Results tagged ‘ Willie Mays ’
Not to be outdone by teammate Derek Jeter, who passed Willie Mays into 10th place on the all-time hits list, Alex Rodriguez moved up some career lists when he homered with Jeter aboard in the eighth inning Friday night.
The run A-Rod scored on his 18th home run of the season and 447th of his career was his 1,889th, which pushed him past Lou Gehrig into ninth place on the all-time list. Next up in eighth place is Stan Musial at 1,949.
It was also Rodriguez’s 2,884th hit, which tied him with Zack Wheat for 37th place, 27 slots behind Jeter.
I still cannot get over the idea that Willie Mays is no longer in the top10 of hit makers in major-league history. Derek Jeter nudged the Say Hey Kid out of the group with an infield single in the fifth inning Friday night for career hit No. 3,284. Next on the list in ninth place is Eddie Collins at 3,313. With only 18 games remaining, Jeter may have to wait until next year to catch the Hall of Fame second baseman.
But Mays is certainly a big one. People of my generation tend to think of Mays as the greatest player they have ever seen. That is my opinion. It was also Joe Torre’s. Jeter has something in common with Mays, and that is he plays the game with the same sense of joy that Willie did. They are entirely different types of players in other regards, but in enthusiasm for the game they are equal.
Jeter has met Mays on several occasions, most prominently during the 2007 All-Star Game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park when he and Junior Griffey interviewed the center field legend as part of that week’s festivities. Jeter has been passing Hall of Famers left and right in his march up the hits path, but going past Willie Mays is one he won’t forget.
The Yankee Stadium crowd of 45,200 treated Jeter to a deserved standing ovation.
Here is the deal with Derek Jeter. If he can stand, he can play.
That is the attitude the Captain is taking as he deals with a bone bruise in his left ankle. He was in the lineup again Friday night as the designated hitter for the Yankees against Rays lefthander David Price, the pitcher against whom Jeter got his 3,000th career hit 14 months ago.
That five-hit game July 9, 2011 was the starting point of this wonderful turnaround for Jeter, who has played more like a 28-year-old than the 38-year-old he is. He batted .338 from that point to the end of the season and has continued throughout this year, moving up the all-time hits ladder to the front gate of the top 10 where with his next hit will pass the legendary Willie Mays.
In 870 at-bats from the 3,000-hit game, Jeter has hit .328 with 44 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs and 96 RBI, which is nothing short of amazing. So even with an ankle that is nowhere near 100 percent, Jeter wants to keep playing, and the Yankees want to keep playing him.
Manager Joe Girardi monitors Jeter on a daily basis, which can be a task considering Jeter will concede nothing to his condition. He comes to the ballpark expecting to play and usually does. Girardi has the safety net of the designated hitter position in the American League at his disposal to keep Jeter atop the batting order.
When Jeter next plays shortstop is harder to say. He is not running at full speed by any means but contends the ankle does not bother him as much in the field as it does running the bases. “I was going back onto the field when they pulled me back, remember?” Jeet said about being taken out of Wednesday night’s game at Boston.
At a time when players are kept on the bench for the mildest of ailments, how refreshing to see Jeter’s attitude about playing every day, an attitude straight out of, well, Willie Mays.
Was anyone really surprised to see Derek Jeter in the Yankees’ lineup Thursday night? When last the Captain was seen Wednesday night he was hobbling off the Fenway Park diamond after aggravating a left ankle bone bruise trying to beat out a double play grounder. He practically had to be dragged into the dugout by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue, so it was by no means at all stunning to see his name atop the batting order for the series finale.
Jeter had told reporters after Wednesday night’s game that he expected to play Thursday night. “Great,” he told Girardi when asked how the ankle felt before the game. Girardi may not have fully believed Jeter, but he sure wanted to. The manager played it safe and kept him off the field as Jeter got half a day off, sort of, as the designated hitter.
Good thing, too, because the Yankees needed the run-scoring hit he gave them in the seventh inning of a 2-0 victory that certainly fit into the must-win category of games. The Orioles had already won a 14-inning marathon against the Rays earlier in the day, so until the last out of the game at Fenway the Yankees were actually a half-game out of first place.
Jeter miss a must-win game? Not on your life. Fact is, Jeet thinks all games are must-win games.
The Yankees played .500 ball on the trip through Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Boston with a 5-5 record, which is only mediocre but since they lost three of the first four games on the trek they consider .500 acceptable. Another positive was that the Rays’ loss at Baltimore coupled with the Yankees’ victory dropped Tampa Bay four games out of first, which means the Yanks cannot fall behind the Rays in the standings in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium that begins Friday night with the marquee matchup of lefthanders CC Sabathia vs. David Price.
Phil Hughes pitched 7 1/3 terrific innings for his second victory on the trip and 15th of the season. With new daddy Dustin Pedroia unavailable, the Boston lineup was even weaker than normal, and Hughes made sure an upset was out of the question.
However, with the Yankees again struggling with runners in scoring position (1-for-9), Hughes did not have much margin for error. The Yankees got only one run out of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the fourth against lefthander Felix Doubront on a sacrifice fly by Andruw Jones. Jeter’s RBI single three innings later was welcomed by Hughes, who walked one batter and struck out seven.
It was a brutal series for the Yankees in the clutch. They somehow won two of the three games despite getting only two hits in 34 at-bats (.059) with runners in scoring position in the series. Jeter had both hits. He also doubled in two runs Tuesday night. Thursday night’s hit was career No. 3,283, which tied DJ with Willie Mays for 10th place all-time. Think of it; with one more hit Jeter will knock the Say Hey Kid out of the top 10.
If the Yankees weren’t going to hit in the clutch – and once again they did not – they might as well hit the ball over the fence – and once again they did. The Yankees failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position Wednesday night but used three long balls to get a one-run victory over the Red Sox that was needed to keep their share of first place in the American League East.
When Boston kept biting off portions of the 5-1 lead the Yankees had by the seventh inning, a look back into the game showed the importance of David Phelps’ start. Yankees manager Joe Girardi used six relievers to navigate through the final 3 1/3 innings, but Phelps’ work was a major factor in a must-win situation for the Yankees.
Let’s face it; the rookie righthander had a pretty short leash at Fenway Park. With an 11-man bullpen, Girardi had plenty of arms at his disposal if Phelps faltered, except he didn’t. The key inning was the fifth. The Yankees were up, 3-1, when Jarrod Saltalmacchia, whom the Yankees could not get out, led off with a triple into the Fenway right-center triangle. He also homered, doubled and walked on a perfect night.
Phelps stiffened and got through the fifth without suffering any damage. He struck out Daniel Nava, retired Scott Podsednik on an infield pop and got Jose Iglesias looking at a third strike. In a game that eventually came down to one run, that inning loomed large. Girardi made the first move to pen with two out in the sixth, but Phelps had done his job by yielding one run, five hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in evening his record at 4-4.
Curtis Granderson showed more signs that he is coming out of a prolonged slump over a period of almost 50 at-bats. He got the Yankees started with a solo home run in the fourth and pushed the Yankees’ lead to 5-1 with a two-run homer in the seventh. Granderson has five hits in his past 11 at-bats (.455) with a double, three homers and eight RBI. He also raised his team-leading totals in home runs to 37 and RBI to 89.
With Mark Teixeira (left calf strain) out of the lineup, the Yankees need some firepower. They also got it from Robinson Cano with a two-run homer in the fourth. That was Cano’s 30th home run of the season, a career high.
That would be the Yankees’ offense as they went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They are 1-for-25 in those situations in the series so are fortunate to have split the first two games.
Nick Swisher, who had also been slumping on the trip before arriving at Fenway, is getting back on track as well. Swish had two doubles and a single and is 6-for-11 (.545) since going hitless in 28 at-bats. Coming to Boston was just what Swisher needed. He is batting .452 with six doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 31 at-bats this year at Fenway.
A scare went up in the eighth when Derek Jeter came up lame trying to beat out a double-play grounder and was removed from the game. The Captain has played for a week with a bone bruise in his left ankle. He had two more hits – his 59th multi-hit game – which boosted his big-league leading total to 194 and career figure to 3,282, one behind 10th-place Willie Mays. DJ went past another Giants legend, Mel Ott, into 12th place on the all-time runs list with his 1,860th.
Jeet downplayed his sore ankle and vowed he would be back in the lineup Thursday night. That will be Girardi’s call, of course, but no Yankees fan wants to imagine how the team would fare without Jeter.
Infielder Eduardo Nunez, one of six players called up by the Yankees from the minor leagues as major-league rosters expanded beyond the 25-man limit Saturday, was thrust right into the lineup against the Orioles. Nunez was the designated hitter and in 8-hole hitter in the batting order.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had contemplated starting Nunez at shortstop and giving Derek Jeter a DH day but changed his mind. Nunez joined the Yankees from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre along with right-handed pitchers Cory Wade and Adam Warren, left-handed pitcher Justin Thomas , catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Curtis Dickerson, who was signed to a major-league contract and selected from SWB.
Jeter finished August with a major-league-leading 43 hits, the most for him in any month since August 2009 when he had 46. It was the 15th time in his career that Jeter had at least 40 hits in a month, the most for any Yankees player since Joe DiMaggio did it in 17 months.
Jeter’s six home runs in August matched his third-highest career total or any month in his career, behind the nine he had in June 2004 and the eight in August 2001. The Captain also had six homers in August 2009, September 2004 and July 199. Jeet has homered four times in his past 10 games and six time in his past 18.
DJ homered in a career-high four consecutive road games, the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since former teammate Tino Martinez homered in five straight road games from Sept. 23 to Oct. 4, 1999. With 14 homers in 2012, Jeter has reached double figures for the 16th time in his 17 seasons. He and Willie Mays are the only players in history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 homers, 300 stolen bases and 1,200 runs batted in.
In his injury-rehabilitation assignment Friday night for Class A Tampa at Lakeland, Alex Rodriguez as the DH had 0-for-3 with a walk and a run. A-Rod was to play third base for Tampa Saturday. Righthander David Aardsma also appeared in Friday night’s game and pitched one inning of scoreless relief. Lefthander Pedro Feliciano pitched one inning of relief for Class A Staten Island at Brooklyn and allowed one earned run, on a home run, with one strikeout. It was the first run Feliciano yielded in 7 1/3 innings in injury-rehab assignments.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been beset by questions from some reporters about why he is not using Ichiro Suzuki as his leadoff hitter, even though the point was made clear at the time of the trade that brought the Japanese outfielder from Seattle that he would bat in the lower third of the order.
Still, queries persisted because Girardi was toying with the lineup because the absence of disabled third baseman Alex Rodriguez left the batting order a bit too left-handed, and the manager was trying to figure out ways to break up all those lefty hitters. One idea was to use Curtis Granderson in the leadoff spot, an experiment that fizzled, so Jeter went back to the top spot.
When Ichiro got hot during the past homestand, the issue came up again. You would have thought by now that these people would have realized that the Yankees already have a pretty good leadoff hitter. Suzuki certainly was a sensational leadoff hitter in his prime years with the Mariners, but he is putting up nowhere near the numbers that Jeter is this season.
Despite turning 38, Jeter is having the caliber season he enjoyed 10 years ago. DJ hit the first pitch from lefthander Francisco Liriano Tuesday night for a home run, his 12th of the season. It was also his 3,256th hit, which pushed him past Eddie Murray into 11th place on the all-time list. No. 10 is Willie Mays at 3,283.
Jeter is now exactly 1,000 hits behind career leader Pete Rose, who also reached Jeter’s total at age 38 but played until he was 45. Jeter’s contract with the Yankee runs through 2013 with a player option for 2014, the year he would turn 40. Whether DJ will keep playing well into his 40s remains to be seen, but he has always cared more about winning games than personal goals.
I have always thought Rose’s coolest record is that he played on the winning side in the most games – 1,972. Jeter is at 1,525 victories, so he would have to play probably five more years for a legitimate shot at besting that mark.
But when it comes to leadoff hitting (and Rose was awfully good at that, too), Jeter is having a terrific season. He is batting .396 with five home runs in 111 at-bats leading off games with a .412 on-base average and a .613 slugging percentage. That gives the Captain an OPS of 1.025 in those situations. For his career leading off games, Jeter is a .356 hitter with 29 home runs in 873 at-bats with a .403 on-base average and a .523 slugging percentage for a .926 OPS.
Overall in his career, Jeter is batting .311 with 99 home runs in 3,972 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. He has batted most often in the 2-hole (5,348 at-bats) where he has hit .315 with 135 home runs. There is not that much of a difference. Jeter is clearly just as good batting first as batting second.
Unfortunately Tuesday night, after Jeter’s homer they did not do much else. They got a second run in the first inning, but for the second straight night they failed to keep that 2-0 lead. Their only other run in the 7-3 loss was a solo home run by Russell Martin in the seventh. The past 10 home runs for the Yankees have come up with the bases empty. The last home run they hit with a runner on base was Aug. 16, a two-run shot by Andruw Jones.
It was a bases-loaded home run by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth inning off Ivan Nova that shot the White Sox toward the victory. The Sox have been beating the Yankees at their own game with six home runs the past two games. DeWayne Wise, who was let go by the Yanks when they dealt for Suzuki, had four hits for Chicago and is 6-for-10 (.600) in the series. The Yankees kept their four-game lead in the American League East because the Rays’ five-game winning streak came to an end in a 1-0, 10-inning loss to the Royals.
Curtis Granderson just had to get up in the ninth inning with a chance to win Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium, didn’t he? I mean, that was just poetic justice.
That it actually happened was pretty surprising, considering that the Yankees needed a big rally to keep the line moving to Granderson, who was the eighth batter of the inning. The game had been quite a showcase for Granderson, who made two sparkling catches in center field and had a couple of hits, including his 24th home run which at the time – the sixth inning – got the Yankees within a run of the Angels.
By the time the Yanks came up for last licks, they were down by five runs, however. The Angels matched the Yankees in home runs with four, but an eighth-inning rally against reliever Chad Qualls contained none of them. Mark Trumbo’s homer off D.J. Mitchell in the top of the ninth seemed unnecessary until the Yankees kept putting runners on base in the bottom half.
Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who had not allowed a run in 26 1/3 innings since joining the Angels from the Blue Jays May 5, walked two batters and gave up a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira that forced Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia to make a move to lefthander Scott Downs, who lost Friday night’s game.
Raul Ibanez’s single that tore Downs’ glove off was a bad omen for Downs, but he came back to strike out pinch hitter Andruw Jones and retire Russell Martin on a fielder’s choice. A four-pitch walk to Derek Jeter brought the moment those remaining in the Stadium crowd of 46,679 longed for.
Granderson gave the fans plenty to cheer for with an eight-pitch at-bat that included a loud foul that had everyone gasping. Granderson worked a hard-earned walk that forced in a run that got the Yankees to 10-8.
“Downs has always been tough on me,” Granderson said. “I was hoping to get a ball up in the zone, but when I got one I fouled it off. The crowd got excited, but I knew it was foul when I hit it.”
Alex Rodriguez, who had started the Yankees’ scoring in the first inning with a two-run home run following a Granderson single, had several good cuts in his duel with righthander Kevin Jepsen but eventually ended the game by fouling out to first baseman Albert Pujols.
“It was an awesome situation,” Rodriguez said. “You want to be in that situation. I took some good swings but had a lousy result.”
The Yankees lead the majors with comeback victories at 29. Had this been No. 30, it would have been very satisfying. For the second straight day, they erased a 2-0, first-inning deficit. Starting pitcher Ivan Nova struggled through his six-plus innings without an effective breaking pitch and falling behind in counts with his fastball that made his changeup useless.
Nova could have had it worse if not for Granderson. His back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a drive by fellow center fielder Mike Trout in the third inning was right out of the Willie Mays handbook.
“I knew it was past me, and I wasn’t sure I could get underneath it,” Granderson said. “I looked and saw that I had more room than I thought between me and the wall. The wall out there is solid concrete, so even with the padding it is pretty hard.”
“It was an unbelievable catch,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Trout has taken so many hits away from us; it was nice to see one taken away from him.”
Granderson also made a fine, diving catch in right center to Alberto Callaspo of an extra-base hit that became a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
So it was fitting that he got the chance to make a terrific individual game complete by taking part in the ninth-inning rally. Granderson certainly did his part.
It is becoming clear by now that the Yankees hit rock bottom with that embarrassing, 6-0 loss to the Royals in the rain Monday night at Yankee Stadium following a series when they lost two of three games to the Reds. The Yankees’ failure with runners in scoring position was an issue that simply would not go away.
That sure seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? The Yankees haven’t lost since, stringing together four victories for only the second time this year. The other time was the first week of the season when they swept a three-game set at Baltimore and won the home opener against the Angels.
Several hitters that Yankees fans were worried about have broken out during the winning streak, none more so than Mark Teixeira, who may finally be over the bronchial condition that lingered for a month and appeared to sap much of his strength. Tex wasn’t kidding when he told reporters earlier this week that he is going to start swinging for the fences. He has three home runs and seven RBI over the past four games while going 7-for-15 (.467) to get his batting average to a respectable .248 and out of the dreary .220s. Saturday’s 4-for-5 performance in the Yankees’ 9-2 victory over the Athletics included two homers and five RBI.
Robinson Cano didn’t sit around and gloat after becoming the third Yankees second baseman to reach the 150-homer plateau Friday night, joining Tony Lazzeri (169) and Joe Gordon (153), a couple of Hall of Famers. Nice company that, but Cano wasted no time getting to No. 151 with a solo shot leading off the second inning Saturday to begin the Yankees’ assault on ex-teammate Bartolo Colon. Cano has 5-for-15 (.333) with three homers and four RBI in the winning streak.
Alex Rodriguez, who contributed a sacrifice fly Saturday, has 5-for-16 (.313) with two homers, four RBI and two stolen bases over the past four games. Nick Swisher has also shown signs of working out of a May-long slump during the winning streak with 4-for-14 (.286), two doubles, one homer and two RBI.
The Yanks made it a long afternoon for Colon, who did such a splendid job for them last year, by knocking him around for six earned runs and nine hits in six innings. Two of the hits were by Derek Jeter, who tied George Brett for 14th place on the career list with 3,154. DJ is 30 hits shy of 13th place where sits one of his idols, Cal Ripken Jr. In fact, if the Captain can get another 130 hits this year, which is not out of the question, he might move into the all-time top 10 by passing Willie Mays (3,283). How rarified would that air be?
Saturday’s offensive explosion by the Yankees was more than enough support for CC Sabathia, who evened his career record against the A’s to 8-8. That was important to CC. He grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., where the local high school named its baseball facility after him this past off-season. Despite the reputation of Oakland’s O.co Coliseum (I wish they’d stop changing the name of that place) as a pitcher’s yard, Sabathia has struggled there but with Saturday’s victory is within a game of .500 for his career there at 4-5.
CC has a reputation as well; that of a staff ace that can be counted on to end losing streaks and extending winning streaks. He was touched for a first-inning run on a two-out single by Jonny Gomes and a solo homer by Josh Reddick leading off the third. Sabathia allowed only two hits and a walk after that through the seventh and watched his teammates keep piling on.
The Coliseum poses few problems to most of the current Yankees. They have won eight in a row there, 12 of their past 13 games and 23 of 32 since the start of 2004. They might never want to leave.
True to form, Alex Rodriguez was on the field at Yankee Stadium early Wednesday with teammate Nick Swisher taking extra batting practice. Say this for A-Rod. He puts in the hours it takes to be a great hitter even though the results thus far this season have been underwhelming.
After Tuesday night’s victory, Rodriguez told reporters that he had discovered a small adjustment in his last at-bat of the game and vowed he would keep working to turn things around.
“I’m going to hit; you don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “I feel like I’m about to go off. When it’s all said and done, my home runs and RBI will be there.”
A-Rod didn’t take very long to “go off,” as he said. In his first at-bat of the game against Royals rookie lefthander Will Smith, Rodriguez absolutely crushed a 2-2 fastball to left for his sixth home run of the season and his first in 53 at-bats since May 6 at Kansas City. It was career No. 635 for Rodriguez, who was 25 homers behind fourth-place Willie Mays on the career list.
There was a time when you would have thought A-Rod might have a good shot at catching the Say Hey Kid this year, but droughts such as this recent one have put doubts in the thoughts of many, although Yankees manager Joe Girardi remains a believer. He said before the game that he thought Rodriguez’s swing was coming around and that he may be ready to break out.
A-Rod made the manager seem like a genius when he went deep his second time up as well, a solo drive to center field for career No. 636, cutting the deficit to Mays to 24, which was Willie’s uniform number.
Rodriguez’s first homer was the second of the inning for the Yankees. After failing to bunt twice, Curtis Granderson swung away and launched his 14th homer, into the right field bleachers. The three runs made a nice cushion for Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, who broke into the majors in 1995 when Smith was 7 years old.
A-Rod’s second homer made this his 60th multi-homer game, 56 of which have been two-homer jobs.
The Yankees faced a starting pitcher making major league debut for the 14th time since 2000. They were 5-8 in the previous 13 games, including six consecutive losses from Sept. 30, 2004 (to the Blue Jays’ Gustavo Chacin) to July 27, 2010 (to the Indians’ Josh Tomlin, the last pitcher to win his big-league debut against the Yankees). They have won the past two such games, the most recent being April 10 this year against the Orioles’ Wei-Yin Chen at Camden Yards.