Results tagged ‘ Tropicana Field ’
Phil Hughes is still looking for his first victory of the season, but if he continues to pitch the way he did Tuesday night he will pile up a bunch of triumphs before the year is out. The righthander got into an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel with the Rays’ David Price, last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner, and departed after seven innings with the score 2-2.
Hughes got off to a rocky start by giving up a walk, a double and a sacrifice fly to the first three hitters, but he settled in nicely for his best start of the year. He showed off a muscular fastball and an effective changeup and held the Rays to five singles through the seventh. Hughes struck out six batters and walked only two, although both of the runners scored.
Another positive sign was that Hughes kept the ball in the yard. After giving up five home runs in his previous two starts, Hughes did not allow a long ball Tuesday night. There were a couple of loud fouls at Tropicana Field but nothing over the fence fair, which was important because Price wasn’t giving up much of anything to the Yankees, either, although they put a lot more runners on base than Monday night against Matt Moore, who allowed two hits, both to Robinson Cano, in eight innings.
It was a tale of two teams in the first inning Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. The Yankees and the Rays each got their leadoff hitter on base. The Yankees did not score. The Rays did. The difference was something as simple as a sacrifice. The Yankees eschewed the notion. The Rays executed one and got a run out of it.
The funny thing about the situation is that Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long following Tuesday night’s loss suggested that the team may have to change its approach with runners on base and give more consideration to the bunt. Yet after Derek Jeter led off the game with a single to right off Matt Moore, Nick Swisher did not attempt a bunt and eventually was called out on strikes. Robinson Cano followed that by grounding into a double play to end the inning.
“We’re not the Bronx Bunters, and we really never have been,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters before the game. “That’s not really our approach. The one thing you can concentrate on is really good at-bats and making sure you grind out your at-bats. If you have to move a runner over, make sure you hit the ball to the other side or pull it or try to drive the ball. Take the extra base when you can. We’re not going to change our philosophy.”
Sam Fuld, getting a rare start as Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon gave B.J. Upton the night off, led off the bottom of the first with a single to left off Hiroki Kuroda. Desmond Jennings dropped a bunt to the right side that moved Fuld into scoring position. After Ben Zobrist struck out, Evan Longoria bounced a single through the right side that got Tampa Bay the run it bunted for.
Bunting did not work out as well for the Rays in the second inning. A single by Jeff Keppinger and a double by Jose Lobaton gave Tampa Bay runners on second and third with one out. Elliot Johnson, the Rays’ 9-hole hitter, tried a safety squeeze, but he bunted the ball right at Kuroda, who held Keppinger at third base and got the second out at first base. Fuld grounded out to end the threat.
The Yanks caught a break that inning. Lobaton’s double over the outstretched glove of Curtis Granderson in center field was on a hit-and-run play, but Keppinger had to hold up around second base to make sure the ball got past Granderson, who got the ball back to the infield too quickly for Keppinger to attempt to score.
Maddon is known to be unconventional. Not having Upton in the lineup fits into that category. Upton was 3-for-7 (.429) with one double, two home runs, three runs and three RBI in the first two games. It had nothing to do with how Upton has fared in his career against Kuroda. They have never faced each other. Maddon told writers he was just giving his center fielder a day off. Still, that’s strange.
The Yankees are getting closer back to whole. The timing could not be better. With their lead in the American League East down to one game going into Tuesday night’s action at Tropicana Field, the Yankees need to start running on all cylinders.
Curtis Granderson, who missed two starts because of tendinitis in his right hamstring, was back in center field Tuesday night batting second in the order as manager Joe Girardi dropped Nick Swisher into the 3-hole. Robinson Cano, who felt soreness in his left hip Monday, was also in the lineup, although Girardi used him as the designated hitter rather than at second base, which was manned by Jayson Nix.
Cano showed there was no problem with his hip when it came to swinging a bat. He crushed a two-run home run to left-center in the first inning off Tampa Bay righthander Alex Cobb. It was Cano’s 29th home run of the season, which matched his career high set in 2010.
Alex Rodriguez was back at third base one game after coming off the disabled list and playing as the DH Monday. A-Rod was hitting in the 5-hole, opening up the cleanup spot for Cano.
Mark Teixeira, who has a strained left calf, is still sidelined and may not be back in the lineup until Friday at Baltimore. Ivan Nova, who is on the DL because of rotator cuff inflammation, pitched a simulated game at the Trop and could be activated at the end of the week. The Yanks also plan to have Andy Pettitte, who is recovering from a fractured left fibula, pitch a simulated game Wednesday. There is still no timetable for his return.
Alex Rodriguez, who returned to the lineup Monday for the first time in six weeks, said before the game that he should not perceived as a savior for a Yankees team that has tumbled down the American League East standings during his absence. It was a warning worth heeding. One man no matter how powerful a hitter can do alone what the Yankees need. They need more of a team effort every day, more than what they have been getting in this stretch.
When a team goes through a slump, certain things that go unnoticed are suddenly magnified. A good example is that of Robinson Cano, who does not always hustle out of the batter’s box. He cost himself a chance to get on base in the eighth inning for that reason, and in a one-run game something like that stands out.
This is not to put the 4-3 loss to the Rays on Cano, who was seen limping in the clubhouse after the game and may be hurting. Cano had the Yankees’ first hit off James Shields, a double in the fourth, and scored the Yankees’ first run in a three-run inning that wiped out a 2-0 deficit. The hit that sent Cano to third base was a broken-bat single up the middle by Rodriguez, who tied Babe Ruth for 40th place on the career hits list with 2,873.
Cano came home on a sacrifice fly by Eric Chavez. Rodriguez’s legs got a big test as he ran all the way home from first base on a triple to right by Raul Ibanez, who subsequently scored on an infield single by Russell Martin.
That turned out to be all the scoring for the Yankees, whose lead is down to one game over the second-place Orioles and 2 ½ over the third-place Rays. Tampa Bay base running dominated its offense. A double steal pulled off by B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist in the fifth led directly to a run that tied the score off CC Sabathia, who struggled a bit with fastball command but pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in the game.
A steal fueled the Rays’ winning rally in the ninth against David Robertson, whose record fell to 1-5. The Yankees erased one base runner when Martin on a pitchout gunned down pinch runner Rich Thompson at second base, a call disputed by Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected.
Robertson got the second out on a fly ball to right-center that Chris Dickerson grabbed while he collided with Ichiro Suzuki, but neither outfielder was hurt. Ryan Roberts singled to left to keep the inning alive and then stole second. Chris Gimenez’s grounder to the right side eluded Cano and went into right field for a single to score Roberts.
The Yankees got a stolen base in the ninth as well but failed to get the runner home. Eduardo Nunez swiped second with one out as a pinch runner. He got to third base on an infield out but was stranded there. Fernando Rodney earned his 41st save with a strikeout of pinch hitter Curtis Granderson.
So it was another loss for the Yankee in a one-run game and when they do not hit a home run. The Yanks are 17-20 in one-run games and 4-20 in homerless games. Not even facing Shields could work in the Yankees’ favor. His victory improved his record against them to 2-2 with a 6.10 ERA this year and 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA for his career. The Yanks are 1-5 at Tropicana Field this season.
Just having A-Rod back in the lineup was a positive sign. Granderson, who has tendinitis in his right hamstring, may return to center field Tuesday night. Mark Teixeira, who is nursing a left calf strain, may be kept off the Trop’s artificial surface the next two nights and is hopeful that he could be back when the Yanks move on to Baltimore. By that time, the Yankees also hope that the Orioles will still be behind them.
There weren’t many fireworks for the Yankees on this Fourth of July, but they will take any victory they can at Tropicana Field. Former teammate Kyle Farnsworth practically handed the game to the Yankees in the eighth inning by walking four batters, three of whom scored.
The 4-3 decision ended a nine-game losing streak for the Yankees at the Trop and was their first victory indoors this season. The Yankees avoided what would have been their third sweep of the year. They lost a three-game set at St. Petersburg, Fla., in the opening series of the season April 6-8 and dropped a two-game series to the Blue Jays May 16-17 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Yankees were 0-7 at domed parks this year before winning Wednesday.
It was a big victory for the Yankees in a match-up that favored the Rays, who had staff ace David Price going against rookie David Phelps. Price and Phelps had dueling no-hitters for a while. Considering the rigid pitch count he was being held to, Phelps did a commendable job in the rotation spot vacated by injured Andy Pettitte.
Phelps was a bit wild (three walks and two hit batters), but he had eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings and held Tampa Bay to two hits, one of which, a two-out single by Sean Rodriguez in the fourth inning, gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees had only three base runners in the first six innings against Price, and one of them was removed on a double play. Mark Teixeira finally got to Price, who had two walks and eight strikeouts, with a leadoff home run (No. 14) in the seventh that tied the score. Alex Rodriguez followed with a double and pulled off a daring steal of third base that was nullified because of umpire’s interference.
Plate ump Mike Estabrook’s mask hit the arm of catcher Jose Lobaton’s arm as he attempted to throw. The play may have cost the Yankees a run because the next hitter, Andruw Jones, flied out to right field on a ball deep enough to have scored A-Rod had he been on third base. Tampa Bay came right back and regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh on Carlos Pena’s two-run homer off a first-pitch, hanging slider from Boone Logan.
Thanks in part to Farnsworth and to an even greater measure by Robinson Cano, the hottest Yankee at the moment, Logan ended up being the winning pitcher. The game-changing rally created few sparks until Cano stepped in against lefthander Jake McGee.
Farnsworth, who has missed nearly all of the season with a right elbow strain, made only his second appearance of the season and looked awfully rusty. The only out he got was a strikeout of Derek Jeter on a questionable called third strike. Farnsworth walked the other four batters he faced with A-Rod pushing in a run with his base on balls on a full count.
Cano provided the Yankees some sizzle with a two-run single that put them ahead for good. David Robertson, who has struggled lately, looked like his former self with a shutout, two-strikeout eighth inning before Rafael Soriano retired the side in order in the ninth for his 19th save. Tampa Bay struck out 16 times against six Yankees pitchers.
Cano continues to be as hot as the weather. He ran his hitting streak to 11 games, a stretch in which he has batted .444 with two doubles, seven home runs and 15 RBI in 45 at-bats to raise his season average from .295 to .316. He has driven in runs in eight consecutive games for a total of 11. Cano is probably the only guy on the team who wishes the Yankees weren’t off Thursday.
Freddy Garcia got a big favor from his teammates Monday night when the Yankees scored two runs in the first inning off Rays lefthander Matt Moore. For a pitcher making his first start in more than two months, Garcia needed all the support he could get. Taking the mound with your team already in front feels good to any starting pitcher.
Although he would eventually surrender that lead, Garcia gave the Yankees the boost they were hoping for from the righthander who returned to the rotation to spell CC Sabathia, who is on the disabled list because of a strained left groin. Garcia did a good job in long relief since he went to the bullpen after a horrendous start at Yankee Stadium April 28 against the Tigers.
The Rays don’t present an imposing lineup. Two regulars were batting below .200 for a Tampa Bay club that has a .232 team batting average, which is next to last in the American League. Garcia allowed five hits and did not walk a batter, but the Rays were able to tie the score on solo home runs by B.J. Upton in the fourth inning and Carlos Pena in the sixth.
Garcia was nearing his 75-pitch limit when Pena was due up in the sixth. The Rays first baseman had never homered off Garcia and had only four hits in 41 career at-bats (.098) against him. A move to lefthander Clay Rapada may have been in order, but Garcia was throwing well enough to convince manager Joe Girardi to go after him, a decision that backfired.
Nevertheless, it was a solid 5 1/3-inning outing for Garcia, an encouraging sign that he can make a contribution to the rotation at a time when Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are no longer in it. Garcia could make one more start before the All-Star break next week. The Yankees have an open date Thursday, but they also have a split-admission doubleheader Saturday at Boston, so it is likely that Garcia will stay on turn.
Garcia’s start was about the only positive the Yankees could take from the game, a 4-3 loss that marked their eighth consecutive defeat at Tropicana Field. Time was when the Yanks were hard to beat when traveling to Tampa Bay, their spring training site and home away from home, but they have not won at the Trop since last July.
A rare fielding misplay by first baseman Mark Teixeira in the eighth accounted for the deciding run. The Yankees looked as if they would win a game without hitting a home run (they are 1-14 in those situations) and even took a 3-2 lead in the seventh without a hit.
One inning later, however, the Rays struck back against the Yankees’ bullpen. A walk and a wild pitch by Boone Logan had Girardi summoning David Robertson, who gave up a double to pinch hitter Brooks Conrad that tied the score.
The killer play came next, a hard ground ball by Elliot Johnson that bounced in front of the bag at first base and somehow skidded under the outstretched glove of Teixeira for his first error in 99 games dating to last July. Conrad scored easily, and Fernando Rodney handled three Yankees pinch hitters in the ninth for his 23rd save.
The series had been looked upon as the Yankees’ chance to bury the Rays, who entered play 7 ½ games out of first place in the AL East and with a team offense that is next to last in the league. As long as the Yanks’ jinx at St. Pete continues, however, the Rays won’t be going away.
One possible concession to the Yankees’ 0-2 start may have been the appearance of Alex Rodriguez in the starting lineup Sunday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had been hinting for two days that he would give A-Rod a break from Tropicana Field’s artificial surface with a day off, but he was back at third base for the Easter game as the Yankees still sought their first victory of the new season.
Girardi might have considered using Rodriguez as the designated hitter but felt Nick Swisher, who battled groin problems during spring training, would be better served getting off the turf and used him in the role instead. That gave Raul Ibanez his first start in the outfield, but his lack of familiarity with right field came into play and resulted in the Rays scoring in the first inning for the third straight game.
Ibanez, 39, has played right field in 153 of his 1,406 career games, but Sunday’s appearance was his first in a regular-season game since 2005. He had been primarily a left fielder the past six seasons. Ibanez took a somewhat tentative approach to a line drive by Matt Joyce that fell in front of him and then skipped past him for a triple that scored Evan Longoria, who had doubled with two out. Tampa Bay outscored the Yankees, 7-0, in the first inning during the series.
Girardi also gave new backup catcher Chris Stewart his first start working with Phil Hughes, whose fastball averaged in the low 90s, a far cry from the weakness he showed at this time a year ago.
Derek Jeter was not in the starting lineup Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. It was likely his last day off for the season. The Captain is expected to start Wednesday night in the regular season finale and continue his pursuit to a .300 batting average.
Jeet is batting .298 in 543 at-bats. He would need to go 2-for-4 to finish the season at .300. If he goes 1-for-3 or 2-for-5, he would finish at .299. Now here’s a situation. If Jeter should get a hit in his first at-bat, that would put his average at .2996, which would round out to .300. If that should happen, would Yankees manager Joe Girardi take Jeter out of the game to protect the .300 average? Would DJ ask out?
Hmmm. My guess is no, but I would have no problem if that were the case. It is not like a batting title is at stake. As for the Red Sox being upset because they would want the Yankees’ best team on the field in that last game with the wild-card spot on the line, tough. Boston created the tight race it finds itself in now.
Speaking of the Yankees’ lineup, Girardi batted Robinson Cano in the 3-hole for the third straight game and appears to be leaning toward doing so in the postseason against right-handed pitching. The skipper is essentially flip-flopping Cano and Mark Teixeira. Cano has earned the shot at batting in the 3-hole. Entering play Tuesday night, he was a .333 hitter with 1 double, 1 homer and 5 RBI in 24 at-bats when batting third.
Rays manager Joe Maddon showed so much respect for Cano that he ordered him intentionally walked in the third inning with two outs, a runner on second base and Alex Rodriguez on deck. It worked out for Tampa Bay but not immediately because Jeremy Hellickson walked A-Rod to fill the bases before getting Teixeira on a fly to right.
The Yankees’ 5-2 loss at Tropicana Field Monday night means that they cannot win 100 games this year. They needed to sweep the Rays in the season-ending, three-game set to get into three figures in victories for the 20th time in franchise history.
It is no big deal because the Yankees have done everything they wanted to do, which was to win the American League East and finish with the best record in the league that will give them home field advantage in the Division Series and League Championship Series. Reaching 100 in the W column would have been a nice topping on the season but one that was not necessary.
Not that Yankees fans ever like to see them lose, but falling to Tampa Bay combined with the Red Sox’ loss at Baltimore means the Rays have pulled into a tie for the wild card berth with Boston, which has squandered a nine-game lead in those standings since Sept. 4. If the teams should remain tied after Tuesday night’s game, there could be pressure on Yankees manager Joe Girardi to field a representative lineup for the last game of the season if the wild-card slot is still on the line.
Girardi made it clear before the Yankees left for St. Petersburg, Fla., that he was starting Bartolo Colon Tuesday night and that Wednesday night’s finale would be handled by the bullpen. He has no reason to do anything differently. Girardi’s first responsibility is to the Yankees. He used a lot of regulars last weekend against the Red Sox and last week and Monday night against the Rays. He is under no obligation for the integrity of the game to do something that might hurt his team’s chances in postseason play, which begins Friday night.
The Red Sox and the Rays had a 162-game schedule and 18 games apiece against the Yankees to stay close to them. Boston in particular has no gripe. The Red Sox got into this fix by themselves and should not expect any kind of helping hand from the Yankees now.
There is baseball in the Bronx Tuesday night – just barely. Less than an hour before midnight, the Yankees and the Orioles took to the field at Yankee Stadium after a rain delay of 4 hours, 3 minutes. The teams waited this one out at the urging of Major League Baseball, which wants to get games in at this point of the season because there is very little time left for makeups. There were probably no more than 5,000 people in the stands when the game started at 11:08 p.m.
Neither team was crazy about the prospect of playing two games Wednesday when the weather is supposed to be inclement again. They are already scheduled to have a makeup game at 1 p.m. Thursday at Baltimore for a game they lost to Hurricane Irene last week. The Yankees then have to fly across the country to Anaheim, Calif., to begin a 10-day, 9-game trip that includes stops in Seattle and Toronto. Those last two cities have domed ballparks, and with rain rarely a problem in California’s Orange County the Yankees don’t expect to be victimized by weather on the trip.
Tuesday night marked the 20th time this season that a Yankees game has been affected by weather. They have had eight postponements, the most in the majors, and delays in 12 other games. The list includes their victory over the Rays July 18 at Tropicana Field, an indoor facility that had a bank of lights go out due to lightning in St. Petersburg, Fla.