Results tagged ‘ Chien-Ming Wang ’

Yanks closing in on Jays, but Tanaka is hurt

Sunday night’s Subway Series finale became an even bigger game for the Yankees after the Blue Jays lost again to the Red Sox in the afternoon. That trimmed Toronto’s lead over the Yanks in the American League East to three games.

So with a victory Sunday night over the Mets and Matt Harvey the Yankees would get to 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays heading into a true showdown at Toronto, a three-game series that begins Monday night that gives the Bombers a chance at returning to the top of the division.

Yet just as things were looking up for the Yankees, they sustained a severe blow before Sunday night’s game with the news that Masahiro Tanaka will have to be scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday night at Rogers Centre because of a Grade 1 sprain of his right hamstring.

Inter-league play was the culprit. Tanaka sustained the injury while running out a ground ball in the second inning of Friday night’s loss to the Mets, although he batted again in the fifth and remained in the game through six innings. The designated hitter rule is not in effect in National League parks, so Tanaka had to bat in the game.

A similar situation occurred to the Yankees in 2008 when pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a serious foot injury while running the bases in an inter-league game at Houston, then an NL city.

The pitching match-ups for the Yankees-Blue Jays series have been set: Adam Warren (6-6, 3.33 ERA) vs. David Price (16-5, 2.42 ERA) Monday night, Luis Severino (4-3, 3.12 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.14 ERA) Tuesday night and Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11 ERA) in place of Tanaka (12-7, 3.38 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (2-0, 3.00 ERA) Wednesday night.

But first things first. The Yankees need to get past the Mets. CC Sabathia, who has pitched well in two starts since coming off the disabled list and wearing a strong brace on his arthritic right knee, must dig down deep for a pennant-race performance. Sabathia allowed only one earned run over 11 1/3 innings (0.79 ERA) in his past two starts, both no-decisions. The lefthander is winless in nine starts since July 8 but is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA over his past six starts.

Starting pitching has been a strength for the Yankees at Citi Field. With Saturday’s shutout over the Mets, the Yankees have pitched shutouts in three of their last four games at Citi Field (also May 14 and 15, 2014). They were the first visiting team to throw back-to-back shutouts at Citi Field and the first to blank the Mets at their home field in consecutive games since the Braves July 2 and 3, 1999 at Shea Stadium.

Yankees starters have a 0.81 ERA in their past seven starts at Citi Field covering 44 2/3 innings dating to June 24, 2012 and gave up two runs or fewer in each of those games. Since Citi Field opened in 2009, Yankees starters have allowed one run or fewer in 11 of 18 starts and two runs or fewer in 15 of 18 starts. The rotation’s career ERA at Citi Field is 2.04 in 110 1/3 innings.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Carlos Beltran’s three-run home run Saturday marked his first career game-winning RBI against the Mets, in his 25th career game against his former team. He is the only active player who has game-winning RBI against all 30 major league clubs.

Paulie’s nephew drafted by Yankees

Michael O’Neill, a nephew of former Yankees outfielder and current YES analyst Paul O’Neill, was drafted Friday by the Bombers in the third round (103rd player overall) of Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft. O’Neill is a right-handed batting outfielder at the University of Michigan.

In other activity on the second day of the draft, the Yankees selected in the fourth round (No. 134) shortstop Tyler Wade of Murrieta Valley High School in California, in the fifth round (No. 164) right-handed pitcher David Palladino of Howard College in Texas, in the sixth round (No. 194) shortstop John Murphy of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, in the seventh round (No. 224) right-handed pitcher Nick Rumbelow of Louisiana State University, in the eighth round (No. 254) outfielder Brandon Thomas of Georgia Tech, in the ninth round (No. 284) left-handed pitcher Conner Kendrick of Auburn University and in the 10th round (No. 314) left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb of the University of South Carolina.

In addition, L.J. Mazzilli, second baseman at the University of Connecticut, was taken by the Mets in the fourth round (No. 116). L.J. is the son of former Mets and Yankees outfielder Lee Mazzilli, who also coached for the Yankees and managed the Orioles is now a special advisor in the Yanks’ corporate sales department.

The Yankees will get a look at pitcher Jeremy Bonderman for the first time since 2010 in Friday night’s game at Safeco Field. Bonderman is 3-9 with a 5.62 ERA (52 ER, 83.1 IP) in 14 games, including 13 starts, in his career against the Yankees, who have a three-game winning streak against him dating to May 10, 2008.

Prior this this season, Bonderman last appeared in the Majors in 2010 with the Tigers when he was 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 30 appearances, all but one as a starter. He had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in April 2012 and was also limited to only 20 games (13 starts) combined between 2008-09 because of thoracic outlet compression syndrome in his right chest, including going 461 days between major league starts between June 1, 2008 to Sept. 5, 2009.

Bonderman, who has 975 days between major-league starts, is the first Mariners pitcher to have at least 975 days between big-league starts since Gil Meche from July 4, 2000 to April 5, 2003 went 1,005 days between starts (where previous start may have been with a different team). The longest gap between starts for a Mariners pitcher was Mike Stanton from Sept. 27, 1975 to Sept. 1, 1982 who went 2,531 days between starts (Stanton did appear in 126 games in relief in the majors from 1980-82).

The Mariners used only nine position players in the 16-inning marathon Wednesday against the White Sox, the first time a team used only nine position players in a game of 14 or more innings since Seattle in a 14-inning loss July 20, 2012 at St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees were the last American League team prior to the Mariners to do this in 15 or more innings Aug. 26, 1985 in a 3-2, 15-inning loss at Oakland. Seattle is the first AL team since the DH was put in place in 1973 to use only nine position players in a game of 16 or more innings.

Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has decided to opt out of his contract with the Yankees and sign with the Blue Jays. The righthander, 33, was 4-4 with a 2.33 ERA at Triple A Scranton but had been pushed down the depth chart with the injury to Ivan Nova, the emergence of Vidal Nuno and the impending return of Michael Pineda, who will begin an injury-rehabilitation assignment for Class A Tampa Saturday with a start at Lakeland, Fla. Wang, twice a 19-game winner with the Yankees before sustaining a foot injury running the bases in 2008, was 2-6 with a 6.68 ERA last year for the Nationals.

The Yankees entered Friday night’s game on a four-game winning streak, one shy of their season high of May 8-12. This is their fourth winning streak of at least four games this year. The Yanks have scored at least six runs in three of the four games after having reached the six-run plateau three times over their previous 18 games.

The Yankees have hit a home run with at least two men on base in each of their past four games (Mark Teixeira grand slam Monday, Teixiera three-run homer Tuesday, Brett Gardner three-run homer Wednesday and Robinson Cano three-run homer last night). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the first time the Yankees have had such a four-game stretch since four straight games from April 9-13, 2006.

Kevin Youkilis has reached base safely (via hit, walk or hit by pitch) in all 19 games that he has started at Safeco Field. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the only player with a longer current streak of reaching base in consecutive starts at Safeco Field is Youk’s former teammate, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, in his past 20 starts.

Rehab updates on Granderson and Jeter

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson could begin throwing next week in his rehabilitation from a fractured right forearm suffered in his first spring training exhibition game at-bat. He told an Associated Press reporter in Tampa, Fla., that he will undergo follow-up x-rays Tuesday and barring complications could begin throwing and swinging a fungo bat later in the week.

Derek Jeter, also in the Yankees’ extended spring program at Tampa while recovering from a broken left ankle, fielded 41 ground balls hit directly at him near the left-field fence at a distance equivalent from in front of the infield dirt to the plate. The Captain also had a long-toss session and hit off a tee. There is no timetable for Jeter’s return, but manager Joe Girardi told reporters in Detroit that the All-Star shortstop would need a “full spring training reset” once he starts regular workouts, which means that he is at least a month from being able to rejoin the Yankees.

Chien-Ming Wang, attempting a comeback with the Yankees, had his scheduled extended spring start Friday canceled due to rain. The righthander threw 41 pitches in a simulated game instead.

Yanks hope to improve on Father’s Day record

The Yankees have had a rough go of it on Father’s Day. Since 1972 when Father’s Day was decreed a national holiday, the Yankees’ record on those days is 18-22, although they have won six of the past nine Father’s Day games.

Today marks the 12th consecutive year that the Yankees will play an inter-league opponent on Father’s Day and the 14th time over-all. They will be playing the Nationals on Father’s Day for the second time. The other was June 18, 2006 at old RFK Stadium. Washington won, 3-2, on a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning by Ryan Zimmerman off Chien-Ming Wang.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has hit safely in each of the eight Father’s Day games he has played (2003-06, ’08-11) and is batting .281 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 32 at-bats.

The Yankees’ 40-man roster features three players whose father played in the major leagues – second baseman Robinson Cano (Jose), right fielder Nick Swisher (Steve) and disabled catcher Austin Romine (Kevin).

The Captain says hello

What a guy, Derek Jeter, always willing to hold out a welcome hand to a newcomer to the major leagues. Take Tuesday night, for instance. Taiwanese lefthander Wei-Yin Chen was making his major league debut for the Orioles, and the Yankees’ first batter naturally was Jeter, who played alongside another pitcher from Taiwan, Chien-Ming Wang, a few years ago.

DJ also counts among former teammates such other Asian players as Hideki Matsui, Kei Igawa and the late Hideki Irabu. When it comes to opponents, however, Jeter’s welcomes are more on the rude side, as Chen found out. The Captain’s welcome mat to the lefty who put up impressive numbers in Japan’s Central League was a long home run to center field, Jeet’s first of the season.

It marked the eighth time in his career that Jeter homered as the first hit off a pitcher making his big-league debut. Among the others was Rays lefthander David Price, against whom DJ also got his 3,000th hit last July 9.

It was the latest assault on left-handed pitching by Jeter, who thumped southpaws at a .349 clip in 2010 and had hits in six of his first eight at-bats off them this year. The homer followed a 4-hit game by the Captain Monday night, marking the 41st time he has had that many hits in a game. It tied DJ with Alex Rodriguez for second place among active players with 4-hit games behind the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki, who has 47.

Jeter also was having a strong game in the field. He saved a run with a diving play for the third out of the fourth and nearly cut down another runner earlier in the inning on a throw to the plate, but catcher Russell Martin dropped it for an error.

Sigh of relief for Robertson

The Yankees averted a major scare this past week when the freak accident suffered by David Robertson turned out to be a bone bruise in his right foot and not any kind of fracture. The great fear there for a few days while the Yankees had various tests taken on Robertson’s damaged puppy was that he might have sprained the  Lisfranc ligament, an injury that would have shelved the righthander for at least three months. A similar injury to Chien-Ming Wang in June 2008 forced him to be shut down for the rest of that season and may have contributed to shoulder problems that have plagued his career.

That is where Robertson needs to be careful from this point on. While rehabilitating the foot, David must be careful not to alter his delivery in any way. Scores of arm injuries over the years have been tied to pitchers changing their motion to reduce stress on ailments elsewhere on their bodies. It appears that Robertson will be shut down for at least two weeks before resuming pitching.

Yankees fans can be grateful that the injury occurred so early in spring training, which should give Robertson sufficient time to get healthy and be ready to open the season with the club in April. Robertson enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2011, pitching to a 1.08 ERA over 70 appearances in which he posted a 4-0 record with 1 save and 100 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

All those strikeouts helped raise money for a foundation — High Socks for Hope –that David and his wife Erin created to fund recovery efforts for families devastated by last year’s tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Robertson’s hometown. The foundation raised more than $200,000, which was acknowledged by the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America with its presenting him the Joan Payson Award for community service in January.

David also needs to heed the advice of trainer Steve Donohue. After Robertson explained how he hurt the foot by missing a step and tumbling down the staircase of his rented house in St. Petersburg, Fla., while taking empty boxes out to the recycling bin, Donohue said, “Next time, just kick them down the stairs.”


Winning pitcher still best way to describe CC

The question came to CC Sabathia, and he could have shattered the walls with a certain answer, if he cared to. But it is not his way to be angry or critical, so Sabathia responded in kind, without malice or disdain.

The question offered by a reporter was, “What does it mean to be the first pitcher this year to win 10 games?”

CC didn’t hesitate and said, “I’d like to say it’s a big deal, but it isn’t, really.”

Perfect. Sabathia seems to know that you can’t have it both ways. Last year, he led the American League in victories with 21, but come time to vote for the Cy Young Award Sabathia ended up losing out to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and his 13-12 record. Baseball writers defended the decision because Fernandez had scant run support yet ranked very high in some other statistical measures for pitchers.

There is even a segment of the baseball press, those who digest the gourmet stats, that believes pitching victories have no meaning whatsoever. If so, then why all the fuss about Sabathia getting to 10-4 Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the Yankees’ 8-3 victory over the Rockies? If winning games does not matter anymore, why bother even asking the question?

Truth be told, CC, there are some of us in the press box who still value the art of pitching your team to victory. As Roy Halladay, who owns two Cy Young Award trophies put it so well last winter, that is still part of the job description. Sabathia would prefer to stay neutral in the debate, and I don’t blame him.

Praise is due the big guy, but it won’t be long that you’ll be hearing from the stat geeks than any pitcher can win 10 games with the run support Sabathia gets. That’s coming next, you watch.

Oh, yes, the Yankees have scored runs in bunches behind Sabathia, whose support of 7.67 runs per game is tops in the majors. The Yankees have scored in double figures in six of his 17 starts with CC getting a ‘W’ each time out. It should be noted, however, that the Yankees have been shut out twice with Sabathia on the mound.

A year ago, Hernandez had the worst run support I have ever seen a quality pitcher have in all my years of covering big-league ball, which is more than I care to (and can’t always) remember. That King Felix put the record together than he did was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but I am not prepared to let a freak season become the game’s standard.

It is clear by now that the Yankees enjoy playing behind Sabathia, who earned his 50th victory in a Yankees uniform, in his 85th start. That matches what Chien-Ming Wang once did and is the best since Ron Guidry got to 50 victories with the Yankees in 1979 in his 82nd start in pinstripes. Playing behind Sabathia often puts the Yankees in such a comfort zone that they slug their way to victory.

“When you play behind CC, you’re not on the field very long,” manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees spent most of their time on the field at bat and scored eight more runs behind their ace. Alex Rodriguez, playing despite a sore right knee that has troubled him for a week, drove in three runs and scored another on a somewhat daring, hands-first slide into the plate in the third inning. A-Rod saw that the left fielder, Ryan Spilborghs, was fading toward center to make the catch on Nick Swisher’s fly ball and gave it a try. He went in on his hands, “because I wanted to give the catcher the least possible amount of body to tag,” Alex said.

Not a bad answer, actually.

Jorge Posada had three hits and an RBI in raising his batting average to .232. Rodriguez, Swisher, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli had two hits apiece. Mark Teixeira knocked in two runs with his 22nd home run, taking over the team lead. The only 0-fer in the lineup, ironically, was by Robinson Cano, who made six outs in four at-bats and ended his consecutive game hitting streak in day games at 24 games. The Yankees remain lights out in the daytime at 21-4.

Sabathia, who lowered his ERA to 3.25, took a five-hit shutout into the eighth only to lose it that inning on a two-out, RBI single by Seth Smith, who was pinch hitting for Todd Helton. Sabathia was so dominating that Rockies manager Jim Tracy removed All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki after the seventh and pinch hit for Carlos Gonzalez and Helton in the eighth.

Talk about an early concession. But what else was there to do facing the daily double of the Yankees in broad daylight with CC Sabathia on the hill?

Mo is clutch; oh, really?

Not that he needed any further verification of his status as a player who can be counted on when a game is on the line, Mariano Rivera was the June winner of the 2010 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Award. The only question is: why did it take four years for the Yankees closer to win the monthly award presented by Pepsi?

Mo’s credentials were impeccable last month. He was 2-0 with seven saves in 11 appearances covering 13 innings in which the righthander allowed only four hits with 16 strikeouts. Rivera retired 24 consecutive batters from June 3-23. Twice in a five-day stretch he pitched two innings to preserve victories in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Although he had never won the monthly award, Rivera was a finalist for the MLB Clutch Performer of the Year in 2009 but lost out to Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier. At the conclusion of the 2010 regular season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the Clutch Performer of the Year from among six finalists selected by a special editorial panel.

The Yankees have dominated this competition since its 2007 inception, with eight winners. Rivera joins current teammates Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez and former teammates Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang. Only the Cubs and White Sox have had as many as two winners.

Fickle finger of fate

Pitchers batting in inter-league games has been an issue for the Yankees before, and it is again. Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked the other night about how worried he gets when his pitchers have to hit in National League parks. The concern was more about their running the bases, harkening back to a 2008 foot injury sustained by Chien-Ming Wang that knocked him out of service and jeopardized his career.

As far as Girardi was concerned, so long as a pitcher got the bunt down when required, he would be happy. So what happened Friday night? A pitcher struggling all season is working on a one-hit shutout in the seventh inning and has to come out of the game due to an injury occurred while at the plate.

Javier Vazquez, the pitcher in question, did his job, too, laying down a nice bunt to sacrifice Kevin Russo, who had just doubled in two runs, to third base. The Yankees didn’t score again that inning, but even worse Vazquez did not pitch again, either.

During that at-bat, Vazquez, who had also sacrificed successfully in the third inning, bruised his right index finger. It came on the previous pitch, also a bunt attempt, which went foul. Vazquez said he felt a twinge in the hand as he returned to the batter’s box. He figured he had been clipped but wanted to get the bunt right the next time, which he did. When he returned to the dugout, Vazquez took off his batting glove and started at a handful of blood. He had thrown only 70 pitches to that point but did not return to the mound and instead was sent for x-rays.

They were negative, which was a positive for the Yankees. The bruise is above the nail on the index finger of his pitching hand, which is swollen. The Yankees don’t intend to address his situation until Sunday because he is likely to be very sore Saturday. Vazquez said he was embarrassed because he bunted regularly during his years in the National League and something like this had never happened before.

As Girardi pointed out, it could have been worse. The finger could have broken. Former Yankees pitcher David Cone had that happen to him in his rookie season with the Mets in 1987 and was out for two months. Vazquez, who gave up a single to Angel Pagan, two walks and nothing else, expects to make his next start. It remains wait and see, of course, but skipping Vazquez in the rotation this time would be done reluctantly. After a strong outing in Detroit 10 days ago, the big strikeout of Kevin Youkilis out of the bullpen five days ago and now this gem against the Mets, it appears Vazquez (3-4) has turned the corner.

In fact, more of a question mark than Vazquez Friday night was Mariano Rivera, who was hit hard for the third straight outing. It looked like typical Mo efficiency when he got the first two outs before Jason Bay and Ike Davis tagged him for well-struck doubles that got the Mets to 2-1. Davis stumbled around second base or he might have had a triple. Rivera stiffened to retire David Wright on a grounder for the final out.

So for all the maneuvering, the decision to start Vazquez in the Subway Series opener was justified. The Yankees just have to keep their, er, fingers crossed the next couple of days.

Time to meet the Mets

Probably because the Yankees have been busy this week in two-game series against American League East rivals Boston and Tampa Bay, there has not been much talk about the upcoming Subway Series Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at Citi Field.

Whatever attention there has been on the series against the Mets has been related to Javier Vazquez getting back in the rotation for Friday night’s start. Vazquez’s familiarity with National League teams and his success last year with the Braves were the key elements in his being skipped in the rotation for the Red Sox and Rays. That, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s need to have a long man out of the bullpen until Sergio Mitre, who started last Sunday, could return to that role, which was Thursday night.

Vazquez has a 9-8 record against the Mets in 23 career starts. He was 4-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 11 starts at Shea Stadium. Javy did not pitch last year at Citi Field in its inaugural season.

He did pitch out of the pen Monday night but for only one batter, a big one, too. Javy struck out Kevin Youkilis for the third out with two runners aboard in the top of the ninth inning and the Yankees trailing by two runs. Vazquez ended up getting the winning decision when the Yankees rallied to win in the bottom of the ninth on two-run home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames.

A victory of any kind can be a confidence booster, which Girardi acknowledged.

“Javy pitched well in his previous start in Detroit (2 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts in 7 innings), but we didn’t score any runs for him, so he didn’t get the victory,” Girardi said. “It means a lot to a pitcher to have something to show on his record for a good outing.”

Yankees pitchers have been taking batting practice all this week in preparation for their first inter-league series because the NL does not permit the use of a designated hitter. CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera are probably the Yankees’ best hitting pitchers. Also showing good swings this week were Vazquez, Mitre and Phil Hughes. And, don’t forget, Andy Pettitte got a hit in the World Series last year.

“You always worry about pitchers running,” said Girardi, who also managed in the NL with the Marlins. “Our guys aren’t used to doing it regularly. But even when I managed in the National League, I worried when my pitcher got on base. You’re happy to have him get a hit, but then you wonder if he has to try to score from first on a double if it takes too much out of him for his first few pitches the next inning.”

In addition, the Yankees have not forgotten what happened to Chien-Ming Wang, who suffered a severe foot injury while running the bases in a June 15, 2008 game at Houston that shelved him for the remainder of that season. He was a shell of himself upon his return last year when he was 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA. Girardi would just as soon the pitchers work on bunting only.