Results tagged ‘ Dean Anna ’

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.

Yankees bashed again; Nova hurt

A couple of regular Yankee killers had plenty of help from their teammates in killing the Yankees Saturday night. Evan Longoria and Chris Archer had their usual success against the Yankees, but so did a whole bunch of other Tampa Bay Rays.

Clearly, the Rays have awaken from their early-season offensive malaise the past two nights against the Yankees. Tampa Bay followed Friday night’s 11-5 bashing with a 16-1 slaughterhouse Saturday night. By the seventh inning, the many changes in both team’s lineups made the game resemble a spring training exhibition.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been so depleted through these two games that manager Joe Girardi used utility infielder Dean Anna on the mound in the eighth inning. Anna, who started the game at shortstop for resting Derek Jeter, gave up two runs and three hits in his first major-league pitching assignment.

Even worse news for the Yanks was that losing pitcher Ivan Nova was removed from the game in the fifth inning because of right elbow soreness. That could explain why he was so ineffective. The righthander was lit up for eight earned runs and eight hits, including four home runs, in four-plus innings as his ERA soared to 8.27.

The Rays had five home runs in all — two apiece by Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan and one by Longoria. Hanigan drove in six runs and Myers and Longoria four each as part of the 16-hit attack.

Longoria’s home run was career No. 164 to set a Tampa Bay franchise record, passing the previous record holder, Carlos Pena. It was also Longoria’s 26th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any player since 2008, the third baseman’s American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award season. The next closest over that stretch is the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista with 19.

Over about the same amount of plate appearances against the Yankees as Longoria, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has 15 home runs, which indicates how powerful Longoria has been. Longoria is a .314 career hitter with 19 doubles and 71 RBI in 338 at-bats against the Yankees.

Archer continued his winning ways against the Yankees. The righthander gave up one run and three hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings to improve his career mark against them to 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. Last year, Archer became the first rookie pitcher to beat the Yankees three times in a season since Kevin Brown did it for the Rangers in 1989. Brown later pitched for the Yankees.

It was a quiet night for the Yankees’ offense. They managed only three hits with a two-out double by Kelly Johnson in the fifth inning driving in their only run. Rays pitching retired the Yankees’ last 13 hitters in a row.

Tanaka proving a wise investment for Yankees

For a while there Wednesday, it appeared that Masahiro Tanaka might have pitched a tainted no-hitter. The Cubs’ only hit through the first six innings off the Japanese righthander came in the second inning on a bunt single by Junior Lake, which originally had been called an out but was a single after a replay review.

Except for Lake himself, the happiest guy in the yard about the hit may have been Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who did not have to wrestle with himself later in the game about keeping Tanaka in an early-season game with a mounting pitch count working on a no-hitter. Managers do not like to put stress on pitchers this early in the schedule, but pulling a pitcher during a no-hitter is something they know fans dislike.

It all became academic when Anthony Rizzo dumped a bunt single down the third base line leading off the seventh inning against an over-shift. I for one was glad to see some hitter take what the defense is giving him in this year when over-shifting in the infield has become so prevalent.

It drove me crazy in the Yankees’ sixth inning when Brian McCann led off and made no attempt to hit the ball to the left side where one player was stationed. I know, I know, hitters do not want to mess up their swing by going the other way, but in a low-scoring game why not go for the easy hit and get a really started?

The over-shift was first employed in the late 1940s by Indians shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau against Ted Williams. The Splinter stubbornly refused to change his swing and always tried to hit through the shift, but he was Teddy Ballgame, a career .344 hitter and six-time American League batting champion. These guys that won’t attempt to cross up the defense are good hitters, but they are not Ted Williams. How many outs are hitters going to make on ground balls to right field before they wake up?

I have been harping on this since Jason Giambi was with the Yankees and have kept it up watching Mark Teixeira make outs into the shift. A Chicago writer told me that Rizzo has bunted for hits against the shift three times already this year. Good for him, not that it do him much good Wednesday because the Cubs did not get anyone else on base that inning. Another challenge by Cubs manager Rick Renteria on an out at first base was not reversed.

Tanaka certainly had no-hit stuff. Two bunt singles were all the Cubs could muster against Tanaka, who walked one batter and struck out 10 in his eight innings to improve his record to 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

“He had outstanding command of his splitter and slider and threw some curves to get ahead in the count,” Girardi said. “He was tremendous.”

The Cubs got only three runners as far as second base and none beyond. Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth and earned his fourth save.

The only run the Yankees would need came in the first inning on Carlos Beltran’s fourth home run. The Yankees added a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Dean Anna and another in the fifth in an unusual way.

With Brett Gardner at third base and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Cubs catcher John Baker collided with Ellsbury while fielding the ball and was called for interference as he threw the ball to first base while Gardner crossed the plate.

Plate umpire Jim Reynolds originally sent Gardner back to third base and instructed Ellsbury to stay on first base before Girardi came out of the dugout to point out a seldom-seen rule. In such cases, the manager has the option to take the completed play. That meant Ellsbury was out at first base and Gardner scored.

Girardi remembered a game in 1990 when he was catching for the Cubs and the Pirates’ Bobby Bonilla hit a three-run home run. Girardi was called for interfering with Bonilla’s swing but was told the home run counted because the Pittsburgh manager had the option to accept the play.

“Had there been no outs, I might have let the call stand,” Girardi said, “but with one out, I thought it would be better to take the run.”

It certainly was not needed by Tanaka, whose 28 strikeouts are the most for any Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts, surpassing by three the total Al Leiter had in 1987. Leiter was in the YES television booth for Wednesday’s game. Tanaka also became the first Yankees starter to pitch at least eight innings while striking out at least 10 batters and allowing two or fewer hits since Randy Johnson July 26, 2005 at the Stadium against the Red Sox (8 innings, 2 hits, 11 strikeouts).

Jeter riding the pine again

Yankees fans coming to see Derek Jeter play Sunday night at Yankee Stadium were disappointed again. For the second straight game, Jeter was on the bench as rookie back-up infielder Dean Anna was the shortstop for the Yankees in the four-game series finale against the Red Sox on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi intended to play Jeter Sunday night but decided to be caution because the Captain has a strained right quad. The area tightened up on him Friday night. Jeter did not play Saturday. Girardi reasoned that with an open date Monday Jeter will have sufficient time for the injury to heal and be ready to play Tuesday night against the Cubs in an inter-league game at the Stadium.

“He’s not real happy,” Girardi said of Jeter, who is batting .286 in 35 at-bats. “I told him missing one game is better than missing four to six weeks, if something were to happen.”

Jeter has a history of hating the bench, and with this being his final season following an injury-riddled 2013 season that reduced his output to 17 games he is all the more anxious to play.

“He has been that way since Day 1,’ Girardi said. “He used to fight Joe [Torre]. ‘How am I going to break Cal’s [Ripken Jr.’s] record if you keep doing this to me?’ he would say. It is never a real comfortable situation when you tell him you are going to give him a day. I think he understands what I’m trying to do. In his heart he just wants to be out there. He’s 39 years old. I think you have to be smart about it. There are times where you are going to have to give him a day off.”

Pineda comeback gaining momentum

It certainly looks as if Michael Pineda is the real deal. The Yankees had to wait it out for the righthander to recover fully from shoulder surgery in May 2012, only four months after he was acquired in a trade from the Mariners that sent catching prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to Seattle.

Pineda did not pitch in the major leagues last year or the season before, a long wait for the Yankees to find out if the trade was to their benefit. He pitched in 40 2/3 innings in three minor-league stops in the Yankees’ system in 2013. But with Montero lingering in the minor leagues and Noesi released by the Mariners, the swap is leaning in the Yankees’ favor.

Pineda turned in another solid outing Thursday night and earned his first victory since 2011 as the Yankees turned back the Red Sox, 4-1. Pineda took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the defending World Series champions and lasted two batters into the seventh before manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen.

Through two starts covering 12 innings, Pineda is pitching to a 1.50 ERA. He did not allow a hit Thursday night until the fifth inning when Xander Bogaerts led off with a single to left and held Boston scoreless until the seventh when Daniel Nava led off with his first home run of the season. Bogaerts followed with a single up the middle, which brought Girardi to the mound.

The manager was delighted at what he saw for six-plus innings from Pineda, an imposing 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds who walked two batters and struck out seven. The Yankees gave him the lead with two unearned runs off Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning and tacked on two runs in the fifth, including second baseman Dean Anna’s first career home run.

“We’re very encouraged,” Girardi said of Pineda. “He threw first-pitch strikes and gave us length, which we really needed.”

Girardi was hit with post-game questions about video replays circulated on social media showing a substance in Pineda’s right hand. On cold nights, it is not uncommon for pitchers to use pine tar to improve their grip. I saw Buchholz reach back at a spot on his neck to touch something, which was probably the same thing. Pineda made no secret of whatever it was to umpires as he exposed his palm numerous times.

In his first game against his old team, Jacoby Ellsbury had 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Derek Jeter raised his batting average to .290 with a single and a double. David Phelps earned his first career save with 2 1/3 innings of hitless, three-strikeout relief.

Ellsbury draws blood vs. Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury hurt his old team Thursday night as the Yankees and Red Sox renewed their ancient rivalry in the opener of a four-game series. Ellsbury, who departed Boston where he was a member of two World Series champions to sign a seven-year contract with the Yankees, drove in a run in the fifth inning with a single

The hit scored Derek Jeter, who had doubled with two out. Ellsbury, who had been expected to be the Yankees’ leadoff hitter, has proved valuable in the 3-hole where he can take advantage of RBI situations. The injury to Mark Teixeira (strained right hamstring) prompted manager Joe Girardi to toy with his lineup as he moved Brett Gardner to leadoff and dropped Ellsbury to third.

Dean Anna opened the fifth for the Yankees with his first major-league home run, taking Clay Buchholz deep on a 1-1 pitch. Anna started at second base in place of slimping Brian Roberts. The Yankees acquired Anna in a trade from the Padres. Playing with San Diego’s Triple A Tucson affiliate last year, Anna led the Pacific Coast League in batting with a .331 average. The Yanks liked his versatility in the infield this spring.

The Yankees’ first two runs, in the fourth inning, were unearned. An error by third baseman Jonathan Herrera on a grounder by Ellsbury opened the gate for the Yankees. After Carlos Beltran singled to right field, Brian McCann ended a 0-for-14 slump with a single over first base and down the right field line that scored Ellsbury and sent Beltran to third. Beltran scored the second run as Alfonso Soriano grounded into a double play.

Yanks taking good look at ‘minors’

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees’ Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna are the only players who made an Opening Day roster this year that had played at least 500 games in the minor leagues without ever having previously played in the majors. Solarte, who played in 672 minor-league games, and Anna, who played in 554, were both in the starting lineup Friday night at Toronto.

Solarte, who made his first big-league start Thursday night at third base and went 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs and a run batted in, was at second base Friday night spelling Brian Roberts. Anna started at shortstop as Derek Jeter was given a blow after the Yankees arrived in Canada just before dawn.

Also according to Elias, Solarte became the first Yankees player with a three-hit game within his first two career games since Mike Lowell went 3-for-5 in his second career game Sept. 20, 1998 at Baltimore. Solarte was also the first Yankee with a three-hit game in his first career start since Oscar Azocar went 3-for-4 July 18, 1990 at Yankee Stadium against the Royals.