April 2014

Wednesday night’s rainout rescheduled for June 2

The Yankees’ game against the Mariners that was postponed Wednesday night because of rain has been rescheduled for 7:05 p.m. Monday, June 2. Thursday night’s Yankees-Mariners game will remain a single date with a 7:05 start.

Fans holding paid tickets for the April 30 game may use them for the rescheduled game or exchange their paid tickets for any regular season game at Yankee Stadium within 12 months of the postponed game, subject to availability. Fans holding complimentary (COMP) tickets for the April 30 game must use them for the rescheduled game. COMP tickets or equivalent tickets bear no cash value and do not have any additional benefits that may be offered to tickets with a dollar value.

For complete information about the Yankees’ rainout policy, please visit http://www.yankees.com/rainout. For tickets purchased through Yankees Ticket Exchange, please visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketexchange or call 1-800-355-2396 for complete information about its rainout policy.

One big inning of small ball does in CC

The one-big-inning syndrome that has haunted CC Sabathia in the past was evident again Tuesday night, although there was a lot of small ball involved in that big inning, a four-run Seattle fifth that wiped out a 2-0 Yankees lead.

The inning started with a bad omen. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was originally called out on a play at first base on his grounder to second base but was overturned after a video review that rewarded him with a single. Willie Bloomquist followed with a single to right field that sent Zunino to third base.

Abraham Almonte dropped a bunt to the right side for a hit that loaded the bases. The ball went past charging first baseman Mark Teixeira. Second baseman Brian Roberts was near the bag and could not get to first base in time to take Sabathia’s throw.

CC struck out Stefen Romero, but Robinson Cano hit a soft, one-hopper to Teixeira, who decided against throwing home for a force and got the sure out at first base instead as Zunino scored. The ball responded like a knuckleball, so Tex likely did not have a strong enough grip to chance a throw to the plate.

The other runners also advanced on the play. They scored on a double to right by Corey Hart that gave the Mariners the lead. Justin Smoak made it 4-2 with a single to right. Sabathia hit a batter and allowed a hit in the sixth and needed to be bailed out by Dellin Betances, who stranded the runners.

Cano got brutal treatment from the crowd in his return to Yankee Stadium, but he had the last laugh with a 6-3 Mariners victory. Cano did not get the ball out of the infield in five at-bats. He struck out twice, grounded out to first base twice and had an infield single and a stolen base.

His single began the seventh when the Mariners tacked on two more runs. Consecutive two-out singles by Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Zunino, who had four hits, accounted for the runs.

The Yankees, who had an early lead against eventual winning pitcher Chris Young on Teixeira’s third home run and a throwing error by Zunino, rallied in the ninth against Fernando Rodney but scored only one run on a single by Ichiro Suzuki, a double by Roberts and an infield single by Brett Gardner.

Yankees pitchers totaled 12 strikeouts. It marked the fifth straight game they achieved double figures in strikeouts, a franchise record.

Rude reception for Cano in his return to Stadium

Robinson Cano faced a chilly reception upon his return to Yankee Stadium Tuesday night in the uniform of his new team, the Seattle Mariners. Unlike the friendly exchanges he had with fans the night before during his appearance on “The Tonight Show,” Cano was met with loud boos among some token applause in his first at-bat. The only time there were loud cheers directed at Cano was when he struck out against CC Sabathia.

Red Sox fans were not as tough on Jacoby Ellsbury when he returned to Fenway Park with the Yankees as Yankees fans were on Cano. Perhaps the second baseman’s comments about being “disrespected” by the Yankees in contract negotiations over the winter created the sour mood. That and the unseasonable weather on a windy, 45-degree night.

It is hard to fault Cano for accepting a 10-year, $240-million contract from the Mariners just because of loyalty to the Yankees, whose best offer was seven years for $175 million. I doubt any professional athlete would leave $65 million on the table. Still, an offer of $175 million is by no means a sign of disrespect.

In a pre-game press conference, Cano declined to discuss contract talks, saying, “I don’t want to talk about the past. I just want to go out and play baseball. This is a business. I can’t tell the Yankees how to run theirs.”

Cano anticipated being the target of boos yet was complimentary toward the way Yankees fans treated him during his nine seasons with the club.

“I know it is not the same as when you’re with the home team,” he said. “It is different. The Yankees have won a lot of championships, and the Mariners are still looking for one. But I am happy about the way the team and the city and the fans there have embraced me. It feel good to be back to see my old teammates and play in front of the New York fans again.”

That feeling obviously was not mutual.

Tanaka still undefeated thanks to Yanks’ comeback

Masahiro Tanaka still has a shot at another unbeaten season. He came close to sustaining his first loss in the major leagues Sunday night but got off to hook when the Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Angels and went on to a 3-2 victory despite totaling only three hits.

Tanaka, who was 24-0 in Japan last year, pitched well enough to win but came out of the game trailing, 2-1, with one out in the top of the seventh. The Yankees had only two hits off Angels starter Garrett Richards at that point, but Mark Teixeira got them even with his second home run of the season, a bomb to right field off a 2-2 fastball.

That kept Tanaka’s record at 3-0. The righthander struggled somewhat with his command. He walked four batters, twice as many as he had combined over his first four starts, and hit one. But Tanaka piled up 11 strikeouts and pitched exceedingly well with men on base, which the Angels had regularly with five hits in addition to the walks and the hit batter.

However, Tanaka kept Los Angeles hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position as the Angels left seven runners on base over the first five innings. They loaded the bases in the fourth on a leadoff double by Erick Aybar, a hit batter and a walk with one out but got only one run on a fielder’s choice. Tanaka ended the inning with a strikeout of Collin Cowgill with Mike Trout on deck.

The Yankees made it 1-1 in the fifth. Richards walked Teixeira to start the inning and gave up a one-out double to Brian Roberts. The Angels kept the infield back conceding a run, and Ichiro Suzuki complied with a ground ball to shortstop.

Tanaka was taken deep by David Freese on a first-pitch fastball leading off the sixth and then did not allow another base runner. It took Tex’s drive the next inning to stick Tanaka with a no-decision. Tanaka’s 46 strikeouts are the third highest total for a rookie pitcher in his first five starts, the most since the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg had 48 in 2010. The major league record is 50 by the Indians’ Herb Score in 1955.

The winning decision went to Adam Warren (1-1), who pitched 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief and benefit from the Yanks getting a gift run in the eight from the leaky Angels bullpen as the result of two walks, a passed ball and a wild pitch. David Robertson struck out pinch hitter Raul Ibanez with a runner on second base to end the game and earned his fourth save.

Battery charge

In Saturday’s 4-3 Yankees victory over the Angels, Dellin Betances got his first major-league victory and catcher John Ryan Murphy his first major-league home run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the seventh time in franchise history that the Yankees had a pitcher earn his first career victory and a player hit his first career homer in the same game.

It also happened in 1912 (Al Schulz victory and Jack Lelivelt home run), 1923 (George Pipgras and Lou Gehrig), 1943 (Butch Wensloff and Billy Johnson), 1947 (Dick Starr and Bobby Brown), 1965 (Rich Beck and Bobby Murcer) and 1980 (Mike Griffin and Joe Lefebvre). Elias also noted that Murphy was the first Yankees rookie catcher with one home run and three RBI in a game since Jorge Posada did it three times in 1997.

Alfonso Soriano has 992 career hits in the American League and 1,077 career hits in the National League. He needs eight hits to become the seventh player in history with at least 1,000 hits in each league. The others are Frank Robinson (1,184AL/1,759NL); Dave Winfield 1,976/1,134), Vlad Guerrero (1,375/1,215), Fred McGriff (1,143/1,347), Orlando Cabrera (1,020/1,035) and Carlos Lee (1,033/1,240). If Soriano reaches 1,000 hits in the AL, he would become the first player in MLB history to record 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 RBI, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in each league.

Sunday in New York: Pro sports in 4 boroughs

How’s this for an odd occurrence? There will be a professional sports event in four of New York City’s five boroughs Sunday.

The Rangers will oppose the Flyers in a National Hockey League playoff game with a noon faceoff at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. Also in the afternoon at 1:10, the Mets will be home at Citi Field in Queens against the Marlins.

The Nets will continue their National Basketball Association playoff series at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn at 7 p.m., and the Yankees will complete their three-game series against the Angels at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx at 8 p.m. on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Only Staten Island will be dark for pro sports. The Yankees’ Class A affiliate there does not open its New York Penn League schedule until June.

A day a young catcher will never forget

Why do fans do it? Is getting a baseball at a game more important than your team getting a crucial out in that game?

The outcome of Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium was put severely at risk by a fan along the first base rail just beyond the dugout who got in the way of first baseman Mark Teixeira trying to catch a foul ball in the ninth inning with one out, a runner at first base while the Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead and none other than Albert Pujols at the plate.

“It’s not what you want to see,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I understand it. People want baseballs, but it’s not want you want to see in your ballpark.”

One pitch later, Mike Trout stole second base, putting the potential tying run in scoring position with Pujols given a second life and adding to the pressure of David Robertson trying to nail down his third save and his first in three weeks since coming off the disabled list.

D-Rob prevailed this time. He retired the latest member of the 500 Home Run Club on a routine fly ball to left field and then back from 3-0 in the count to perennial Yankee killer Howie Kendrick (.352 in 210 career at-bats) and struck him out.

The save by Mariano Rivera’s heir preserved an important victory for the Yankees coming off Friday night’s walloping and a memorable one for two of the team’s younger members. Backup catcher John Ryan Murphy drove in three runs with a clutch, two-run single in the second inning and his first major-league home run, leading off the fifth. It marked the first major-league victory for Dellin Betances, who pitched two shutout innings but was quick to credit the equally impressive relief work by Shawn Kelley, Matt Thoronton and Robertson.

“It makes it easier when you’ve caught someone before,” Murphy said. “I have said it before. When Betances is in the strike zone, he can be unhittable.”

“Collectively, the bullpen did a goof job,” Betances said. “The bullpen on the whole was great. We feed off each other.”

Betances also had nice things to say about his former Triple A Scranton batterymate, Murphy.

“He definitely did the job today,” Betances said. “We played together last year, and he became one of my best friends. He had a great game.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Girardi, a former catcher who well knows that games such as the 4-3 victory are savored by cachers.

“A huge day,” Girardi said about Murphy’s 2-for-3, three-RBI effort and work with starter Vidal Nuno and four relievers. “He did a great job behind the plate. [The home run] is special It’s and even means more because it was a one-run game. He’ll never forget it.”

Murphy impressed the Yankees with his work behind the plate last year as a September call-up and again this spring, but he did not begin the season on the major-league roster as the Yankees kept Francisco Cervelli to support starter Brian McCann. But when Cervelli went on the 60-day disabled list because of a hamstring strain, the call from Yankees came for Murphy over Austin Romine.

“I can’t say whether I was surprised or not because my attitude is that you always have to be ready,” Murphy said.

His two-run single came after a balk by Angels starter Hector Santiago that placed runners on second and third. The situation did not change Murphy’s approach, which was the same when he took Santiago deep off a first-pitch fastball for his home run.

“I want to be aggressive at the plate when I do play,” Murphy said. “The home run ball is going to my mom [Carolina]. I’ll let her decide what to do with it.”

Murphy did get the ball. He was on his way out of the clubhouse to meet the person in the stands who caught it and wanted to return it to him. At least one fan in the stands did the right thing.

Trout breaks out

It did not take Mike Trout long to make up for Friday night. The Angels’ center fielder was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and had one of the few quiet bats in the Halos’ 13-1 victory over the Yankees. First time up Saturday, however, Trout clouted a 1-0 fastball from Vidal Nuno to right field for his sixth home run of the season.

Friday night’s oh-fer was a rarity for Trout against the Yankees. Entering play Saturday, the two-time runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player Award was a .359 career hitter against them with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBI in 15 games. He loves hitting at Yankee Stadium, too, where he had hit .375 with five doubles, one home run and six RBI in eight games.

The Yankees keep moving pitchers around. Before Saturday’s game, they optioned Shane Greene to Triple A Scranton and purchased the contract of righthander Chris Leroux, 30, a Montreal native who was 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA over five major-league seasons with the Padres and Pirates.

In addition, pitcher Jose Campos underwent Tommy John surgery Friday at New York Presbyterian Hospital performed by Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yankees’ team physician. Campos, a righthander, was the pitcher who accompanied Michael Pineda from Seattle to the Yankees after the 2011 season in the trade for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. The Yankees still have hopes that Campos can be a useful pitcher in the future.

Mound woes still troubling Yankees

What kind of night was it Friday for Hiroki Kuroda? Well, put it this way; the Angels had a 5-0 lead in the third inning and Mike Trout had not done anything yet. It turned out that Trout never did do anything. The Halos somehow soared to a 13-1 victory despite Trout going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

That is how awful things went for the Yankees. They held Trout in check and still got clobbered. Remember Brennan Boesch, who was one of the record 56 players used by the Yankees last year? Now with the Angels, he pinch hit for Trout in the eighth inning of the lopsided game. That’s something he can tell his grandchildren some day (not that they will believe him).

Kuroda had trouble keeping the ball down and was hurt more by the bottom of the lineup than the top, at least until the fifth inning when Albert Pujols crushed career home run No. 501 to left field. It was Pujols’ ninth home run this month, which tied the club record for homers in April set by Brian Downing in 1986.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the second inning on singles by Ian Stewart and Erick Aybar, a double off the top of the wall in right by Hank Conger, a suicide squeeze bunt by Collin Cowgill and an infield out. The Angels struck again with two out in the third on a two-run home run by Stewart.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited Kuroda on the mound and likely told him he would need to take one for the team. No one was warming up in a bullpen that was pretty much spent after the recently-completed trip through St. Petersburg and Boston.

Kuroda hung on until the fifth, but the balls kept ringing off Angels bats. One out after Pujols’ bomb, Howie Kendrick doubled to right-center on a hard line drive. Kuroda should have been out of the inning on Aybar’s fly ball into the right field corner, but the usually dependable Carlos Beltran dropped it for a two-base error and a free run.

That ended the night finally for Kuroda, whose line was a bit ugly — 4 2/3 innings, 10 hits, 8 runs (6 earned), 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch, 2 home runs. Those untidy figures resulted in his ERA rising to 5.28. The righthander also had another night of non-support from his offense. The Yankees did not score while he was in the game and have had two runs or fewer in 12 of his past 17 starts.

The relatively brief outing by Kuroda added to the staff’s current woes with Ivan Nova gone for the season to Tommy John elbow surgery and Michael Pineda on suspension for another eight days. Their absence has taken lefthander Vidal Nuno and righthander David Phelps out of the bullpen for starting assignments, leaving the relief corps a bit short.

Bruce Billings had to give the Yankees some length Friday night to help keep the pen fresh for the rest of the weekend. Matt Daley and Preston Claiborne, who provided relief help this past week, are ineligible for recall from Triple A Scranton at this time because of the 10-day rule that prohibits minor leaguers from merely being shuttled back and forth.

Billings did his job, although he was taken deep by Aybar and Cowgill in the seventh. The righthander had seven strikeouts in four innings and gave the pen a break. Strangely, manager Joe Girardi brought in Shawn Kelley to get the last out of the ninth, but he gave up a run before doing so.

The Yankees did not get on the board until the sixth against lefthander C.J. Wilson, who had allowed only two singles to Brett Gardner before that inning. Beltran helped build a run to offset the one his error cost by following a one-out single to right by Derek Jeter with a double to left. Alfonso Soriano got the Captain home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Unfortunately, it was the only run of the game for the Yankees, who have been outscored, 110-100, despite holding first place in the American League East.

All-Star balloting begins

Heading into the nine-game homestand that began Friday night with the opener of a three-game series against the Angels, Ichiro Suzuki was the Yankees’ leading hitter with a .371 batting average and Yangervis Solarte was tied with Carlos Beltran for the club lead in RBI with 13. If Yankees fans want Ichiro or Solarte to play in the All-Star Game in July, they are going to have to write their names in on the ballots that became available at major league ballparks Friday night.

Suzuki and Solarte were the odd men out of Yankees players on the American League ballot. Solarte, a rookie, is no surprise. Ballots are made up before the season starts, so rookies who get off to the sort of start Solarte has get short shrift. Solarte has played third base mostly. Representing the Yankees at that position is Solarte’s platoon partner, veteran Kelly Johnson. The other Yankees infielders on the ballot are Mark Teixeira at first base, Brian Roberts at second and Derek Jeter at shortstop.

Ichiro, a 10-time All-Star who was the Most Valuable Player of the 2007 game at AT&T Park in San Francisco, lost his regular right field job to Beltran and is doing a splendid job off the bench. Suzuki last made the AL All-Star team in 2010. The other Yankees outfielders on the ballot with Beltran are Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.

Alsonso Soriano, who has played left field and right field, is listed on the ballot with the designated hitters. The catcher is Brian McCann, another former All-Star Game MVP (2010 at Angel Stadium) for the National League with the Braves.

This year’s All-Star Game will be July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Also Friday night, former Yankees player Ron Blomberg, Major League Baseball’s first designated hitter, took part in a special meet-and-greet session in the SAP Suite Lounge prior to the Yankees.

On Wednesday, April 30, the Yankees will launch the 2014 “Best Selling Author Series” in the SAP Suite Lounge. International best-selling author Harlan Coben will be present to interact with fans. With more than 60 million books in print worldwide, Coben’s novels have collectively reached No. 1 on the “bestsellers list” in more than a dozen countries. The Newark, N.J., native will also throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to that night’s game against the Mariners, whose arrival in town next week will mark the return to the Stadium of Robinson Cano.

The Yankees will partner with MELA Sciences to host a free skin cancer screening for all ticketed guests Sunday, May 4, prior to that day’s game against the Rays. The screenings, which cover exclusively the arms and face, will take place on the Main Level behind the plate (Sections 217-223) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and take less than a minute to complete.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Friday, April 25 – Yankees vs. Angels, 7:05 p.m.

Herbs Seed Packet Night, presented by Keep America Beautiful, to first 18,000 guests in attendance.

Friday, May 2 – Yankees vs. Rays, 7:05 p.m.

Yankees Ear Buds Night, presented by The Dannon Company, Inc., to first 18,000 guests in attendance.

Saturday, May 3 – Yankees vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.

Yankees Cap Day, presented by Hess, to all guests in attendance.

For information on parking and public transportation options to Yankee Stadium, please visit yankees.com.