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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, 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.


Yankees get off the singles treadmill

Drastic times call for drastic measures. The Yankees’ lineup Tuesday night against Rangers righthander Alexi Ogando did not contain Travis Hafner. Surprised? Probably not. The only surprising thing about is that Hafner is a designated hitter only who bats left-handed. If not in the batting order against a right-handed starting pitcher, then when?

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate to answer when questioned by reporters at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. “He’s just not being productive,” the skipper said.

The numbers do not lie. After a torrid April in which he batted .318 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 66 at-bats, Hafner cooled off to the point since then of hitting .172 with six homers and 20 RBI in 186 at-bats. Pronk’s batting average is down to .210 while his OPS is below .700 (.699), not a good neighborhood for someone whose contribution is limited to his offense.

Disregarding platoon notions, Girardi went with right-handed-batting Vernon Wells as the DH with another righty swinger, recent Triple A Scranton callup Melky Mesa, in left field. The move had an early payoff when Mesa jump-started the Yankees in a two-run third inning that ended the Yankees’ 14-inning shutout string.

Mesa’s leadoff double, a hard liner to the gap in left-center, was the Yankees’ first extra-base hit in 24 innings coming after 21 consecutive singles. After going so long without extra-base power, the Yankees got another double immediately, by Austin Romine, for their first run of the game. Singles by Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki got home a second run, but Robinson Cano defused the rally by grounding into a double play.

Still, the Yankees ended a 22-inning scoring drought against Texas pitching. According to Baseball, the Rangers (after shutting out the Yankees on three hits Monday night and with their June 27 victory at Yankee Stadium with Derek Holland pitching a 2-0, two-hitter) were the first team to throw consecutive shutouts with three or fewer hits in each game against the Yankees since the Red Sox June 21-22, 1916. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that those games were a complete-game no-hitter by Rube Foster and a complete game three-hitter by Babe Ruth, both at Fenway Park.

Wells joined the doubles parade with a leadoff two-bagger in the fourth, his first extra-base hit in 24 at-bats since July 12. He displayed some alert running skills by crossing to third on a flyout to medium center field by Eduardo Nunez and beating a play at home to score on a fielder’s-choice grounder to second base by Brent Lillibridge.

Jeter working out at Stadium

There was a familiar face back in the clubhouse and on the field at Yankee Stadium Saturday, none other than the Captain himself. Derek Jeter took ground balls at his old shortstop position during batting practice prior to Saturday’s Yankees-Rays game.

Jeter has shifted his injury- rehabilitation program from Tampa where he has a year-round home to the Bronx where he can be back among his teammates. Although he was always antsy when he had to be on the bench during games, Jeter now longs for the connection with his team. DJ is recovering from off-season left ankle surgery and had a setback earlier this season when a crack was found in another area of the ankle.

“Everything has been going as good as it can go up to this point,” Jeter told the New York Daily News. “So now it’s just a progression. Everything is moving in the right direction.”

The Yankees have used four different players at shortstop this season – Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix, Alberto Gonzalez and recently-released Reid Brignac. Nunez is also on the 60-day disabled list with Jeter and has been since May 6 due to a left oblique strain. Nix, originally a utility man, is currently the regular shortstop.

Think the Yankees don’t miss the Captain? According to, Yankees shortstops entered play Saturday batting a combined .207 with eight doubles, two triples, one home run and 16 RBI in 251 at-bats.

Whelan in sort of select company

It doesn’t take long for the guys and girls at, a sensational web site, to dig up history related to a contemporary event. Less than 10 hours after Yankees rookie Kevin Whelan had walked four batters in two-thirds of an inning Friday night against the Indians, Steve Lombardi had posted a list of 12 pitchers since 1919 who had pitched two-thirds of an innings or less and walked four batters in their big-league debuts.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi tried to comfort his young pitcher Friday night when he removed him from the game, smiling at Whelan as he took the ball and saying, “Hey, we have all gone through this.” He meant fighting the heart-pounding that comes with playing in the majors for the first time.

Whelan might also be comforted with knowing that the list included several pitchers who went on to some success in the major leagues. In fact, Friday marked the 67th anniversary of the first game pitched by the youngest player to appear in a big-league game. Lefthander Joe Nuxhall gave up six runs on two hits and five walks June 10, 1944 for the Reds against the Cardinals in an 18-0 Cincinnati loss.

It was understandable, considering Nuxhall was only 15 years old at the time. His appearance was among the oddities during the World War II years when rosters were depleted because of military service. Nuxhall returned to the majors in 1952 and had a 135-117 record over a 16-season career before becoming a fixture behind the microphone as a long-time broadcaster of Reds games.

The only other Yankees pitcher on the list was Karl Drews, who gave up six runs on two hits and four walks in the second game of a doubleheader Sept. 8, 1946 in a 9-8 loss to the Washington Senators. His contract was sold to the St. Louis Browns during the 1948 season. The righthander from Staten Island went on to pitch also for the Phillies and Reds and compiled a 44-53 record in eight seasons.

The best pitcher of the lot was Fred Hutchinson, who broke in with the Tigers May 2, 1939 and was clocked for eight runs, five hits and four walks in a 22-2 shelling by the Yankees. “Hutch” lost five seasons to military duty during WW II but returned to post a 95-71 record and 3.73 ERA in 10 big-league seasons, all with Detroit.

He later became a manager, notably with the Reds, and was their skipper when Cincinnati lost the 1961 World Series in five games to the Yankees. Hutchinson was diagnosed with cancer during the 1964 season but continued to manage the team. He died after that season at the age of 45.

The Hutch Award has been presented annually since 1965 to a player who has embodied the spirit and determination of Hutchinson as a fund raiser for cancer research. The first recipient was Mickey Mantle. Other former Yankees honored have been Tommy John, David Cone, Jim Abbott, Jason Giambi and manager Joe Torre. In addition to the Mick, other Hall of Famers who have been recipients were Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor and Andre Dawson.