Results tagged ‘ Tony Gwynn ’

Sounds of approval reach Hughes

A sound Phil Hughes hasn’t heard much this year at Yankee Stadium welcomed him as he walked off the mound Saturday in the eighth inning. He had come within an infield hit and an outfield flare of making it through that frame for the first time all year. Yankees manager Joe Girardi figured at 112 pitches Hughes was spent, but his effort against the Mariners was well-spent, indeed.

The Stadium crowd of 43,954 certainly appreciated Hughes’ solid work, a sort of game he had so often in his 18-victory season of 2010 but so little last year. It was a matter of being aggressive in the strike zone, which Hughes needs to continue to maintain his position in the rotation.

Only a solo home run by Seattle’s Mike Carp spoiled Hughes’ best outing of the season as he improved his record to 3-4 with a 5.50 ERA in the Yankees’ 6-2 victory over the Mariners. It was not that long ago that Hughes’ ERA was nestling near 8, but two straight winning decisions have silenced talk that he may be bumped out of the rotation now that Andy Pettitte is lined up to start Sunday in the series finale.

Yankees management has maintained faith in Hughes despite his tendency toward high pitch counts that has resulted in his reaching the seventh inning only twice in seven starts. He solved that issue Saturday by walking only one batter and getting ahead in the count on a regular basis. Granted, the Seattle lineup is not among the league’s fiercest, but the Mariners are no longer the pushovers they were a year ago.

The bottom third of the Yankees’ order provided much of the support for Hughes against former teammate Hector Noesi, the pitcher who accompanied catcher-designated hitter Jesus Montero to Seattle in the trade for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos, both currently on the disabled list. Noesi (2-4, 6.32 ERA) gave the Mariners innings at least – seven – although not enough were quality.

The game was essentially decided in the second inning when the Yankees scored four runs on doubles by Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin and a two-run home run by Jayson Nix, who started at shortstop as Derek Jeter got a DH day. Ibanez, Martin and Nix in the 7-8-9 slots combined for four of the six runs, five of the eight hits and five of the six RBI.

Ibanez, who has been one of the Yankees’ most consistent offensive forces, slugged his seventh home run in the fourth inning, an impressive blast over the center field fence. He has driven in 21 runs with 23 hits, a terrific ratio. And just as Noesi and Montero were playing against their old team, so was Ibanez, who played in 10 seasons for the Mariners from 1996-2000 and again from 2004-08.

There was some offensive input from the front end of the order as well. Jeter helped build a run in the eighth when he singled, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Robinson Cano. Jeter’s two hits Saturday raised his career total to 3,141, tying Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn for 17th place on the all-time list. Can ran his hitting streak to 10 games during which he is batting .425 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI in 40 at-bats.

Boone Logan took over for Hughes in the eighth and earned his first save. He gave up a tainted run in the ninth, but it could have been worse. Carp came close to a second homer with a drive to right in the ninth, but umpires reviewed the play and overruled the original call. Video replays clearly showed that the ball hit the top of the fence and did not go over and come back onto the field.

Carp had to settle for a double, but the umps allowed Kyle Seager, who was on first base, to score. Girardi questioned that decision, but I think the umps got it right. Seager slowed down coming around third base when the original home run call was made. The ball banged away from Yanks right fielder Nick Swisher a significant enough distance that Seager deserved the benefit of the doubt that had he continued full speed he would have scored. There probably would not have been a throw to the plate anyway.

That was the least of the Yankees’ worries, thanks to Hughes.

Grandy nominated for Hank Aaron Award

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will decide whether Curtis Granderson is the American League Most Valuable Player or not, but Yankees fans can have a big say about whether the center fielder should win the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player.

Granderson is the Yankees’ nominee for the award that was established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s career home run record, a mark that now belongs to Barry Bonds. Log on to Yankees.com or MLB.com to register your vote.

For the second consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron himself will join fans in voting for the award. Aaron added new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and another all-time great second baseman, Joe Morgan, to this year’s panel to join holdovers Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams and Robin Yount.

Granderson had a spectacular year for the Yankees, batting .262 and becoming the first player in major league history to get at least 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in the same year. Curtis led the majors in runs (136), ranked second in home runs (41) and extra base hits (81) and third in RBI (119) and total bases (332). He was the first player this season to get to 100 runs and 100 RBI and did so in his first 126 games.

Yankees players who previously won the Hank Aaron Award were Derek Jeter in 2006 and 2009 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007. A-Rod also won two twice when he was with the Rangers, in 2001 and 2003. Andruw Jones, currently with the Yankees, was the National League winner in 2005 when he was with the Braves.

Winners of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award will be announced during the World Series. It would be terrific if Curtis could pick up the award while the Yanks were in the Series. It’s up to you, fans.

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