Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’
Nick Swisher must think he is still campaigning for the All-Star Game. Suffice it to say he is not resting on his first-half laurels now that the 2010 All-Star Game is history.
Swish was all over Friday night’s 5-4 victory over the Rays at Yankee Stadium in some ways good and in some ways not. At the end, however, he put a bright face on a game that began with somber tones and ended with pie-in-the-face exhilaration.
As a bow to the memory of Bob Sheppard, the only public address announcements were of the starting lineups and nothing else for the remainder of the game. That meant the noise would have to come from elsewhere, preferably to the sellout crowd of 47,524 here to honor Sheppard and George Steinbrenner from Yankees bats.
But it was pretty quiet out there for a while. Tampa Bay starter James Shields beat the Yankees May 20 to improve his record to 5-1. He was 2-8 with a 6.87 ERA since then but continued to give the Yankees trouble allowing only one run through five innings. Swisher knocked in the run with sharp single past Rays first baseman Carlos Pena in the third.
Tampa Bay nickeled and dimed its way to three runs off CC Sabathia, who had runners on base in six of his seven innings. An error by Swisher, who misplayed a fly ball in the sixth, proved inconsequential. Sabathia was never better than in the seventh after the Yankees had tied the score the previous inning on two-out, solo home runs by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
After B.J. Upton reached first on an infield hit, Carl Crawford singled to right. Swisher air-mailed his throw to third up the line missing the cutoff man along the way, and the Rays had runners at second and third with none out. The Yankees decided to walk Evan Longoria intentionally and take their chances with a force at each base. CC struck out Pena.
Upton’s speed allowed him to score on a grounder to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who wisely threw to first for the second out. Had he tried for Upton at the plate, A-Rod would have been late and lost the sure out. That would be it for the Rays as Kelly Stobbach grounded out.
One inning later, Swisher was in the middle of things again with a leadoff home run to tie the score. In the ninth, the Yankees got the potential winning run to second with one out. The moment seemed set up for Derek Jeter to be the hero, the same Jeter who represented the Yankees in a pre-game ceremony with a succinct speech about the qualities of both Steinbrenner and Sheppard. Jeter had a good at-bat against a tough reliever, Dan Wheeler, but he struck out.
Of course, you know who was up next. Swisher, naturally. The Rays turned to righthander Lance Cormier, who tried one too many sliders against Swisher, who singled off the third one to send home Curtis Granderson for the winner. It was somehow appropriate that Swisher was the hero, even though his time with the Yankees has been after the Boss’ direct involvement.
As manager Joe Girardi pointed out, “There were two things George Steinbrenner loved more than anything – his Yankees and his Buckeyes.”
So it was that Ohio-born and Ohio State University-educated Nick Swisher put the finishing touch on an important victory. On nights like this, the value of the game can seem diminished because attention appears to be focused on other things.
That was never the way George Steinbrenner saw it. He would have emphasized the final score. It means that Tampa Bay cannot leave town in first place in the American League East. We are past the All-Star Game and well out of the first half. The standings will now be studied closely every day. The Yankees won the sort of game Steinbrenner truly appreciated.
The boos directed at A.J. Burnett as he walked off the mound in the fourth inning came from fans who could taste first place. The Yankees had a chance to stand alone atop the American League East Wednesday night, but Burnett stood in the way.
Tampa Bay was losing in Atlanta, so a Yankees victory would have put them in first place by themselves. The Rays did lost, but so did the Yankees.
Burnett awakened the slumbering Philadelphia bats with an unsightly performance. In 3 1/3 innings, the righthander allowed six earned runs on six hits and four walks. Two of the hits were home runs, back-to-back solos in the third by Ryan Howard and Jason Werth. Burnett also hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, allowed two stolen bases and failed to cover first base on a ground ball that became a single in the fourth for Chase Utley, Burnett’s last batter.
“That sort of topped it off,” Burnett said. “We work on that play day after day in spring training. I just had a lapse. There is no excuse for it.”
“He didn’t have command of his fastball,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Burnett. “If you’re not locating your fastball, it puts you in a box.”
Proving once again that overpowering stuff is not the sole path to successful pitching, Jamie Moyer, 47, stifled the Yankees for eight innings, allowing solo home runs to Robinson Cano in the second and Jorge Posada in the fifth and an infield single to Kevin Russo in the eighth and nothing else to post career victory No. 265, one behind Hall of Famer Bob Feller.
Relievers Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin did their jobs, combining for 5 2/3 hitless innings to keep the Yankees in the game. The pair retired the Phillies’ last 16 batters in order. The Yankees even brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth against Brad Lidge, who ended the game with a strikeout of Posada.
It was the third consecutive poor outing for Burnett, a stretch during which he has yielded 16 earned runs and 20 hits, including six home runs, in 16 innings. That’s an ERA of 9.00 as his season ERA has climbed to 4.33.
Base runners have been stealing almost at will against Burnett this year. Two more Wednesday night raised the total to 19 in 14 games. The other Yankees starters have allowed only 13 steals in 50 games. One of the Phillies’ steals was the first of the year for Raul Ibanez, who turned 38 earlier this month. Another was by Utley on a pitchout, but Posada dropped the ball before throwing to second.
Moyer’s recent work aside from a complete-game victory over the Padres had not been much to write home about, either. The ageless lefty was 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA over his previous five starts. Facing the Yankees for the first time in five years back when he was with the Mariners, Moyer did his usual find-the-pea-under-the-shell act and had the majors’ best hitting team (.280) off-balance all night.
“He never throws the ball over the plate, but he hits his spots,” Derek Jeter said. “It shows you don’t have to throw hard. He makes you hit his pitch.”