27 at-bats and seemed in place for maybe another game Most Valuable Player Award to match the one he received in 2000 at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

One stumbling block to that was the NL tying the score in the fourth on another RBI double by Lucroy, this time off White Sox lefthander Chris Sale. That opened the door for Trout, who with his second extra-base hit of the game, a double in the fifth, gave the AL the lead and put him in position to be the MVP.

But if the fans here had their choice, I’m sure they would vote for Jeter.

Jeter on top — where he belongs

MINNEAPOLIS — Credit Red Sox manager John Farrell with a sense of history and propriety. The man in charge of the American League All-Star squad did not think twice about who his leadoff hitter would be for Tuesday night’s game at Target Field.

Who else but Derek Jeter?

In his farewell season, Jeter was voted into the starting lineup by the fans, and the AL manager responded in kind by not dumping the Yankees’ captain at the bottom of the lineup where some think his .272 batting average belongs.

But while home field advantage in the World Series is at stake based on the outcome of the game, Farrell recognizes that the All-Star Game is about stars, and for the past 20 seasons none has shown as brightly as Jeter, who has earned the respect of opponents as much as teammates for the way he goes about his business.

Farrell acknowledged his decision was easy and designed “to celebrate a player who is not only a champion but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to — the way he has handled himself with class, with performance, no doubt a Hall of Famer. This will be a day that many baseball fans that are either in the ballpark or watching will remember as Derek’s last All-Star Game.”

Mariano Rivera went through something similar last year at Citi Field in Flushing. In that case, however, AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers had to guarantee that baseball’s greatest closer would get into the game near the end. With the AL the visiting team, Leyland knew he could not hold Rivera until the bottom of the ninth, a closer’s usual inning, because there may not have been one. And that was the case with the National League ahead entering the eighth, so that was when Leyland summoned Rivera.

Farrell was presented with a different situation — to honor one of the players in the starting lineup. He was correct to see that fans did not want to wait for Jeter to bat until perhaps as late as the third inning. I am predicting an enormous standing ovation for DJ when he steps to the plate for that first pitch from NL starter Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.

“I have been in the big leagues for nine years and have never faced him,” Wainwright said. “I’m very excited about it, just to say I faced the best. And he is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play his position, one of the greatest Yankees of all time.”

The game will also reunite Jeter with his former keystone partner, Robinson Cano, who will start at second base and bat third.

Here are the lineups crafted by Farrell and NL manager Mike Matheny of the Cardinals:

National League

Andrew McCutcheon, Pirates, CF
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers, RF
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, SS
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks, 1B
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, DH
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers, 3B
Chase Utley, Phillies, 2B
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers, C
Carlos Gomez, Brewers, LF
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, P

American League

Derek Jeter, Yankees, SS
Mike Trout, Angels, LF
Robinson Cano, Mariners, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 1B
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, RF
Nelson Cruz, Orioles, DH
Adam Jones, Orioles, CF
Josh Donaldson, Athletics, 3B
Salvador Perez, Royals, C
Felix Hernandez, Mariners, P

Yanks hope to stay hot on West Coast

The Yankees couldn’t beat the Mariners at Yankee Stadium but couldn’t lose to them at Safeco Field. Seattle with its new second baseman, Robinson Cano, was victorious over the Yankees April 29 and May 1 at the Stadium as well as the June 2 rainout makeup game. The past three nights at Safeco was a whole different story, however, and there was nothing Cano could do about it.

The three-game sweep by the Yankees was impressive considering that the Mariners were hot entering the series while the Yanks were struggling with a fizzling offense. Their 6-3 victory Thursday night marked the first time in 13 games that the Yankees scored more than four runs. Derek Jeter heated up during the series with seven hits, including a double, and two RBI in 12 at-bats, a .583 clip that raised his average 17 points to .271.

The turnaround in fortunes home and away matched that of the Subway Series this year with the Mets winning the two games at Yankee Stadium May 12 and 13 and the Yankees taking the two games at Citi Field May 14 and 15. This marks the only two instances in franchise history that the Yankees lost all of its home games and won all its road games against the same opponent in a single season.

A drawback from Thursday night’s victory was Jacoby Ellsbury coming out of the game in the late innings because of a strained right hip. Ellsbury has broken out of an early-season slump to go on a 16-game hitting streak dating to May 26, which is the longest for the Yankees since a 19-gamer by Jeter in 2012 from Sept. 4-25. Ellsbury’s streak is the longest active streak in the majors, the third-longest in the American League this season, and tied for sixth-longest in the majors. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it is longest hitting streak by a Yankees center fielder since Melky Cabrera hit in 18 straight games in 2007.

During the streak, Ellsbury is batting .381 with nine runs, three doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, seven walks, seven stolen bases and a .443 on-base percentage in 63 at-bats. It is his longest hitting streak since a 19-gamer with the Red Sox last year from May 19 through July 11. His career best is a 22-game streak in 2009 from May 2-27. Ellsbury is tied for second in the AL with 18 stolen bases with the Tigers’ Rajai Davis, six behind league leader Jose Altuve of the Astros. Ellsbury had the game-winning RBI in the Yankees’ past three games. Elias notes that he is the first Yankees player with the game-winning RBI in three straight team games since Nick Swisher in 2012 from Aug. 13-15.

All three of the Yankees’ victories in Seattle came in games in which their starting pitcher was a rookie. The Yankees are 21-8 in games started by rookie pitchers (Masahiro Tanaka, 11-2; Vidal Nuno, 5-5; Chase Whitley, 5-1), including 15-1 on the road (Tanaka, 6-1; Nuno, 4-0; Whitley, 5-0). Yankees rookie starters have a 2.73 combined ERA in 181 innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of their past eight outings (1.87 ERA in 53 innings). According to Elias, the Yankees have started rookies in 29 of their first 65 games, their highest such total since 1910 when the Highlanders had 30 of their first 65 starts by Russ Ford, Hippo Vaughn and John Frill.

The Yankees finish the trip with a three-game weekend set at Oakland against an Athletics team that has the best record (40-26) in the AL. Mark Teixeira has hit more home runs against the A’s (36) than any other opponent. His total against Oakland ranks second among all active players (Alex Rodriguez has 43HR). Tex has hit more home runs at O.co Coliseum (20) than any other ballpark as a visiting player. That, too, ranks second only to A-Rod, who has 21.

Granderson treated politely at Stadium

Yankees fans apparently were not as bothered about Curtis Granderson signing with the Mets as they were about Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.

In his first game back at Yankee Stadium Monday night, Granderson received polite applause along with some booing during his first at-bat in the first inning. Curtis made a waving gesture toward the Yanks’ dugout as he approached the plate and promptly lined a single to center field off Hiroki Kuroda.

The reception was a far cry from what Cano experienced last month in his return to the Stadium wearing an opponent’s uniform. He was the target of severe booing throughout the abbreviated, two-game series.

The difference in reaction is probably due to off-season negotiations. The Yankees made a qualifying offer to Granderson for one year and $14.1 million and understood that he might seek a multi-year contract elsewhere, which he got from the Mets for four years and $60 million.

Cano on the other hand rejected a seven-year offer for $175 million from the Yankees that was certainly generous and accepted a 10-year deal for $240 million from Seattle that was certainly exorbitant.

I guess it was that $180-million difference that figured into the fans’ response.

Mariners complete sweep behind rookie lefty

If the Yankees thought they were catching a break Thursday night by not having to face Felix Hernandez they were sadly mistaken. Mariners rookie Roenis Elias gave them all they could handle.

Hernandez had been scheduled to start Thursday night, but with the rainout Wednesday night Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon chose to keep his rotation on schedule and went ahead and started Elias, 25, a lefthander who defected to Mexico from Cuba three years ago.

“We knew the kid had good stuff,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Elias. “Our reports showed he is something special.”

They got visual evidence of that Thursday night. Elias mixed a fastball clocked in the mid-90s with a hard-breaking curve and a knee-bracing changeup.

Hiroki Kuroda, who lost his second straight start, had a decent outing but had trouble finishing off hitters in the early going. Robinson Cano doubled in a run in the first inning, but Kuroda got out of further trouble thanks to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who made a diving catch to rob Kyle Seager of a potential, run-scoring, extra-base hit.

Watching Ellsbury reminded me of a conversation I had at dinner a couple of night ago with YES voice Michael Kay, who said that he appreciates Ellsbury a lot more now that he is watching him on an every-day basis. I agreed. Some players can get overlooked, but if you see them every day you become more aware of how much they bring to a club on a daily basis. I used to view Tino Martinez that way years ago.

Ellsbury kept it up in the first inning by driving a 2-1 pitch to right field for his first home run with the Yankees. What happened next was a harbinger of what was to come from Elias, who then struck out Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano.

Elias continued to mow down the Yankees and finished with 10 strikeouts and only two walks through seven innings. The only other run he allowed was not earned due to an error by Cano, who lost an easy out by flipping the ball to unsuspecting shortstop Brad Miller. That extended the sixth inning in which Brian McCann singled in a run.

The Yankees also gave the Mariners a gift run in the third because of an error by Jeter. Cano got his second RBI with a fielder’s choice in the third. Kuroda couldn’t shut the door in the fourth when the Mariners went ahead to stay on an RBI single by Miller and a run-scoring double by Michael Saunders.

Seattle had only one hit over the next five innings as Kuroda found his groove albeit a bit late and the Yankees got excellent relief from Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley. The Yankees’ offense ran into the same type of pitching as well and could not avoid suffering a sweep in the abbreviated, two-game series.

One big inning of small ball does in CC

The one-big-inning syndrome that has haunted CC Sabathia in the past was evident again Tuesday night, although there was a lot of small ball involved in that big inning, a four-run Seattle fifth that wiped out a 2-0 Yankees lead.

The inning started with a bad omen. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was originally called out on a play at first base on his grounder to second base but was overturned after a video review that rewarded him with a single. Willie Bloomquist followed with a single to right field that sent Zunino to third base.

Abraham Almonte dropped a bunt to the right side for a hit that loaded the bases. The ball went past charging first baseman Mark Teixeira. Second baseman Brian Roberts was near the bag and could not get to first base in time to take Sabathia’s throw.

CC struck out Stefen Romero, but Robinson Cano hit a soft, one-hopper to Teixeira, who decided against throwing home for a force and got the sure out at first base instead as Zunino scored. The ball responded like a knuckleball, so Tex likely did not have a strong enough grip to chance a throw to the plate.

The other runners also advanced on the play. They scored on a double to right by Corey Hart that gave the Mariners the lead. Justin Smoak made it 4-2 with a single to right. Sabathia hit a batter and allowed a hit in the sixth and needed to be bailed out by Dellin Betances, who stranded the runners.

Cano got brutal treatment from the crowd in his return to Yankee Stadium, but he had the last laugh with a 6-3 Mariners victory. Cano did not get the ball out of the infield in five at-bats. He struck out twice, grounded out to first base twice and had an infield single and a stolen base.

His single began the seventh when the Mariners tacked on two more runs. Consecutive two-out singles by Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Zunino, who had four hits, accounted for the runs.

The Yankees, who had an early lead against eventual winning pitcher Chris Young on Teixeira’s third home run and a throwing error by Zunino, rallied in the ninth against Fernando Rodney but scored only one run on a single by Ichiro Suzuki, a double by Roberts and an infield single by Brett Gardner.

Yankees pitchers totaled 12 strikeouts. It marked the fifth straight game they achieved double figures in strikeouts, a franchise record.

Rude reception for Cano in his return to Stadium

Robinson Cano faced a chilly reception upon his return to Yankee Stadium Tuesday night in the uniform of his new team, the Seattle Mariners. Unlike the friendly exchanges he had with fans the night before during his appearance on “The Tonight Show,” Cano was met with loud boos among some token applause in his first at-bat. The only time there were loud cheers directed at Cano was when he struck out against CC Sabathia.

Red Sox fans were not as tough on Jacoby Ellsbury when he returned to Fenway Park with the Yankees as Yankees fans were on Cano. Perhaps the second baseman’s comments about being “disrespected” by the Yankees in contract negotiations over the winter created the sour mood. That and the unseasonable weather on a windy, 45-degree night.

It is hard to fault Cano for accepting a 10-year, $240-million contract from the Mariners just because of loyalty to the Yankees, whose best offer was seven years for $175 million. I doubt any professional athlete would leave $65 million on the table. Still, an offer of $175 million is by no means a sign of disrespect.

In a pre-game press conference, Cano declined to discuss contract talks, saying, “I don’t want to talk about the past. I just want to go out and play baseball. This is a business. I can’t tell the Yankees how to run theirs.”

Cano anticipated being the target of boos yet was complimentary toward the way Yankees fans treated him during his nine seasons with the club.

“I know it is not the same as when you’re with the home team,” he said. “It is different. The Yankees have won a lot of championships, and the Mariners are still looking for one. But I am happy about the way the team and the city and the fans there have embraced me. It feel good to be back to see my old teammates and play in front of the New York fans again.”

That feeling obviously was not mutual.

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.

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