Results tagged ‘ Bruce Billings ’

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.

Yanks’ pitching durability being tested

It has been a tough week for the Yankees’ pitching staff. First, Ivan Nova went down with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. Thursday, the Yanks lost another pitcher, Michael Pineda, to a 10-game suspension for illegal use of pine tar in Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Nova, who was 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA in four starts, announced Thursday that he decided to have the Tommy John surgery, which will be performed by Dr. James Andrews Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala. The recovery period is 12 to 18 months, so Nova will be lost to the Yankees until at least the middle of the 2015 season.

Pineda, on the other hand, will likely miss only one start because there is an open date during his suspension period. However, that removes an extra day of rest for such aging starters as CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda and the young Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, whose workload in his first season in the United States the Yankees will monitor closely.

There have already been ramifications for the Yankees over Pineda’s foolish behavior. In getting ejected with two outs in the second inning for having a glob of pine tar on the right side of his neck, Pineda caused the Yankees to get 6 1/3 innings out of their bullpen on a blustery night in Boston.

Needing extra pitchers for Thursday night’s series finale, the Yankees brought up righthanders Bruce Billings and Shane Greene from Scranton and returned Preston Claiborne, who pitched two innings Wednesday night, to the Triple A affiliate along with infielder Dean Anna, who had been doing a solid job as a utility infielder. The move left Yangervis Solarte, who has been playing regularly, as the only backup shortstop for Derek Jeter, 39.

Lefthander Vidal Nuno has already been named the fifth starter in place of Nova. Righthander David Phelps, who has done a good job in middle relief, will probably make Pineda’s next scheduled start.

Pineda admitted his mistake and was contrite after Wednesday night’s game, but sorry doesn’t get it done. The righthander was under suspicion from his previous start against the same team at Yankee Stadium a week ago and with three separate networks televising the game (YES, NESN, ESPN) there was little chance Pineda could get away with hiding pine tar that he said he needed to get a better grip of the ball on a cold night.

At issue upon his return is whether Pineda can prove he can pitch without pine tar or whether the illegal substance for pitchers has become too much a psychological ally.