Results tagged ‘ Vernon Wells ’
No shutout this time. After becoming the first team to get shut out in a game at Coors Field this year, the Yankees got on the board right away Wednesday night. Vernon Wells, who has been struggling lately with three hits in his previous 22 at-bats (.136) clubbed a 3-2 fastball from the Rockies’ Juan Nicasio in the first inning for a two-run home run.
The blow, Wells’ seventh homer of the season and his first ever at Coors, scored Brett Gardner, who had singled to lead off the game and stolen second base. It was the Yankees’ fifth steal in 10 innings at Denver.
Lyle Overbay put on a clinic at first base in the bottom of the first inning to save Yankees starter David Phelps from a potential rough beginning. Overbay took part in all three outs with a putout and two assists, both on sure-handed grabs of tough hops. The Yankees could have done a whole lot worse in finding a replacement for injured Mark Teixeira than the stylishly efficient Overbay.
The Rockies got even in the second inning with a two-run homer of their own. After a one-out double to right-center by Wilin Rosario, Todd Helton drove a 3-1 fastball to right field for his second home run of the season.
Come the sixth inning and both team’s pitchers were batting eighth in the order. Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to bat Phelps in the 8-hole to break up the left-handed hitters. It was the first time a Yanks starting pitcher batted in that spot since Aug. 28, 1957 when then manager Casey Stengel hit Don Larsen eighth and second baseman Bobby Richardson ninth against the White Sox.
Nicasio was in the usual ninth spot for pitchers to start the game, but when he came out after five innings Rockies manager Walt Weiss made a double switch and brought in Jonathan Herrera to play shortstop and put reliever Josh Outman in the 8-hole previously occupied by Reid Brignac.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that he has to be careful with Travis Hafner. Injuries have plagued the slugger in recent years. Sometimes a manager gets a hunch. Saturday was just that kind of day. The Blue Jays were starting a lefthander, J.A. Happ, but aware that the right-handed portion of the designated hitter platoon, Ben Francisco, is struggling (.103 in 29 at-bats) Girardi chose to give the lefty-swinging Hafner a rare start against a southpaw.
How it turned out was just downright beautiful. All Hafner did was drive in four runs as the Yankees turned back the Blue Jays again, 5-4, behind another gritty effort from CC Sabathia. This was like old times for Travis and CC, former teammates at Cleveland. It was another victory due in large part to the newcomers with the Yankees this year; in this case Hafner and Vernon Wells, who drove in the other Yankees run.
Just as was the case in recent years of the likes of Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Raul Ibanez and Andruws Jones, among others, who thrived with the Yankees in their twilight years, Hafner and Wells have found a fountain of youth in the Bronx.
“This is a great place to play,” Girardi said. “It’s a great clubhouse. There are great expectations. Guys feed off that.”
It was quite an afternoon. Sabathia fell into a 3-0 hole, but the Yankees helped him climb out of it so that he ended up pitching through eight innings and improving his record to 4-2 despite yet another game when his stuff was not top shelf.
“I was all over the place in the early innings,” Sabathia said. “They just missed some balls that I left out over the middle of the plate.”
“He competes, that’s what he does,” Girardi said of Sabathia. “He has not been as sharp in April, but he has four victories, so I am not going to complain.”
Newly thrust into the starting catcher role with Francisco Cervelli out for six weeks with a right hand fracture, Chris Stewart had a rough time of it in the fourth inning. A passed ball and an error helped the Blue Jays to a gift run that gave Toronto the 3-0 lead.
Sabathia, still searching for some velocity on a fastball that rarely topped 90 miles per hour, had an unusual number of fly-ball outs in the early innings. Nobody was catching the ball Jose Bautista hit to start the fourth inning, however. It darted into the left field stands for his seventh home run.
Edwin Encarnacion, who had five home runs in his previous four games, followed with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. Stewart’s passed ball put Encarnacion at third base. He tried to score on Brett Lawrie’s flyout to right field, but Ichiro Suzuki’s laser-beam throw to the plate beat Encarnacion. Plate umpire Jeff Kellogg was prepared to call Encarnacion out, but the ball was dropped by Stewart, a costly error.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Happ got careless with the lead as he began the bottom of the fourth by walking Wells and Kevin Youkilis, who was back in the lineup after missing six games due to back stiffness.
Hafner lowered the boom and brought the Yankees even with his sixth home run, a three-run shot to right-center. He had never faced Happ before, but Hafner was a welcome addition to the batting order.
Lawrie picked up the RBI he lost in the fourth two innings later when he lined a home run to right field that put Toronto back in front.
Not for long, though, as Hafner struck again in the seventh. Righthander Esmil Rogers took over at that point and gave up a one-out double to Robinson Cano, who nearly didn’t get to second base before a remarkably strong and accurate by Bautista from the right field warning track. Wells tied the score with a single to center.
The Yankees stayed out of the double play by sending Wells as Youkilis grounded out to third base. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in another lefthander, Brett Cecil, to face Hafner, who tripled off the glove of center fielder Rajai Davis. In the top of the inning, Brett Gardner made a fence-slamming catch off a similar drive by Bautista. It was the 13th career triple for Hafner and his third over the past six years. This was the first time since 2007 that Hafner has had a triple and a stolen base in the same season.
“Probably tiring,” Hafner said about what it felt like getting to third base. “You want to get some quality at-bats against a lefthander once in a while. It would be nice to get some starts, but I also know that they have my best interests at heart.”
Wanting to stay away from Mariano Rivera, who pitched in three of the previous four games, Girardi used Joba Chamberlain out of the bullpen in the ninth. He was touched for a couple of one-out singles but eventually slammed the door for his fifth career save and first since Sept. 21, 2010 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Yankees are now 13-5 since opening the season 1-4, 8-1 in games decided by two or fewer runs, 3-0 in one-run games and 13-1 when holding opponents to four runs or less. In addition, the Yankees are creating distance from the disappointing Jays, who are 9-16 and six games behind the 14-9 Yankees in the American League East. Toronto’s 11-28 (.282) record at Yankee Stadium is the worst for any team that has played at least 30 games in any current major league park.
The news keeps getting grimmer for the Blue Jays, who after all their off-season moves had been considered favorites to win the American League East. Toronto went into Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium with a 9-14 record and last-place standing in the division and had to scratch the scheduled starting pitcher, Josh Johnson, because of tight right triceps.
Inserted into Johnson’s spot was lefthander Aaron Laffey, whom the Blue Jays signed earlier in the week off waivers from the Mets. Laffey made two starts and two relief appearances for the Mets and had a 7.20 ERA in 10 innings during which he allowed eight earned runs and 16 hits but was not involved in a decision.
Johnson is the second player in the major, off-season trade with the Marlins who has gone down with an injury. Shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be lost for up to three months with a severe ankle injury. Johnson has not exactly been lighting it up for the Jays this year. The righthander, who led the National League in earned run average three years ago, is 0-1 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts. Johnson has allowed 28 hits in 19 2/3 innings.
With Kevin Youkilis still unable to play due to persistent back stiffness, Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to toy with his batting order, particularly against left-handed pitching. Friday night, he moved Jayson Nix into the 2-hole, which is not a bad thought considering the way Nix has hit against left-handed pitching this season (.316) and against Toronto the past two seasons.
Nix, who has done a solid job as a backup shortstop and third basemen, spent the 2011 season with the Blue Jays and batted only .169 in 136 at-bats. The Yankees signed him for a utility role in 2012, and Nix has given his former club headaches ever since. With two hits Thursday night, Nix lifted his average against the Blue Jays this year to .417 in 12 at-bats and over the past two seasons to .370 with five doubles, three runs batted in and 12 runs scored.
Vernon Wells, who spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Angels in 2011, has also wreaked havoc against his former club. Wells connected for his seventh home run of the season Thursday night, a majestic shot over the center field wall. In four games against the Jays this year, Wells had batted .421 with five runs, three home runs and four RBI in 19 at-bats.
Over an 11-game stretch against Toronto dating to Sept. 19, 2011, Wells has been a .340 hitter with nine runs, four doubles, five home runs and 10 RBI in 47 at-bats. It may not get any easier for the Blue Jays. Wells has batted .444 with three home runs and three RBI in seven day games this year. The Yankees have day games against Toronto Saturday and Sunday.
Nice weather has finally reached the area. You could tell the difference with all the home runs hit at Yankee Stadium Thursday night. Though it cooled off somewhat in the latter innings, a game time temperature of 65 degrees signaled the possibility that the ball would carry much better than in previous homestands when temperatures barely got out of the 40s.
Over the first four innings, five baseballs left the yard. Hiroki Kuroda, who handled the Blue Jays with ease last week at Toronto, was down quickly, 3-0, on a two-run home run in the first inning by Edwin Encarnacion and a solo shot in the second by Brett Lawrie. Encarnacion’s blow made up for a terrible series last week at Rogers Centre in which he was hitless in 12 at-bats.
But just as quickly, the Yankees struck back with the long ball against Mark Buehrle, a good sign for the team against a lefthander. Southpaws have been tough on the Yanks, particularly lately with Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup. He did not play again Thursday night because of continuing back stiffness.
Vernon Wells hit a towering drive over the center field wall leading off the second inning for his sixth home run, which tied him for the club lead. Temporarily, that is. Robinson Cano thrust the Yankees in front in the third inning with a three-run shot to right. Cano’s seventh home run this season was career No. 184, which tied him with Charlie Keller for 18th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. Next up in 17th place at 185 is Paul O’Neill.
Cano also moved up the Yankees’ career RBI list and into the top 10. His 732 RBI tied him with Elston Howard for 10th place. Give Cano credit. This was the time of year with all the injured Yankees that Cano might have felt pressure to do too much and chased bad pitches, but he has displayed patience and is off to a very productive start, batting .322 with seven homers and 17 RBI.
A lot of that has to do with the protection Cano has received in the lineup from Wells (.293, six home runs, 10 RBI) and Travis Hafner (.300, five home runs, 10 RBI), who was on the bench Thursday night with the Jays starting a lefty.
Francisco Cervelli continued the Yankees’ home run parade with a shot off the barrier in front of the left field bleachers. The catcher’s third home run of the season apparently upset Buehrle, who hit Cervelli with a pitch in his next at-bat. After yielding a single to the next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, Buehrle was taken out of the game and said something to Cervelli at third base as he headed for the dugout.
The Yankees are hopeful they can get the other Francisco, Ben, going. Hafner’s designated hitter partner has struggled. He got a hit with a bunt single that was not awarded until an umpire was overruled by one of his mates. First base umpire Chad Fairchild called Francisco out at first base on a bang-bang play. Replays indicated Encarnacion at first base may not have had control of the ball as Francisco hit the bag. Second base ump Jeff Kellogg, the crew chief, huddled the umpires together, and the call was reversed.
It was the proper call, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons didn’t think so. He got ejected by Kellogg after a heated argument. The season has not gone the way Gibbons hoped back in spring training. The Jays, who had been picked in many preseason publications as the favorite in the American League East, are 9-14 and have lost three of four games to the Yankees.
Francisco was just thankful to be standing on a base instead of walking back to the dugout. For all of Gibbons’ screaming, the play was not involved in the scoring. Thanks to the weather in the early innings, this was a home run game, and despite the perception that the Yankees are weaker in the power department their 31 homers are the most in the league.
Major League Baseball marked the official start of All-Star balloting today for the 84th All-Star Game that will be held Tuesday, July 16, at Citi Field.
Yankees fans might have to make sure of write-in votes to help some of the players make it onto the team. The ballot does not include catcher Francisco Cervelli or outfielder Vernon Wells, for example. Chris Stewart is listed as the Yankees’ catcher, and the three outfielders on the ballot are Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki. Granderson has yet to play a game. Nor have first baseman Mark Teixeira or shortstop Derek Jeter. All had been expected back in May, which is why they were named to the ballot.
Jeter’s case has changed, obviously, with another break in his surgical left ankle that will keep him out of action until after the All-Star break. Alex Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery, was never expected to play before the All-Star break, so Kevin Youkilis is listed as the Yankees’ third baseman. Also on the ballot are second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Travis Hafner.
MLB’s All-Star balloting program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. Last year, more than 40.2 million ballots were cast, which was a record. This year, more than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 major-league ballparks, each of which will have 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 minor-league parks.
Fans may also cast votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club web sites, including Yankees.com. – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com.
Every major-league club will have begun its in-stadium balloting no later than Tuesday, May 7. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes Friday, June 28, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 club web sites and their mobile devices until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 4. Firestone is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2013 In-Stadium All-Star balloting program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.
“All-Star Balloting is more popular than ever, and we hope for another record-setting year in 2013,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “Major League Baseball is thrilled that fans throughout the world will continue to choose their favorite players for the greatest sporting event of the summer. We look forward to adding a new chapter to the remarkable National League tradition of New York City at Citi Field this summer.”
This will mark the ninth time the All-Star Game has been in New York. The Yankees have been the host team four times in the Bronx – 1939 and the second of two games in 1960 in the original Yankee Stadium and 1977 and 2008 in the renovated Stadium. The game was also in Manhattan twice when the Giants were the host team at the Polo Grounds – 1934 and 1942 – and once each in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were the host team at Ebbets Field in 1949 and in Queens when the Mets were the host team at Shea Stadium in its inaugural season of 1964.
For the fifth consecutive year, this year’s ballot will feature the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will get to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll also will be available online at MLB.com.
Cano, the winner of the 2011 event at Chase Field in Phoenix, is one of the 10 American League candidates, along with designated hitter Adam Dunn of the White Sox; first baseman Prince Fielder of the Tigers; third basemen Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, Evan Longoria of the Rays and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers; and outfielders Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Adam Jones of the Orioles and Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout of the Angels.
The 10 National League candidates are catcher Buster Posey of the Giants; first baseman Joey Votto of the Reds; third baseman David Wright of the Mets; and outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Jason Heyward of the Braves, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins.
The AL and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled Sunday, July 7, on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, televised nationally on TBS. The AL All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL All-Star Team will have eight. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – the AL’s Jim Leyland of the Tigers and the NL’s Bruce Bochy of the Giants.
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each league’s 34-man roster via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes Thursday, July 11. Now in its 12th season with more than 350 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, club sites and their mobile phones.
This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the game, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 club sites via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
So where is Russell Martin these days? Oh, that’s right; he took off for Pittsburgh as a free agent in the past off-season because the Pirates came up with a second year in their contract offer. Good for him; I hope he is happy.
I was thinking about Martin during the Yankees-Blue Jays game Sunday at Toronto when Chris Stewart hit a home run in the third inning and threw out Melky Cabrera trying to steal second base in the fifth.
I do not mean to pick on Martin as much as those who kept reporting all winter about how the Yankees blew it by not conceding to the catcher’s contract demands and would regret it. Look at what Stewart and Francisco Cervelli have done so far this year. Does anyone miss Russell Martin all that much?
The Cervelli-Stewart tandem was treated in a few media outlets as some sort of joke during spring training, but the duo have been a major part of the Yankees’ good start that hit a bump Sunday with an 8-4 loss. Stewart was involved in all the Yankees’ scoring innings. He got the Yanks on the board with his first home run of the season, began the two-run rally in the fifth with a single and bunted Jayson Nix to third base with one out in the sixth that preceded the sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead at that point.
In the first two games of the series – both Yankees victories – Cervelli was behind the plate and had 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two runs scored. He has gotten the bulk of the playing time of the two catchers, with 42 at-bats to Stewart’s 17, but manager Joe Girardi insists that they are sharing the position. However the breakdown, the catching situation has been in good hands.
Cervelli and Stewart are batting a combined .322 with a .525 slugging percentage, three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 59 at-bats. Martin? He is hitting .216 with a .353 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and three RBI in 51 at-bats. Again, not to pick on the guy, but I cannot remember just when it was that Russell Martin became the second coming of Thurman Munson, which seemed to be an off-season theme in some circles.
Martin had two decent seasons with the Yankees. Last year, he showed renewed power (21 home runs) and had some memorable game-winning hits, including a huge homer against the Mets, but hit .211 for the season. Now I realize that the seamheads who adore the boutique stats don’t make much of batting average anymore, but .211 is still .211, which is not good by any measure.
Stewart had his hands full Sunday with another erratic outing from Ivan Nova, who threw 101 pitches but was gone after giving up a walk and a double to the first two batters in the sixth that the Jays turned into a four-run inning with RBI hits off relievers Boone Logan and David Phelps to regain the lead they would not relinquish again.
The leadoff walk in the sixth was to Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind. I do not know what the Yankees’ scouting report was on Lind, but they sure pitched to him carefully in the series. Lind had five plate appearances and walked in every one, including all four times he stepped to the plate Sunday.
It was nonetheless a positive series for the Yankees, who move on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game set against another American League East rival, the Rays, who swept the Athletics over the weekend at Tropicana Field.
Despite being booed loudly and repeatedly in the city where he was once a favorite, Vernon Wells will miss Toronto. He had quite series, going 7-for-15 (.467) with a double and two home runs. He also made the defensive play of the game Sunday in the third inning with a fence-climbing catch in left field to rob Edwin Encarnacion of a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit and begin a rally-killing double play.
Gardner also found Toronto to his liking, as usual. He had 5-for-14 (.357) in the series with a double, a home run, a stolen base, two runs and two RBI. Gardner is a .370 career hitter at Rogers Centre with 18 runs, six doubles, six triples, one home run and eight RBI in 30 games.
The slick artificial surface at Rogers Centre played havoc with both the Yankees and the Blue Jays Saturday. Of course, without such a surface the clubs might not have been able to play at all. Snow and freezing temperatures hit Toronto Saturday morning, but with the flick of a switch at the domed facility the roof allowed the teams to get in a game without the sort of conditions the Mets faced on their recent trip to snow-bound Minneapolis and Denver.
The Yankees prevailed, 5-3, but not without a struggle. They had the dubious defense of the Blue Jays to thank for this one. A two-base throwing error by relief pitcher Aaron Loup let what proved the deciding runs to score in the 11th inning. Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie ranged too far off third base on a sacrifice bunt by Ichiro Suzuki, a daring move infielders often make on the fast surface there, and could not get back to the bag in time to make a play on Loup’s throw that went down the left field line and let the tiebreaking runs score.
Back in the fifth inning, Lawrie couldn’t handle a scorching line drive by Kevin Youkilis that went off his glove and into left field for a two-run single that had given the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Youkilis ended up having to come out of the game when his back stiffened up playing on the hard turf. Shoddy defense hurt the Blue Jays Friday night as well with the Yankees getting two gift runs due to a throwing error by center fielder Colby Rasmus that might have just as well been charged to catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was out of position to take the rally.
The Yankees will always take advantage of being given extra outs by the opposition. The turf played a part in the Jays’ tying the score with a three-run eighth that hung a tough no-decision on Hiroki Kuroda, who stretched his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 before that inning and lowered his season ERA to 2.35.
Lyle Overbay, who replaced Youkilis at first base, could not stop a rug-cutting grounder by Rasmus that went into right field for a one-out single. David Robertson came on and got a big strikeout of Maicer Izturis for the second out. But a walk to pinch hitter Adam Lind preceded a single by Rajai Davis on a hanging curve on a 0-2 count to score the run that ended Kuroda’s streak.
Davis then made a big play with a steal of second base. And the day after Overbay and Vernon Wells hurt their former Blue Jays team, Melky Cabrera did the same to the Yankees with a single to center that knotted the score.
Mariano Rivera withstood a leadoff double by Jose Bautista in the bottom of the 11th for his fifth save. The winning pitcher was Sean Kelley, who did a nice job of relief in the 10th after Toronto got a runner to second base with one out against Boone Logan. Kelley retired Davis on an infield pop and Cabrera on a grounder to the right side.
Kuroda was coming off a complete-game shutout last Sunday against the Orioles and was just as stingy over the first six innings by limiting the Jays to two hits. He finished with a three-hit effort with one walk and seven strikeouts. Wells had another big game at his old yard with 3-for-5, including his fifth home run.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi is known to be stubborn in some of his thinking, for which he is often taken to task, but I generally believe he does a thorough job when constructing a batting order.
The skipper tried a different wrinkle Saturday at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Girardi had been using Vernon Wells in the 2-hole when the opposition starts a left-handed pitcher to break up the lefty-hitting Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. Saturday, however, Girardi decided to use Ben Francisco in that spot and keep Wells to the 5-hole where he usually bats against a right-handed starter.
Girardi’s reasoning was sound. Wells had a home run and another hit Friday night and had great career numbers against Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle, so it seemed a good idea to keep him in an RBI slot in the lineup. The move might have also been designed to get Francisco going. The right-handed part of the designated hitter platoon with Travis Hafner is off to a slow start (.154 entering play) and perhaps situated between Gardner and Cano might get a better assortment of pitches.
It worked out fine for Wells, who had another good game against Buehrle, with a home run off the left field foul pole in the second inning, plus an opposite-field single in the fifth. Wells is a .489 career hitter against Buehrle with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and nine RBI in 47 at-bats.
The lineup change did not work out as well for Francisco as he took a 0-for-4 collar against Buehrle.
One night after they received bad news about Derek Jeter, the Yankees got positive news about Andy Pettitte. The lefthander caused concern when he was pushed back a full turn in the rotation because of back spasms. Pettitte made his first start in 10 days Friday night and looked as if he had not missed a beat.
An efficient, 90-pitch effort carried Pettitte one out into the eighth inning in the Yankees’ 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays. Andy helped make a statement of sorts for the Yankees against the Jays, whom many pre-season prognosticators identified as the favorites to win the American League East this year.
Toronto certainly made a lot of major acquisitions that has revved up Canadian fans. A crowd of 40,028 swelled Rogers Centre Friday night, but Pettitte and his teammates showed Blue Jays followers that the Yankees have no intention of disappearing in the division chase. The Yanks also showed that their acquisitions can get the job done.
The Jays are playing without major off-season pickup Jose Reyes, who is out with a leg injury, but the Yankees do not have their regular shortstop, either. Derek Jeter suffered a setback in his recovery from left ankle surgery and won’t be back in uniform until after the All-Star break at the earliest.
The uplifting performance by Pettitte was an antidote to Thursday night’s 12-inning loss to the Diamondbacks for a Yankees squad that dragged into Ontario in the wee hours. Fortunately, Andy flew ahead and was plenty rested for this start. The Yankees handed him a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Travis Hafner and a run-scoring infield out by Vernon Wells. Pettitte gave up half the lead in the bottom half, but by the time Toronto scored again the Yanks had constructed a seven-run lead.
Pettitte scattered six hits, including a thunderous home run to center field by Jose Bautista (no crime there, he can launch them) with one walk and five strikeouts in improving his record to 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Pettitte’s 248th career victory gave him an 88-49 mark (.642) with the Yankees following a team loss. That’s the definition of a stopper.
The Yankees gave him plenty of support, a 13-hit assault against Brandon Morrow and three relievers that featured 10 knocks for extra bases. Hafner homered and doubled. Wells and Lyle Overbay added home runs, Brett Gardner a triple, Francisco Cervelli and Ichiro Suzuki two doubles each and a double by Cano, who had three hits in all. The Yankees also took advantage of an errant throw to the plate by Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus with Wells and Suzuki scoring on the play in the third.
It was a satisfying night for Wells and Overbay, who played significant portions of their career in Toronto and were deluged by boos in their plate appearances. They got the last laughs, however, by slamming homers. Wells spent 12 years north of the border and Overbay five. They teamed to continue the Yankees’ strong run by newcomers along with Hafner.
The Yankees have batted .294 as a team with 23 doubles, one triple and 19 home runs in winning eight of their past 10 games. They lead the AL in home runs with 25. Cano has five homers in the Yankees’ 15 games. He didn’t hit his fifth homer of 2012 until the club’s 43rd game. With a 2-for-3 game, Cervelli raised the batting average of Yankees catchers to .314 in 51 at-bats. A year ago, Yankees catchers ranked 24th of 30 big-league clubs in batting at .220 in 542 at-bats.
Pettitte’s effort was another quality start for the rotation that has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in 66 2/3 innings over this stretch that has pushed the Yanks’ record to 9-6. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are 7-10, so who is chasing whom?