Results tagged ‘ World Series ’
The 2015 Hall of Fame election was one for the ages. For the first time in 60 years and for only the fourth time in the history of the voting that dates to 1936, as many as four players got the nod from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in this year’s election. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio are a classy quartet and proved so in Wednesday’s press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Johnson and Martinez were particularly amusing discussing their time pitching at Yankee Stadium as opposing players. The “Big Unit,” of course, also wore the pinstripes for two seasons, although he readily admitted those were not the finest hours of his career. However, he conceded that he had a whale of a time.
“I won 34 games over those two seasons, but I didn’t pitch as well as people wanted,” Johnson said. “But to be able to sit down in the dugout and talk to Yogi Berra about the old days, to have Whitey Ford ask me to sign a jersey and then sit down and chat about pitching, what could have been better? To get to know Reggie Jackson really well and begin a long friendship, it was great. Reggie texted me [Tuesday] and said, ‘How did you get more votes than me?’ That’s Reggie.”
Johnson, who won five Cy Young Awards and was the co-Most Valuable Player of one of the most exciting World Series ever played (in 2001 for the Diamondbacks against the Yankees), has stronger memories of pitching against the Yankees than for them. He recalled the first time he was scheduled to pitch at the Stadium for the Mariners in 1992 he was followed into the park by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, then a Yankees broadcaster.
“I played college ball at the University of Southern California under the legendary coach Ron Dedeaux, who always referred to a player on the team as ‘Tiger,’ probably because he couldn’t remember names,” Johnson said. “So ‘Tiger’ became a sore of alumni sign. I was coming into the Stadium that day and I heard someone shout to me, ‘Tiger, Tiger.’ I knew it had to be a USC alum, and sure enough it was Tom Seaver. He wanted to know why I was carrying my own bags on a night when I was pitching. We became good friends after that. How can you not cherish such memories?”
“You were lucky,” Martinez chimed in. “You have no idea what it was like to pitch at Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox.”
Martinez was one of those Boston players Yankees fans loved to hate. The more abuse they could heap on him the better, but the diminutive righthander was never bothered by it. He eventually made New York his baseball home as well later with the Mets but saw a major difference between the two fan bases.
“I learned a lot while coming over to New York as a visitor with the Red Sox and also coming later on and dressing in the uniform of the Mets,” Martinez said. “In Queens, fans are wild, they’re happy. They settle for what they have. The Yankees fans do not. It’s ‘Win or nothing. Win or nothing.’
“Yankees fans were really good at trying to intimate you. As the opposition, they wanted to intimidate you. But deep in their heart, they appreciate baseball. They appreciate everything that you do. They recognize greatness. And they’re gonna boo you and they’re gonna call you, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ They’re going to chant until you just go away.”
I pointed out at the press conference a footnote that Martinez is the first pitcher under six feet in height to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 41 years since Whitey went in with his teammate and pal, Mickey Mantle, in 1974. I added that today Pedro stands as tall as the 6-foot-10 Johnson.
They were equals in effectiveness. Johnson’s 4,875 career strikeouts are second only to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 and the most by any lefthander. The Unit’s five Cy Young Awards are two shy of Roger Clemens’ record, and his four in a row with Arizona from 1999-2002 matched a similar run by Greg Maddux, who was elected to the Hall last year, from 1992-95. Martinez led his league in earned run average five times and had a career 2.93 ERA, remarkable considering the era of offensive explosiveness in which he pitched.
And was there ever a pitcher in baseball who excelled equally as a starter and a reliever more than Smoltz? As a starter, he won a Cy Young Award (1996), and as a closer he won a Rolaids Relief Award (2002). He had moved to the bullpen while recovering from elbow surgery. Talk all you want about Dennis Eckersley, but he did not have the career as a starter than Smoltz did. And after three years as the Braves’ closer Smoltz returned to the Atlanta rotation and led the National League in victories in 2006.
This was a unique pitcher, and as I told John on the phone Tuesday when I notified him of his election as the BBWAA secretary-treasurer, “Unique players go to the Hall of Fame, and they go in right away.”
He told me that he was relieved and mentioned a breakfast we had together at the Stadium one Sunday last summer with David Cone and Lee Mazzilli and the talk was about the Hall of Fame. “I had just seen what that induction weekend was all about as a broadcaster for MLB Network as I watched my old buddies [Maddux and Tom Glavine] give their speeches,” Smoltz said. “I just wanted to low-key it after that and not get too caught up in it. So it’s quite a special feeling right now.”
Smoltz was courted by the Yankees as a free agent after the 2001 season, but he chose instead to stay in Atlanta. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson took the new class of elected players to dinner Wednesday night at ‘21’ in midtown Manhattan. That is precisely the place the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would have wined and dined Smoltz to seal a deal to come to the Bronx.
Biggio grew up on Long Island and played football and basketball at Kings Park High School in Suffolk County. He was a Yankees fan whose favorite player was Thurman Munson. Yogi was a coach with the Astros during his estrangement period from the Yankees and encouraged Houston officials to move Biggio from behind the plate to second base where his career took off.
Among his 3,060 career hits were 668 doubles, the fifth highest total in history and the most by a right-handed batter. Think of it, more than the likes of Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Paul Molitor, now that is distinctive.
Idelson visited with Yogi in New Jersey over the past weekend, and the first words out of the legendary catcher’s mouth was, “Is my man Biggio going to make it?”
That was the day before we counted the ballots and discovered that we could tell Yogi a resounding “Yes.”
Microphone still in hand, Jeter began walking off the field and said into it, “We got a game to play.”
Perfect. Sure, it was nice to have his parents, his grandmother, his sister, his nephew and a slew of old teammates and pals on the field to celebrate his impending retirement. But the actual fact will not occur until the last game of the 2014 season. The Yanks had a game Sunday afternoon against a Royals team they are competing against for a post-season berth, and Jeter was in the lineup.
That is what Jeter has always been about. As his former manager, Joe Torre, said before the game, “Derek was always ready to play every day. A manager knew he could count on him.”
Torre was among those closest to Jeter back at the Stadium for the ceremonies, along with former teammates Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Tim Raines; Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; former trainer Gene Monahan; MLB Network broadcaster and former infielder Harold Reynolds and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred.
The Yankees had a few surprises for DJ by trotting out Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Dave Winfield and hoops legend Michael Jordan. The Steinbrenner family presented several gifts, including a Waterford Crystal tower with Jeter’s No. 2 atop it and a check for $222,222.22 donated to his Turn2 Foundation.
“It’s hard to believe 20 seasons have gone by so quickly,” Jeter said to the sellout crowd. “I want to take a brief moment to thank the Steinbrenner family and Mr. George Steinbrenner for giving me the opportunity to play my entire career with the only organization I wanted to play for.
“I thank my family and friends for all their support through the good times and more importantly through the tough times. All my managers, coaches, trainers and teammates current and former, I have been blessed to play with the best. I would not want to compete without you guys.
“Thank you fans for helping me feel like a kid the past 20 years. I got to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and there is only one of those. I have loved what I have done and loved to do it in front of you. From the bottom of my heart thank you very much.”
Not much syrup, all on the mark and to the point. This is the Jeter all of us have watched and heard for two decades. What began Sunday was not just the passing of 20 years but that of an era. The Yankees’ most recent dynastic run of championships started in 1996, Jeter’s rookie season. What is harder to believe is that one of these days he will be in one of those seats for guests at Yankee Stadium events.
Throughout all those World Series triumphs from 1996 through 2009 and up to today Jeter has been the constant thread. Sunday was chosen by the Yankees to celebrate that career, but as Jeter plainly put it that career is not over yet.
As team captain, Jeter is the first to break from the dugout onto the field at the start of home games. He went into his similar trot Sunday, but when he reached his customary position at shortstop and turned around he noticed that he was the only player on the field.
His fellow starters had stayed back so that their captain could take center stage in front of the fans who have adored him all these years. Jeet then made a come-on gesture with his glove for the guys to get out there with him. Another Jeter trait: he has never believe he could do it alone. Once again, he was saying, ‘We got a game today.’ ”
And then there was one, which is actually two.
The discussion is about uniform numbers. The Yankees retired No. 6 for Joe Torre Saturday. It occurred to the popular former manager that the shortstop he brought to the major leagues and nurtured through his early career has another distinction besides being the Yankees’ all-time leader in games played and hits.
Looking into the dugout where Derek Jeter was leaning against the railing from the top step, Torre said to the sellout crowd of 47,594 in the pregame ceremony, “There’s one single digit left out there.”
That would be Jeter’s No. 2, the only single digit not yet retired by the Yankees but definitely will be at some point, perhaps as early as next year following his retirement. Yogi Berra, one of the two No. 8’s retired (fellow catcher Bill Dickey is the other) took part in the ceremony, along with several former players, including two others who have had their uniform numbers retired, Reggie Jackson (44) and Ron Guidry (49).
Berra and Dickey are in that group of single-digit retired numbers that also features Billy Martin (1), Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (4), Joe DiMaggio (5), Mickey Mantle (7) and Roger Maris (9). So DJ now stands alone.
Torre, his wife Ali and other members of the family began the ceremony in Monument Park where he unveiled his number and plaque alongside Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal. They eventually made their way to the center of the field for the ceremony amid former players David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte; former coaches Guidry, Willie Randolph, Jose Cardenal and Lee Mazzilli; longtime managers Tony La Russa (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year with Torre) and Jim Leyland; former trainer Gene Monahan and Jackson.
An especially nice touch was Jeter escorting Jean Zimmer from the dugout to the field. Known by her nickname, “Soot,” she is the widow of the late Don Zimmer, Joe’s longtime bench coach. There was also a touching video message from former Yankees pitcher and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who was unable to travel to the event.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who served for Torre both as a catcher and a bench coach, presented his old boss with a framed version of his Monument Park plaque. Hal Steinbrenner and his wife, Christina, presented a framed version of No. 6. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal on behalf of the organization gave Torre a diamond ring with No. 6 embossed in the center.
Observing all this from the visitor’s dugout was another of Torre’s former players, White Sox manager Robinb Ventura.
“It feels like the World Series all over again,” Torre told the crowd. “To have a number retired for any team is something special, but when you’re talking about the history and tradition of the New York Yankees, it is a feeling you can’t describe. There wouldn’t have been a Cooperstown without Yankee Stadium. I want to thank Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and Brian Cashman and the woman behind the scenes, Debbie Tymon, who does so much for this organization. Arthur Richman mentioned my name to George, but it was Stick Michael who recommended me for the job.”
And what a job Torre did. The Yankees reached postseason play in all 12 of his managerial seasons and won six pennants and four World Series, including three in a row from 1998-2000.
Torre acknowledged his gratitude to the late owner George Steinbrenner for taking Gene Michael’s advice and hiring him despite a resume that included mediocre results as a manager with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, the same three clubs for whom he had played during a 16-season career. The kid from Brooklyn who grew up a New York Giants fan clearly fell in love with the pinstripes.
“George gave me the greatest opportunity in my professional life,” Torre said, “I played in the majors for 16 years, but they could never match my 12 years in Yankees pinstripes. I will be forever grateful to the Steinbrenner family for trusting me with this team.
“One thing you never forget or lose feeling for are you people, all of you people, and it continues. I walk around and people thank me. They don’t realize what a good time i had. New York fans make this city a small town. When you get to this ballpark you feel the heartbeat, and it’s something that does not go away.
“It’s a short distance from the old Stadium to here but a long, long way from the field to Monument Park. I was blessed to make that journey on the shoulders of some very special players.”
In his previous managerial stops, Torre had worn No. 9, but he could not get that with the Yankees because it had been retired for Maris. Early in his playing career with the Braves, Torre wore No. 15 (his brother, Frank, had No. 14), but that was also not available with the Yankees since it was retired in honor of the late Thurman Munson.
Actually, Torre is one of four Hall of Famers who have worn No. 6 for the Yankees. Some fans may not know that Mickey Mantle wore No. 6 as a rookie in 1951 before switching to 7 the next year. Tony Lazzeri was the Yankees’ first No. 6, followed by his successor at second base, Joe Gordon.
Perhaps some karma was in the air because the Yankees second baseman Saturday, Martin Prado, was a huge factor in their 5-3 victory over the White Sox that was a fitting accompaniment to the afternoon.
Prado, who won Friday night’s game with a walk-off single in the ninth inning, had a part in four of the Yankees’ runs Saturday. His bunt single in the second helped build a run that subsequently scored on a double play. He drove in two runs in the fourth with the first of his two doubles in the game. He also doubled in the sixth and scored on a fly ball by Stephen Drew. Carlos Beltran drove in the other Yanks’ run in the sixth with his 15th home run.
Perhaps the only thing more appropriate would have been if the Yankees had scored six runs. What is definitely appropriate is that the number was retired for the person who wore it the longest, one more year than the player who had it for 11 seasons, Roy White (1969-79).
Now all that awaits is the day when Jeter, who got a rare day off Saturday, completes the single-digit retirement.
Joe Torre Day is scheduled for Saturday. Torre will not only have his number uniform retired but also will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park, the fourth new one this year joining Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill. Family members, former players and other guests are expected to participate. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by noon.
Torre spent 12 seasons as Yankees manager from 1996 through 2007. He led the team to six World Series appearances (1996, ’98-2001, ’03) and four championships (1996, ’98-2000). He compiled a regular-season record of 1,173-767-2 (.605), a postseason mark of 76-47 (.618) and guided the club to the playoffs in each of his managerial seasons. Torre’s Yankees teams went 21-11 in the World Series, 27-14 in the American League Championship Series and 28-22 in the AL Division Series. His regular-season victory total is second in club history to Joe McCarthy, who had a 1,460-867 (.627) record over 16 seasons.
Ticket specials will run Tuesday, (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday, (Military Personnel and Student Game), Thursday, (MasterCard half-price, Military Personnel and Senior Citizen Game) and Saturday (Youth Game).
For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.
The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:
Tuesday, August 19 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees USB Car Charger Night, presented by Avis, to first 18,000 customers, 21 and older.
Wednesday, August 20 – Yankees vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m.
Joe Girardi Bobblehead Night, presented by AT&T, to first 18,000 customers.
Thursday, August 21 – Yankees vs. Astros, 1:05 p.m.
Masahiro Tanaka Poster Day, presented by Catch 24 Advertising, to first 18,000 customers, 14 and younger.
Friday, August 22 – Yankees vs. White Sox, 7:05 p.m.
Yankees Water Bottle Night, presented by Budweiser, to first 18,000 customers, 21 and older.
Sunday, August 24 – Yankees vs. White Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Yankees Hello Kitty Bobblehead Day, presented to first 18,000 customers, 14 and younger.
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES (926-5337) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman believes that once Derek Jeter retires, the captaincy of the Yankees should retire as well.
Speaking to the Taylor Hooton Foundation’s fifth annual “Give A Hoot” benefit in a luxury suite at Yankee Stadium Sunday, Cash was asked who should succeed Jeter as team captain after his retirement.
Cashman’s response was “I’m not that big on captains myself. More than one player can lead by example. DJ has had this remarkable career, and I think when this great player retires the captaincy should go with him, but that’s not my call.”
Actually, the Yankees once went more than 35 years without a captain and during that time the team won 12 World Series titles. Lou Gehrig had been the Yankees’ captain for 13 years when he was forced into retirement due to illness in 1939. Then manager Joe McCarthy proclaimed that the Yankees would never again have another captain.
The idea of another Yankees captain was not broached seriously until after George Steinbrenner purchased the club in 1973. Three years later, he recommended Thurman Munson for the role. Told in a meeting of what McCarthy had said 37 years earlier, the Boss said, “I am sure Mr. McCarthy would change his mind if he had met Mr. Munson.”
The catcher served in the role until his death in Aug. 2, 1979. Jeter has been the Yankees’ captain the past 11 years. The previous team captain was Don Mattingly, who retired after the 1995 season. Other former Yankees captains in the Steinbrenner years were Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and Graig Nettles.
As Cashman pointed out, it is not his call. An owner or a manager or a group of players could well start a campaign for a captain at any time. I am with the GM on this one. You never say never, but I would not mind waiting another 37 years. Jeter’s shoes are just as great to fill as were Gehrig’s.
I do not know how many people thought such a day was possible back in 1993 when O’Neill joined the Yankees. Several National League scouts I talked to that spring wondered if O’Neill had the temperament for New York or that he was too temperamental to succeed under the glare of the city and its omnipresent media.
Gene Michael, the general manager at the time, swapped two-time All-Star outfielder Roberto Kelly for O’Neill, who had a .259 career batting average at the time and was known for his clashes with former manager Lou Piniella in Cincinnati. Michael certainly got the last laugh, didn’t he?
O’Neill absolutely blossomed in New York. Coming under the influence of Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, O’Neill became a more selective hitter and in his second season with the Yankees won the American League batting title with a .359 average. He would go on to bat .303 over his nine seasons in New York and was a central figure in the Yankees’ four World Series titles in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2000.
During the pre-game ceremony, O’Neill mentioned his daughter, Allie, was born the day before spring training began in 1996, “and to this believes she is the reason for our first championship.”
O’Neill was in the middle of those glorious seasons. There was his running catch on an aching hamstring for the final out of Game 5 of the 1996 World Series; his playing the clinching Game 4 of the ’99 Series 18 hours after the death of his father, Charlie; his 10-pitch at bat in drawing a walk off Mets closer Alfonso Benitez to start the game-tying rally in Game 1 of the 2000 Series, etc.
And, of course, Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, his last game at the Stadium, which he recalled in his speech.
“Now to you fans, a remarkable thing Nov. 1, 2001, Game 5 of the World Series out in right field and 50,000 people singing my name,” he said. “I want to thank you for one of the special nights of my life. Thank you, fans of New York.”
O’Neill’s sons, Andy and Aaron, were also on the field with their mother, Nevalee, and his mother, Virginia. Also participating were Michael, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre and former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.
Two other former teammates, captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi, also made presentations to O’Neill on behalf of the team and the organization. Jeter presented a framed version of the plaque and Girardi a career milestone diamond ring with No. 21 in the center.
“The best thing that happened to all of us was playing for the New York Yankees,” O’Neill said.
The plaque reads:
PAUL ANDREW O’NEILL
NEW YORK YANKEES
1993 – 2001
AN INTENSE COMPETITOR AND TEAM LEADER, O’NEILL WAS BELOVED FOR HIS RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.
IN NINE SEASONS WITH THE YANKEES, HE WON FOUR WORLD SERIES AND MADE FOUR ALL-STAR TEAMS, COMPILING A .303 BATTING AVERAGE WITH 185 HOME RUNS AND 858 RBI.
WAS ALSO KNOWN FOR HIS STRONG ARM AND RELIABLE GLOVE IN RIGHT FIELD.
WON 1994 AL BATTING CROWN WITH A .359 AVERAGE.
DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 9, 2014
Fans responded to O’Neill’s energy, his blatant disdain for making an out, the all-out, full-throttle effort he gave on a daily basis.
Brandon McCarthy, who pitched well but ended up the losing pitcher in the Indians’ 3-0 victory, paid homage to O’Neill after the game. McCarthy was struck in the left foot by a batted ball but remained in the game. Asked if he thought he might have to come out of the game, McCarthy said, “This is Paul O’Neill Day, not a game to leave early day.”
I remember talking to O’Neill back when people were questioning whether this Ohio Buckeye could handle the pressure of New York where his sister, Molly, was already well known as a food writer for the New York Times.
“What a lot of folks didn’t realize is that it was actually easier for me in New York that it was in Cincinnati,” O’Neill said. “It’s tough to play in your home town. Right from the start, I was accepted here by the fans. I hope I gave back to them as much as they gave to me.”
I would say he did.
Along with the meet and greet, Inside Experience attendees are also able to take a photo with the Yankees’ 2009 World Series trophy, go on a tour of Yankee Stadium, attend batting practice, and receive a ticket to that night’s game.
For more information on the Inside Experience program, visit http://www.yankees.com/theinsideexperience.
There was a point Monday night when it seemed like Joe Girardi was managing as if this was Game 7 of the World Series instead of a game in late June.
The score was 2-2 in the eighth inning. Dellin Betances, the third of six Yankees pitchers in the game, had just walked two batters after two were out. Girardi hopped out of the dugout and made the call to David Robertson. Using his closer in the eighth inning of a tie game was certainly an indication that Girardi wanted to win this game badly.
Robertson and Betances have been the Yankees’ best relievers, but on this night neither got the job done. Robertson gave up a single to Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.
You cannot fault Girardi. After losing two of three games to American League East rivals in each of their previous three series, the skipper wanted very much to get a victory at the start of this series, the fifth straight against division foes.
Brian Roberts gave the Yankees that opportunity with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to right with one out in the ninth off Joel Peralta, whose blown save cost Yankee killer Chris Archer a winning decision.
Archer gave the Yankees his usual hard time, although he did blow a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Matt Joyce and Kevin Kiermaier by giving up two runs in the bottom of the third. Archer asked for trouble by hitting Ichiro Suzuki with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning. He came around to score on a triple to right by Brett Gardner. The Rays conceded a run by playing the infield back against Derek Jeter, who obliged with one of his four ground balls to second base in the game that scored Gardner.
And there it stood until the eighth when the Rays scratched that run off Betances and Robertson. David Phelps had started for the Yankees and gave up the two long balls but otherwise was solid. Roberts’ homer hung a no-decision on Archer, who is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA against the Yankees in his career, including 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
Whatever lift Roberts’ shot gave the Yankees was short-lived. The Rays scored a run with two out in the 12th to send the Yankees to their third straight loss and put their record at 41-40 at the halfway mark of the season.
“It has been up and down,” Girardi said. “We have had our share of issues in the first half, but we’re still in the thick of it.”
Rookie Jose Ramirez walked Brandon Guyer with two out in the 12th. Guyer’s steal of second base was crucial, putting him in position to score on a single to center by Logan Forsythe. Rays reliever Brad Boxberger retired the Yankees in order in both the 11th and the 12th and was the winning pitcher.
Tampa Bay has been hit hardest in the division by injuries but still presented a problem for the Yankees Monday night.
You could feel the air come out of Yankee Stadium in the third inning Sunday night when David Ortiz blasted a 0-1 pitch from Chase Whitley into the right field bleachers for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Red Sox lead.
The Stadium crowd was pretty lively until that point but turned gloomy at the reality of seeing the offensive-struggling Yankees down that much early against as solid a pitcher as Boston’s John Lackey.
Whitley had given up a run in the second inning on a double by Mike Napoli and a one-out single by Stephen Drew, but it was the Ortiz bomb that spelled disaster for the Yankees. It was career homer No. 450 for Big Papi, who ranks 37th on the all-time list. The Yankees would have some fireworks of their own, however, to work themselves back into the game.
It began with a gift run in the bottom of the third. Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Brock Holt. After Ichiro stole second base, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter put Lackey to work. Gardner grounded out at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat with Suzuki crossing to third. Jeter then pushed Lackey to 11 pitches, pushing a single to right field on the last one to get the Yankees on the board.
The fireworks came in the fourth as Mark Teixeira (No. 15) and Carlos Beltran (No. 8) took Lackey deep to make it a one-run game. That brought the crowd back into play, but Yankees fans were not pleased at all with what came next.
Whitley came out of the game after he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to begin the fifth. Shawn Kelley was not any better. He walked Holt and Daniel Nava, which loaded the bases with no outs and no hits. Dustin Pedroia lofted a flare just over first base for a two-run single that also sent Nava to third base.
Lefthander David Huff came in to face Ortiz and kept him in the yard with a flyout to shallow left field. Huff picked Pedroia off first base, but the runner kept himself in a rundown long enough for Nava to cross the plate while the out was made at first base. Just like that, the Yankees were down by four runs again.
Whitley, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in mid-May to pitch in the rotation after CC Sabathia went on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation, did well in his first seven starts as he went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA during that stretch. In his past two starts, however, the righthander has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits in 7 1/3 innings for a 15.95 ERA that has driven his season ERA to 4.70.
Unlike Saturday night’s 2-1 Boston victory, Sunday night was more like Yankees-Red Sox games we have come to know. The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a triple by Suzuki, a double by Gardner and two infield outs.
Ichiro’s triple was a drive to right on which rookie Mookie Betts attempted a diving catch only to have the ball bounce past him. Ichiro’s 40-year-old legs got to third base, but there was a time he would have made it all the way home on such a hit.
Betts was playing in his first major-league game. He got his first hit, a single, in the fourth. I am amused at the idea of a player named Mookie with the Red Sox. Baseball’s only other Mookie — Wilson — broke Sox fans hearts with his tapper past first baseman Bill Buckner that won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for the Mets. It turns out that Mookie Betts was not named after Wilson but after Mookie Blaylock, his mother’s favorite NBA player.
The Yankees finally got a pitcher who threw strikes consistently when Dellin Betances entered the game in the sixth and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs situation. The Red Sox got minimal damage with one run on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia after Nava struck out. Betances won the battle against Ortiz, who grounded out to second.
Pushed to 96 pitches, Lackey was gone after the fifth. The Yanks lost a scoring opportunity in the sixth against Burke Bradenhop when Carlos Beltran, who had doubled with one out, was thrown out at the plate by Bradley on a single to center by Kelly Johnson.
In the seventh, Betances struck out Napoli with a high fastball. What an idiot.
Napoli did not fare any better in the ninth when he was called out on strikes against Jose Ramirez. By then, the die had been cast. Boston was polishing off an 8-5 victory saved by Koji Uehara. The Red Sox took the series, two games to one, as the Yankees once again failed to capitalize on Toronto and Baltimore both losing and remained in third place in the American League East. They also fell to 6-6 in the stretch of 15 games against AL East competition that concludes with the three-game set against the Rays starting Monday night at the Stadium.
That word is back.
Remember, that was the phrase popularized by Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar in 2004 when the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought and won the World Series. The Boston players referred to themselves as “idiots.”
So what to make of Mike Napoli’s use of the word Saturday night when he was caught on FOX microphones in the dugout saying “What an idiot!” in reference to Masahiro Tanaka for throwing him a fastball on a 1-2 count that the first baseman hit over the right field fence for what proved a game-winning home run.
Clearly, it was one of those heat-of-the-moment things that can often get blown up, particularly in a rivalry as historically volatile as Yankees-Red Sox.
Tanaka shook off catcher Brian McCann twice before throwing the fateful heater that Napoli tagged to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth that held up. Tanaka had made Napolo look foolish swinging at two split-fingered fastballs during the at-bat. On 1-2, McCann called for another splitter. Tanaka shook his head. McCann put down fingers for a slider, which was a very effective pitch for Tanaka. Again, a head shake. Tanaka wanted to come upstairs with gas, and Napoli was delighted to get a pitch he could handle.
Managers Joe Girardi of the Yankees and John Farrell of the Red Sox downplayed the situation before Sunday night’s game, which was also nationally televised, this time on ESPN. I agreed with Girardi’s assessment, that Napoli did not mean to insult Tanaka and that he was just happy not to have gotten another splitter or one of those devastating sliders.
“I haven’t seen anything in Mike Napoli that he is a guy that shows people up or he is a guy that degrades people,” Girardi said. “I don’t make too much of it. I think we might be making too much out of one pitch. If you score three runs, it really doesn’t matter. If you win 3-2, you are going to say, ‘Man, he pitched another great game.’ Since we lost it, 2-1, the focus is on that one pitch.”
“I know we have the utmost respect for Tanaka,” Farrell added, “and I know Mike Napoli does.”
Some columnists were writing before the series that the rivalry may be losing some of its juice now with a new cast of characters that have not yet made the same impact. Major League Baseball would only have itself to blame if things get ugly between the clubs over this. MLB allows FOX to put mikes in the dugout, supposedly to “enhance” the viewers’ enjoyment of the game.
It could have been worse. Napoli at least did not use the players’ favorite adjective, which cannot be printed here.