Results tagged ‘ Brent Lillibridge ’
The momentum swings in Tuesday night’s game resembled the rollercoaster at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park across the highway from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Yankees went up to a 3-0 lead, then down to a 4-3 deficit and then up again to a 5-4 victory.
Just a week after getting a save in the All-Star Game where Mariano Rivera served as his setup man, Joe Nathan sustained only his second blown save in 33 opportunities this year as the Yanks staged a dramatic rally that sent Texas to its first loss in 52 games this season when the Rangers were leading after eight innings.
To finish things off, Rivera returned to his normal role and got his 32nd save of the season and 640th of his career with a 1-2-3 ninth featuring two strikeouts, a perfect end to an absolutely startling comeback for the Yankees, who appeared down for the count against the Rangers’ impressive bullpen.
Texas relievers recorded 10 consecutive outs before Nathan walked Vernon Wells with one out in the ninth. Nathan further improved the Yankees’ condition with a wild pitch that not only advanced Wells to second base but also forced the Rangers to bring their outfielders in shallower for a possible play at the plate.
Eduardo Nunez benefitted from the altered defense with a drive to the wall in left-center for an RBI triple, the Yanks’ first hit since the fourth inning. The run scored by Wells ended a streak of 25 2/3 scoreless innings by the Texas pen dating to July 11. Brent Lillibridge then atoned for an earlier damaging error with a single to left that scored Nunez with what proved the winning run.
Phil Hughes has had somewhat surprising success at Rangers Ballpark despite its being a hitters’ paradise. Tuesday night it appeared that success would continue as the Yankees gave Hughes an early lead and he was doing a good job at protecting it. For five innings anyway.
Everything fell apart for Hughes, however, in the sixth. An error by Lillibridge at third base with one out opened the door for the Rangers, who came back from being down 3-0 to take a 4-3 lead. Adrian Beltre followed the error with a double for Texas’ first run. Hughes got the second out on a fly to center by A.J. Pierzynski but gave up a single to Elvis Andrus that got Texas to 3-2.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a quick hook of Hughes (80 pitches) for lefthander Boone Logan, who faced left-handed batting Mitch Moreland, who drove a home run over the center field fence. Only one of the three runs charged to Hughes was earned as his ERA at Rangers Ballpark fell to 1.90 over 23 2/3 innings.
The Yankees also had an exceptional defensive game with second baseman Robinson Cano making one of his patented across-the-body throws to first on a far-ranging play to his right in the seventh and center fielder Brett Gardner belly-flopping in right-center to haul down a drive by Andrus.
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 Reference.com, 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.
The Yankees post-All-Star break were just as short-handed as before the break. The sad news came Friday night as the Yanks opened a three-game series at Fenway Park with a 4-2 loss in their first 2013 visit to the Hub that Derek Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a Grade 1 strain of his right quadriceps, the same injury that shortened his comeback from a twice-fractured left ankle to one game.
An MRI on the Captain revealed next to no healing over the past week so he goes on the DL retroactive to July 12 that will keep him away from the team at least until July 27. The Yanks dipped into the farm system to purchase the contract of utility man Brent Lillibridge from Triple A Scranton and made room for him on the 40-man roster with the release of outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Lillibridge got into the mix right away at third base and batting seventh in the order. He became the seventh different player to start at third for the Yankees this season, joining David Adams (29 games), Jayson Nix (24), Kevin Youkilis (20), Chris Nelson (9), Luis Cruz (8) and Alberto Gonzalez (5). And don’t forget, even Vernon Wells put in an inning at third base in one game as a reserve.
All of these guys have been trying to hold the position for Alex Rodriguez, who according to general manager Brian Cashman is on schedule to finish his injury-rehabilitation assignment at Scranton over the weekend and barring complications will join the Yankees in Arlington, Texas, their next stop on this trip either Monday or Tuesday. A-Rod is recuperating from offseason hip surgery.
Jeter’s second trip to the DL brought the total to four players who came off the DL only to go back on shortly after returning, following Curtis Granderson, Youkilis and Mark Teixeira.
As if the Yankees did not have enough trouble getting players on the field, Brett Gardner further hampered them in the fifth inning by getting ejected from the game for throwing a temper tantrum after being called out on strikes standing the potential tying run at second base. The Yankees had closed to 3-2 on doubles by Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart.
With Stew on second and two out, Gardner disagreed with plate umpire Mike Everitt’s third-strike call and slammed his helmet to the angrily. Everitt tossed Gardner, whose ejection taxed a thin Yankees bench, particularly since outfielder Zoilo Almonte also left the game because of a left ankle sprain that will send him to the DL.
That will make 20 stints by 16 players for the Yankees on the DL this year. Will this ever end? Reports had outfielders Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal heading to Fenway from Scranton to replace Almonte and another player not yet identified.
Manager Joe Girardi was not happy with Gardner’s departure but was even more upset with Everitt, whom he thought pulled the trigger too quickly. Girardi saw it as a heat-of-the-moment situation that warranted a fine perhaps but not a bouncing.
Lillibridge moved from third base to right field with Luis Cruz taking over third. Ichiro Suzuki went from right to center and Gonzalez came in for Almonte in left. That left Girardi with only two players on the bench – backup catcher Austin Romine and designated hitter Travis Hafner, who does not play a position in the field.
Just the inning before he was kicked out of the game, Gardner had single-handedly manufactured a run as the Yankees scored before they had a hit off Felix Doubront, who won his third straight start. Gardner, who probably needed the four-day All-Star break more than any other Yankees player, walked, stole second and third and continued home on a wild throw to third by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Andy Pettitte had another outing that might best be described as so-so. He gave up a leadoff home run to Jacoby Ellsbury and was taken deep again in the second inning with a runner on by Jonny Gomes. Pettitte came back with four scoreless innings before leaving one out into the seventh with a runner on second his responsibility. That runner, Gomes, scored on a two-out single by Jose Iglesias off Shawn Kelley.
Pettitte (7-7) had a 4-3 record with a 3.83 ERA before he went on the DL because of a strained left trapezius muscle. In nine starts covering 55 1/3 innings since his return, Pettitte is 3-4 with a 5.04 ERA.
The Yankees tried to get Andy off the hook in the eighth when Suzuki singled and Robinson Cano doubled with one out off Craig Breslow, who rebounded to retire Wells on a soft pop to shortstop and Cruz on a ground ball. The Yanks went meekly in the ninth to the latest Red Sox closer, Koji Uehara.
The Yankees started the post-break period with a hard mission ahead and on the first night it got harder. Not only did the Red Sox win but also the second-place Rays and the third-place Orioles did as well, which leaves the Yanks seven games behind Boston, 4 ½ behind Tampa Bay and 2 ½ behind Baltimore.
Ivan Nova worked himself back into the good graces of the Yankees rotation Tuesday night with a solid performance. Too bad he couldn’t get credit for a victory. The Yankees couldn’t, either, as they lost consecutive games for the first time this season, the last team in the majors to do so.
Nova was cuffed around in his previous two starts covering only 8 2/3 innings (9.35 ERA) and exhibited a tendency to falter the second time through batting orders. Not this time, however. The righthander nearly made it through the White Sox order three times before departing in the seventh after having walked A.J. Pierzynski with one out.
David Robertson picked Nova up by completing the seventh without incident. Alas, the same could not be said for Rafael Soriano, who continues to struggle in the early going. Soriano came on in the eighth inning and hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch before giving up a home run to Paul Konerko that shaped a 3-2 White Sox victory.
Brent Lillibridge, who stayed in the game after having pinch run for Quentin in the eighth, saved the game for Chicago more than its bullpen by making two consecutive circus catches in right field in the bottom of the ninth. He banged against the fence to glove a drive by Alex Rodriguez and followed it with a diving grab of a low liner by Robinson Cano.
“Well, I think that I have found my new closer,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Lillibridge.
What has been troublesome about Soriano is that he was known to be a control pitcher, but he has gotten himself in trouble this year by letting hitters reach base without earning their way on. The righthander has walked nine batters and hit one in 10 1/3 innings.
“He has had trouble with his command,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi conceded. “You have to fight your way out of it. I haven’t lost any confidence in Soriano.”
Nova was a bright spot for the Yankees. He scattered five singles and two walks. The only run he allowed was a bit tainted. Alex Rios led off the fifth inning with a liner to center that glanced off a charging Curtis Granderson’s glove for a single, which seemed a generous scoring decision by Howie Karpin. Rios stole second with one out and scored on a single to by Gordon Beckham.
Had Granderson been charged with an error, which might have been the appropriate call, the run against Nova would have been unearned. Thanks to solo home runs by Cano and Brett Gardner, Nova was in a position to win the game as he came out with the Yankees up, 2-1. As he walked off the mound, the Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,785 gave Nova a standing ovation.
“I remember Damaso [Marte] told me they will do that here if you do good, so you have to tip your cap or waive or something,” Nova said. “I told him it’s the first time that has happened for me!”
And he deserved it.
Freddy Garcia has pitched so well for the Yankees it makes one wonder why the White Sox did not re-sign him. Phil Humber may have supplied the answer Monday night in the opener of the four-game set between the Yankees and Chicago at Yankee Stadium.
Humber, the pitcher who replaced Garcia in the White Sox rotation, was every bit as good against the Yankees as Garcia has been for the Yankees. It is hard to imagine a batting order as potent as that of the Yankees going six innings without a hit, but that’s what happened Monday night in the 2-0 loss.
The Yankees did not have a base runner until the fourth inning when Curtis Granderson walked with one out. Nick Swisher was hit by a pitch in the fifth but was erased on a double play. The Yankees got only two balls into the outfield against Humber until Alex Rodriguez made it three with a single through the middle with one out in the seventh following a walk to Mark Teixeira.
Humber put down the threat, however, by striking out Robinson Cano on a high fastball and retiring Swisher on a ground ball to first. If Humber’s name sounds slightly familiar, it should. He was the Mets’ first-round draft choice in 2004 and went to the Twins in the Johan Santana trade two years later. He was released by both the Royals and the Athletics within a month’s time after the 2010 season before signing with the White Sox.
The Yankees were happy to see him go after the seventh inning and still had a chance to pull this one out because A.J. Burnett was being nearly as stingy as Humber. This might have been A.J.’s best outing thus far of what has been a good start for him this year. He held Chicago to three hits and two walks over eight innings. Burnett did not throw a wild pitch nor allow a stolen base, two areas of concern when he is on the mound.
The only run A.J. allowed came in the fourth inning. Carlos Quentin doubled to center on a ball on which Granderson tried for a diving catch. Quentin came around to score on two groundouts.
That was it. Burnett was pretty strong all game long. He put two runners on in the second and seventh innings but worked out of trouble each time. Burnett still had a chance for a winning decision or at least a no-decision if the Yankees could have taken advantage of a White Sox bullpen that has been vulnerable. Chicago relievers were 1-for-7 in save opportunities before Monday night.
After lefthander Chris Sale got the first two outs in the eighth, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen switched to righthander Sergio Santos after Andruw Jones had been announced as a pinch hitter for Brett Gardner. Yankees manager Joe Girardi trumped the move by sending up Eric Chavez, who singled to right. Pinch runner Eduardo Nunez got into scoring position by stealing second, but Derek Jeter could not a ground ball past Santos.
The White Sox added an insurance run – a somewhat tainted one at that – in the ninth. An infield pop by Alexei Ramirez fell among Rodriguez, Jeter and reliever Rafael Soriano for a single. One out later, pinch runner Brent Lillibridge swiped second, which allowed him to score on a single by Paul Konerko.
Granderson tried to get the Yankees going with a leadoff single in the ninth, but another double play defused the potential rally. In the end, it came down to Burnett losing for the first time in April as a Yankee in a pitching duel with the guy that replaced Freddy Garcia in Chicago.