Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

The ‘right’ thing to do at the time

Sometimes you have to be creative against a knuckleball pitcher. Or sometimes you have to do something to ease the frustration. It may have been a little of both for Yankees third baseman Chase Headley against the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey in the fifth inning of Thursday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.

A switch-hitter, Headley chose to bat right-handed against the right-handed Dickey with two down in the fifth. Batting his customary left-handed against Dickey in the third, Headley flied out to center field.

I remember that Bernie Williams occasionally batted right-handed against the Red Sox’ righty knuckler, Tim Wakefield. Bernie told me it gave him a different perspective because he could see the ball out of Wakefield’s hand better. That, and because as a left-handed batter he had little success against him.

Headley was able to get on base with a walk and eventually scored the first run of the game. Stephen Drew, a left-handed batter, then ripped a double into the right-fielder corner. Jose Bautista made a lazar of a relay to first baseman Adam Lind, who then threw a curveball to the plate that was up the line as Headley reached the plate.

A-OK match-up: CC vs. R.A.

The Yankees and Mets finish off this year’s Subway Series with one of the best marquee match-ups in the history of this New York-New York rivalry with CC Sabathia opposing R.A. Dickey on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at Citi Field.

Dickey with his 11-1 record, 2.00 ERA and consecutive one-hitters with double-digit strikeouts has been the talk of baseball lately. It is a feel-good story about a 37-year-old veteran who has risen to the heights on the command of the pitch most difficult to control.

Switch hitters like Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher batted right-handed against right-handed knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield, especially at Fenway Park because of the Green Monster. Bernie Williams also used to bat right-handed against Wakefield. Tex and Swish say they will not do that against Dickey and will hit from the usual left side against a righty pitcher.

Neither switch hitter has had a great deal of success against Dickey. Swisher is only 1-for-10 (.100) and Teixeira is 2-for-11 (.182), although one of the hits was a home run. Of the Yanks in Sunday night’s lineup, Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez have had the most career success against Dickey. A-Rod is 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles and Ibanez is 8-for-25 (.320) with three home runs. Eric Chavez, who is not in the starting lineup, has 4-for-12 (.333) with a homer off Dickey.

Mets hitters who have given Sabathia the most trouble over the years are Andres Torres at 5-for-11 (.455) with two doubles and a triple, Ike Davis at 3-for-6 (.500) and Scott Hairston at 3-for-10 (.300). Jason Bay is 3-for-12 (.250) with two home runs off CC but is on the disabled list due to a concussion.

Sabathia and Dickey both pitched complete-game victories with 10 or more strikeouts in their past starts June 18. Sabathia struck out 10 batters in a 6-2 victory over the Braves at Yankee Stadium. Dickey tossed a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 5-0 victory over the Orioles at Citi Field.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Yankees and the Mets each had complete-game victories with double-digit strikeout totals on the same date. It was also the first time since 1900 that pitchers from two different New York teams (including the Giants and the Dodgers before they went to California in 1958) accomplished the feat on the same day.

Burnett’s 4 K’s in 1 inning a 1st for Yankees pitchers

A.J. Burnett made Yankees history Friday night when he struck out four Colorado batters in the sixth inning. Believe it or not, he became the first Yankees pitcher ever to do that. Granted, it is a rarity, but it is hard to believe it had never happened before for a franchise that is more than one hundred years old.

For a pitcher to have the chance to strike out four batters in an inning means that one of them had to reach base on a third-strike wild pitch or passed ball. Since A.J. has had a special relationship with wild pitches over the years, he was an ideal candidate to be the first Yankees pitcher to pull off the oddity. Burnett’s 111 career wild pitches rank second among active pitchers behind only Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has 124.

In fact, it marked the second time in his career that Burnett had four K’s in an inning. He also did for the Marlins against the Mets July 5, 2002, which was the first of two seasons in which he led his league in wild pitches with 14. The other was in 2009 with the Yankees when he had 17. A.J. was second in the American League in wild pitches with 16 and is leading this year with 12.

No. 12 came after Burnett got called third strikes past Chris Iannetta and Carlos Gonzalez. Chris Nelson reached first after Burnett’s third strike to him went all the way to the backstop. It gave Burnett a shot at a franchise first, which he accomplished by striking out Todd Helton swinging.

Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the night for Burnett, who gave up solo home runs to Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki and two more runs on infield outs 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss. It might have been worse except that the Rockies stranded 11 runners.

Alex Rodriguez drove in both Yankees runs with Curtis Granderson scoring each time, but the Yanks had only two hits after the second inning. Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez, who was the National League’s starting pitcher in last year’s All-Star Game, struggled early this year but picked up his second straight victory. Jimenez, who had an 11-game winless stretch in April and May, scattered four hits and four walks over seven innings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi correctly assessed before the game that Colorado could benefit more than any other NL club in inter-league competition because of the presence of Giambi as its designated hitter. In addition to his home run, Giambi also singled twice and walked.

Different reaction but same result for ‘Big Papi’

There was no show-off flip of the bat from David Ortiz in the first inning Wednesday night when he hit another two-run home run off Yankees pitching. Tuesday night, rookie Hector Noesi was victimized by the Red Sox designated hitter, who celebrated his fifth-inning blow with a flourish by flipping his bat across the plate before going into his trot.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi took offense at Ortiz’s gesture and said so after the game. Yet before the Yanks and Red Sox went at it again at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, Girardi said he did not hear any of the Yankees complain and so he did not expect there to be any retaliation.

Well, maybe getting some satisfaction against Ortiz would have been better than watching him go deep again. It marked the second straight night that Boston took a 3-0 lead before the Yankees came to bat. The first of two throwing errors trying to thwart steals by Francisco Cervelli helped fuel the first-inning rally against A.J. Burnett.

Cervelli’s wild throw into center field allowed Jacoby Ellsbury, who led off with a single, to get to third base with one out. He scored on a groundout by Adrian Gonzalez, who raised his league-leading RBI total to 52. Burnett made the mistake of walking Kevin Youkilis and compounded it by giving up the homer to “Big Papi” on a 3-2 heater.

That the Red Sox started Tim Wakefield may have seemed like good news to Derek Jeter, who has 31 hits in 115 career at-bats (.269) against the knuckleballer. Those are the most hits and at-bats by an active pitcher-hitter combination in the majors. Jeter didn’t add to his hit total in the first two at-bats. He flied out to center in the first inning and struck out in the third to end a career-best streak of 58 plate appearances without going down on strikes.

6-3 Coast trip revs Yanks up for Red Sox

Bartolo Colon’s return Sunday to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, which was his home base of operation for four seasons (2004-07), was a mixed bag for the Yankees, who ended a successful West Coast trip with a 5-3 victory. They won six of the nine games, a satisfying finish after they had lost the first two games at Seattle.

The first-place Yankees maintained their one-game lead in the American League East over the Red Sox, who come to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night. The Yanks keep avoiding pitchers with back problems. Dan Haren was scratched by the Angels from a scheduled start Saturday night due to back stiffness. The Red Sox will push Clay Buchholz back from Wednesday night to Friday night for the same reason and insert Tim Wakefield. The Yankees will also push back a pitcher, Ivan Nova, who is not hurt, to Friday night so that CC Sabathia can stay on turn and start Wednesday night against Boston.

Colon was lights out for two innings as he retired the Angels in order each time with a total of three strikeouts. He looked as if he would continue the run of scoreless innings he put up in a complete-game shutout on Memorial Day at Oakland.

But typical of teams under the guidance of one of baseball’s sharpest managers, Mike Scioscia, the Angels adjusted to Colon’s aggressiveness by jumping on first-pitch fastballs and other early-count offerings, few of them off-speed, to dent the righthander for two runs in the third that tied the score. A sensational play by second baseman Robinson Cano helped Colon get out of that inning without further damage, and he came right back with a 1-2-3 fourth.

It was almost as if Colon was pitching to the scoreboard. The second of Mark Teixeira’s two home runs regained a two-run lead for the Yankees in the fifth, but Colon gave back another run in the bottom half after two were out. He was in trouble again in the sixth but was saved in part by that rare scene by an Angels player – a dumb move on the bases.

Colon was out of the game by then. David Robertson came on with one out and a runner, Alberto Callaspo, at second base. Mark Trumbo, who had homered in the third off Colon, hit a ground ball to shortstop. Callaspo inexplicably tried to cross to third base, which made no sense because the ball was hit sharply, and was thrown out by Derek Jeter.

Robertson made things interesting after that rally killer by walking two batters to load the bases, but he rebounded big-time by striking out Maicer Izturis on a 2-2 hook. Robertson has held foes scoreless in eight consecutive appearances and has allowed one earned run in 15 outings dating to May 1 in which he has an ERA of 0.64 with 26 strikeouts in 14 innings.

His work was part of an ensemble effort by the Yankees’ bullpen. Joba Chamberlain withstood two singles to keep the Angels off the board for 1 1/3 innings, and Mariano Rivera notched his 16th save by also making two singles in the ninth meaningless. Mo is only the third reliever in history to have 16 or more saves in a season at age 41 or older. The others were Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who had 30 saves in 1996 and 36 in 1997 for the Cardinals, and all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, who had 37 in 2009 for the Brewers.

It was a big game for Teixeira, who passed Curtis Granderson for the team lead in home runs, 18-17, and tied him for the club RBI lead with 41. Usually a notoriously slow starter, Tex hit six home runs in March/April and slugged 10 in May, the most in the majors. Five days into June, he already has two.

Nick Swisher hit his third home run of the trip, a solo shot off the right field foul pole, in the eighth that proved a vital insurance run taking some of the heat off Mo in the ninth. Another good sign was a two-hit game for Jorge Posada.

Jeter’s third-inning single pushed him past Hall of Famer Sam Rice into sole possession of 28th place on the career hit list with 2,986. With the Yankees’ next 10 games scheduled at home, can the Captain get to 3,000 at the Stadium?

Yanks look to storied past

The Yankees went deep into the well Wednesday for a couple of former players to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, which had the potential to be the last home game of the season for the Bombers since they trailed Texas 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

None other than Aaron Boone and Bucky Dent, who hit two of the most dramatic home runs for the Yankees, were called on for the duty. Boone’s 11th-inning home run off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS at the Stadium won the pennant for the Yankees.

Dent’s three-run home run in the seventh inning of the 1978 playoff game at Fenway Park against the Red Sox’ Mike Torrez gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in a game they won, 5-4, to clinch the AL East title. It was not a post-season home run since divisional playoff games are considered part of the regular season.

Derek Jeter liked to talk about how “the ghosts” would come out late in post-season games at the old Stadium. The Yankees can’t be sure if the ghosts have made their way across 161st Street, so they relied on living examples of the durable past.

The only Yankees team to have rebounded from a 3-1 deficit in games to win a best-of-7 series was in the 1958 World Series against the Milwaukee Braves. The Yankees’ catcher was Yogi Berra, who was also at the Stadium Wednesday. That was only the second time in history that a club had done that in the World Series and the first since the Pittsburgh Pirates came back against the Washington Senators in 1925.

Counting the World Series and the Championship Series, the feat has been accomplished 11 times. The list includes the 2004 ALCS when the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees, the only time that has ever happened, but Yankees fans don’t want to think about that.

The only other time the Yankees trailed 3-1 was in the 1942 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1, who won the fifth game to take the Series. Yankees fans didn’t want to think about that, either.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said that there was a brief team meeting after Tuesday night’s loss at which only manager Joe Girardi spoke. “Whatever happened there, I will never tell you,” Mo said, adhering to the code of the clubhouse.

“We are down 3-1, but we still haven’t lost yet,” Rivera added. “So with that in mind, we just have to play one game at a time. So the message is that we just play hard today and forget about tomorrow. Let’s focus on what we have to do today. And it we do that, I think the team that we have is enough to win today. We haven’t finished yet.”


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