Results tagged ‘ Zach Britton ’

Jeter cannot provide dream ending

Those in the crowd of 43,201 at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night who waited long enough for what appeared at the time to be Derek Jeter’s possible last at-bat of the game were rewarded when the Captain beat out a slow roller to third base for a single with two out.

An even greater award came two pitches later as Brian McCann belted a 94-mph fastball from lefthander Andrew Miller, one of the hardest-throwing relief pitchers in the game, for a two-run home run that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-4. McCann, who had singled and scored in the sixth inning, had eight home runs in September, his most in a calendar month since July 2012 when he had nine.

It was not that long ago that the Yankees were down by four runs on scores of 4-0 and 5-1 to the Orioles, who used the long ball to build the large leads against Brandon McCarthy. His pitches were up for much of his 5 1/3 innings and he paid the price for that.

Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all took McCarthy deep. Johnson, who started the season with the Yankees and was dealt to Boston for Stephen Drew in July, got his first home run since joining the Orioles Aug. 30 leading off the second inning. Markakis added a two-run shot in the fourth. Cruz led off the next inning with his 40th home run, the most in the majors.

So instead of a sizable portion of the crowd heading for the exits after getting one last glance at Jeter the house remained full with the improved prospects of a Yankees comeback and a hope that the Captain might get one more time at the plate.

Someone needed to get on base in the ninth for that to happen because Jeter was the fourth scheduled batter that inning. Brett Gardner provided the opportunity for DJ with a two-out single over the mound against lefthander Zach Britton, the Baltimore closer.

With the crowd chanting “Der-ek Je-ter,” the Captain had his chance to be a hero, but this would not be a Hollywood ending. Britton struck Jeter out on three pitches.

One night after scratching out only one hit against the Yankees, the Orioles banged out 17 hits, including four by Markakis and three apiece by Cruz, Johnson and Nick Hundley. Yet only one of their hits came with a runner in scoring position in seven at-bats as Baltimore stranded 11 base runners.

The Yankees did not do well in that category, either, with eight hitless at-bats in the clutch. Yankees pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts (eight by McCarthy, two by Dellin Betances and one by David Robertson) to set a season franchise record of 1,319, one more than the previous mark of 2012.

With the Royals winning in Cleveland, the Yankees remained five games back in the wild card hunt and failed to take advantage of the Mariners losing at Toronto. Only five games remain in the regular season for the Yankees, and they are down to this: they must win every game and hope clubs ahead of them stumble.

Few positives in shellacking to Orioles

After an 11-3 loss there is not much positive to dwell on. The Yankees were out of Saturday night’s game early as the Orioles scored four runs in the first inning and had a 9-0 lead in the third against David Phelps. Ivan Nova replaced him and pitched pretty well for 5 2/3 innings to save the bullpen.

Normally, I am critical of clubs that carry more than 11 pitchers. It just seems to me that a six-man bullpen ought to be enough. The Yankees are currently carrying 13 pitchers, which leaves the manager with a three-man bench of position players. That may not be a major problem in the American League where there is less pinch hitting because of the designated hitter. Still, when one of those bench players is someone like Travis Hafner, who no longer plays in the field, the situation can hamper a manager.

On the other hand, the Yankees are in a stretch of games on 20 consecutive days. And with Phelps failing to get through the third inning, Joe Girardi probably felt better about having the extra arms in the pen. This was a real turnaround for Phelps, who had been undefeated over his previous nine starts dating to Aug. 27 last year against AL East competition with a 4-0 record and 3.91 ERA over that period covering 53 innings. Saturday night’s line for Phelps was truly ugly – 2 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 9 runs, all earned, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 2 home runs – as his ERA rose from 4.01 to 4.95.

Chris Davis showed why he is a Triple Crown candidate by driving in five runs with his 29th and 30th home runs of the season. His three-run shot off Phelps in the first put the Orioles in control. Davis’ second homer was a two-run shot off Nova, the only blemish on his appearance. Phelps also gave up another three-run homer, to Ryan Flaherty in the third, that ended his outing.

For the second straight night, the Yankees banged out 11 hits but scored only three runs. They had 3-for-16 (.188) with runners in scoring position. This marked the fifth straight loss by the Yankees when facing a left-handed starting pitcher. Zach Britton gave up two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings. Both runs were scored in the sixth when the Yankees had only one hit in a rally fueled by three walks and an error. Their other run came in the ninth off reliever Pedro Strop on successive doubles by Chris Stewart and Brett Gardner, who was left stranded at second base.

The Yankees are 15-12 when opposed by a left-handed starter but have lost six of their past seven such games. Their current losing streak to left-handed starters is their longest since dropping their final nine such games in September 2010. Despite the winning record against left-handed starters, the Yankees are definitely vulnerable in those games because their right-handed batters continue to struggle. For the season righty swingers are hitting .216 with 24 home runs in 1,178 at-bats.

And the 3-4-5 positions in the order, normally the most productive hitters on a team, have been a weakness. The Yanks’ hitters in those spots have combined to hit .213 with 38 homers in 911 at-bats.

The Yankees as a team have not homered in their past three games and in just three of their past 10 games. They have hit only two home runs over their past 10 road games since June 7. The Yankees are 9-24 this year when they don’t homer. Last year they were 7-24, which means they already have two more games in which they have not homered than all of last year, and they still have 82 games left on the schedule.

From pitchers duel to marathon

As well as Bartolo Colon was pitching for the Yankees Wednesday night, it was easy to forget that they were lucky to have the lead. An old-fashioned pitchers duel was ongoing at Camden Yards between a comeback-minded veteran in Colon and a young lion in Orioles lefthander Zach Britton.

An unearned run was all that separated the two hurlers through seven innings. Colon added a scoreless eighth by striking out the side and leaving the potential tying run on third base. With Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, manager Joe Girardi’s call to remove Colon after eight innings despite his throwing only 87 pitches seemed automatic because with Mo a save usually is.

Not this time. One-out singles by Adam Jones and Nick Markakis gave Baltimore runners on the corners with one out. Vlad Guerrero’s conventional first-pitch hacking produced a game-tying sacrifice fly that sent the game into extra innings and left Colon with as unkind a no-decision as possible.

Colon has been a godsend for the Yankees, who lost Phil Hughes to arm fatigue a month ago and would have been in deep you-know-what if the Dominican righthander hadn’t pitched like he did in 2005 when he won the American League Cy Young Award with the Angels.

It doesn’t get better than what Colon did Wednesday night – unless he had won, that is. Over one stretch, he got 14 consecutive outs, beginning with a quick-reflex move on a liner to the mound that he turned into a double play. Colon had Orioles hitters so stymied that five of his seven strikeouts were looking. That has been a constant for Colon this year. Of his 48 strikeouts, 27 have been on called third strikes.

I risk giving away my age here to say that there was a time that I like to think was not too long ago (but I know it really was) when a pitcher on the sort of role Colon was on would finish what he started. Yet considering that Colon is coming off surgery and the Yankees have the best closer who ever lived, turning the ninth over to Mo can hardly be criticized.

What the Orioles’ comeback emphasized was that their starting pitcher had been pretty good as well because the Yankees didn’t get much off him except for a run that was fueled by a busted pickoff play at second base in the fourth inning. The Yankees were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base in the seven innings against Britton.

Their failures in the clutch continued into extras before they finally broke loose in the 15th to win, 4-1. Not surprisingly considering the venue, it was Robinson Cano who got the big hit, a two-run double that helped the Yankees put a positive touch on this marathon that took 4 hours and 56 minutes to complete.

Cano, who had the Yankees’ only extra-base hit to go with their 14 singles, extended his hitting streak at Camden Yards to 17 games dating to May 1, 2010, batting .431 with 6 doubles, 2 home runs and 15 RBI in 72 at-bats. Since the start of 2009, Cano has hit .446 with 37 runs, 14 doubles 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 41 games and 166 at-bats against the Orioles.

The Yankees were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position before Cano’s double, which came off Mike Gonzalez, a lefthander who then skulled Chris Dickerson with a pitch that dented his helmet and raised a welt next to his left eye.

Plate umpire Dan Bellino ejected Gonzalez, who was the last pitcher in the Baltimore bullpen so manager Buck Showalter had to use Jeremy Guthrie, who had been scheduled to start Thursday night, to finish the 15th. Games like this tend to shrink rosters. Girardi had to use a pitcher, A.J. Burnett, as a pinch runner for Dickerson and Eduardo Nunez moved from shortstop to right field for the bottom of the 15th.

Determined not to use Joba Chamberlain or David Robertson, Girardi coaxed four innings from Hector Noesi, who had a memorable major-league debut in earning his first victory that he will never forget. The rest of the Yankees won’t, either, not even Colon.

Maybe some other time, Doc

Alex Rodriguez just might cancel that doctor’s appointment. A-Rod told reporters that he would have his surgical right hip examined when the Yankees return to New York this weekend and that it was nothing more than an annual checkup.

The timing was interesting. Rodriguez had struggled at the plate the past month since coming out of a game April 16 because of an oblique strain. Lately, he said he felt that the top of his body and his legs were not in synch, and maybe his hip was a reason.

Statistics seemed to support his suspicions. At the time of the oblique injury, A-Rod was batting .385 with five doubles, four home runs and nine RBI in 39 at-bats. After that and prior to his big game Tuesday night in a victory over the Rays, Rodriguez batted .180 with three doubles, two homers and 13 RBI in 89 at-bats with six of those RBI coming in one game.

Rodriguez seems to have found his stroke the past two nights. A-Rod hit two home runs Tuesday night at Tropicana Field and singled in each of his first three at-bats Wednesday night at Camden Yards. Not only that, he moved around the bases like his frisky old self in helping the Yankees get on the board in the fourth inning.

Alex led off with a hit to deep short and took second on Robinson Cano’s slow groundout to second. Rodriguez was nearly picked off by Orioles starter Zach Britton and might have been except that Robert Andino, playing second base for injured Brian Roberts, dropped the throw.

As the ball trickled into the outfield, Rodriguez took off for third base and made it there safely. That made it possible for him to score on Nick Swisher’s flyout to right field ahead of a strong throw from Nick Markakis.

Rodriguez bit off a bit more than he could chew in the sixth when he tried to stretch a single to right-center into a double by challenging the arm of center fielder Adam Jones, who led the AL in outfield assists last year and ranks third this season. This wasn’t even close, but it was encouraging to see A-Rod feeling his oats again.

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