Results tagged ‘ Terry Collins ’
The first inning Friday night at Citi Field was a stunning development for Andy Pettitte, who allowed five runs, which was the total he had yielded in his previous two starts covering 13 innings. Both were no-decisions, by the way, which Andy might have settled for again if the Yankees could get back in the game.
The five spot in the first put the Yankees in a decided hole and not surprisingly all the runs were scored after two were out. This has been a Mets specialty this season. They lead the majors in two-out runs. Their first-inning uprising brought the season total of two-out runs to 155.
The Mets had the bases loaded with one out, but it looked like Pettitte would work out of danger when he got Lucas Duda on a fly to shallow center. Justin Turner turned back a 1-2 sinker for a single through the middle that scored two runs. The real killer blow came on the next pitch, a hanging slider on Pettitte’s first delivery to Ike Davis, who popped a three-run home run to right field.
That was a crusher for Pettitte, who allowed insult to injury by later in the inning giving up a single to opposing pitcher Jonathan Niese, although Pettitte would return the favor the next inning.
Two weekends ago when the Yankees were out-homering the Mets, 8-2, in the Bombers’ sweep of the first round of the Subway Series, a lot of people around the Mets complained about the cheapness of home runs to right field at Yankee Stadium. Well, the homer by Davis was just as much a bargain-basement job.
In fact, the ball was almost caught by Nick Swisher. The right fielder leaped at the wall near the 330-foot mark for the ball that hit against the thumb of his glove and fell over the fence when his glove hand made contact with the top of the wall. So who’s talking cheap now?
Davis, who has shown recent signs of coming out of a season-long slump, was hitting only .121 at Citi Field this year before that at-bat but over his past 12 games overall has hit .382 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 34 at-bats. As horrid as Davis has been this year, his 36 RBI are only three behind David Wright, who is hitting over .350.
It was also Davis’ first career at-bat against Pettitte, who was retired last year. Davis broke into the majors in 2010 but did not face Pettitte. Mets manager Terry Collins loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters against the lefty Pettitte except for Davis, Duda and, of course, Niese. Andy caught a break with Jason Bay on the disabled list because of a concussion. Bay is a .400 hitter in 35 career at-bats against Pettitte.
Before the series, Collins said Citi Field would play different from Yankee Stadium as far as home runs were concerned. That was probably wishful thinking. Citi Field was an airline hangar for three seasons before the Mets got wise and brought in the fences the past offseason to make the yard fairer to hitters. It is by no means a bandbox, but the Yankees have proved they can hit home runs anywhere.
This was demonstrated by Alex Rodriguez, who got the Yankees on the board in the sixth by driving a 1-1 cutter into the Big Apple well over the 408-foot mark in straightaway center for his 12th home run of the season and career No. 641.
Leading off the seventh, Andruw Jones, who gave the Mets fits for years in his heyday with the Braves, launched his seventh home run into the left field stands beyond the old dimensions. Jones also made one of the fielding gems of the night, a diving catch in left field in the seventh that became a double play as Wright, who had doubled in a run, kept running and was forced out at second.
Pettitte was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh after having settled in nicely after the first-inning debacle. He pitched five scoreless innings after that with only two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts.
The combination of quality pitching and the long ball continued to be a winning formula for the Yankees as they won a 3-2 squeaker from the Braves Wednesday night to complete their second straight inter-league series sweep. The Yankees are 7-2 in inter-league play this year and have a three-game set this weekend in Washington, D.C. How good are the Yankees going? They don’t have to deal with the Nationals’ Steven Strasburg, who won Wednesday to go to 8-1 and will not pitch again until Monday, by which time the Yankees will be back in the Bronx.
Hiroki Kuroda kept telling everybody that there was no lingering problem with his left ankle, which was smashed by a Scott Hairston liner in his previous start, and he showed that he was right. He gave the Yankees six solid innings with eight strikeouts. His only hiccup was yielding a two-run home run to Brian McCann in the fifth that gave Atlanta the lead briefly – very briefly.
The next inning, Curtis Granderson negated McCann’s blow with a two-run shot of his own off losing pitcher Tim Hudson. That was the 19th home run of the season for the center fielder that had 41 jacks last year yet still keeps saying that he is not a home run hitter.
Kuroda was at his best pitching with runners on base. Over the first four innings, the Braves stranded seven base runners – five in scoring position – as they managed one hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, and that was a weird bunt single that loaded the bases with the pitcher due up next. Atlanta left ducks on the pound throughout the night, with 13 left on base as the Bravos had 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position.
Kuroda took the mound with a 1-0 lead, thanks to an RBI single by Tuesday night hero Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees are 17-0 in games when A-Rod drives in at least one run. Over the course of the 3-hour, 36-minute game, no more than one run separated the clubs, so the pitchers were under circumstances throughout.
Boone Logan walked two batters in the seventh inning but worked out of the jam by getting Jason Heyward on a fielder’s choice and Eric Hinske on a fly to center. The Braves got two singles off Cody Eppley with one down in the eighth, but he shut the door by getting Martin Prado to ground into a double play.
Atlanta got the potential tying run on base in the ninth off Rafael Soriano on Chipper Jones’ two-out single, but the righthander earned his 11th save by retiring Heyward on an infield pop.
During the Subway Series, managers Joe Girardi of the Yankees and Terry Collins of the Mets both said they would be fans of the other team once they were finished playing the other because of how the schedule fell this week. Collins was delighted to see the Yankees sweep the National League East rival Braves while Girardi loved the Mets beating up on his American League East rival Rays the past two nights.
Because of that, the Yankees remained in first place for two straight days for the first time this season. It is a good feeling.
The Yankees were reminded of life without Mariano Rivera Sunday. Rafael Soriano, who is filling in for Mo as the Yankees’ closer while the best ever at that job prepares for right knee surgery this week, suffered his first blown save. Soriano, who was 9-for-9 in save opportunities, failed to protect a 4-3 lead over the Mets that had been hard-earned by the Yankees with a pair of late-inning rallies.
Doubles by Lucas Duda and Ike Davis tied the score, but Jayson Nix and Boone Logan teamed to prevent the Mets from going ahead. The game was not deadlocked for long. Russell Martin, whose bat has awakened this month, completed the Yankees’ sweep with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off Jon Rauch.
It was the second homer of the game for Martin, who had 7-for-19 (.368) with four home runs and eight RBI in 19 at-bats on the homestand. Over his past 12 games since May 25, Martin has hit .342 with four doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI in raising his season average from .173 to .216.
The workmanlike effort of Andy Pettitte aside, Sunday was looking like the Mets’ day in the finale of the Subway Series. A glaring error by Robinson Cano helped fuel a three-run rally for the Mets in the second inning, and those runs were holding up behind the equally strong work of Mets starter Jonathan Niese.
The Yankees were hitless in five at-bats and grounded into three double plays until they finally broke through with two out in the seventh. An errant throw by third baseman David Wright was just enough of an opening.
In the Mets dugout, manager Terry Collins recalled saying to himself, “This isn’t good, not here.”
Here, of course, is Yankee Stadium where a home run is sometimes only a routine fly ball away, such as the one Martin hit immediately after the error. The ball went over the glove of right fielder Scott Hairston, hit the very top of the fence and fell into the hands of a fan in the first row.
By that slimmest of margins, the Yankees were back in the game, thanks to two unearned runs. Pettitte had pitched to the minimum number of batters from the third through the sixth to keep the Yankees within reach. A scoreless inning apiece from Clay Rapada and Cory Wade put the Yankees in position to come back. The Mets’ bullpen was not as effective.
Again, it was a Mets error that got them in trouble as the Yankees struck for two runs off Bobby Parnell in the eighth to take the lead. Shortstop Omar Quintanilla failed to glove a slow roller by Derek Jeter, who was credited with a single but hustled into second base on the misplay.
Curtis Granderson, who had homered off Parnell Saturday night, drilled a tracer of a single to left, a ball struck so hard that Jeter was held at third base by coach Rob Thompson. It proved a momentary pause. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground single to center that scored Jeter with the tying run. The go-ahead run came in on a flare single to right by Alex Rodriguez. That was his 1,918th career run batted in, putting him in seventh place on the all-time list.
“I’ve said all along that we are not a team that can afford to make mistakes,” Collins said, “not against good teams like the New York Yankees.”
The Yankees could have used some more runs, but lefthander Tim Byrdak got Cano on a fielder’s choice and Nick Swisher on a fly to right before Rauch struck out pinch hitter Raul Ibanez.
The Mets probably felt the same away about the ninth. Instead of sacrificing Davis to third, Collins allowed Quintanilla to swing away, an option he allows hitters in that spot because the object is to get the runner at second to third, so any ball hit to the right side will do. Quintanilla did not pull the ball, however, but hit a grounder to the left of the mound that Nix, spelling Jeter at shortstop, gloved and then threw to third base to nail Davis, not a swift runner.
“I’m never surprised when Nix makes a heads-up play,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You see him every day working out at third base, shortstop, second base, left field. I haven’t used him in right field yet, but who knows? We’re going to two National League cities on this trip.”
After Daniel Murphy singled Quintanilla to third, Girardi decided to lift Soriano for Logan, who got a big strikeout of pinch hitter Josh Thole looking and got Kirk Neuwenhuis on a grounder to second.
“It has to come from different players every day,” Girardi said about contributions from players. “It comes from different guys in different ways.”
The various contributions made it a very satisfying weekend for the Yankees, who won New York bragging rights and earned a huge boost in confidence as they veer into the unfamiliar NL territories of Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Johnny Vander Meer’s record of consecutive no-hitters in 1938 remains intact. Mets lefthander Johan Santana in his first start since his historic no-hitter seven days ago at Citi Field was quite the contrary Friday night at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees proved he was very hittable to open the Subway Series with a 9-1 victory.
They flat out teed off against Santana, who last week ended a 51-season drought of no-hitters in the Mets’ history. Robinson Cano ended Santana’s bid for a back-to-back no-hitter by following a leadoff walk to Alex Rodriguez with a two-run home run off a first-pitch fastball. But that was nothing compared to what happened the next inning to Santana, who had a scoreless string of 19 innings ended.
Once again with A-Rod on first base, this time after a two-out single, Cano jumped on the first pitch, a hanging slider, and smoked another home run. Two bombs and four RBI on two swings of the bat from the Yankees’ second baseman. The barrage continued when Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones also connected with long home runs to left field.
It was the first case of back-to-back-to-back home runs for the Yankees since the same three players connected in order in the second inning of the night game of a split-admission doubleheader Aug. 28 last year at Baltimore. It was the first time Santana gave up three homers in a row and the fourth time he allowed four homers in a game.
It was Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda who flirted with a no-hitter over the first five innings instead of Santana. Kuroda was perfect until one out into the fourth when Derek Jeter botched a grounder by Josh Thole for an error. Kuroda erased that blemish by getting David Wright to ground into a double play. Wright’s bat shattered in such a manner that the top half of the bat landed just to the right of Rodriguez as he was fielding the grounder, which made the play all that much more difficult.
Kuroda had still pitched to the minimum number of batters two outs into the sixth when his no-hit big came to an end as shortstop Omar Quintanilla, the 9-hole hitter, drove a liner to left-center for a two-out double. The sellout crowd of 48,566 accorded Kuroda an appreciative ovation, and he reciprocated by retiring Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a grounder to first base.
Quintanilla’s hit was the only one off Kuroda, whose final out looked like a hockey kick save. Daniel Murphy’s liner to the mound struck Kuroda on the left ankle, shot into the air towards third base and was gloved by Rodriguez for a painful out. Kuroda came out of the game, which was the bad news. The good news was that x-rays were negative, the only thing negative about the night for Kuroda.
With the seven-inning, one-hitter, Kuroda over his past three starts is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and has lowered his season ERA from 4.56 to 3.46. The righthander has allowed two earned runs, 12 hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts in 22 innings.
The Yankees even had some hits with runners in scoring position – a ground-rule double by Swisher and a single by Jones in the three-run seventh. The Mets didn’t get on the board until two outs in the ninth on a double by Lucas Duda, only their second hit.
Santana was done after five innings – real done – with six earned runs, seven hits (including four home runs) and one walk with five strikeouts. What a difference a week makes. Mets manager Terry Collins blamed himself for giving Santana two extra days’ rest out of concern for the 134-pitch workload in the no-hitter for a pitcher in the season after serious shoulder surgery.
“We erred on the side of caution, and it cost us a game,” Collins said. “He wasn’t as sharp after the layoff. He left a lot of pitches up, especially the two to Cano.”
But it wasn’t so much about Santana’s failure as it was about Kuroda’s success. While with the Dodgers, Kuroda had problems against the Mets (1-5, 5.75 ERA). The only problem Friday night was being forced out of the game. “Absolutely,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said when asked if Kuroda would have come out for the eighth inning if not for the ankle injury.
“He had great command of his slider and curve and moved his fastball up and down,” Girardi said. “In short, he pitched.”
As successful as he has been in his career against the Mets, Derek Jeter might be expected to prefer playing them more than less. What is even weirder is that Jeter would rather not play them during the regular season at all. The World Series? Well, that’s all well and good to the Captain, but he made it clear Friday night before the 16th version of the Subway Series that he is not a fan of inter-league play.
“I’d rather not play the National League teams during the season,” Jeter said. “When I came up, you didn’t play the other league until you got to the World Series. I understand that [inter-league play] is great for the fans, but I kind of like it the other way.”
If not for inter-league play, however, DJ wouldn’t have such gaudy numbers against the Mets or the rest of the NL for that matter. After all, Jeter entered Friday night’s game with the most hits (328) and runs (185) of any player in inter-league competition.
Against the Mets specifically, Jeter is a .381 hitter in 320 at-bats, the highest average by a player with a minimum of 150 at-bats against them (second at .380 in 300 at-bats is Rico Carty). And that does not include what Jeter did against the Mets in their only real Subway Series, the 2000 World Series when the shortstop hit .409 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, two RBI and six runs and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Series.
Jeter took a 25-game home hitting streak against the Mets into the game, dating to June 28, 2003 with 26 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 15 RBI and six walks while batting .481 in 106 at-bats. DJ was also a career .455 hitter in 33 at-bats against Johan “No-Hit” Santana.
Attendance figures this weekend at the Stadium and two weeks from now at Citi Field will likely confirm that the Subway Series is popular with New York’s baseball fans. However, the glow has disappeared for many of the participants. When inter-league play began in 1997, the Yankees and Mets played three games at Yankee Stadium. In 1998, they had a three-game series at Shea Stadium. Since 1999, they have played six games against each other, three in the Bronx and three in Flushing. A feeling within both clubhouses is that two series a year is one too many.
There have been discussions already about the schedule in 2013 when the Astros will move from the NL Central to the American League West that will make it more balanced. The geographical rivalries will remain but to become more balanced one series rather than two would better serve that purpose.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has talked a lot recently about a more balanced schedule. It bothers him that teams fighting for the same prize may not have the same opponents for a significant number of games. For example, this year the Yankees’ inter-league opponents – Reds, Mets, Braves, Nationals – features two current division leaders (Cincinnati and Washington) and have a combined winning percentage of .562 (127-99), the highest for any AL team. The Yanks’ inter-league schedule is so bizarre this season that they play two NL East teams, the Mets and the Braves, in two series but do not play the Phillies or Marlins at all.
Girardi and his Mets counterpart, Terry Collins, both said they would prefer the annual Subway Series be a three-game rather than a six-game series.
“That way there would be a sure winner of the series every year,” Girardi said.
“You know the Yankees are going to have a strong lineup every year,” Collins said, “so three instead of six games is fine with me.”
But all that is at least a year away, indeed if there is a change. For now, the Subway Series is a home-and-away affair.
“I know the fans love it,” Jeter said. “You can feel their intensity. There’s a lot of energy in the stadium. It’s similar to when we play Boston.”
With six shutout innings for the Yankees in their 5-2 victory over the Mets Saturday at Citi Field, Bartolo Colon continued his remarkable comeback story that had been interrupted with a three-week stint on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had hoped to get an 80-pitch effort from Colon, who had precisely that total, and for all but one of those innings Colon was locked in a scoreless duel with Mets rookie Dillon Gee.
The only threat against Colon came in the fifth when the Mets loaded the bases with one out on three consecutive singles. That brought Gee to the plate. In a similar situation in the sixth inning Friday night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi lifted his pitcher for pinch hitter Jorge Posada. Mets manager Terry Collins decided to let Gee bat rather than try to break the game open at that point.
The Yankees and Colon should be grateful. Gee held his own in a seven-pitch at-bat before hitting a high, one-hopper that Alex Rodriguez gloved near third base, stepped on the bag and threw to first to complete a rally-killing double play.
Okay, so maybe it was too early in the game to pinch-hit for a pitcher who was throwing a shutout, but another piece of strategy would have been to instruct Gee not to swing the bat at all. With that thought in mind, the worst thing that can happen is a strikeout, which is only one out.
That’s where the departure of National League Most Valuable Player candidate Jose Reyes, who left the game in the third inning because of a tight left hamstring, helped the Yankees. Gee might not have been swinging the bat at all if Reyes was the on-deck hitter.
Nevertheless, Gee’s at-bat was a turning point. He had been pitching a gem matching Colon and then suddenly everything fell apart. When it came to breaking open the game, the Yankees took charge the inning immediately after Gee’s at-bat.
Curtis Granderson’s 22nd home run got the Yankees on the board, and they on three more runs on singles by Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez, a two-run triple by Robinson Cano and a sacrifice fly by Nick Swisher. Eduardo Nunez completed a 3-for-4 game with a homer in the eighth. Nunez has 7-for-8 in the series and is putting himself more in the Yankees’ picture with every game.
Colon could also be grateful that the Mets never attempted a single bunt against him. I mean, why not? Here was a 38-year-old, stocky pitcher off a hamstring injury in his first start in three weeks, and nobody on the Mets thought it would be a good idea to lay one down here and there to test Colon’s agility.
Jason Bay came closest with a full-swing trickle of a grounder for a single that started the rally in the fifth. Colon barely moved in attempting to field the ball, so it was clear the pitcher was not going to risk re-injury. I don’t blame him, but if I’m in the other dugout I’m thinking of taking advantage of that.
It might have been the only strategy that had a chance to work.
Before the game, Alex Rodriguez paid Mets shortstop Jose Reyes a major compliment. During the game, Reyes tried to live up to it but ended up making a big out on the bases in the seventh inning as the Yankees were clinging to a 3-1 lead.
“They have the world’s greatest player playing shortstop over there, and the most exciting,” A-Rod said in reference to Reyes, who entered the game leading the National League in batting, runs, hits and triples. “I turn on the TV every time I get a chance to watch him.”
Rodriguez got a close-up view of the speedy leadoff hitter without need of a television Friday night in the opening game of Subway Series II at Citi Field. They were right next to each other in what proved a pivotal play, not to mention a disputed one and perhaps a mistaken one.
Reyes certainly showed off his wheels on an attempt to go from first base to third base on an outfield fly. He had led off the seventh with a single off Yankees reliever Corey Wade. When Justin Turner flied out to deep center, Reyes tagged up and headed for second after the catch by Curtis Granderson.
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez mishandled Granderson’s throw, and the ball trickled behind him. Reyes slid hands first into second, picked himself up and darted for third when he saw that the ball was loose. Nunez made a strong throw to Rodriguez, who applied the tag. Or did he?
Plate umpire Jerry Layne, who made the ruling at third, thought so and called Reyes out. Reyes and third base coach Chip Hale argued the ruling claiming that A-Rod did not tag Reyes. They were soon joined by Mets manager Terry Collins, who was ejected from the game by Layne.
Video replays were a bit inconclusive. One angle seemed to verify that Rodriguez had tagged Reyes on the left hip before he reached third base. Another angle was less convincing. Clearly, Reyes did not feel the tag, which is why he protested so demonstratively. But having already reached scoring position and with the heart of the order coming up, Reyes may have been smart not to try for third.
For this one night anyway, before a Citi Field record crowd of 42,020, Reyes had to take a back seat to another shortstop in New York because Nunez had four hits. The last of them was an RBI single in the eighth to score Russell Martin, who had reached on an error by first baseman Daniel Murphy and advanced on a sacrifice by Brett Gardner.
Pitchers Ivan Nova and Boone Logan also dropped down successful sacrifice bunts as the Yanks did a good job playing the NL game. Nunez was actually spared an error in the first inning due to Reyes’ speed. He was credited with a single for beating out a grounder to short ahead of a throw by Nunez that sailed over first baseman Mark Teixeira. Official scorer Jordan Sprechman wisely took into account Reyes’ jets in not charging Nunez with an error.
The Yankees had an incredible 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position but only four hits in those situations, so the score could have been a lot worse than 5-1. Rodriguez doubled in a run in the ninth that cost Mariano Rivera a save opportunity.
With the lead up to four runs, Yankees manager Joe Girardi started the bottom of the ninth with Hector Noesi, who sported a new uniform number. He switched to No. 64 so that new teammate Sergio Mitre could have the No. 45 he wore in his previous sting with the Yankees. Rivera was eventually summoned after Josh Thole singled with one out to face – who else? – Reyes.
The at-bat lacked drama as Reyes grounded out meekly to the guy who said so many nice things about him earlier in the evening.
The Yankees went into Friday night’s game against the Mets as the only team with more than one player who had at least 50 runs scored and 50 runs batted in – and they had three of them. Curtis Granderson had 70 runs and 56 RBI, and Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez had 50 runs and 51 RBI apiece.
A fourth player was added to that list in the first inning. Mark Teixeira, who doubled in two runs to raise his team-leading RBI total to 65, came around to score his 50th run this year on a double by Cano, who moved ahead of A-Rod with his 52nd RBI. Granderson scored his 71st run on Tex’s double.
The game-starting, three-run rally was cheered mightily by Yankees fans, who seemed to equal at least the total of Mets fans at Citi Field. Fans still fortify the Subway Series, which does not have the support of Mets manager Terry Collins. He sounded a lot like former Yankees manager Joe Torre, a long-time opponent of inter-league play.
Collins’ view was actually a compliment to the Yankees as a difficult opponent.
“I think everybody in our division [National League East] should have to play the Yankees six times the way we do,” Collins said. “These stinking games count.”
The inter-league schedule is based on a divisional rotation, except for natural rivalries. This year, the Mets are the only NL East team the Yankees will play. They have played NL Central teams in 2010, except for the home-and-home series against the Mets.
Collins has a point, of course. The problem with inter-league play is that it creates an imbalance in the schedule since not every club plays the same teams as others within their divisions. That matters to a lot of managers, coaches and players, but box-office receipts of the Subway Series show that fans love the concept.
It seems pretty strange to have a Subway Series without Derek Jeter. The Captain is practically the logo for the annual inter-league meetings between the Yankees and the Mets going back to 1997, DJ’s second season in the majors. The Mets are also without David Wright, but as iconic as the third baseman may be around Citi Field he cannot match the star power of Jeter.
Even Mets manager Terry Collins acknowledged that.
“He has been a great player and is all about winning,” Collins said of Jeter, who is on an injury-rehabilitation assignment at Double A Trenton and is expected to rejoin the Yankees Monday at Cleveland. “You want to have the best players on the field, but I’m not disappointed that he’s not here. I wish him the best starting Monday. I hope he comes back and gets those six hits fast.”
Collins was referring to the half-dozen hits Jeter needs to reach 3,000 for his career. The Yanks have three games scheduled at Cleveland this week before returning home for a four-game set at Yankee Stadium against the Rays leading into the All-Star break.
“I remember Jeet was sick when we played here last year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He had a 102-degree fever and still wanted to play. That’s Derek.”
I don’t want to sound like a broken record here (does anyone remember what that was?), but I have been concerned all year about the Yankees’ relative silence at the plate in the late innings.
You have read it here more than once that the franchise that was responsible for the coinage of the phrase, “five o’clock lightning,” (yes, I’ll explain that, too) had become so meek offensively in the latter third of games.
That is what made the seventh inning rally in Sunday’s Subway Series finale against the Mets at Yankee Stadium so uplifting and encouraging and game winning.
This was beginning to appear as one of those games where the Yankees hit a ball over the fence and nothing else. Curtis Granderson homered in the first (his 16th, unbelievable; he didn’t get to 16 home runs last year until Sept. 2) off Mike Pelfrey, who tamed the Yankees after that through the sixth and seemed well in control of a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees’ track record in such situations had been grim. They were 1-14 in games when they trailed after six innings. Not much five o’clock lightning. OK, what that is all about is this: back when the Yankees were called “Murderers Row” and the “Bronx Bombers,” back in what my kids used to call the “black and white days,” the starting time for games at the Stadium was 3 p.m. (no night games back then, remember). Come 5 o’clock, or sometime in the sixth or seventh inning, the Yankees would start unloading against a tired pitcher, hence, five o’clock lightning.
Sunday’s game, the first in daylight for the Yankees after 12 consecutive night games, had a 1:05 p.m. start, so the seventh-inning resurgence was more like “3:30 lightning.” And how about this: not a home run in sight.
The Yankees banged around Pelfrey and three Mets relievers with another commodity that has been lacking – hits with runners in scoring position, five in seven at-bats, including 4-for-4 with the bags juiced. Over their previous five home games, the Yankees were 4-for-33 (.121) in clutch situations.
It was a beautiful sight for the sore eyes of manager Joe Girardi, who before the game had said, “I don’t care how we score runs.”
This time, the Yankees did so in bunches, beginning with Derek Jeter’s bases-loaded single that tied the score and ran his career hit total to 2,975, just 25 away from as magic a number as there is in baseball. Then, get this, the slugger Granderson, the left-handed version of Jose Bautista, put down a bunt to advance the runners. Let’s see Bautista do that when the Blue Jays come to town Monday night.
“I was trying to get a lead,” Girardi said. “I thought it was a good time to put the bunt on.”
That prompted the Mets to walk Mark Teixeira, filling the bases for Alex Rodriguez and hoping he would hit a double-play ball. As Pete Seeger wrote, “When will they ever learn?” Instead, A-Rod hit a dribbler to third for a hit that scored the go-ahead run.
Rodriguez is 6-for-8 (.750) with three home runs and 19 RBI when batting after Tex has been intentionally walked. Mets manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t aware of those numbers and would have walked Tex anyway even if he knew. Cue Pete Seeger.
Now the Yankees had the Mets where they wanted them. Robinson Cano singled in a run to keep the line moving that was briefly interrupted when Jorge Posada was called out on strikes on a questionable third strike on a pitch in the dirt. Brett Gardner, who began the rally with a single, doubled in two runs, and Chris Dickerson plopped a well-placed single to left for two more runs.
Rodriguez had his second four-hit game in a week and is batting .481 with three homers and 10 RBI in 27 at-bats over his past six games. Jeter continued feasting on Mets pitching, running his hitting streak against the Mets at the Stadium to 25 games. The Captain has the highest batting average (.381) against the Mets of any opponent with a minimum of 150 at-bats. DJ’s run in the seventh was career No. 1,713, pushing him past Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 23rd place on the all-time list.
The result was that the Yankees won bragging rights in New York until the teams meet again in July at Citi Field. Mets fans can whine about playing without David Wright and Ike Davis, but the Yankees didn’t have Phil Hughes or Rafael Soriano, either. What the Yankees had was late life in their bats, a modern, Technicolor, high definition version of five o’clock lightning.