Results tagged ‘ David Huff ’

Beltran’s 1,000th extra-base hit leads the way

Carlos Beltran started Tuesday night from where he left off Monday night with a two-run home run in the first inning coming on the heels of a three-run homer that lifted the Yankees to a 5-2 victory the previous game. His 15th home run of the season was also Beltran’s 1,000th career extra-base hit and started the Yanks toward a 6-3 verdict.

Earlier Tuesday, Beltran was part of the Yankees’ contingent that visited a cancer patient in the North Bronx as part of the HOPE Week initiative. Starlin Castro was also there to help clean Marybell Ruiz’s apartment, and he also homered for the second straight night. Castro, who tied the score Monday night by following Brian McCann’s solo homer with one of his own, struck the right field foul pole with an opposite-field drive in the third inning for his ninth home run to boost the Yankees’ lead to 5-0 over the Angels and David Huff.

The pitcher’s name should be familiar to Yankees fans. Huff pitched for the Yankees in separate stints in 2013 and 2014 and was 6-2 with a 3.18 ERA. Last month he opted out of a minor-league contract with the Royals to sign with the Angels and drew the starting assignment in place of righthander Nick Tropeano, who is one of 10 Angels players on the disabled list. Huff is a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., in the Halos’ backyard near Anaheim.

After Beltran’s homer in the first inning, the Yankees added a run with help from Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar, who in forgetting how many outs there were lost a shot at a double play. Austin Romine made him pay with an RBI single. Rob Refsnyder, who is looking better and better each day at first base, had a sacrifice fly in the second aided by another Angels error, by Huff on an off-line throw to first base.

On the pitching end, the Yankees received encouraging efforts from starter Michael Pineda and reliever Dellin Betances. Pineda limited the Angels to one hit through the first four innings before hitting a pothole in the fifth as the Halos put up three runs on an RBI single by Gregorio Petit and a two-run home run by Kole Calhoun. Pineda came off the mat, however, and set the Angels down in order in both the sixth and seventh.

A key stolen base by Brett Gardner with two out in the seventh set the stage for an insurance run on a single to right by Alex Rodriguez.

Betances, who had been scored upon in his previous four outings, had a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts. Andrew Miller worked the ninth and one night after earning his third victory without a loss he notched his seventh save.

With Ellsbury out, Yanks’ attack toothless

In the bottom of the first inning Saturday at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, Michael Pineda gave up a two-run home run to Jose Bautista on a 0-2 pitch. As former sportscaster Warner Wolf used to say, “You could have turned your set off right there.”

The way the game began is the way it ended, 2-0 for the Blue Jays, who went back above .500 (68-67), and a major downer for the Yankees, who managed merely one hit and one threat over the course of nine innings and need a victory in Sunday’s finale for a winning trip.

Probably not coincidental was that the Yankees’ lineup was minus Jacoby Ellsbury, their hottest hitter. The center fielder sprained his left ankle Friday night while sliding home into an out in the ninth inning. His ankle apparently slammed into a shinguard of catcher Dioner Navarro. Ellsbury played the field in the bottom of the ninth but was too sore to play Saturday. Whether he can return to the lineup Sunday remains to be seen.

Ellsbury has struggled on the road much of the season but not during this trip through Kansas City, Detroit and Toronto. He is batting .440 with six runs, one triple, four home runs, nine RBI and two stolen bases in 25 at-bats. Over his past 11 games and 44 at-bats, Ellsbury is batting .455 with eight runs, one double, one triple, four homers,11RBI and six stolen bases.

Yet as several players pointed out to reporters in the clubhouse afterwards, the loss of one player should not shut down a whole team. Drew Hutchison, who had lost three of his four stars with a 7.08 ERA this year against the Yankees entering the game, did not allow a base runner until two out in the fourth inning when he hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch. Mark Teixeira doubled to right-center, which turned out to be the Yankees’ only hit. Hutchison loaded the bags when he struck Brian McCann with a pitch, but Martin Prado flied out to center.

And that was that. The Yankees had only two base runners after that, both on walks. It was a tough fate for Pineda, who gave the Yankees another fine outing. The righthander pitched two batters into the seventh inning and gave up seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. In four starts since missing 86 games because of a right shoulder injury, Pineda is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA, one walk and 15 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.

Surrendering a home run to Bautista is no great crime. The Jays right fielder has 28 of them this year and has homered in each of his past four games. It was also his 23rd career home run against the Yankees. Pineda got in trouble in the seventh after yielding a single to Edwin Encarnacion and a double to Navarro. But Shawn Kelley came to the rescue by striking out Danny Valencia and getting Kevin Pillar on a grounder and Jose Reyes on a fly ball. David Huff also supplied a shutout inning of relief, but the offense was shut out for nine.

This important trip has had its highs and lows, among them the setback in his desire to pitch again this season for Masahiro Tanaka. He pitched a simulated game Thursday in Detroit and was sent back to New York after reporting general arm soreness, which is not unusual in recovery situations such as his. The one positive element is that the soreness was not related to his elbow that was treated for a partial ligament tear. Just the same, odds of his pitching at all for the Yanks this season were greatly reduced.

Yanks have another ‘big game’ against Shields

James Shields’ nickname is “Big Game,” but the Yankees are the ones who often have the big game when they face him. Such was the case again Monday night as the Yankees got off to a positive start to their significant trip that continues to Detroit and Toronto with an 8-1 victory over the American League Central-leading Royals in a makeup game from a June 9 rainout.

Despite playing without two of their most productive hitters, Brett Gardner (bruised right ankle) and Mark Teixeira (tender left hamstring), the Yankees banged out 13 hits with every member of the lineup contributing to the effort that earned them their fifth straight victory. The barrage included home runs by Stephen Drew, Martin Prado and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ten of the hits were off Shields, who was trailing by only 2-1 going into the seventh inning when the Yanks broke things open with four runs. Prado, who has been red hot lately, started the inning with a home run. In his past nine games, Prado is batting .417 with eight runs, six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI in 36 at-bats to raise his season batting average 12 points to .272.

Singles by Chase Headley and Ichiro Suzuki were followed one out later with singles by Ellsbury and Derek Jeter and a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann. Ellsbury finished off a three-hit, three-RBI night with a two-run homer in the ninth off lefthander Francisley Bueno.

Shields was charged with six earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters and committed a costly error that led to a Yankees run in the third inning that was driven in by Jeter on an infield out. The Captain had two RBI in his final regular-season game at Kauffman Stadium where he was warmly received by the crowd of 31,758.

The loss dropped Shields’ career record against the Yankees to 9-16 with a 4.33 ERA in 195 1/3 innings. The righthander was the first of four formidable pitchers the Yankees were scheduled to face this week, followed by the Tigers’ Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander.

The offensive outburst was a welcome sight for the Yankees, who have struggled with the bat much of the season. And the way Michael Pineda pitched, not all that much offense was necessary.

In his third start since coming back from a right shoulder injury, Pineda allowed one run (on a third-inning solo homer by Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas) and five hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Pineda is 1-0 with two no-decisions and a 2.08 ERA with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings since his return from the disabled list. He has helped fortify a rotation that has been riddled by injuries throughout the season.

David Huff, coming off a victory in relief Sunday, supplied 2 2/3 scoreless innings in support of Pineda, who earned his first winning decision since April 16.

Not to take anything away from this winning streak, but four of the victories came against the going-nowhere Astros and White Sox, but the Royals have proved a legitimate contender for a division title and playoff berth. The Yanks took three of four from Detroit three weeks ago at the Stadium, so there is no reason for them not to feel confident going into Comerica Park.

McCann’s walk-off climaxes homestand

In their previous homestand the Yankees faced American League Cy Young Award winners three games in a row against Detroit. They ended up winning two of those matchups.

Sunday at Yankee Stadium marked the first of another series of confrontations with front-line starting pitchers, and the Yankees held their own in getting the best of White Sox lefthander Chris Sale, who entered the game unbeaten against the Bombers.

In truth, Sale was done in by his defense, but the Yankees took advantage of the door that was opened for them. White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo dropped a fly ball by Martin Prado on the warning track with one out for a two-base error that created the opening against Sale, who entered that sixth inning working on a two-hitter with a 3-0 lead.

By inning’s end, the Yankees had pulled in front, 4-3, with all four runs unearned against Sale’s record. He did not help matters, however, by hitting rookie Zelous Wheeler with a pitch with the bases loaded that forced home one of the runs.

The big hit for the Yankees was a two-run single by Ichiro Suzuki, ironically the only left-handed batter in the starting lineup as manager Joe Girardi chose to stack right-handed swingers against Sale. An aching right ankle kept Brett Gardner on the bench. Girardi decided to give a blow as well to Jacoby Ellsbury, who came into the game in the seventh inning for defense.

Sale escaped with a no-decision when Avisail Garcia, who had struck out in all three of his previous at-bats, drove a first-pitch, knuckle curve from David Robertson to right field for a game-tying home run.

It ended a stretch of 22 consecutive converted save opportunities for Robertson, who had a homestand of mixed results. He was the winning pitcher Friday night and got his 34th save Saturday but also was the losing pitcher last Tuesday night against the Astros when he gave up a three-home run to Chris Carter in the ninth inning of a non-save situation.

All of Chicago’s runs off Yankees starter Chris Capuano were on home runs. Alexei Ramirez led off the game with a homer. Conor Gillaspie connected for a two-run shot in the sixth, Capuano’s last inning.

More big-name pitchers are to come over the next several days for the Yankees. Monday was originally an open date, but the Yanks must travel to Kansas City to make up a June 9 rainout and face James Shields. After that, it is off to Detroit where the starters for the first two games will be Rick Porcello and David Price.

At least the Yankees will take to the road after a satisfying finish to the homestand. After losing the first two games to the Astros, the Yankees came back to win the next four games. Sunday was looking like a downer after Robertson coughed up the lead, but Brian McCann came off the bench to provide the winning blow in the 7-4, 10-inning victory over the White Sox.

McCann has heard his share of boos at the Stadium this year as he has struggled offensively, but there were thunderous cheers from the crowd of 43,366 when he smoked a 3-2 changeup from righthander Jake Petricka for a walk-off three-run home run.

I am on record of giving McCann some slack. It can be tough for a player to switch leagues, particularly a catcher who not only has to learn new opposing pitchers but also with his own staff behind the plate. Some fans might have figured McCann would hit more homers playing regularly and aiming for the Stadium’s right field porch. But he has 54 RBI, which is tied with Mark Teixeira for second on the club only one behind Ellsbury, the club leader.

Another major contribution came from reliever David Huff, who was the winning pitcher. The lefthander put himself in danger in the top of the 10th when he gave up a two-out single to Carlos Sanchez that put runners on first and second and gave an at-bat to AL Rookie of the Year favorite Jose Abreu.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound to remind Huff that there was one open base so that if he fell behind in the count not to worry about walking Abreu, who looked at two knee-high fastballs for strikes. After taking a pitch out of the strike zone, Abreu kept the bat on his shoulder again only to watch Huff hit the outside corner with another fastball for called strike three. Maybe that pitch alone was deserving of a winning decision.

Yankees finding Astros are no pushovers

So much for the Yankees taking advantage of a pair of perceived pushover teams in the current homestand. For the second night in a row, the Yanks were not as good as the Astros. Shaky relief pitching combined with another punchless showing by the offense led to another disappointing night at Yankee Stadium.

Manager Joe Girardi talks daily about his team’s need to win series. Well, here is another lost series as Houston has already taken two of the three games in a set that concludes Thursday afternoon. The Astros have proved tough customers this year for the Yankees, who have lost four of five games against Houston. The White Sox come here over the weekend, and there is no longer any reason for the Yankees to feel cocky against any opponent. They have played only .500 ball (2-2) against Chicago this season.

Time is growing short for the Yankees, who have 38 games left in the season to put something together that will make them more serious contenders for a playoff berth than they have shown thus far. The 5-2 loss Wednesday night dropped them into third place in the American League East 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Orioles and five games out of a wild-card spot.

Michael Pineda in his second start since coming off the disabled list pitched well again and took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning that became a messy frame for the Yankees. Pineda departed after walking the leadoff batter, but relievers David Huff and Esmil Rogers were unable to keep the Astros from taking control of the game.

Huff struck out Jon Singleton and then gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez. Rogers, who has been pitching effectively since being with the Yankees, gave up four straight singles that so irritated the Stadium crowd that the chorus of boos was the loudest aimed at a Yankees player this season.

The Yankees were not totally anemic offensively. They did have 10 hits and showed aggression on the bases with four steals. Yet they stranded 10 runners and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Yanks’ runs were virtue of a home run by Stephen Drew in the fourth inning and a squeeze bunt by Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth. Drew, who was a late addition to the lineup when Carlos Beltran was scratched because of right elbow soreness, got his fifth homer of the season and his first with the Yankees. Ellsbury batted with two runners on base in both the seventh and the ninth innings with two out and could not break through.

It has become a familiar refrain. The Yankees by averaging 3.9 runs per game this season have given their pitchers too slim a margin for error even against teams that are considered inferior. Yet against the Astros this year it is the Yankees who have been inferior.

Yanks go Cy, Cy, Cy for third time

The Yankees are amid a stretch of facing three former Cy Young Award winners in a row. They faced the Tigers’ Max Scherzer Monday night (and beat him, 2-1), were paired against David Price Tuesday night and are scheduled against Justin Verlander Wednesday night.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks third time in franchise history that the Yankees have faced former Cy Young-winning starting pitchers in three consecutive games. The most recent period was June 8-10, 2001 when they went 1-2 against the Braves’ Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. They also went 1-2 spanning the All-Star break in 1999, losing July 11 at Shea Stadium to the Mets’ Orel Hershiser, then going 1-1 July 15-16 against Atlanta’s Glavine and Maddux at Yankee Stadium.

Each of the Yankees’ last 15 games has been decided by two or fewer runs. They are 9-6 over that stretch. According to Elias, it is the club’s longest such streak of games with a final margin of no more than two runs. The previous high was 12 straight games by the old Highlanders from Sept. 10-20, 1904. Elias also noted that it is the longest such streak in the majors since a 16-game run by the 1975 Orioles in 1975. At 37-25 (.597), the Yankees have the majors’ best record in games decided by two or fewer runs.

The Nationals claimed left-handed reliever Matt Thornton off waivers from the Yankees. Thornton, who was 0-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 46 games totaling 24 2/3 innings, could have been taken back by the Yankees, but by letting him go they free up some $4 million for next year’s payroll. The Yankees recalled lefthander Rich Hill from Triple A Scranton to take Thornton’s place. Manager Joe Girardi said that lefthander David Huff and Hill will inherit Thornton’s lefty specialist role.

Headley a walk-off hero in Yankees debut

A trade completed earlier in the day Tuesday with the Padres that brought third baseman Chase Headley to New York addressed the Yankees’ need to improve their offense. For one night, the move worked wonders.

Headley ended up having a dream debut by driving in the winning run of a 2-1, 14-inning victory over the Rangers. Four hours and 51 minutes after the first pitch, Headley ended a frustrating night for the Yankees and himself with a single to left-center field off Nick Tepesch, Texas’ ninth pitch of the game, that scored Brian Roberts, who had doubled with one out and moved to third base on a single to right by Francisco Cervelli.

Brett Gardner officially welcomed Headley to the Yankees with a Gatorade bath during the newcomer’s postgame interview near the dugout.

The 2012 National League Most Valuable Player candidate and RBI leader started the day in Chicago and arrived at Yankee Stadium after the game started. He batted as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, stayed in the game at third base and had three more at-bats, two of them with a chance to produce a walk-off victory.

Headley’s previous opportunity came in the 12th inning when it appeared for sure the Yanks would put this one away. For the second time in three days, three fielders could not catch a pop fly by Brian McCann that fell for a single after a leadoff single by Carlos Beltran and a wild pitch by lefthander Ryan Feierabend. After Ichiro Suzuki advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, Roberts was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Righthander Scott Baker came in to face Cervelli and promptly fell behind 3-0 in the count. Cervelli took the next pitch for a strike and then hit a scorching liner that was caught by third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Up came Headley with an opportunity to be a hero, but he hit a weak ground ball to second base and the game went on.

Neither club scored for 12 innings. The Rangers broke the deadlock in the 13th on J.P. Arencibia’s home run off David Huff. Texas had two more hits that inning but failed to get an insurance run that proved necessary when closer Joakim Soria blew a save.

The Yankees finally broke through on a leadoff double by Gardner, a sacrifice by Derek Jeter, and a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Beltran moved Ellsbury to third to give the Yanks an excellent change to finish it off. McCann did not hit the ball high enough in the air this time but rather a soft low liner that Arencibia at first base took on a bounce to start a rally-killing twin killing.

After announcing the trade, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters, “I have more work to do.” The victory, as satisfying as it was, only served to emphasize that. The Yankees failed to score over 12 innings against the worst pitching staff in the American League (4.90 ERA).

The positive for the Yanks was that their pitchers also tossed up zeroes for 12 innings. Still, the offense needs to get into gear. No team can win a game, minus one to zero.

Yanks back to winning ways outside division

After going 6-9 in a 15-game stretch against American League East opponents, the Yankees were probably glad to play someone in another division, and who better than the last-place Twins in the AL Central who are currently without Joe Mauer on the disabled list. Despite some bad news surrounding the club, the Yankees ended a season-high five-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory Thursday night and celebrated the Fourth of July by taking a 6-1 lead in the first two innings Friday and hanging on to win, 6-5.

The disturbing news is that the Yankees are not likely to get CC Sabathia back this season. The lefthander was shut down after his injury-rehabilitation start earlier this week for Double A Trenton and has an appointment with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., July 14 to determine whether he will need surgery on his right knee. If so, Sabathia will be out for the remainder of the season.

That is a cruel blow, considering that one of the pitchers who had shored up the rotation in CC’s absence, Chase Whitley, had another rough outing Friday. The righthander, who had pitched well in his first seven starts, failed to get past the fourth inning for the third straight start. He lasted only three innings and allowed four runs and eight hits, including two home runs.

Whitley was treated to a sizeable early lead as the Yankees scored three runs apiece in the first two innings with a six-hit (five for extra bases) barrage against Kyle Gibson. The Twins closed to 6-4 by the third before David Huff put a clamp on things. The lefthander retired all nine batters he faced over three innings and earned the winning decision. Huff may also have put himself in position to get a shot at starting.

It sure won’t be Triple A righthander Alfredo Aceves, who was the other piece of bad news for the Yankees. He was suspended by Major League Baseball for violation of the drug policy.

Derek Jeter was given July 4 off and batting in his customary 2-hole was Brian Roberts, who had a stellar game. Roberts collected three doubles and a triple for the first four-extra-base-hit game of his career. Francisco Cervelli, starting in place of ailing Brian McCann (sore left foot), had three hits, including two doubles. Mark Teixeira also doubled, and Brett Gardner tripled to open the game.

The Twins made it a one-run game in the eighth and had the potential tying run at second base with two outs in the ninth before David Robertson struck out Chris Parmelee looking to notch his 20th save.

Robertson also saved Thursday night’s victory for Masahiro Tanaka, who improved his record to 12-3, over former teammate Phil Hughes. An old problem for Hughes, the long ball, came into play. He lost a 2-0 lead in the fifth by serving up a three-run home run to Carlos Beltran. Zelous Weaver, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Thursday to replace the farmed out Yangervis Solarte, also homered that inning. He added a single and scored a second run in the Yankees’ three-run seventh to round out an impressive major-league debut.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wheeler became only the sixth Yankees player over the past 40 years to get a home run as his first major-league hit, joining Andy Phillips (2004), Marcus Thames (2002), Alfonso Soriano (1999), Dan Pasqua (1985) and Joe Lefebvre (1980). Elias also pointed out that Beltran has now homered in 38 different ballparks in his big-league career, the second-most among current players only the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (39). The major-league record is 45 by Sammy Sosa.

The Yankees have won seven straight games at Target Field, dating to Sept. 26, 2012. They are 13-3 all-time in that yard. . .It was Roberts’ first four-hit game since Aug. 14, 2009 for the Orioles against the Angels and the second time this season he has fallen a home run short of a cycle. The other time was April 17 at Tampa Bay (single, double, triple). . .Since entering the majors in 2003, Teixeira has the highest batting average among all players against the Twins (.371 in 272 at-bats). He is a .364 hitter in nine career games and 33 at-bats at Target Field. . .Cervelli had three hits in a game for the first time since Aug. 6, 2011 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The Yankees played the Twins on the Fourth of July for the second straight year and the eighth time since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961. The Yankees are 5-3 in those games. They swept a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in 1964 by scores of 7-5 and 2-1 and were swept in a doubleheader at old Metropolitan Stadium in 1967 by scores of 8-3 and 7-6. The Yankees also won, 3-2, in 1985 at Yankee Stadium and 9-5 at Target Field last year. They lost, 6-2, at the Stadium in 2007. . .The Yankees played on the road on the Fourth of July for the fourth straight year, the first time they have done that in franchise history. . .They are 31-27 on the Fourth of July in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

Red Sox outlast Yanks to take series

You could feel the air come out of Yankee Stadium in the third inning Sunday night when David Ortiz blasted a 0-1 pitch from Chase Whitley into the right field bleachers for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Red Sox lead.

The Stadium crowd was pretty lively until that point but turned gloomy at the reality of seeing the offensive-struggling Yankees down that much early against as solid a pitcher as Boston’s John Lackey.

Whitley had given up a run in the second inning on a double by Mike Napoli and a one-out single by Stephen Drew, but it was the Ortiz bomb that spelled disaster for the Yankees. It was career homer No. 450 for Big Papi, who ranks 37th on the all-time list. The Yankees would have some fireworks of their own, however, to work themselves back into the game.

It began with a gift run in the bottom of the third. Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Brock Holt. After Ichiro stole second base, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter put Lackey to work. Gardner grounded out at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat with Suzuki crossing to third. Jeter then pushed Lackey to 11 pitches, pushing a single to right field on the last one to get the Yankees on the board.

The fireworks came in the fourth as Mark Teixeira (No. 15) and Carlos Beltran (No. 8) took Lackey deep to make it a one-run game. That brought the crowd back into play, but Yankees fans were not pleased at all with what came next.

Whitley came out of the game after he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to begin the fifth. Shawn Kelley was not any better. He walked Holt and Daniel Nava, which loaded the bases with no outs and no hits. Dustin Pedroia lofted a flare just over first base for a two-run single that also sent Nava to third base.

Lefthander David Huff came in to face Ortiz and kept him in the yard with a flyout to shallow left field. Huff picked Pedroia off first base, but the runner kept himself in a rundown long enough for Nava to cross the plate while the out was made at first base. Just like that, the Yankees were down by four runs again.

Whitley, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in mid-May to pitch in the rotation after CC Sabathia went on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation, did well in his first seven starts as he went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA during that stretch. In his past two starts, however, the righthander has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits in 7 1/3 innings for a 15.95 ERA that has driven his season ERA to 4.70.

Unlike Saturday night’s 2-1 Boston victory, Sunday night was more like Yankees-Red Sox games we have come to know. The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a triple by Suzuki, a double by Gardner and two infield outs.

Ichiro’s triple was a drive to right on which rookie Mookie Betts attempted a diving catch only to have the ball bounce past him. Ichiro’s 40-year-old legs got to third base, but there was a time he would have made it all the way home on such a hit.

Betts was playing in his first major-league game. He got his first hit, a single, in the fourth. I am amused at the idea of a player named Mookie with the Red Sox. Baseball’s only other Mookie — Wilson — broke Sox fans hearts with his tapper past first baseman Bill Buckner that won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for the Mets. It turns out that Mookie Betts was not named after Wilson but after Mookie Blaylock, his mother’s favorite NBA player.

The Yankees finally got a pitcher who threw strikes consistently when Dellin Betances entered the game in the sixth and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs situation. The Red Sox got minimal damage with one run on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia after Nava struck out. Betances won the battle against Ortiz, who grounded out to second.

Pushed to 96 pitches, Lackey was gone after the fifth. The Yanks lost a scoring opportunity in the sixth against Burke Bradenhop when Carlos Beltran, who had doubled with one out, was thrown out at the plate by Bradley on a single to center by Kelly Johnson.

In the seventh, Betances struck out Napoli with a high fastball. What an idiot.

Napoli did not fare any better in the ninth when he was called out on strikes against Jose Ramirez. By then, the die had been cast. Boston was polishing off an 8-5 victory saved by Koji Uehara. The Red Sox took the series, two games to one, as the Yankees once again failed to capitalize on Toronto and Baltimore both losing and remained in third place in the American League East. They also fell to 6-6 in the stretch of 15 games against AL East competition that concludes with the three-game set against the Rays starting Monday night at the Stadium.

Jays a different club away from Stadium

What a difference a venue makes. Last week at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the first-place Blue Jays that let Toronto know it was not going to run away and hide in the American League East. That sweep ran to 16 games the Yankees’ winning streak at home against the Jays.

The return engagement at Rogers Centre was a different story, at least for Monday night’s series opener. The Blue Jays struck early and often in their own building to end Chase Whitley’s good luck charm on the road with an 8-3 victory.

The Yankees had been 5-0 in road games started by Whitley, the Triple A call-up who has done a splendid job in plugging up one of the holes in the injury-riddled rotation. The Alabama righthander did not have it this night, however, as Toronto burst out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. That marked as many runs as Whitley allowed over his four previous starts combined covering 24 2/3 innings.

Melky Cabrera, who has tormented his former teammates since he left after the 2009 season, got the ball rolling for the Jays with a one-out double in the first inning. Adam Lind, batting in the 3-hole with Jose Bautista out because of hamstring problems, knocked in Cabrera with a single.

Lind did quite a bit more damage in the six-run Toronto second inning. The Jays loaded the bases with none out on three straight singles. A fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Cabrera made the score 3-0 before Lind broke the game open with a three-run home run over the center field wall.

Cabrera extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 20 games. During the stretch, he has batted .349 with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in 83 at-bats. Melky has reached base safely in all 22 career games against his former club. The last player with a 20-game hitting streak against the Yankees was also named Cabrera, the Tigers’ Miguel (no relation) from 2006-10.

Whitley, who had walked only four batters in his seven prior starts totaling 38 2/3 innings, walked the first two guys up in the fourth and appeared gassed. Dioner Navarro singled to drive in the Blue Jays’ eighth run, which forced manager Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen.

The relief work of David Huff and Shawn Kelley were bright spots for the Yankees. Huff pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. Kelley struck out the side in the eighth and gave up one hit.

It was the first poor outing for Whitley, who was charged with eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings as his ERA hiked from 2.56 to 4.07. The righthander allowed 11 hits and three walks with one strikeout and one wild pitch.

Marcus Stroman, who could not get through the fourth inning last week at the Stadium, pitched a solid eight for the Blue Jays this time. The righthander from Long Island gave up one run on Mark Teixeira’s 13th homer and only two other hits, singles by Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki, and had seven strikeouts.

Considering the state of the Yankees’ offense these days, the hole Whitley put his team in was too great out of which for his teammates to climb. The Yankees did score a couple of runs in the ninth off Chad Jenkins. Yangervis Solarte, who entered the game in the eighth, stopped a 0-for-28 slump with an RBI single, and Kelly Johnson doubled in a run.

Those were the Yankees’ only runs other than the two from a pair of homers by Teixeira over the past 27 innings for the Yankees, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays, a sign that they were no longer at Yankee Stadium.