Results tagged ‘ Alex Cobb ’

Sanchez continues to make history

The Yankees’ hopes for a postseason berth grow less frail as long as Gary Sanchez keeps making history. They climbed to 2 1/2 games of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card berth Wednesday night by riding once again the rookie catcher’s coat tails.

The Yanks have rebounded nicely from that four-game sweep at Fenway Park with two victories over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Wednesday night, they build a 7-0 lead in the second inning off Alex Cobb, a pitcher who has given them trouble in the past (5-2, 2.13 ERA entering the game) and waltzed to an 11-5 decision.

Cobb made the same mistake Brad Boxberger did Tuesday night by challenging Sanchez with two runners on base and first base open, and the result was the same, a three-run home run. With that blow, Sanchez got to 18 home runs faster than any player in major-league history. Four innings later, he got to 19 home runs quicker than anyone in major-league history with a solo shot off a 0-2 pitch from Joe Marks.

Sanchez had driven in the Yankees’ first run of the game with a single through the middle. The two-homer, five-RBI was just a continuation of a sweet ride that has put him in the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award discussion. In the six games on this trip, Sanchez is batting .423 with two doubles, five homers and 13 RBI in 24 at-bats.

It has been an extraordinary run for Sanchez, who now has hit one more home run in his six weeks with the Yankees than he ever hit in a full minor-league season. He has also been first rate behind the plate working well with the pitching staff and helping to control opponents’ running games.

Masahiro Tanaka, who ran his winning streak to seven games, had a most unusual outing. Armed with a seven-run lead, the righthander was stung for four solo home runs in the third inning. He had never before given up four home runs in a whole game.

Bobby Wilson began the attack with a leadoff homer. Two outs later, the Rays went back-to-back-to-back on big flies by Evan Longoria, Brad Miller and Corey Dickerson, the last two coming on consecutive pitches.

Sanchez responded with his sixth-inning homer. Miller added a fifth solo shot for Tampa Bay, his second, in the eighth off Adam Warren, but the Yankees answered with three runs in the ninth, two on a homer by Starlin Castro fill-in Donovan Solano. The Yankees finished with 17 hits, including four by Brian McCann, who played in his 1,500th career game. McCann, who has been displaced by Sanchez as the regular catcher, has gravitated well to the designate hitter role.

Tanaka (14-4) surrendered his ERA lead as it rose from 2.97 to 3.07. He has pitched to a 2.28 ERA over his past nine starts with seven victories. He improved his season record against the Rays to 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA, his career mark against Tampa Bay to 6-0 with a 2.82 ERA and is now 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA this year against AL East competition. The Yankees are 23-8 in his starts.

While the Yankees gained ground against the Orioles, they still have three other clubs between them. The Astros and Mariners won while the Tigers were rained out at Minneapolis. Baltimore’s lead for the second Wild Card is down to one game over Detroit and Houston and two over Seattle, which is a half-game ahead of the Yankees.

Girardi’s hunch to stay with Austin pays big dividend

The Yankees had to wait until two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night for one of the Baby Bombers to make a major contribution. It turned out to be a big one, an opposite-field home run to right by Tyler Austin that produced a 5-4 victory over the Rays.

Prior to that, the Yankees’ offense was powered by veterans. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury both singled in the first inning and scored on a out-single by Didi Gregorius and an errant pickoff attempt by Rays starter Alex Cobb.

Their other two runs were courtesy of two long home runs by Brian McCann, one into the second deck in the fourth inning and one into the suites section between the second and third decks in the second inning. McCann, who was 3-for-4, is enjoying a .455 homestand with three home runs and five RBI in 11 at-bats.

McCann lost his regular catching job to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez and has not made a peep about all the while contributing in his at-bats as a designated hitter. Mac was back behind the plate Thursday night and did his usual solid job, especially in the fifth when rookie Jonathan Holder nearly balked home the tying run. Mac claimed that Holder was merely requesting to go through the signs again in moving his glove, an argument continued by Girardi, who was able to get plate umpire Mike Everitt to confer with the other umps. The group decision upheld McCann’s point of view, and the Yankees caught a huge break.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had another veteran available in the dugout as a possible pinch hitter for Austin in the ninth after the Rays brought in righthander Erasmo Ramirez with two outs and none on. Mark Teixeira, with 405 career home runs, was on the bench, but Girardi stayed with Austin.

“I like the way he has been swinging the bat lately,” Girardi said of Austin, who has six hits in the past four games, four of them for extra bases. “With that splitter Ramirez has, right-handed hitters sometimes have an advantage over left-handed hitters.”

The switch-hitting Teixeira would have batted left-handed against Ramirez. Girardi played a hunch, and it paid off.

Girardi had a busy night navigating his pitching staff on a night when relievers Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances were virtually unavailable because of heavy recent use. Despite that, the skipper did not hesitate to lift an ineffective CC Sabathia with two on and none out in the fifth.

Sabathia had given up two home runs to Kevin Kiermaier and one to Steven Souza Jr. Holder was also victimized by Souza in the sixth that made the score 4-4, which is where it stayed until Austin came to bat in the ninth. The score remained that way because of the ensemble relief effort of Chasen Shreve, Blake Parker, Kirby Yates and Tommy Layne.

The Yanks’ fifth straight victory pushed their record to a season-high nine games over .500 at 74-65 as they leaped over another club, the Astros, in the sweepstakes for the second Wild Card slot. The Yankees had already sped by the Mariners and the Royals and now have their sights set on the Orioles (two games behind) and the Tigers (one game behind). Baltimore and Detroit were not scheduled Thursday night.

Neither was Boston, so the Yankees picked up a half-game on the American League East leader and are only four games out of first place in the division.

Young clinches another comeback from 4-0

The Yankees have taken Joe Girardi’s remark after Tuesday night’s loss to the Rays when he said “Basically, we have to win every game” seriously.

For the second straight night, the Yankees obliterated a 4-0 deficit against Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium. The big difference Thursday night was that unlike Wednesday night when the Yankees had nine innings to stage their comeback this time they were down to their last five outs.

Hell, they did not have a hit let alone a run one out into the eighth inning. This was as remarkable a comeback as the ones shown on the video screen before the game of Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series in memory of Sept. 11.

The 5-4 victory featured two key hits by a new Yankee who was a flop with the Mets, a big home run by a guy who had not played in five of the past six games because of an aching hamstring and with two players painfully hit by pitches.

Chris Young, who has found a home in the Bronx that he could not find in Queens, was at the center of the Yanks’ magnificent final two innings. He doubled to break up Alex Cobb’s no-hit bid with one down in the eighth and scored on Martin Prado’s pinch-hit home run off reliever Brad Boxberger.

Boxberger soon after became the most unpopular guy in the building when he drilled Derek Jeter in the left elbow with a pitch. An error by first baseman James Loney put the potential tying run on base, but Boxberger recovered to strike out Mark Teixeira.

Rays closer Jake McGee, the hard-throwing lefthander, began the ninth by hitting Chase Headley in the chin with a 1-2 pitch, which was a 96-mph fastball. It was a scary sight there for a while as Headley lay on his back next to the plate with blood splattered below his lower lip as he was attended by the Yankees’ trainers.

Somebody in the crowd started a chant directed at McGee “Pay him back.” Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double, and the crowd that had been muzzled much of the night came alive. McGee struck out pinch hitter Zelous Wheeler, but Young finished off the comeback by cranking a 0-1 fastball to left field for a three-run home run.

Young, who was released last month and picked off the scrapheap by the Yankees, has been nothing short of terrific. He is batting .500 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in 12 at-bats for the Yankees with a slugging percentage of 1.167.

“He has done an awful lot for us,” Girardi said of Young, who had five RBI the past two nights. “Gardy [Brett Gardner] got hurt, and that gave [Young] an opportunity. He has made the most of it.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees’ past two games mark the first time they have come back to win consecutive games in which they were down by four or more runs in each game since July 30 and 31, 2005 against the Angels.

So the Yankees head off to Baltimore for an important series on a high note. Headley did not accompany them. Although he seemed clear-headed and was not missing any teeth, Headley remained in New York and will undergo tests Friday to check about possible jaw damage and a concussion.

Pineda foiled by a couple of hanging sliders

With one swing of the bat, the Rays scored more runs in a game against Michael Pineda this year than any other team. That swing was in the fourth inning by Yunel Escobar, who drove a 2-1 slider to left field for a three-run home run.

In his previous nine starts, Pineda had not allowed more than two runs for a 1.80 ERA in 50 innings. The righthander yielded two runs three times, one run five times and no runs once. In one of those one-run outings, the run was unearned.

Pineda, who missed 86 games due to a right shoulder injury, has been brilliant since his return Aug. 13. He took a 1.78 ERA since being reinstated into Thursday night’s game. Pineda was less than brilliant this time but still impressive. His main problem was hanging sliders to Escobar.

The Tampa Bay shortstop also took Pineda deep in the seventh for the first multi-homer game of his career. Pineda pitched to contact all game. He gave up 10 hits and had only two strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. For the seventh time in 10 starts this season he did not walk a batter and has allowed only four walks in 57 1/3 innings.

Another major problem for Pineda was that opposing starter Alex Cobb flirted with a no-hitter. Cobb, who has always been tough on the Yankees, took his no-no into the eighth inning. Stephen Drew, who reached base in the third inning when Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier dropped his fly ball for an error, made the first out of the eighth on a foul pop in front of the Yankees’ dugout.

Chris Young, who has been a nice addition for the Yankees and a far cry from the guy who had been dreadful for the Mets, ruined Cobb’s beauty by smoking a line drive into right-center field for a double. Cobb was removed from the game at that point, and fans at Yankee Stadium showed plenty of class by applauding him as he walked off the field.

Martin Prado, who did not play in five of the previous six games because of a tight left hamstring, batted for Brendan Ryan and abruptly greeted reliever Brad Boxberger with a two-run home run. That avoided a shutout, which Pineda knows all about. Of the eight games in which the Yankees have been shut out this year, three were Pineda starts.

The Yankees’ runs came after Pineda left the game, which means that he has received zero runs of support in eight of his past 14 starts since Aug. 27, 2011 when he was with a Mariners club that was among the poorest offensive teams in major league history.

Woes continue for Sabathia

For so long CC Sabathia has been high among the things you can count on around the Yankees that it is surprising to see him go through the stretch he has had the past month. CC bottomed out Sunday in an 8-3 loss to the Rays in which he was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits in seven innings. Clearly, seven was not a lucky number for Sabathia as the Yankees surrendered sole possession of first place in the American League East and dropped into a tie with the Red Sox, who come to Yankee Stadium later this week.

Perhaps surprising is not the word for Sabathia against the Rays or at Tropicana Field. The Rays have been a difficult opponent for the lefthander, whose career record against them fell below .500 (10-11) with a 3.48 ERA in 220 innings. At the Trop, CC is 3-7 with a 4.39 ERA in 108 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in the St. Petersburg, Fla., dome in two starts this season with 14 hits allowed, including five home runs, in 14 innings.

Sabathia remained winless since April 27 and over five starts in that stretch is 0-2 with three no-decisions and a 4.85 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with 37 hits allowed, five of them homers. His ERA for the season has climbed to 3.96.

Tepid velocity on his fastball has been an issue for Sabathia this season. The home runs by Sean Rodriguez, a two-run shot in the third, and James Loney, a three-run bomb in the sixth, were off ineffective fastballs. CC also didn’t help himself in a two-run second inning when the Rays got one hit, a soft single at that, by not covering first base on a play that prolonged the inning.

The Yankees could not afford such lax play on a day when Rays starter Alex Cobb, who is becoming something of a Yankee killer with a 3-1 mark and 2.21 ERA against them, was his usual stingy self against the Bombers. The righthander, who improved to 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA, took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning before Brett Gardner finally got the Yanks on the scoreboard with his fifth home run.

That ended Cobb’s scoreless streak against the Yankees at 22 1/3 innings. They got two more runs with assistance from wild reliever Cesar Ramos, who allowed two four-pitch walks and a two-run double by David Adams, before Joel Peralta restored order.

David Huff, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians and added to the roster Sunday, also had control issues in giving up a run in the eighth on two walks and a double to Desmond Jennings. From the seventh inning on this year, the Yankees have outscored opponents, 70-42. This was a game, however, that was decided long before the seventh inning.

Andy fans 10, but Yanks blanked for 1st time

Alex Cobb, the impressive righthander who got the best of the Yankees Wednesday night for the Rays, was seven years old when Andy Pettitte broke into the major leagues with the Yankees in 1995. Yet there did not seem much of an age difference in this game.

At 40, Pettitte was to the task against Cobb. Unfortunately, Andy didn’t get much support from his teammates, which made the margin for error so slim. He was kicking himself for getting into trouble in the fifth inning when the Rays ended the scoreless duel with two runs, one of which was not earned.

That was due to an error by right fielder Brennan Boesch, who overran a single by Kelly Johnson that allowed runners to reach second base and third base with none out. Pettitte had put the lead runner on himself when he struck Jose Molina in the foot with a 1-2 cut fastball in the dirt. Andy went to work after that and struck out the next two hitters, but he got too much of the plate with a curve to Ben Zobrist, who lined a double to right-center to score both runners.

Zobrist has been something of a Pettitte killer. The switch hitter is batting .409 with a double and two home runs in 22 career at-bats against Pettitte, who gave up only another run on a leadoff home run by Sean Rodriguez off a first-pitch cutter. Pettitte had good stuff that led to a season-high 10 strikeouts but not enough to avoid absorbing his first loss of the season.

For the second time in three nights, the Yankees managed only two hits off a Tampa Bay starter over eight innings. Cobb came out of the game after giving up his third hit, a one-out single by Brett Gardner in the ninth. Ichiro Suzuki’s single off reliever Fernando Rodney brought the tying run to the plate for the Yankees, but Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner could not get the ball out of the infield as the Yanks suffered their first shutout loss of the year.

There were not too many bright spots for the Yankees despite Pettitte’s work (two earned runs in six innings) that is often sufficient enough for a victory. Sean Kelley supplied two solid innings of relief. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez made two sensational plays to rob Yunel Escobar and Molina of hits and also had one of the Yanks’ four hits.

It turned out to be a .500 trip (3-3) through Toronto and St. Pete, but the trek was considered a disappointment since the Yankees opened the swing with two victories. That they scored merely five runs in three games against the Rays indicates the strength of Tampa Bay’s pitching staff.

Yankees’ lead in AL East is gone

And then there was none.

Games ahead, that is. The Yankees are still in first place in the American League East, but they are no longer alone atop the standings. A 5-2 loss to the Rays Tuesday night coupled with the Orioles’ 12-0 rout at Toronto created a first-place tie in the division between the Yankees and Baltimore. It marked the first time in an 84-day period since June 11 that the Yanks were not all by themselves in first place.

In addition, the third-place Rays are merely 1 ½ games out of first. The AL East, which looked like a runaway around the All-Star break, has turned into a dogfight. The Yanks led by as many as 10 games July 18. All of that lead has shredded. They have gone 19-25 since that date while the Orioles have gone 29-15 and the Rays 28-16. That is how leads disappear.

As for disappearing leads, that has happened to the Yankees in the three consecutive games they have lost. They couldn’t hang on to 2-0 and 3-1 leads in losing to the Orioles Sunday or to a 3-2 lead Monday and a 2-0 lead Tuesday night to the Rays.

Robinson Cano showed no signs of a lingering hip problem with a two-run home run in the first inning Tuesday night, but that would be all the offense the Yankees would generate. They had five hits the rest of the way. Their best chance to tag on runs was in the third against winning pitcher Alex Cobb when Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson walked with none out, but Cano struck out and Nick Swisher grounded into a double play.

Freddy Garcia hit the fifth-inning wall for his third straight start. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton that inning which created the final score. Garcia let Tampa Bay back in the game right away in the first inning on an RBI double by Upton. Evan Longoria shot the Rays into the lead with a two-run homer in the third.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi keeps saying that the team is not panicking, but his body language betrays him. The skipper went full-metal ballistic in the fourth inning against plate umpire Tony Randazzo and was ejected for arguing balls-and-strikes after Chris Dickerson was called out on strikes to end the inning.

Girardi did not want to discuss the matter after the game. There really wasn’t much to be said about anything in this game.

It ‘starts’ with pitching

Here is what quality starting pitching can do for a team. It can get a club very close to first place.

Despite all the problems the Yankees have had this year hitting with runners in scoring position and with the bases loaded, despite the injuries to starting pitcher Michael Pineda and relievers Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, despite playing without regular left fielder Brett Gardner for six weeks, despite a lackluster offensive season from Alex Rodriguez, despite all that, the Yankees are on the verge of moving into first place in the American League East.

Their 4-1 victory over the Rays Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium jumped them over Tampa Bay into second place in the division. The Yankees now trail only the Orioles, who hung on to beat the Red Sox, by a half-game in the standings of an AL East that is so tight at this point that the five clubs are separated by only two games.

A recent stretch of top-shelf starting pitching has carried the Yankees. The easiest job in the major leagues currently is being in the Yankees’ bullpen. A reliever did not warm up before the ninth inning Wednesday night.

A Yankees rotation that did not have a complete game before this week nearly chalked up its second in three games as Ivan Nova tried to match the work of teammate Phil Hughes Sunday at Detroit. Nova came close. Magnificent through eight innings, he needed to be rescued in the ninth after giving up back-to-back triples to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton.

The sight of successive balls getting into the outfield against Nova was strange on this night because only four of the 24 outs the righthander recorded were on balls to the outfield. Nova got 15 of his outs in the infield and another five on strikeouts. In addition, the Rays had merely two hits off Nova through the eighth.

Jennings led off the game with a single to right-center. The Rays didn’t get their second hit until Sean Rodriguez doubled with one down in the eighth. Nova got out of the inning by getting the next two batters on weak grounders to the right side.

All the while, Nova was locked in a pitcher’s duel with Alex Cobb, an impressive righthander who was called up from Triple A Durham last month to replace injured Jeff Niemann in the Tampa Bay rotation. Cobb was also working on a two-hitter after seven innings, but both hits were solo home runs, by Mark Teixeira in the second and Robinson Cano in the fourth.

The Yankees finally got a sustained attack going against Cobb in the eighth. Raul Ibanez singled past Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who also failed to stop Nick Swisher’s hard grounder that went down the right field line to score pinch runner DeWayne Wise. Eric Chavez followed with a double to left-center for another precious insurance run.

That late rally sure looked huge after the Rays struck in the ninth for those triples. Rafael Soriano, who has been tremendously effective as a closer in Rivera’s absence, picked up his eighth save, although some hearts in the crowd were fluttering when old pal Hideki Matsui made the final out on a drive in front of the wall in right, the third out he made in the game on balls hit to the warning track.

The outing by Nova, whose record improved to 7-2 and ERA dropped from 5.60 to 5.09, marked the fifth consecutive game in which a Yankees starter pitched past the seventh inning. Over that stretch, the rotation is 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA. The five starters combined to give up seven earned runs, 25 hits and nine walks with 32 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

That is the stuff first-place clubs are made of.

Yanks shove Rays down the standings

The Yankees have a chance in their four-game series at St. Petersburg, Fla., to push the Rays out of the American League East race and worked toward that effort Monday night with a comeback victory.

Tampa Bay’s 5-4 loss dropped the Rays eight games behind the first-place Red Sox and 6 ½ back of the second-place Yankees. The Rays lost two of three games at Yankee Stadium before the All-Star break and dropped another two of three at home to Boston over the past weekend.

After being shut out for 16 innings in a 1-0 loss to the Red Sox Sunday night, the Rays showed some spark by taking a 4-1, second-inning lead off A.J. Burnett. But Tampa Bay let the shaky righthander off the hook from the third into the sixth innings, and four relievers could not follow up the impressive work of rookie starter Alex Cobb.

The Yankees put together some impressive at-bats in drawing nine walks, four in the last two innings when they pulled the game out. The Yanks tied the score off former teammate Kyle Farnsworth, who has been effective as Tampa Bay’s closer this year but Monday night looked more like the disappointing setup reliever he was in two-plus seasons with the Yankees when he was 6-9 with a 4.33 ERA.

Farnsworth entered the game with one out in the eighth and runners on first and second and gave up singles to Russell Martin and Brett Gardner, the second driving in a run. Gardner then helped the tying run to score with a clean, hard slide at second base that prevented the Rays from getting out the inning with a double play on a ground ball by Eduardo Nunez.

Having used nine pitchers in the 5-hour, 44-minute marathon the night before, Rays manager Joe Maddon had to rely on rookie lefthander Alexander Torres to pitch the ninth. Where Maddon may second-guess himself is the decision to walk Nick Swisher intentionally with two outs and a runner on second base.

It was designed to put the onus on Andruw Jones, but the veteran showed patience against the kid and drew a walk on a full count. That loaded the bases for Martin, who also worked the count to 3-2 before he also walked to force in what was ultimately the winning run.

Burnett had another messy outing against the Rays as he allowed four runs (three earned), eight hits and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. A.J. is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in three starts totaling 14 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay this year and has given up 12 earned runs, 19 hits and 10 walks. But the Yankees remained close enough, thanks to the relief work of Hector Noesi, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, to turn the game their way in the final two innings.

For the sixth straight game, the Yankees did not hit the ball over the fence. In fact, all eight of their hits were singles. Curtis Granderson reached base four times with two hit and two walks, stole two bases and scored two runs. It turned out to be another marathon for the Rays – 4 hours and 1 minute to complete nine innings – as they watched another AL East team sprint away from them.