Results tagged ‘ Roger Clemens ’
The Yankees opposed Rays lefthander Matt Moore Saturday, which was the fifth time in the past 40 seasons that they have faced a pitcher with a season record of 8-0 or better. They won each of the past two such games: June 3, 2007 at Fenway Park, 6-5, over the Red Sox and Josh Beckett, who entered the game 8-0 and got a no-decision, and July 14, 2006 at Yankee Stadium, 6-5, over the White Sox and Jose Contreras, who came into the game at 9-0 and absorbed his first loss.
The other two times were June 1, 1994 at the Stadium, 5-4, to the White Sox and Wilson Alvarez, who entered 8-0 and got a no-decision, and June 16, 1986 at the Stadium, 10-1, to the Red Sox and Roger Clemens, the winning pitcher whose record went to 12-0.
The Yankees recalled outfielder Brennan Boesch from Triple A Scranton Saturday to replace Curtis Granderson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured left pinky as the result of being hit by a pitch in Friday night’s 9-4 victory over the Rays. Boesch hit .179 with a double and two RBI in seven games and 28 at-bats after being optioned there May 13.
In Friday night’s victory, each of the Yankees last four batters in the lineup (David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart) had two hits and scored at least one run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the starting 6-7-8-9 hitters for the Yankees each had multiple hits and at least one run in the same game since Aug. 6, 2009, a 13-6 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The 6-through-9 hitters in that game were Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera.
Through five innings Saturday, Phil Hughes had thrown 86 pitches. I thought here’s another situation in which the righthander cannot moderate his pitch count and that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would have to get his bullpen in gear early.
But lo and behold, Hughes got more efficient with his pitches and came up with three straight 1-2-3 innings to be in good position to get his first winning decision of the season. Phil certainly earned it with eight shutout innings in which he allowed four hits and two walks with a season-high nine strikeouts.
Things got a bit hairy in the ninth when Shawn Kelley gave up a leadoff single, and Girardi did not hesitate to call on Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation. Mo gave up a walk and a hit with a couple of runs scoring, but the 4-2 Yankees final gave Hughes that long-awaited first victory of the season.
“I knew my pitch count was pretty high the first five innings,” Hughes said. “It all starts with the fastball. I got more aggressive with it on both sides of the plate and then I could mix in off-speed stuff.”
Hughes’ 117-pitch effort included an unusually high number of strikes – 82 – and marked his fourth consecutive outing of six or more innings in which he allowed two or fewer runs. He has held opponents to a .223 batting average in that stretch. Over those starts, Hughes had brought his ERA down from 10.29 to 3.60. “I feel like I’m clicking now,” he said.
For the second straight outing at Yankee Stadium, Hughes kept the ball in the yard, something he had not done before his previous start since last August. The long ball will always be a nemesis for Hughes, a fly-ball pitcher (10 of his 24 outs Saturday were in the air), but it is worth noting that all five homers he has allowed this year have come with the bases empty.
Ichiro Suzuki saved Hughes from yielding a home run to the first batter of the game, catcher John Jaso, with a fence-climbing catch in right field. A couple of other drives reached the warning track but stayed out of the stands.
“The consistency of his pitches every inning” was Girardi’s explanation for the turnaround in Hughes since his first two poor starts to open the season. “He mixed in all his stuff the second and third time through the order.”
Hughes’ offensive support came mainly from the bottom of the order – home runs from 9-hole hitter Chris Stewart in the third and 7-hole hitter Lyle Overbay in the fifth off Athletics starter Bartolo Colon and a triple by 8-hole hitter Eduardo Nunez, who scored on a two-out single by Brett Gardner in the seventh. The other run came from cleanup hitter Travis Hafner with a single in the sixth that scored Robinson Cano, who had doubled to lead off the inning against Colon.
That double was career No. 344 for Cano, who broke a tie with Hall of Famers Bill Dickey and Mickey Mantle to take over eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Colon, who was 8-10 for the Yankees in 2011, lost for the first time in four decisions this year despite another good outing (three runs, six hits, no walks, three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings). A control freak of a power pitcher, Colon has tossed 37 1/3 innings in 2013 and walked one batter.
The Yankees are 28-9 in games immediately following shutout losses since the start of the 2008 season (all under Girardi) with victories in both cases this year and 11 of the past 13. . .Hughes, with a 1.93 ERA and 30 strikeouts over his past four starts covering 28 innings, became the first right-handed starter for the Yankees to pitch at least eight shutout innings and strike out at least nine batters in a game since Mike Mussina Sept. 14, 2004 at Kansas City and the first to do so at the Stadium since Roger Clemens June 18, 2003 against the Rays. . .Hafner has at least one RBI in nine of the Yankees’ 10 series this season. . .Stewart entered 2013 with four homers in 351 career at-bats. He has two in 40 at-bats this season. . .Rivera’s 1,064th career appearance tied him with Dan Plesac for sixth place on the all-time games list. . .The Yankees are 17-2 when holding opponents to four or fewer runs and 16-3 when scoring four or more runs.
From the when-will-they-ever-learn department: Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda reached with his pitching hand to try to snare a line drive up the middle by Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino in the second inning. The ball skimmed off Kuroda’s fingertips and into center field for a single.
Kuroda was examined by trainer Steve Donohue but remained in the game – temporarily. The righthander walked one batter and hit two others with pitches over the next four batters. After the second hit-by-pitch, to designated hitter Daniel Nava, that forced in Boston’s second run, Yanks manager Joe Girardi decided to remove Kuroda. Cody Eppley did an efficient job of keeping the damage to a minimum by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground into an inning-double play.
Pitchers are warned constantly about the dangers of trying to catch a ball with their bare hand, but most cannot help themselves because it is an instinctual maneuver. The risk of a serious injury to their pitching hand is not worth attempting such a play. Roger Clemens was frequently guilty of this, but using one of the game’s freaks of nature as an example is unwise thinking.
As the start of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and the Orioles being delayed for the second straight day suggests, weather more and more plays a factor in baseball’s postseason. Remember last year’s rainout of Game 1 of the Yankees-Tigers ALDS wiped out the start for pitchers CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.
It is a sign of the times. Not to get overly nostalgic, but consider this. Monday marked the 56th anniversary of Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees against the Dodgers in the World Series at Yankee Stadium. The momentous event occurred in Game 5. That same date Oct. 8 this year was for Game 2 of the ALDS.
The 1956 World Series ended with a Yankees victory at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field Oct. 10. If the World Series goes the distance in 2012, the date of Game 7 will be Nov. 1. The weather can only get worse as the postseason continues to expand.
The Yankees’ five runs in the ninth inning in Game 1 at Camden Yards marked the fourth time they scored that many runs in the ninth inning of a postseason game. All the other times were also on the road. They scored seven runs in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1936 World Series against the Giants at the Polo Grounds and six runs apiece in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ’36 Series and in Game 4 of the 1999 AL Championship Series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
At 40 years, 3 months, 24 days, Andy Pettitte was the fourth oldest pitcher to start a postseason game for the Yankees. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Yankees pitchers who were older than Pettitte were Roger Clemens (45 in 2007), Randy Johnson (43 in 2006) and David Wells (40 years, 4 months in October 2003). Wells was only a week younger than Pettitte.
Monday night’s Game 2 assignment was Pettitte’s 43rd postseason start. The total for the entire Baltimore staff was 10. It was also Pettitte’s 16th start in Game 2 of a postseason series, the most in history. Tom Glavine is second with 11.
Pitcher Dellin Betances was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list in order to participate in Arizona Fall League. To make room on 40-man roster, pitcher Cory Wade was designated for assignment.
Much has been made of the awful start Albert Pujols got off to in the American League this year. The Yankees would have loved if his troubles had continued while they are on the west coast, but the three-time National League Most Valuable Player started heating up a couple of weeks and has kept it up against the Yankees.
Pujols even victimized Andy Pettitte Tuesday night, which was a career first. They are familiar with each other from their time together in the NL when Pujols was with the Cardinals and Andy pitched for three seasons with the Astros. They have also opposed each other in inter-league and post-season situations.
All told, Pettitte had faced Pujols 32 times, including a first-inning at-bat Tuesday night at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, without hitting a home run. Pettitte had held Pujols to a .207 average with three walks. All that ended in the third inning when Pujols, facing Pettitte in a game for the first time in five years, drove a 1-0 cut fastball deep to left field for his eighth home run of the season.
That homer meant that Pettitte’s former teammate, Roger Clemens, remains the pitcher against whom Pujols has the most career at-bats (35) without taking him deep.
Pujols’ first homer off Pettitte was a two-run blow in a three-run inning that also included an RBI triple by Mike Trout, who is having a terrific series. Trout homered and scored two runs in the Halos’ 9-8 victory Monday night and continued pestering the Yankees both offensively and defensively in the middle game of the series, a 5-1 Angels victory, their eighth straight as they went over .500 (26-25) for the first time since they won the season opener.
Trout, all of 20, made a sensational, leaping catch in left field to rob Nick Swisher of a home run in the second inning. It was that kind of night for Swish, who was robbed of another extra-base hit leading off the seventh on a wall-crashing grab by center fielder Peter Bourjos. Swisher did drive in the Yankees’ run in the fourth when he singled home Raul Ibanez, who had doubled.
Pettitte pitched into the eighth inning for his third straight start. He came out of the game that inning after Pujols reached him for a leadoff single. Mark Trumbo, who won Monday night’s game with a walk-off home run, also homered off Pettitte in the sixth and was the batter after Pujols, so manager Joe Girardi made the move to the bullpen.
Pujols eventually scored on a one-out single by Howie Kendrick off Cody Eppley. As late as May 14, Pujols was still batting under .200 at .197, but in 60 at-bats since then Phat Albert has batted .333 with two doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBI to raise his average 41 points to .238.
It was a gritty outing by Pettitte, but he was bested by Dan Haren, who also pitched one batter into the eighth. His best moment came in the third when he struck out Robinson Cano looking with the bases loaded.
Cano got a second chance in the ninth when the Yankees again had the bags full with two out against hard-throwing Ernesto Frieri, who walked two batters and hit one. Cano struck out once more, this time swinging.
The Yankees problems in those situations are well documented. They are hitless in their past 15 at-bats with the bases loaded and have merely one hit in their past 34 plate appearances with the bags juiced.
The disease of ineffectiveness that has infected the Yankees’ rotation all season finally hit on Ivan Nova. The righthander’s 15-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt Wednesday night as the Orioles won the rubber game of the series, 5-0.
Nova did his usual dance act for six innings by allowing a couple of runs but preventing really big innings by limiting Baltimore hitters to two hits in 11 at-bats (.182) with runners in scoring position. His luck ran out in the seventh inning, however, as the Orioles poured across three runs to pull away.
After Nick Markakis led off with a home run to right, Nova hit Adam Jones with a pitch and moments later watched him score on a double off the top of the fence in right-center by Matt Wieters, who had homered earlier. Nick Johnson’s single up the middle off reliever Clay Rapada brought in the third run of the inning.
Nova, whose record fell to 3-1 and ERA rose to 5.58, had a little bit of everything in this one. He allowed five earned runs and nine hits, struck a batter and threw a wild pitch in 6 1/3 innings. The loss was his first since June 3, 2011 and kept intact Roger Clemens’ franchise record of 16 consecutive victories in 2001.
The loss also dipped the rotation’s winning percentage below .500 for the first time this year at 9-10 with a 5.89 ERA. Yankees starters have allowed 161 hits, including 25 home runs, in 133 innings. A lot of those numbers belong to Freddy Garcia, who made his first relief appearance of the season in the eighth and ninth innings and perhaps for the first time all year was the Yankees’ most effective pitcher in a game.
The Yankees’ offense could not rescue Nova this time as they were shut down by Orioles righthander Jake Arietta, who had allowed nine runs in 10 innings over his previous two starts. The Yankees managed five singles off Arietta, who walked none and struck out nine in eight innings. They were limited to three runs in 26 innings against Baltimore pitchers in the series. The Yankees had only five runners in scoring position in the three games, none in the finale.
Already hurting with Brett Gardner disabled because of a bruised right wrist and Nick Swisher nursing a tender left hamstring, the Yankees lost infielder Eric Chavez to whiplash and a possible concussion. He was forced from the game amid an at-bat in the fifth inning because of dizziness. In the top of that inning, Chavez at third base dived for a ball that became a double by J.J. Hardy and may have injured his neck.
The Orioles gave the Yankees a collective pain in the neck, which will need some soothing in the upcoming series in Kansas City.
Yankees fans of a certain age may remember where they were on the afternoon of April 7, 1992. I know it was 20 years ago, but think about it. I recall where I was that day, at Yankee Stadium for Opening Day the season after the Yankees lost 91 games and replaced their manager, Stump Merrill, with the previous year’s third base coach, a former minor-league designated hitter and manager by the name of William Nathaniel Showalter, known by family and friends as Nat and within baseball as Buck.
Not much was expected of the Yankees that season, and indeed they finished a mediocre 76-86. But they beat the Red Sox and Roger Clemens that day, 4-3, before a crowd of 56,572 with the final out recorded by Steve Farr on a foul pop by Jody Reed. It was Showalter’s first victory as a major-league manager and the beginning of a startling six-game winning streak. Not too many managers are 6-0 before they lose a game.
I was reminded of just how long ago that was Tuesday night when the same Buck Showalter was back in the Bronx at the helm of the Orioles and earned his 1,000th big-league victory, this time at the expense of the Yankees, 7-1. Particularly satisfying for Buck was that his pitcher, hard-luck Brian Matusz, ended a 12-game losing streak with his first winning decision in 11 months.
“I’m kind of embarrassed,” Buck said afterwards. “It’s all about the players. But I’d be lying to say that it wasn’t emotional. Not a day goes by in this game that doesn’t tug at your emotions.”
Showalter enjoyed winning seasons with the Yankees in 1993, ’94 and ’95, earning American League Manager of the Year honors in the middle season that might have landed them in the World Series had the event not been canceled by commissioner Bud Selig because of a strike. The Yankees did make the playoffs in 1995 but lost to the Mariners in a tightly-played Division Series, the first of its kind in the new alignment.
After turning down a two-year contract extension, Showalter left the Yankees and was succeeded by Joe Torre, who took the Yankees to 10 division crowns, six pennants and four World Series titles in 12 years. Showalter moved on to Arizona as the expansion Diamondbacks first manager and then to Texas where he earned a second AL Manager of the Year Award in 2004. In between job, he manned the desk on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight programs.
Showalter may have missed out on the Yankees’ glory years, but this was a glorious night for him and his team, which is 15-9 and challenging for the top spot in the AL East.
“The significance is more about this being a game we wanted to win and get close to doing something this year that will be great for our fans in Baltimore, a great baseball town,” he said. “I am appreciative that Mr. [George] Steinbrenner gave me my first opportunity to manage in the big leagues. I’ll never forget that.”
Beyond a titanic home run by Curtis Granderson, it was not much of a night for the Yankees, who got another lackluster start from Phil Hughes, who pitched into the sixth but gave up four runs, so his ERA came down only slightly, from 7.88 to 7.48, with his record falling to 1-4.
Roger Clemens did it frequently, which used to make his managers and pitching coaches cringe. The Rocket had a nasty habit of reaching with his bare, pitching hand for hard-hit balls back to the mound. Despite urgings to resist, Clemens found it difficult to refrain from trying to make a fielding play against a batted ball he felt could do damage.
It is an instinctive move, of course, and CC Sabathia was guilty of the same thing in the second inning Wednesday night at Baltimore. It proved costly, although not from a physical standpoint, which is the chief reason managers and pitching coaches caution against such a maneuver. They do not want pitchers to damage their hands fielding balls without the protection of a glove.
Sabathia was able to continue pitching after he tied to make a bare-handed play on a chopper by the Orioles’ Ronny Paulino, so the physical effect was nothing more than some stinging fingers. More damaging to the Yankees was that CC’s ill-advised move may have cost them a chance to turn a double play and get out of the inning unscathed.
Paulino was batting with one out and runners on first and second. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano was shading the right-handed hitting Paulino toward second base and was in position to make a play if Sabathia had not touched the ball and slowed it up to the point that the Yankees could not make a play at all as the Orioles loaded the bases.
Sabathia recovered momentarily to strike out Wilson Betemit on a slider in the dirt before he went to a full count against Robert Andino, who singled to center for two runs that tied the score. The Yankees had staked CC to a 2-0 lead in the first on Curtis Granderson’s first home run this year that also scored Derek Jeter, who led off with a double, marking the fifth time in the first six games that he opened the game with a hit.
Also by losing the out(s) he might have gotten on the Paulino ball, Sabathia was forced to throw more pitches that shot his count up to 53. On a night after the Yankees used six relievers to pitch 7 1/3 innings in a 12-inning victory, manager Joe Girardi had a thin bullpen with starter Phil Hughes in place for use on his throw day if needed.
Moral of the story: keep your hands to your sides, CC.
A year ago, no one with the Yankees or anywhere else could have convinced Andy Pettitte to keep on pitching. He was certain following an injury-disturbed second half of the 2010 season that it was time to hang up his glove and spikes.
The Yankees were hoping against hope that Pettitte would think it over, particularly after Cliff Lee rejected their seven-year, free-agent offer and signed instead with the Phillies. This left a gaping hole in the rotation, one that the fit Pettitte would have easily filled.
But no. Family came first, an honorable position. Andy wanted to go home to Deer Park, Texas, for good and watch his children grow up. The Yankees would have to make do with aging cast-offs Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to fill the gap in the starting unit.
There would be no turnaround for Pettitte that might have mirrored pal Roger Clemens’ famous about-face when he retired from the Yankees after the 2003 World Series only to rejoin his left-handed partner in Houston where Andy landed after filing for free agency. For their part, Garcia and Colon accomplished more than anything the Yankees expected last year, but any chance that Pettitte could change his mind remained in the Yankees’ thinking.
The decision announced Thursday by Pettitte that he would accept a minor-league deal from the Yankees for non-guaranteed money of $2.5 million came as a shock to most Yankees fans (it certainly did me), but there have been indications that the big lefty was leaning in that direction for some time.
Pettitte was essentially fighting his emotions. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed that he had discussed a contract with Pettitte last December. Still no go was Andy’s reply. But when he put that uniform on again last month as a spring-training instructor, well, he was a goner.
Back up close to the game, Pettitte’s competitive instincts were aroused. It is a big step for him but a relatively small risk for the Yankees. For them, it is completely a win-win situation. There is no doubt that Pettitte is still in outstanding physical shape. Now he needs the time to get back into pitching shape.
The timetable for a Pettitte return would likely be early May, by which time the Yankees could use a boost in the rotation. Let’s face it; every year something happens that makes a club wish it had someone of Pettitte’s caliber in reserve. Take last season, for example, when Phil Hughes’ arm went soft, and Colon helped save the first half for the Yankees.
Make no mistake; what Pettitte is attempting is not easy. Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg may be the best example of what taking a year away from the game can do. Due to personal reasons, Ryno sat out the 1995 season after 14 years with the Cubs and returned in 1996 at age 36 to bat .244 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI, surprisingly good numbers for a player who had been away from the game for a whole season. But an off year in ’97 (12 homers and 64 RBI in 447 at-bats) was a signal to him that he was no longer the same player and he retired.
It was not uncommon during World War II for players to un-retire and return to the major-league rosters decimated by the draft, the most notable of whom was Hall of Fame first baseman Jimmie Foxx, who was little more than a glorified pinch hitter for the Cubs and Phillies.
Yogi Berra tried to come back as a player with the Mets in 1965, the year after he had managed the Yankees into the World Series and was fired after they lost to the Cardinals. Yogi admitted to manager Casey Stengel that he could not catch up with the fastball anymore and retired after four games and nine at-bats to become the Mets’ full-time first base coach.
What Yankees fans remember is that the last time they saw Pettitte he was still effective at getting out batters. His problem was trying to avoid groin and back flare-ups that are part of the aging process. One of the most popular players in recent Yankees history will try to reverse that process, and it will be fun for the rest of us to see if he can do 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.