Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’

Yankees get over the three-game series sweep hump

Finally.

The Yankees found a way to sweep a three-game series — just make sure the other team does not score. Wednesday night marked the eighth time this season that the Yankees went into the finale of a three-game series after having won the first two games and the first time they completed a sweep.

They have had two sweeps of four games and one of two games this season, but it took me them until their 34th three-game series of the season to sweep an opponent, and not just any opponent but the team that came to town Monday night in first place in the American League East.

The Yankees cost the Blue Jays sole possession of the top spot earlier in the series as the Red Sox moved into a first-place tie. A possible Boston victory later Wednesday night at San Diego could have shoved Toronto into second place.

Meanwhile, up, up, up go the Yankees in the AL East standings and the wild card race. Should the Red Sox have also lost, the Yanks would have been only 3 1/2 games out of first place. As for the wild card scenario, the Orioles, Tigers and Astros all lost, so the Yankees trail Baltimore by 2 1/2 games, Detroit by 1 1/2 and Houston by 1/2. Tight, tight, tight.

The Yankees have won 10 of their past 14 games, 17 of their past 26 and are 29-21 since the All-Star break. Not bad for a club that dealt its three best players before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trading deadline and bid three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez farewell Aug. 12. The Yankees are 14-9 in the post-A-Rod era.

The vacancies have been filled by energetic pitchers and hitters up from the organization-wide success in the minor leagues. Two of the youth corps, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino, combined for eight scoreless innings in Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory.

The Yankees got both runs after two were out in the third off Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. Starlin Castro slammed his 20th home run of the season. Didi Gregorius doubled into the left field corner and scored following a walk to Mark Teixeira on a single by Brian McCann. Castro’s homer was hits 20th, a career high. He is the fourth Yankees second baseman with a 20-homer season. Robinson Cano did it five times, Hall of Famer Joe Gordon four and Alfonso Soriano two.

Mitchell probably would have broken camp with the Yankees in April, but a left toe tear kept him on the disabled list until last month when he worked his way back with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The righthander pitched one batter into the sixth and allowed four hits and two walks with two strikeouts before turning matters over to Severino.

Yankees officials still consider Severino a starter, but he has been far more effective as a reliever this year. The numbers do not lie. With three more scoreless, one-hit, one-walk, three-strikeout innings, Severino is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 14 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. As a starter, Severino was 0-8 with an 8.58 ERA in 43 innings.

Manager Joe Girardi’s plan was to have Severino available to support Mitchell (1-0), and it worked perfectly. Tyler Clippard worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his second save.

More AL East competition is coming up with the last-place Rays coming to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set starting Thursday night. And just when the Yanks were getting a hand of this three-game series stuff.

Sanchez (who else?) leads Yankees’ charge

The Yankees finally made it to five games over .500 for the first time this season in pushing their record to 66-61. Four times previously, they came within one game of that mark only to lose the next game. The Yanks made sure that did not happen again Friday night as they let the Orioles know they have them in their sights.

The Yankees also got over the monotony of a scoreboard line of five runs, nine hits and no errors, which is what it was in each of the three games of their prior series at Seattle. The only match this time was no errors because the Yankees cranked out 14 runs and 18 hits.

This will probably come as no big surprise, but Gary Sanchez had another big night for the Yankees. The catcher, who is putting himself in possible contention for the Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year Award, drove in four runs with a home run, a double and a single. The Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up continues to rake at a .403 clip with 10 home runs and 20 RBI in 20 games and 77 at-bats.

This is Willie McCovey stuff.

What do I mean by that? In their second season in San Francisco, the Giants brought up McCovey, the future Hall of Fame first baseman, July 30, 1959. He went 4-for-4 with two triples and two RBI and kept right on hitting to where he batted .354 with nine doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 38 RBI and was the unanimous National League Rookie of the Year winner despite playing in only 52 games and totaling 192 at-bats. Sanchez is on a similar pace with 35 games remaining in the regular season.

“He seems to center ball he hits,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It has been exciting to watch.”

Sanchez, who has eight home runs in his past nine games, became the third player in major league history to hit 10 homers in his first 22 career games. The others were the Rockies’ Trevor Story this year and the Red Sox’ George Scott in 1966. Sanchez’s 20 RBI in his first 22 big-league games is the third most in club history. Joe DiMaggio had 22 in 1936 and Hideki Matsui 21 in 2003. With 10 homers in 19 games this month, Sanchez set a franchise rookie record for home runs in a single month. They are the most in a month by any Yankees player since Alfonso Soriano hit 13 homers in August 2013.

Of the nine players in the Yankees’ starting lineup, seven had multiple hits in the game. In addition to Sanchez’s trio of knocks, Starlin Castro also had three with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes chiming in with two apiece. Teixeira and Headley joined Sanchez in the home run column. Tex and Gardner each had three RBI. All nine starters had hits and eight scored.

There was more good news on the mound for the Yankees as Luis Cessa improved his record to 4-0 by winning his second straight start. If not for Manny Machado, who drove in all three Orioles runs off Cessa, the righthander would have been working on a shutout. He gave up only three other hits and a walk with five strikeouts in six innings. After pitching to a 5.30 ERA in 17 relief outings totaling 18 2/3 innings, Cessa is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings in his first two big-league starts.

The Yankees’ 14-4 victory over Baltimore also sliced a game off the deficit between them and the Orioles for the second wild card slot. The Yanks trail the O’s by only 3 1/2 games.

A-Rod says he will call it a career after Friday

As the days and nights went by with his name missing from the lineup as the result of a lack of production (two hits in his past 28 at-bats), Alex Rodriguez took pause at his situation. Then a phone call from Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner came Wednesday that began a negotiating period that led to the event Sunday morning at Yankee Stadium.

At a rare news conference for which nothing had been leaked to a media outlet beforehand, the Yankees and Rodriguez announced that he will play his last major league game at the end of the week. Following Friday night’s game against the Rays, Rodriguez will be unconditionally released by the Yankees from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve as a special advisor and instructor with the club through Dec. 31, 2017. A-Rod’s player contract was to run through the 2017 season, so the Yankees will pay off the remainder after Friday.

“This is a tough day,” Rodriguez said. “I love this game, and I love this team. Today, I am saying goodbye to both.”

Rodriguez, 41, was overtaken by emotion and openly wept before he could continue. He made the decision after several days of negotiations directly with Steinbrenner. Speculation had increased over the past two weeks as Rodriguez lost designated hitter at-bats to Carlos Beltran, who was later traded, and most recently to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Gary Sanchez.

“The last four weeks have not been fun,” Rodriguez said. “It has been extremely painful and embarrassing being on the bench. I am very excited about Friday.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would have to talk to Rodriguez about how he might be used in the games prior to Friday that include a three-game series at Boston. A-Rod was not in Sunday’s starting lineup against the Indians. Brian McCann was the DH.

“You always think you have one more hit in you, but I am at peace with it,” Rodriguez said about his decision. “The goal in New York never changes, to work toward winning a championship. Hal recognized that I enjoy working with young players. I am invested in these kids.”

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which we know he can flourish,” Steinbrenner said in a prepared statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as am organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to contribute directly to their growth and success. Baseball runs through his blood. He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

General manager Brian Cashman recalled several years ago when Rodriguez came back from an injury-rehabilitation stint at Class A Tampa giving a glowing scouting report on Greg Bird, who was lost for the 2016 season because of an injury but who is in the Yankees’ sights as their future first baseman.

“I look forward to his impacting our young players,” Cashman said. “Alex has always been a leader and a mentor.”

“I’ll remember how much he loved the game and gave back to it,” Girardi said. “He has been a teacher forever. Alex has what every person should have — a passion for something. He has had that for baseball.”

Rodriguez thanked his mother and two daughters; friends and other family; managers, coaches and teammates; commissioner Rob Manfred and fans “for letting me enjoy playing this game.”

Cashman, who was very busy at the non-waiver trade deadline with deals involving Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, said there had been no interest expressed by clubs in Rodriguez, who could still change his mind after the Friday night game and pursue talks with other teams on his own. He made that seem doubtful, however.

“I have not thought past the pinstripes,” Rodriguez said. “My horizon is Friday.”


BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell presents 2007 AL MVP Award to Alex Rodriguez April 2, 2008 at Yankee Stadium

Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player (2003, ’05, ’07) and 14-time All-Star (1996-98, ’00-08, ‘10-11), ranks fourth on baseball’s all-time list with 696 home runs, including a record 25 grand slams. He is second in major-league history with 2,084 runs batted in (trailing only Hank Aaron’s 2,297), eighth with 2,021 runs scored and 19th with 3,114 hits. Rodriguez has had 14 seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI (1996, ’98-2010), the only big leaguer to accomplish the feat.

Originally acquired Feb. 16, 2004, from the Rangers in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named (Joaquin Arias), Rodriguez shifted from shortstop to third base before settling in as the DH last year. In 12 seasons for the Yankees, A-Rod reached postseason play nine times and won the World Series in 2009. During that postseason, he batted .365 with 15 runs, five doubles, six home runs and 18 RBI in 15 games and 52 at-bats and won the Babe Ruth Award from the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the outstanding player of the 2009 postseason.

Displaying his 2009 World Series ring, Cashman said, “We do not have this in our trophy case if not for the significant contributions of Alex Rodriguez.”

A-Rod concurred. He spoke of that World Series victory as his most memorable achievement. Referring to the final out, he said, “Mariano [Rivera] on the mound, Robinson [Cano] throwing the ball to Tex [Mark Teixeira] at first base is something I will never forget.”

In 1,506 career games with the Yankees, Rodriguez has hit .284 with 1,012 runs, 262 doubles, nine triples, 351 home runs, 1,094 RBI, 779 walks, 152 stolen bases, a .378 on-base percentage and a .901 OPS in 5,568 at-bats. On the Yankees’ all-time lists, A-Rod ranks second in grand slams (15), sixth in homers and slugging percentage (.523), seventh in OPS (min: 2,500PA), 10th in runs, 11th in RBI and stolen bases, 12th in walks, 17th in games played and 18th in on-base percentage.

Rodriguez acknowledged that not all of his career was glorious. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against performance enhancing drugs, which has tainted his legacy.

“I want to be remembered as someone who was madly in love with baseball, as someone who slipped and fell a lot but still got back up,” Rodriguez said.

He got back up one last time when he hit 33 home runs in 2015, although he tailed off dramatically the final two months of the season. That stretch continued into 2016. Over the calendar year since last August, Rodriguez had batted .198 with 124 strikeouts in 398 at-bats.

As Cashman said, “The game tells you when.”

With Teixeira’s announcement last week that he will retire at season’s end, CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner will be all that remains from the 2009 postseason roster. We are truly seeing the end of an era.

Barbato top rookie in Yankees camp

Pitcher Johnny Barbato was the recipient of the 2016 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp.

Barbato, 23, had a record of 0-1 with two saves and a 1.74 ERA in 10 relief appearances covering 10 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play. The righthander allowed seven hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts. Over five minor league seasons, Barbato has an 18-15 record with 36 saves, a 3.55 ERA and 326 strikeouts in 179 career appearances (20 starts) totaling 317 innings. The Miami, Fla., native was acquired from the Padres in a Dec. 29, 2014 trade for pitcher Shawn Kelley. Barbato was originally a sixth-round selection by the Padres in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

The award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during spring training in 1953.

Two winners of the honor, Tony Kubek in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1962, went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award. The Dawson Award first was presented to Norm Siebern by manager Casey Stengel in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the conclusion of spring training in 1956. Other prominent Dawson Award winners over the years include Roy White (1966), Willie Randolph (1976), Don Mattingly (1983), Al Leiter (1988), Jorge Posada (1997), Alfonso Soriano (2001), Hideki Matsui (2003), Brett Gardner (2009) and Masahiro Tanaka (2015).

Yankees beat writers vote on the winner. In conjunction with the award, Barbato will receive a watch from Betteridge Jewelers.

Beltran joins 1,000 AL & NL hit club

Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup Saturday night and may not play Sunday, either, for the Yankees at Tropicana Field. The right fielder has a severe cold. 

Beltran started the winning rally Friday night with a leadoff single in the eighth inning. Brett Gardner pinch ran for Beltran and stole second base with two out. He scored on a single to center by Alex Rodriguez, who also homered twice and drove in four runs.

The knock by Beltran was his 1,000th career hit in the American League to go with 1,329 hits in his time in the National League. He is the only active player with 1,000 or more hits in both leagues and the eighth player overall to accomplish the feat. The list from the Elias Sport Bureau includes two former Yankees — Dave Winfield (1,976 AL; 1,134 NL) and Alfonso Soriano (1,018 AL; 1,077 NL). The others are Orlando Cabrera (1,020 AL; 1,035 NL), Vlad Guerrero (1,375 AL; 1,215 NL), Carlos Lee (1,033 AL; 1,240 NL), Fred McGriff (1,143 AL; 1,347 NL) and Frank Robinson (1,184 AL; 1,759 NL).

Rodriguez’s 61st career multi-home run game was his first since May 23, 2012 against the Royals at Yankee Stadium and the sixth of his career against the Rays, the first since May 17, 2011 at St. Petersburg, Fla. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Rodriguez (at age 39 years, 264 days), became the third-oldest Yankees hitter since 1914 with a multi-homer game. The only Yankees to do it at an older age were Raul Ibanez (twice: Sept. 22, 2012 against the Athletics at age 40 years, 112 days and May 8, 2012 against the Rays at age 39 years, 341days) and Enos Slaughter (July 19, 1959 against the White Sox at age 43 years, 83 days).

Earlier Saturday in a couple of transactions involving pitchers, lefthander Matt Tracy was claimed off waivers by the Marlins and righthander Joel De La Cruz was outrighted off the 40-man roster and onto the roster of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

 

Yanks beat Twins, drop Soriano, deal Nuno

Sunday was a busy day for the Yankees. They designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, traded Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for another starting pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, and built a 9-0 lead over the Twins by the fourth inning and hung on to win, 9-7.

The game was the best part of the day as the Yankees took three of four games from Minnesota. Derek Jeter had three hits to raise his career total to 3,400. He received a standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field during his ninth-inning at-bat, which the fans figured was his last in their ballpark. Well, he will back be there again next week when the All-Star Game is played. Jeter was chosen by the fans to start at shortstop for the American League.

Also with a three-hit game was Ichiro Suzuki, who has become the Yanks’ regular right fielder now that Soriano is gone. They were in a platoon until Sunday, a platoon that was not working for Soriano.

What a difference a year makes. Last July 26, Soriano returned to the Yankees in a trade from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Corey Black and gave the team a jump-start in the second half. He hit .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI in 58 games and 219 at-bats.

Yet in essentially the same amount of time this year (67 games and 226 at-bats) Soriano hit .221 with six home runs and 23 RBI. He was batting only .204 against right-handed pitching and was facing most lefthanders in a platoon but was hitting only .247 against them. He had not hit a home run in 73 at-bats since May 17. Soriano had a miserable game Saturday as he went 0-for-4 and made two fielding blunders in left field although he was not charged with any errors.

With Carlos Beltran limited to designated hitter duty because of an ailing right elbow, right field now belongs to Suzuki, who began the season on the bench but has become the Yankees’ leading hitter with a .294 average.

Brian McCann returned to the lineup and caught after missing two games because of a sore left foot. He drove in one of the Yanks’ two first-inning runs with a double. They pounded Twins starter Ricky Nolasco for four more runs in the third, three coming on Jacoby Ellsbury’s fifth home run of the season.

By the fourth inning, the Yankees were up, 9-0, but Hiroki Kuroda could hardly coast. He was cuffed for four runs, seven hits and two walks and committed an error in 5 2/3 innings. Adam Warren, Jim Miller and David Robertson allowed one run apiece as the Twins got within two runs before D-Rob notched his 21st save. Robertson is averaging 16.43 strikeouts per nine innings, the best mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 25 innings. Eight of his past nine outs have been by strikeout.

Robertson was passed over for the All-Star Game, however, as two other Yankees pitchers were named to the AL staff, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. The latter is a rarity considering that most pitchers chosen for All-Star staffs are starters or closers. Robertson himself was one of those exceptions when he was selected for the game at Phoenix in 2011 when he was still a setup reliever.

Nuno, 26, pitched in 17 games for the Yankees this season and was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 78 innings while posting a .282 opponents average with 26 walks and 60 strikeouts. In his 14 starts, he was 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA in 73 2/3 innings.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is only the 12th pitcher since 1900 to pitch at least five innings while allowing two runs or less and five hits or less in each of his first four major league starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He made his big-league debut last year and in five games, including three starts, was 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings. In his three starts, Nuno was 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in17 innings.

In 22 career games (17 starts) for the Yankees, he was 3-7 with a 4.78 ERA, a .268 opponents average, 32 walks and 69 strikeouts in 98 innings. Nuno, who will turn 27 on July 26, signed with the Yankees as a minor-league free agent June 18, 2011. He was originally selected by the Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. He was born in San Diego and resides in National City, Calif.

McCarthy, who turns 31 Monday, has a 3-10 record with a 5.01 ERA, a .298 opponents average, 20 walks and 93 strikeouts in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings this season. He started 40 games over parts of two seasons with Arizona and went 8-21 with a 4.75 ERA, a .297 opponents average, 41 walks and 169 strikeouts in 244 2/3 innings. McCarthy has a career mark of 45-60 with a 4.21 ERA in 193 games (139 starts) over nine major league seasons with the White Sox (2005-06), Rangers (2007-09), Athletics (2011-12) and D-backs (2013-14).

The 6-foot-7 righthander is expected to make his first start for the Yankees Wednesday night at Cleveland. The Yankees plan to call up righthander Shane Greene from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start Monday night against the Indians.

HOPE Week: Career Gear

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Hiroki Kuroda, Alfonso Soriano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts and Derek Jeter pose with Career Gear participant Leon Clarke Jr. after fitting him with a suit from DKNY.

The Yankees held the second day of HOPE Week 2014 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Tuesday by celebrating Career Gear, an organization that helps promote the economic independence of low-income men by providing financial literacy training, professional attire and career development tools.

Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hiroki Kuroda, Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano visited Career Gear’s office in lower Manhattan, where they helped measure and outfit men with suits provided by DKNY.

Career Gear participants then shared their respective success stories. These men and their families, along with administrators from Career Gear, were guests of the Yankees for Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

With the help of more than 80 referral agencies in the New York City area, Career Gear has helped more than 35,000 men transition from poverty to employment and financial self-sufficiency. Providing these men with a business suit is just the first step. Through weekly peer workshops, one-on-one mentoring and a supportive environment, clients make the connections and build the confidence to find employment and continue down the path of personal development.

“Our philosophy is that everyone deserves a second, third or fourth chance,” Career Gear executive director Gary Field said. “Sometimes just a first chance is what they need. We help men redefine themselves by providing them with the tools to get where they want to go.”

All participants are invited to take part in job and life-readiness programs. The curriculum resembles a typical school semester. Classes take place from August through December and January through June, covering topics critical to professional and personal success. Diverse offerings include résumé writing, financial investment, social skills and family health.

Frequently, the same men that have reaped the benefits of Career Gear’s programs return to serve as mentors to first-time participants.

“What I want to do is make a difference in people’s lives,” Field said. “I would like to help pass the skills that I have learned to the next generation of people that are dedicated to helping our world move forward.”

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Clarke, Soriano and Jeter

Jeter leading at SS in All-Star voting

Derek Jeter had to skip the All-Star Game last year at Citi Field because he was recovering from left ankle surgery. He may get back to the Midsummer Classic this year at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The first American League All-Start voting results were released Tuesday, and there was the Captain in his usual spot leading all shortstops in the balloting. Jeter had 602,525 votes in taking the lead at his position over the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez, who had 472,537.

Jeter’s total was the third highest overall in the Al voting behind only outfielders Mike Trout (764,007) of the Angels and Jose Bautista (675,290) of the Blue Jays. The third outfielder in the balloting was the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury with 417,452. Right behind him was teammate Carlos Beltran, currently on the disabled list, with 401,101.

No other Yankees player is leading at his position, but Brian McCann is the runner-up at catcher behind the Orioles’ Matt Wieters. Alfonso Soriano ranks fourth among designated hitters, Mark Teixeira fifth among first baseman and Brett Gardner 11th among outfielders.

“I would love to see it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Jeter making the All-Star team. “I think he has played extremely well. I know the young man Ramirez has played extremely well. I understand [Jeter] is third overall in votes and that is a great thing. He has meant a ton to this game.”

Jeter, a 13-time All-Star playing in his final season, entered play Tuesday night batting .273 with one home run and 10 RBIs. Ramirez has the stronger numbers at .320, seven homers and 36 RBI.

DJ is going to need the support of Yankees fans to maintain his lead, but as the standing ovations he has received throughout the major leagues on his farewell tour attests he may get plenty of support outside New York as well.

Beating an NL team at its own game

With a starting lineup Monday that was minus Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees did not appear all that powerful. They were in a National League park in St. Louis and were going to need some NL-style small ball to get runs.

And that is just what they did in pulling off a 6-4, 12-inning victory over the Cardinals in what has been a turnaround trip for them. After losing three of the first four games on the swing through the Midwest, the Yankees have won three in a row to keep pace with the red-hot Blue Jays, who have a two-game lead in the American League East.

The Yankees got a run in the first inning on a walk and two singles, the same combination plus a sacrifice fly that gave them two runs in the fifth.

Not surprisingly considering Monday’s batting order, all seven of the Yankees’ hits were singles. They went one six-inning stretch with just one hit. They got another decent start from Triple A call-up Chase Whitley, who wilted in the sixth inning, however, and loaded the bases with none out. The Cardinals pushed two runs across to make the score 3-3, which it remained until the 12th.

Strong relief work by Preston Claiborne, Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances and Alfredo Aceves accounted for six shutout innings. Aceves was saved from possible disaster in the 11th on Brett Gardner’s leaping catch at the top of the left field wall to haul down a drive by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

The St. Louis bullpen did a nice job as well after Michael Wacha left after a sturdy seven-inning stint until Randy Choate took the mound. The former Yankees lefthander gave up a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second base, and hit Brian McCann with a 1-2 pitch.

The Yankees played some NL ball with Yangervis Solarte dropping his first major-league sacrifice bunt down to advance the runners. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny decided to put Ichiro Suzuki on with an intentional walk to load the bases, a strategy that backfired when Brian Roberts singled to left to break the tie. A sacrifice fly by Soriano pinch hitting and a clutch, two-out single by Brendan Ryan brought in two more runs, a nice cushion for David Robertson, who was touched for an unearned run due to an errant throw by Derek Jeter and earned his 11th save.

It marked the 12th straight game that Yankees starters have given up three runs or fewer. The rotation has a 2.52 ERA during that stretch. Whitley still does not have a decision, but in three starts the righthander has allowed only four earned runs in 14 innings (2.57 ERA).

Until Teixeira can swing freely with that tricky right wrist of his and Beltran gets back from the disabled list, this is the kind of offense the Yankees will have, needing to scratch for runs one at a time. It worked on Memorial Day.

Wrigley fans friendly to Jeet & Sori

So what happened to those ruffian fans at Wrigley Field? Cubs fans were quite pleasant to the Yankees in the early going Tuesday night in the first game of the inter-league set that began a week in Chicago for the Yanks.

It was not surprising that Yankees manager Joe Girardi heard applause as he entered the visitors dugout before the game. Girardi grew up in East Peoria, Ill., attended Northwestern University and played for the Cubs in two stints in his major-league catching career.

Derek Jeter was also treated very favorably during a pregame ceremony in which he received the number ‘2’ from the scoreboard which still uses hand-placed numbers in the latest stop on his farewell tour.

So maybe Cubs rooters were saving their venom for Alfonso Soriano, who spent seven seasons at Wrigley before he was traded back to the Yankees last July 26 for minor-league pitcher Corey Black. Sori made his return Tuesday night and was greeted warmly when he came to bat leading off the top of the second inning. There was no standing ovation by any means, but there wasn’t much in the way of negativity, either.

Wrigley Field just may be the friendly confines after all.