Results tagged ‘ Tommy Hunter ’

Pitchers stifled because of managers’ scrap?

Someone will have to explain to me what CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman had to do with the beef between their managers, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi and the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, at the end of the first inning Monday night in the opener of a crucial four-game series between the American League wild-card playoff berth foes at Camden Yards.

The shouting match between the skippers apparently was over Girardi’s admonishing Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson for reasons the Yankees manager did not specify after the game only to say that he has always been dedicated to defending his players. One can only assume the player he was defending was catcher Austin Romine after hearing Showalter’s post-game remarks that the issue may have been sign stealing or signaling pitch location.

Well, it all made for interesting theater and little else. So what was the point of plate umpire Ed Hickox issuing warnings to the pitchers? What did Sabathia and Tillman have to do with all this? Here is a pivotal game between a couple of postseason candidates and the pitchers are neutralized for no good reason.

Camden Yards is a home-run haven that requires pitchers to use every inch of the plate and they are told from practically the start of the game that they work the inner half at their peril. What a joke.

Despite this limitation, both starters worked deeply into the game. Sabathia was provided a 1-0 lead before he took the mound on a home run by Alex Rodriguez. But for the 12th time this season, CC gave up a lead as the Orioles tied the score with a run in the bottom half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.

The pitchers exchanged zeroes until the fifth when another sacrifice fly, by J.J. Hardy, put the Orioles ahead. Baltimore picked up an additional run thanks to the legs of Alexi Casilla. He singled with two out and stole second from where he scored on a single by Nick Markakis, one of his three hits in the game.

Sabathia hurt himself in the eighth with a throwing error that helped the Orioles to another run on a two-out double by Manny Machado. Lyle Overbay’s 14th home run leading off the eighth inning ended Tillman’s stretch of 14 consecutive outs and his outing as well. Tommy Hunter struck out the next three innings.

The Yankees got the tying run to the plate after Rodriguez led off the ninth with a single, but Jim Johnson withstood a warning-track drive by Curtis Granderson to get his 43rd save.

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to start the series. They fell three games behind the Rays for the second wild card and 1 ½ games behind the Orioles and Indians with only a one-game edge over the Royals.

Sabathia goes from no-hitter to no-winner

Halfway through Friday night’s game at Camden Yards, it appeared that a couple of individual milestones for the Yankees would be reached – CC Sabathia’s 200th career victory as a pitcher and Joe Girardi’s 600th triumph as a manager. That neither was achieved was a bitter taste in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles that was particularly stinging.

Sabathia took a no-hitter into the sixth inning with a 3-0 lead. By inning’s end, both were gone. Nate McLouth, who got the first hit off Sabathia, also got the last, a solo home run one inning later that completed Baltimore’s comeback. Some tentative defense played roles in the Yankees losing the lead.

After McLouth led off the sixth with a line single to right-center, Alexi Casilla hit a ground ball between the mound and first base. David Adams, normally a third baseman or second baseman, played first base for the first time Friday night and mistakenly left the bag unoccupied in going for the ball, so that Sabathia, who fielded it, had nobody to throw the ball to.

CC recovered briefly to get Nick Markakis on an infield pop, but Manny Machado whacked his 37th double of the season to right-center to make the score 3-2. Machado then alertly tagged up and crossed to third base on J.J. Hardy’s flyout to center fielder Brett Gardner, who did not play the ball as if he thought Machado would try to advance. It was a key maneuver because Machado was able to score the tying run on another no-man’s-land, infield single by Adam Jones.

Sabathia came back for the seventh inning and got the first two outs before handing a breaking ball to McLouth, who hit a high fly over the right field scoreboard for his fifth home run. CC was so upset that he threw his glove against the dugout wall and whipped off his cap after the inning. He expressed the Yankees’ current situation as they dropped 5 ½ games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and two games behind the second-place Orioles.

The Yankees had roughed up lefthander T.J. McFarland for three runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings of the rookie’s first major-league start. They had 10 at-bats (and three hits) with runners in scoring position over the first three innings but did not have another such at-bat the rest of the game as righthanders Kevin Gausman (1-3) and Tommy Hunter (two saves) combined to shut down the Yankees on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

One night after being shut out on merely two hits by the Rangers, the Yankees collected 11 hits from eight different players but only one, a double by Gardner, was for extra bases. One player who failed to get a hit was Ichiro Suzuki (0-for-4) as his 21-game hitting streak at Camden Yards dating to April 5, 2008 came to an end.

Robinson Cano continued his career success at Camden Yards with three singles and an RBI. The second baseman improved his career numbers at Baltimore to .361 with 60 runs, 27 doubles, 12 home runs and 37 RBI in 70 games and 291 at-bats. In 43 games at Camden Yards since Aug. 22, 2008, Cano has batted .422 with 18 doubles, 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 43 games and 180 at-bats. He has hit safely in 31 of his past 35 games in Baltimore and in 38 of his last 43.

Michael Pineda is scheduled to make his next injury-rehabilitation start Sunday for Double A Trenton at Binghamton. In three minor-league starts, two with Class A Tampa and one with Trenton, the righthander has allowed three runs (one earned), nine hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. Pineda also pitched in an inter-squad game against Yankees players June 21 and gave up no runs, three hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Infielder Eduardo Nunez, who is on the 60-day disabled list because of a left oblique strain, began a rehab assignment with Tampa Thursday night. He was 0-for-2 and played four innings in the field at shortstop.

Former Yank Dickerson hurts old club

The streak of the Yankees winning games in which they score first came to an end Tuesday night because the Orioles scored last. Nate McLouth’s home run off a 1-1 pitch from Vidal Nuno, the Yankees’ sixth pitcher of the game, was the difference in a 3-2, 10-inning decision. The Yanks had been 19-0 in games when they got on the scoreboard first, which they did again Tuesday night but this time they couldn’t pull it off.

For the second straight night, a Yankees starting pitcher gave up two leads. Monday night it was CC Sabathia in a game the Yanks won also in 10 innings. Tuesday night it was Phil Hughes, once again haunted by the long ball. The culprit was former teammate Chris Dickerson, who touched Hughes for solo blasts in the third inning (climaxing a 10-pitch at-bat) that made the score 1-1 and in the fifth that made it 2-2.

Dickerson hit only three home runs in 64 at-bats for the Yankees in short stretches with the club in 2011 and 2012. He played center field Tuesday night to give Adam Jones a half-night off as the designated hitter and had a 3-for-4 game to raise his 2013 batting average to .371 with three homers and eight RBI.

If not for Dickerson, it would have been a splendid start for Hughes, who was coming off an embarrassing, two-thirds of an inning outing last week against Seattle at Yankee Stadium in which he was clocked for seven earned runs and six hits. The righthander rebounded with a solid, six-inning effort in which he yielded five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Hughes could not get Dickerson out, which cost him. Phil has given up 10 home runs in 47 1/3 innings.

Travis Hafner drove in both runs for the Yankees with singles that scored teammates who had led off innings with doubles, Brett Gardner in the first and Vernon Wells in the fourth. Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez proved nearly untouchable after Hafner’s second run-scoring hit as the righthander retired 11 straight batters until David Adams singled with two down in the seventh. Nick Markakis’ diving catch of a liner to right-center by Jayson Nix ended the inning.

Adams was the Yankees’ only base runner after the fourth inning as the Orioles set down 21 of the Yankees’ last 22 batters. Tommy Hunter pitched two scoreless innings for Baltimore, and Jim Johnson added a shutout 10th. Johnson, who had blown his three previous save opportunities, including Monday night, ended up the winning pitcher.

The Yanks’ bullpen was strong, too. Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson and Preston Claiborne followed Hughes with three scoreless innings combined to stretch the pen’s shutout streak on the road to 29 2/3 innings over the past 11 away games, which ended in the 10th. Robertson was particularly impressive by striking out the side in the eighth.

Nuno, the lefthander who won his first major-league start eight days earlier, was recalled from Triple A Scranton to sub for the disabled Andy Pettitte in the rotation, lost his scheduled start to Sunday’s rainout and was plenty fresh to come out of the bullpen. He probably still is. After all, he threw merely three pitches.

Long night’s journey into day

The Yankee Stadium grounds crew certainly earned its pay Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The weather conditions were abysmal during a game that was delayed for four hours before the first pitch and continued through several heavy downpours.

Although technically it was not a delay, it took almost 15 minutes in the middle of the fifth inning for the crew to repair the drenched infield. They were at it again an inning later with more bags of sand and lime to spread on and rake into the soggy field. The grounds crew was so busy that the guys didn’t have time to do the YMCA routine at the start of the seventh. It’s hard to dance and rake at the same time.

On such nights, the outfield become beyond repair. The conditions helped the Yankees to a run in the fifth. Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds made his 27th error of the season trying to scoop a muddy ground ball near the bag. Jorge Posada reached base after colliding with late-breaking pitcher Tommy Hunter on first base.

Francisco Cervelli followed with a fly ball to the warning track in left field where Matt Angle with his cleats covered by water dropped it to allow Posada to score. It was Jorgie’s second run of the game. He had homered in the third inning. Posada was the designated hitter despite the fact that rookie Jesus Montero had homered twice in Monday’s game. With a lefthander, Zach Britton, to start for Baltimore Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will probably have Montero in the lineup as the DH, so this was a chance to get Posada some at-bats.

Phil Hughes pitched reasonably well considering the elements but was a bit wild (one hit batter, two wild pitches) and gave up a two-run home run to Matt Wieters on a 0-2 pitch in the sixth that tied the score.

“Phil had the best curveball he has had all year,” Girardi said. “I was pleased with his outing.”

More so that Hughes, it seemed. “I could have been better,” he said. “That was a dumb pitch to Wieters.”

It was a 3-3 game in the seventh when the Yankees caught a huge break on a play that surely had Orioles fans thinking of Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series when a New Jersey schoolboy named Jeffrey Meier helped Derek Jeter get a home run that made the difference in the game.

Cervelli hit a drive to left field where two fans appeared to have extended their hands over the wall to try to catch the ball that was behind Angle. Third base umpire Paul Emmel signaled a home run, which had Orioles manager Buck Showalter springing out of the dugout to charge interference. The umpires retreated to the video room to review the play and, to the Yankees’ delight, upheld the call.

“If they hadn’t,” Girardi said, “then I would have come out of the dugout.”

The Yanks’ luck continued when the next batter, Brett Gardner, smoked a drive to right that struck the foul pole for another home run. That was the 200th home run for the Yankees this year and created the 5-3 final that Mariano Rivera preserved with his 39th save. It is the 11th time in the past 12 seasons that the Yankees have swatted 200 or more home runs (the exception was in 2008). It was the sixth straight victory for the Yankees. All they lost was sleep. Wednesday’s game is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.

Yanks facing possible elimination

Give A.J. Burnett a D. I think that is fair. I know it is kind.

He was working on a C Tuesday night in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series before his outing came apart in the sixth inning when he lost the sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium that had been supporting him from the first pitch.

Fans knew the importance of this game and decided to get behind the righthander who had pitched so erratically during the regular season.

In the end, Burnett’s performance was a microcosm of his season. He blew both leads the Yankees gave him and was cascaded with boos as he walked off the mound in the sixth only moments after giving up a three-run home run to Bengie Molina. Last year, another of the Molina brothers, Jose, had been an ally of Burnett’s as his regular catcher.

But not this Molina, whose drive into the left field lower stands was on the pitch after an intentional walk to David Murphy and gave the Rangers a 5-3 lead. Setting up the situation was heads-up base running by Nelson Cruz, who advanced from first to second base tagging up after a flyout to deep center by Ian Kinsler. That opened first base for the intentional walk to Murphy.

Burnett’s line: 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 3 bases on balls (1 intentional), 4 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch, 1 hit batter, 1 home run, 1 stolen base allowed. Doesn’t that all look familiar?

The crowd’s anger toward Burnett seemed to spill over to manager Joe Girardi, whose unrewarded faith in the pitcher put him in the fans’ crosshairs. It didn’t help that he brought in lefthander Boone Logan to pitch to left-swinging Josh Hamilton, who slugged his third home run of the ALCS. His fourth of the series and second of the game would come in the ninth when Texas piled on three more runs off Sergio Mitre in the 10-3 victory that has pushed the Rangers within one victory of the World Series.

Before then, the Yankees came close to having an opening in the eighth inning against the same four pitchers they staged that five-run, eighth-inning rally in Game 1. They loaded the bases on walks, but once again could not come up with the big hit. Nick Swisher popped out behind second base, and Lance Berkman hit a scorching grounder to third baseman Michael Young, who picked it in a way that he did not against Alex Rodriguez in Game 1.

Derek Holland got a well-deserved victory with 3 2/3 innings of impressive relief. He stopped the bleeding in the fourth inning when the Yankees regained the lead against starter Tommy Hunter, pitched out of jam in the fifth and retired the side in order the next two innings before departing after a leadoff walk of Curtis Granderson in the eighth.

The Yankees need CC Sabathia Wednesday in Game 5 to pitch them to Texas. The loss not only puts the Yankees on the brink of elimination from the post-season but also guarantees that the only way they can return to the World Series is to win three straight games, including Game 7 against Cliff Lee.

On top of that, the Yankees will have to proceed through this minefield without Mark Teixeira, who was forced out of the game in the fifth inning due to a pulled right hamstring while running to first base. Tex told Girardi he felt a “pop” in the hamstring. That’s not a good sound. The Yankees can only hope the next sound they hear is not that of a pennant dropping.

Replay cost Yanks early run

For the first time in the American League Championship Series, the Rangers did not score in the first inning, which was an encouraging early sign for A.J. Burnett. The Yankees also took an early lead for the first time in the series, which was an encouraging sign, period.

It was a busy second inning for umpire Jim Reynolds, who was working the right field line. Robinson Cano got the first hit of the game, his third home run of the series, which featured a scene out of Yankees post-season history. As Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz jumped at the wall and reached for the ball, the outstretched hands of two fans in the front row came into view as the ball hit the top of the fence and bounced into the stands.

Cruz claimed interference, and Rangers manager Ron Washington exited the dugout to talk to Reynolds. The exchange was not heated, so Washington apparently accepted the ruling. The situation brought to mind Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between the Yankees and the Orioles when a New Jersey schoolboy named Jeffrey Maier interfered with a drive by Derek Jeter for a home run. The difference that night was that after the game right field ump Richie Garcia admitted he made the wrong call.

The umpires may now use televised replays on questionable home runs but did not in that case. Two batters later, they did, however. Lance Berkman’s high drive to right kept hooking and from my seat in the press box where the right field foul pole is directly in my view the ball veered foul into the second deck.

I was astonished to see Reynolds signal a home run. The crowd loved it. Pitcher Tommy Hunter and catcher Bengie Molina did not. Washington was out of the dugout again, but he was taking nobody’s word for it until the play was reviewed. The call was correctly reversed to a foul ball. Now Yankees fans were upset, but as the replay plainly revealed the ball hooked in front of the pole and landed in foul territory.

Burnett could have used that extra run, too, because the Rangers came back to score two runs in the third without a ball leaving the infield. After two perfect innings, Burnett had his first burst of wildness. He walked David Murphy and hit Molina with a pitch. Molina was attempting to sacrifice, so Burnett hit a guy who was giving him an out.

After Mitch Moreland bunted the runners over, Mark Teixeira made an excellent, short-hop pickup of a grounder by Elvis Andrus but could not set himself for a throw home. Tex tossed to Burnett covering first instead as Andrus scored the tying run. Michael Young followed with a slow roller to third that Alex Rodriguez had trouble getting out of his glove and beat the throw at first for a single that scored Molina for a 2-1 Texas lead.

The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the inning with the run also coming on an infield hit. With two out, Jeter missed a home run by inches as the ball hit near the top of the center field fence next to the 408-foot sign. The ball caromed back toward the infield, and Jeter hustled it into a triple.

Curtis Granderson followed with a hard, one-bouncer that ate up second baseman for a single as Jeter crossed the plate with his 32nd run scored in ALCS play. It broke the record he had shared with former teammate Bernie Williams, who just happened to have thrown out the ceremonial first pitch.

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