Results tagged ‘ Comerica Park ’
Might have things gone differently for the Yankees Friday if Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran had been in the lineup instead of on the bench in Detroit? Perhaps, but probably not. Jordan Zimmermann, in his first start for the Tigers since departing the Nationals and signed as a free agent, was strong enough Friday to shut down any lineup.
Get used to it, Yankees fans. With all the advanced age on the team roster, there are going to be days like Friday when manager Joe Girardi has to give some of his older players a blow. True, it was only the fourth game of the season, but Monday’s rainout forced the Yanks to play three games in a row against the Astros, which certainly played into Girardi’s decision.
There was no way McCann was going behind the plate for a fourth straight day. Giving Rodriguez a day off against a tough righthander allowed Mark Teixeira to be the designated hitter and take a break from first base. Beltran simply does not have the leg to play right field on a daily basis.
So Girardi went with a lineup that featured role players filling in for regulars behind the plate (Austin Romine), first base (Dustin Ackley) and right field (Aaron Hicks). The trio combined to go hitless with one walk (Romine) in nine plate appearances, but the rest of the batting order did not do much damage, either, as the Yankees were shutout victims just two days after they scored 16 runs in one game.
The run the Tigers scored in the first inning off Luis Severino on a single by Miguel Cabrera would be all they would need behind Zimmerman, who allowed two hits and three walks over seven innings, and two relievers, including former Yankees lefthander Justin Wilson. Detroit pitchers even cooled off red-hot Starlin Castro (0-for-4) and Didi Gregorius (0-for-3).
Detroit bunched four singles off Severino in the two-run fourth. The righthander ended up allowing 10 hits in five-plus innings although Ian Kinsler’s leadoff double in the first was the only hit for extra bases. The second of the Tigers’ 13 hits that went for extra bases was Cabrera’s first home run of the season, off Luis Cessa in the seventh.
The Yankees had only one runner get as far as second base.That was Teixeira in the seventh after a walk on a wild pitch by Zimmermann.
For the second straight game, Yankees pitchers did not walk a batter, but there was no paucity of base runners for the Tigers in their home opener. Johnny Barabato had another strong outing with two strikeouts in the seventh. The righthander has struck out five of the nine batters he has faced this season.
CC Sabathia is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park to complete the rotation’s first turn. It has been an overall shabby start for the starters, who are a combined 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA. The best thing about the rotation has been its strikeout-to-walk ratio with 21 Ks and only one walk, but starters have allowed 28 hits, including six home runs, in 20 2/3 innings. That must improve.
After limping out of Baltimore where they lost two of three games to begin the current trip, the Yankees got upright at Tampa Bay. Did they ever.
Their first sweep of a series of three or more games at Tropicana Field in nearly 10 years was just the antidote the Yankees needed to move on to Detroit where they will play the team with the best record (10-2) in the major leagues over the next four days. After that, they pair up against the club with the best current mark in the National League, the 10-3 Mets back at Yankee Stadium for the first round of the Subway Series.
The Yankees’ offense came alive and their bullpen thrived in the three games at St. Petersburg, Fla., against a Tampa Bay club that has given them trouble in recent years. Since Sept. 2, 2011, the Yankees are 26-37 against the Rays. Tampa Bay has not lost a season series to the Yankees since 2009 and are 52-43 since.
The Rays are dealing with some major injuries, which is why it was all the more pivotal for the Yankees to take advantage of them and get their own record back to .500 at 6-6. The Yanks batted .268 over the three games with three doubles, three triples and three home runs. They averaged 6.3 runs per game and hit .333 (7-for-21) with runners in scoring position.
Conversely, the Yankees pitching staff limited Tampa Bay to one hit in 17 at-bats (.059) with runners in scoring positions. The Rays were a combined 0-for-14 in that department Saturday night and Sunday. The usually dangerous Evan Longoria was merely 1-for-10 (.100) in the series.
Masahiro Tanaka had a brilliant start Saturday night following a shaky one Friday night by Adam Warren. Michael Pineda was just okay Sunday, but the bullpen made up for lapses in the rotation. The Yankees’ relief corps was not scored upon in 10 1/3 innings during which it allowed only five hits and four walks with 15 strikeouts.
After the 9-0 rout Saturday, the Yankees were in a tight game most of Sunday and emerged on top by a 5-3 score. They got a run right off the bat against Matt Andriese, but the Rays shot back with two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a home run by Steven Souza Jr. The Yankees regained the lead with a four-hit third inning and kept it despite Pineda’s inconsistency.
Dellin Betances worked out of a jam in the seventh, then pitched a scoreless eighth to hand the baton to Andrew Miller, who picked up his fourth save by striking out the side after having yielded a leadoff double.
At the top of the order Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were on base a combined five times and scored two runs. Alex Rodriguez also scored two runs and hit a scorching double. Chase Headley knocked in two runs with a double and a single. Mark Teixeira also had two RBI with a sacrifice fly and a productive infield out. Garrett Jones, playing right field for ailing Carlos Beltan (cold), had three hits, including a triple, and Didi Gregorius contributed a pair of singles.
The result was the Yankees’ first sweep of a series of three or more games in St. Pete since Sept. 9-13, 2005 and their first overall since a three-gamer Aug. 22-24 last year against the White Sox.
Now it is off to Comerica Park, which has been another horror house for the Yankees. They are 6-10 there since May 3, 2011 and 28-32 overall since the park opened in 2000. The Yanks are 1-4-1 in their last six series in Detroit since 2010 and were 1-4 combined in postseason games there in 2011 and ’12.
The Yankees do catch a break in the coming series in that they will have not have to face former teammate Shane Green, who won again Sunday to push his record to 3-0. The righthander, who went to Detroit in the three-team trade that sent Gregorius to the Bronx from Arizona, has allowed only one earned run and two overall in 23 innings for an ERA of 0.39. Green has allowed 12 hits and five walks with 11 strikeouts.
It looks as if the Yankees are finally running into some luck.
It would have been awfully hard for Brandon McCarthy to match his previous start for the Yankees, a four-hit, eight-strikeout, complete-game shutout against the Astros in a tidy two hours and seven minutes last week at Yankee Stadium.
But if there was a team McCarthy might have pitched almost as well against, it was the Tigers. The righthander entered Tuesday night’s game at Comerica Park having won his prior three starts against Detroit with an ERA of 0.46 in 19 2/3 innings.
That streak came to an end and the Yankees’ five-game winning streak as well as the Tigers roughed up McCarthy for five runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 Detroit victory that pushed the Tigers three games up on the Yanks in the race for the second American League wild-card playoff spot.
Indications that this might not be McCarthy’s night came as early as the second inning when he loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batter and forced in a run with another walk. He averted further damage by getting Ian Kinsler on a double-play grounder.
J.D. Martinez, who had three hits off McCarthy, doubled with two out in the third for the second Detroit run. McCarthy then settled down and retired seven straight batters into the sixth before giving up three straight hits as the Tigers added two runs that inning. A leadoff double by Rajai Davis and a one-out single by Torii Hunter in the seventh led to another run and McCarthy’s departure.
His 1.90 ERA, the best for a Yankees starter through his first eight starts for the franchise since Jimmy Key’s 1.79 ERA in 1993, took a hike up to 2.47 as his record fell to 5-3 with the Yanks and 8-13 overall. Detroit did not crush the ball against McCarthy, who kept the Tigers in the yard but had a hard time keeping them off base.
The Yankees’ offense was pretty much all Jacoby Ellsbury, which is not all that surprising considering his career success against Tigers righthander Rick Porcello. Ellsbury accounted for both New York runs with a couple of solo home runs. He is now 11-for-17 (.647) with four home runs lifetime against Porcello, who was much better against the rest of the lineup.
Porcello held a Yankees lineup that had scored eight runs the night before at Kansas City to seven singles. His sinker was working big-time as the Yankees made 14 outs on ground balls to go with two strikeouts and no walks. Porcello’s 15th victory tied him with teammate Max Scherzer for the AL lead in that category.
For Ellsbury, it was his second consecutive three-hit game as he continues to be hot. He came off a .409 homestand to begin this trip with six hits in nine at-bats (.667) with three home runs and five RBI.
It is an encouraging sign for Ellsbury, who has hit much better at home this season than on the road. Ellsbury is batting .329 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 222 at-bats at the Stadium this year. The past two nights have boosted his road average to .246 with eight homers and 38 RBI in 268 at-bats.
With his game-tying solo home run Thursday at Detroit, Mark Teixeira has five homers this year that tied the game or put the Yankees ahead in the seventh inning or later. It marks his most such homers in a single season in his career. Only one Yankees player has had more homers in those circumstances in a season over the past 12 years – Alex Rodriguez with six each in 2009 and ’10.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the back-to-back homers by Teixeira and Eric Chavez Thursday were the first by the Yankees in the eighth inning or later on the road – with the first one tying the game and the second one giving them the lead – since Aug. 25, 1955 when Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle went back-to-back in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory also in Detroit at old Briggs Stadium.
Chavez, who was given Friday night off the turf at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, is batting .467 with nine runs, two doubles, four home runs and nine RBI over his past nine games and 30 at-bats. He has hit nine home runs over his past 35 games after hitting just three in his first 42 games. In the four-game series at Comerica Park, Chavez had 9-for-16 (.563) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI with multiple hits in each game.
The Yankees’ 4-3 victory Thursday was their first in a game decided by one run since July 13, 6-5, over the Angels. They had lost their previous eight one-run games. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that it was the longest such skid for the Yankees since 1944. The victory was also the Yankees’ eighth of the season when trailing after the end of seven innings. Last year, they had only four. The Yankees are tied with the Orioles and the Nationals for the most such victories in the major leagues this season.
As a fan of old-time baseball, I find very little I enjoy more than watching a starting pitcher shake a catcher’s hand after getting the 27th out of a game. For those who have been weaned on pitch counts and Tony La Russa-inspired bullpen overuse, the site of a starter still on the mound for a game’s final out is something known as a complete game, which is just what the Yankees got out of Phil Hughes Sunday in a 5-1 Yankees victory at Detroit.
How unusual was what happened at Comerica Park as the Yankees ended their three-city trip with a 6-3 record? It was the first nine-inning complete game for Hughes, who made his 82nd major-league start. And it was the first complete game for any Yankees pitcher since July 10 last year by CC Sabathia against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
Yeah, I know, I know; it’s a different game today; protect pitchers’ arms, blah, blah, blah. It is nonetheless extremely satisfying to see a pitcher enjoy an afternoon that Hughes had Sunday. It has been a bumpy season for the righthander with suggestions being made that he may be better served in the bullpen. Hughes, who improved his record to 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA, certainly gave evidence to his supporters in the Yankees’ front office that he belongs in the rotation.
Make no mistake; this was a tense match-up for Hughes, who was paired against last year’s American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander, who had not lost three decisions in a row since 2008. Until Sunday, that is. The book on Verlander is to try to get to him early before he gets into a groove and starts playing with 100 miles per hour on the radar gun.
The Yankees did their best to do that. Derek Jeter homered on the first pitch of the game. It ended a homerless drought of 105 at-bats since May 4 for the Captain. How’s that for an early jump? Verlander followed that with two walks, very uncharacteristic, and gave up a second run on a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira. That turned out to be all the offense Hughes needed.
The only run the Tigers managed off Phil was Prince Fielder’s ninth home run off a first-pitch curve in the fourth inning. Detroit got only one other base runner to second base in the game, and that was on a first-inning passed ball by Russell Martin. Hughes held the Tigers to three other hits, all singles, and three walks with eight strikeouts.
The Yankees had another dreadful day with runners in scoring position (1-for-11; they are down to .219 in 448 at-bats in the clutch for the season), but the stat for this game proved insignificant as the Yankees kept up the attack on Verlander, whose record fell to 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA. Alex Rodriguez smoked a 447-foot home run off the back wall of Comerica Park in left-center in the third inning.
Detroit’s shaky defense hurt Verlander in the fifth when the Yankees added two runs. Curtis Granderson, who doubled, was able to score on a two-out fly ball to right-center by Robinson Cano that probably should have been caught but fell between center fielder Quintin Berry and right fielder Brennan Boesch for a triple, ironically the Yankees’ lone hit with a runner in scoring position. Cano scored on the play as well on a throwing error by second baseman Danny Worth, who was not aided by third baseman Miguel Cabrera’s ole swipe at the ball that ended up in the photographers’ well next to the Detroit dugout.
For the pitch-count geeks, Hughes’ total Sunday was 123. It is merely a number. What should be given greater consideration is how a pitcher gets to a certain number of pitches. In Hughes’ case, he had a free and easy afternoon. His reward was a simple handshake, something I wish was a lot more frequent in the modern game.
Robinson Cano picked up an additional extra-base hit and run batted in before taking the field Friday night at Detroit’s Comerica Park. In response to an appeal by the Yankees, Major League Baseball overruled an official scorer’s decision during their 6-3 victory May 25 at Oakland.
A liner to right-center field with two out in the third inning by Cano was initially ruled an error on center fielder Coco Crisp, who got a glove on the ball but failed to hold it. Mark Teixeira then hit a two-run home run. MLB decided to credit Cano with a double and an RBI. The change was good news for Cano but not for Athletics pitcher Tyson Ross because it made all three Yankees runs that inning earned instead of unearned.
Another change announced by MLB was the starting time for the Yankees-Mets game June 24 at Citi Field. ESPN has selected the game for its Sunday Night Baseball cablecast and will begin at 8:05 p.m.
The Yankees took an aggressive approach against American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander in the first inning, and it paid off for a 2-0 lead in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Derek Jeter went after the first pitch and singled through the middle. Curtis Granderson took the first pitch for a ball, then fouled off two pitches before driving a triple to left-center that scored Jeter. Detroit’s Comerica Park is a bit of a triples yard. There were 44 three-baggers hit there in the regular season. Only Denver’s Coors Field and Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium had more, 49 apiece. Playing at Comerica for the Tigers, Granderson led the AL in triples with 23 in 2007 and 13 in 2008. Curtis had 10 triples this year, third in the league.
Speaking of triples, the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Jorge Posada , who tripled in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, became only the second 40 year-old to triple in postseason play. The other was Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who was also 40 when he did for the Phillies in Game 5 of the 1983 World Series against the Orioles at Philadelphia.
Alex Rodriguez remained hitless in the series but made contact to get Granderson home with a groundout to third base. The two-run lead was a nice way to get CC Sabathia started, but the lefthander was not at the top of his game. The hope was that he could settle in at some point, but his difficulty in throwing strikes pushed his pitch count up so that he was one pitch shy of 100 in five innings.
Three double plays saved CC, who walked six batters (one intentionally) over five innings. He had no more than four walks in any one start this year. One of those double plays scored a run, in the third inning when the Tigers tied the score. Ramon Santiago, who singled in the other run that inning, put Detroit ahead, 3-2, in the fifth with a double. In both cases, Santiago drove home Brandon Inge, the 9-hole hitter who batted .197 this year and has had scant career success against Sabathia (.190 in 58 at-bats) but who doubled and singled off him the first two times up.
Even worse than Inge against Sabathia is Jhonny Peralta, who has one hit in 17 career at-bats (.059) in regular season play. Sabathia came out for the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Don Kelly on a well-placed bunt. Peralta, who had grounded into a double back in the second, got a different kind of double this time, one off the wall that scored Kelly. CC was gone after Alex Avila sacrificed Peralta to third before having to face Inge a third time.
Verlander, meanwhile, just got stronger. Brett Gardner bunted for a single leading off the third but was erased on a double play. Verlander, whose fastball hit triple figures several times, struck out the side in the fifth and added two more punchouts in the sixth after Jeter had led off with a single.
Sabathia and Verlander, whose Game 1 start was suspended because of rain, were the first pitchers to start Games 1 and 3 of a postseason series since Kevin Brown for the Padres in the 1998 National League Division Series against the Astros. The previous time it occurred for an AL pitcher was Oakland’s Dave Stewart in the 1989 World Series against the Giants. There was a 12-day gap between Games 2 and 3 in that series because of an earthquake. Sabathia was the first Yankees pitcher to do it since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford lost Game 1 of the 1956 World Series at Brooklyn and came back on two days’ rest to win a complete game in Game 3 at the Stadium.
What happened Monday night at Detroit’s Comerica Park fell into that “How Times Flies” category. Could it have possibly been 20 years ago that I sat in the press box at Yankee Stadium and watched a rookie named Jim Thome hit his first home run in the major leagues? The answer, of course, is yes, and I thought a lot about that when he slugged two balls over the left field fence to bring his career total to 600.
Back on Oct. 4, 1991, Thome made his very first big-league homer memorable. It was a two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium off righthander Steve Farr and wiped out a 2-1 Yankees lead and pushed the Indians toward a 3-2 victory before a meager crowd of 14,627. Farr, then the Yankees closer (he was 5-5 with 23 saves that year), entered the game with one out and a runner on first base in relief of lefthander Lee Guetterman.
Despite the fact that Thome was a left-handed batter, Yankees manager Stump Merrill brought in Farr because he preferred the gutsy veteran against the raw kid. Over the years, the Yankees would see a lot of Thome’s swing. He has hit 26 home runs in his career against the Yankees, plus another four against them in the 1998 American League Championship Series.
I was supposed to meet up with Thome in the winter of 2008 when he was scheduled to go to Cooperstown, N.Y., to present the ball he hit during the 2007 season for his 500th home run to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I had been assigned to cover the event, but it was twice canceled because of blizzards. I think he finally got to the Hall on an off-day during the season, but I was off covering something else.
Thome is only the eighth player in history to reach 600 home runs in a career. This is a special group that also has Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Junior Griffey, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.
A-Rod, who is on an injury-rehabilitation assignment at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, probably summed up the consensus opinion about the latest member of the 600 Club by saying, “Jim is one of the easiest players of our generation to root for. It’s hard to overshadow 600 home runs, because it is a tremendous accomplishment and an exclamation point on a career bound for the Hall of Fame. But to me, the way he has treated the game – and the people in and around it – will always be the first thing that I think of when I think of Jim Thome. In so many ways, he is a legend of our game.”
The Yankees-Blue Jays series that ended Wednesday at Yankee Stadium offered a duel between the leading home run hitters in the American League. When Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista hit a long home run to left field in his first at-bat Monday night, he seemed to be throwing down a gauntlet to Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees center fielder picked it up and threw it right back at Bautista. Granderson did not add to his home run total of 16 – three behind Bautista – but he clearly had the better series of the two.
Granderson was on base 10 times and scored six runs in the three games as the Yankees ended the 4-2 homestand on a high note by taking two of three from the Blue Jays, which was more important than taking two of three from the Mets because Toronto is in the same division as the Yanks and play for the same prize, an AL East title or at the least a playoff berth.
When the series began, Granderson was all deferential to Bautista saying that he did not belong in the same sentence because he was not really a power hitter, certainly not one to match the guy who swatted 54 home runs in 2010.
“I’m always trying to drive the ball, but I never go up there looking for a home run” Granderson said. “Whenever I have done that, from high school to now, it has never been a successful thing for me.”
Since the middle of last August when he revamped his swing, Granderson has hit 30 home runs, more than any other player in the major leagues other than Bautista, who has 37 over that span. This week’s showdown was won by Bautista in terms of home runs only, one to zero, but in the other areas of the game, Granderson won hands down.
This is not to say that Bautista is a one-dimensional player. He not only leads the league in home runs but also runs, total bases, walks, slugging and on-base percentage and is batting .342. His home run was only one of two hits he had in 10 at-bats in the series. Bautista walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored two runs.
Now look at Granderson’s series: 6-for-11 (.545) with three doubles, two RBI, six runs, three walks, one hit by pitch and one stolen base. He was in the middle of the come-from-behind victory Tuesday night, the most exciting game of the season, with four hits and banged out two more doubles in Wednesday’s 7-3 victory to raise his batting average to .280.
In the three games, Granderson pretty much fulfilled the scouting report he delivered on himself at the start of the series: “A little bit of everything, you know, gets hits, can drive the baseball, can potentially hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Take notice that he put the home run hitting last. He has hit as many as 30 home runs in a season (2009) and last year, his first with the Yankees, Granderson hit 24. He is on a pace to hit 55 this year, but don’t talk to him about paces.
“I remember when I got traded here from Detroit, people were saying I might hit 40 home runs playing half a season at Yankee Stadium since I had 30 playing half a season at Comerica Park.” Granderson said. “I didn’t take that seriously. When I hit a home run at Fenway Park in my first game with the Yankees, a friend of mine said, ‘All right; you’re on pace for 162.’ People throw numbers out that I’ve never come close to.”
Just the same, Granderson keeps throwing out big numbers.
The Yankees’ current trip to Detroit and Texas is something of a nostalgic trek for center fielder Curtis Granderson. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Tigers and revamped his swing last August with the Yankees in a series of sessions with hitting coach Kevin Long on a swing through Arlington.
Granderson was on the disabled list last year when the Yankees visited Detroit, so this week’s four-game series at Comerica Park was his first time back to the Motor City since the trade that sent him to the Yankees after the 2009 season. It proved a less than satisfying stop for him as Granderson had only two hits, both singles, in 14 at-bats (.143) with three walks and two runs.
But good old Rangers Ballpark, where Granderson started to turn around his 2010 season, was a welcome sight. He didn’t waste any time, either, as he leaned into a 1-1 fastball from lefthander Matt Harrison in the first inning for a two-run home run. Once close to an automatic out against lefties, Granderson has homered four times in 29 at-bats against southpaws this year.
In the seventh inning, it was righthander Ryan Tucker’s turn to be victimized as Granderson turned around a 2-0 fastball and homered into the right field upper deck that resembles old Tiger Stadium, which used to be in Detroit, so Granderson sort of went full circle. The turnaround in Granderson’s hitting since last August has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Prior to that series in Texas, Granderson was batting .239 with 11 doubles, 5 triples, 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 301 at-bats. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not start him for the first two games in the series allowing Granderson to digest fully the work with Long, who said they worked on “calming” his swing and relying on his hands.
In 272 at-bats since the Texas sessions, Granderson has batted .265 with 10 doubles, 3 triples, 24 home runs and 55 RBI. That’s a .588 slugging percentage and a 44-homer pace over a 500-at-bat season. The pace is even higher (46 homers) based on Granderson’s league-leading 10 homers in 107 at-bats in this season alone in which he is slugging .626.
After losing the last three games in Detroit, the Yankees needed an offensive lift on yet another night when they struggled in the clutch (0-for-4 with runners in scoring position), and they got it from Granderson, who gave Ivan Nova all the support he needed from the get-go in a 4-1 victory over the Rangers.
Nova, who improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA from 5.14 to 4.08, had a terrific mixture of sinking fastballs and curves in pitching into the eighth inning as a starter for the first time in the majors and still shy of 100 pitches (98).
Of the 22 outs Nova recorded, 17 were in the infield (16 on ground balls). He pitched to contact with only two hits allowed, one walk and one strikeout, which helped keep his pitch down. The only run off Nova was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira. In his past three starts, Nova has yielded three earned runs and 13 hits in 20 innings and is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
His effort was a continuation of sterling work by Yankees starters, who over the past 18 games have pitched to a 2.69 ERA in 120 1/3 innings as the question marks about the rotation seem to have turned into exclamation points.