Results tagged ‘ Dodger Stadium ’

Wild night at Dodger, er, Yankee Stadium

The Yankees find fans all over the map as they travel around North America during the season. The boosters are akin to Notre Dame’s famed subway alumni.

I recall a game at Anaheim in the early 1990s when Don Mattingly came off the bench at whacked a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning that pushed the Yankees into the lead of a game they eventually won. As Mattingly rounded the bases, the cheers from the Big A’s stands were so loud you would have sworn you were in the Bronx, which is about as far from Orange County, California, as you can get.

Whatever the venue, be it Baltimore’s Camden Yards, certainly Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field or even Boston’s Fenway Park, pockets of Yankees fans abound in the stands. Well, a collection of boisterous Dodgers fans gave the Yankees at taste of their own medicine Monday night at Yankee Stadium in the opener of a three-game, inter-league series.

A cluster of Dodgers fans filled a sizeable portion of the seats along the third base to left field line. The group went even so far as to mimic the roll call of the Yankees’ bleacher creatures but by calling out the names of the Dodgers instead. When the Dodgers rallied for a run right off the bat in the first inning, it seemed more like Dodger Stadium than Yankee Stadium.

Yankees fans finally responded with loud boos when fans near the left field foul pole unveiled a blue “LA” banner amid a three-run rally by the Dodgers.

There is plenty of history between these clubs. After all, they have been paired in 11 World Series, the most of any two teams. When the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn prior to 1958, they faced the Yanks seven times in the Series and won only once, in 1955. Since they made Southern California home, the Dodgers split four Series against the Yankees, winning in 1963 and ’81 and losing in 1977 and ’78.

Unfortunately, the Yankees did not give their fans much reason to retaliate in the 8-2 loss that caused them to lose ground in the Wild Card race. The Yanks remained two games behind the Orioles and dropped a game behind the Tigers for the second Wild Card berth.

It was a rough night for the Baby Bombers. Right fielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez made errors that led to runs. Starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell could not get out of the third inning, although four of the six runs against him were not earned, due to the two errors. Tyler Austin wore the golden sombrero with four strikeouts. The most effective Yankees pitcher was lefthander Richard Bleier, who tossed four shutout innings of hitless relief. He walked one batter, hit one and struck out three.

The Yankees’ runs came on two long home runs. Starlin Castro’s 21st dinger of the season landed in the second deck in left field in the second inning. Judge bashed a 432-foot bomb into the left-center field bleachers in the fifth. The Dodgers countered with late-inning home runs by Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner, to the absolute delight of the Dodgers Blue crowd than drowned out Yankees Universe at least for one night.

Pitchers’ duel decided after their departures

Dodger Stadium has been the sight of many a pitchers’ duel over the past half-century going back to Johnny Podres, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser against the likes of Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Dwight Gooden and Greg Maddux, to name just a few.

Add the names of Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw to that list. The Yankees righthander and the Dodgers lefthander each sporting 10-6 records put on a dazzling show Wednesday night in a game that was not decided until they had left. Had they not come out of the game, it might still be going on. That is how good they were.

Kuroda was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth after pitching shutout ball for seven innings, the eighth time this season he has not allowed a run. Kuroda gave up five singles and only one walk with eight strikeouts. The Dodgers got only two runners to second base during the time Kuroda was on the mound.

It was a great comeback for Kuroda, who pitched at Dodger Stadium, his home from 2008 to 2011, for the first time since he joined the Yankees last year. It was his bad luck to be paired with Kershaw, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2011 and who was equally effective.

The Yankees got only two runners past first base in eight innings against Kershaw, who gave up five singles and no walks with five strikeouts. Kershaw came out of the game after putting down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the eighth to get a runner in scoring position that never came home.

The game was decided following the departures of Kuroda and Kershaw in a bizarre ninth inning as the Yankees rallied to end a 13-inning scoreless stretch for a 3-0 victory. Lyle Overbay, who had driven in both Yankees runs in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss, ended the shutout with a clutch hit both after and before some shaky Los Angeles defense.

The inning began with a leadoff walk, to Derek Jeter, who was replaced by pinch runner Eduardo Nunez. The Dodgers had a chance for a double play on a ground ball near the middle by Robinson Cano, but shortstop Hanley Ramirez hesitated slightly before feeding second baseman Mark Ellis and only got the force on Nunez.

Alfonso Soriano made the second out on a high bouncer to third baseman Juan Uribe, who had no play at second base so went for the out at first base. With Cano in scoring position, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ordered pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki walked intentionally and brought in lefthander Paco Rodriguez to face the lefty-swinging Overbay, who batted for Brent Lillibridge.

Rodriguez had Overbay looking foolish trying to hit his curveball. After two called strikes on check swings, Overbay got the benefit of the doubt from third base umpire Bill Miller, who did not rule that he went around as he had on the previous pitch. Rodriguez finally hung a curve that Overbay lashed into center field for a single to score Cano.

Mark Ellis, the Dodgers’ hero the night before with the game-winning hit, was responsible for the Yankees’ next two runs when he dropped Jayson Nix’s fly ball to shallow right field. Ellis apparently did not hear Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig call for the ball and nearly collided with him as the ball popped out of his glove.

Mariano Rivera, who was honored by the Dodgers before the game as he received a $10,000 donation to his foundation and an enormous fishing pole, notched his 34th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

While he was stuck with another no-decision, Kuroda had to be pleased about his performance. If anyone in baseball did not want to see the calendar change today, it was Kuroda, who had a magnificent July. In five starts that month, Kuroda was 3-0 with two no-decisions and a 0.55 ERA. Kuroda has made 10 starts in July the past two seasons for the Yankees and is 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 68 innings.

No decision for Pettitte as Dodgers rally late

For his sixth straight start, Andy Pettitte was scored upon in the first inning, one of those “uh-oh” moments for Yankees fans. That turned out a minor blemish for the lefthander in what proved a solid outing Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Pettitte was not able to get his record (7-8) back to .500 because the score was 2-2 when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Andy allowed eight hits but did not walk a batter and struck out three in seven innings. As is often the case with starting pitchers, the early innings can post problems as they search for a rhythm.

Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig jolted Pettitte with one out in the first inning with a booming double to center field. He crossed to third base on a fly ball to right field and scored on a two-out single through the middle by Hanley Ramirez, one of the hottest hitters in the majors (.383).

Lyle Overbay got the run back leading off the second inning with a home run off Zack Greinke, the third jack in 24 career at-bats against the righthander. Juan Uribe matched that, however, with his sixth home run, a 441-foot bomb into the second deck in left field off a hanging 0-2 curve by Pettitte in the bottom half.

Ichiro Suzuki saved Pettitte a run in the third with a tracer’s bullet of a throw home that nailed Ramirez trying to score from second base with two out on a single to right by A.J. Ellis. Catcher Chris Stewart completed the play with a quick tag on Ramirez’s left thigh before his foot touched the plate. That was the first of five straight scoreless innings for Pettitte, who gave his teammates a chance to stay in the game.

The Yankees drew even in the fourth on another RBI by Overbay. A wild pitch by Greinke that allowed Alfonso Soriano, who led off the inning with a double down the left field line, to move up to third base helped set up the run. With the infield back, all Overbay had to do was make contact, which he did with a grounder to the left side as Soriano crossed the plate.

Pettitte’s work turned out to be most encouraging sign for the Yankees, who had only one hit after Soriano’s double. Ichiro doubled to left with one out in the seventh, but Greinke struck out Jayson Nix and retired Stewart on a ground ball.

It was a bullpen game after that, and the Dodgers won it, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out single by Mark Ellis off Shawn Kelley (3-1). It scored Andre Ethier, who had singled with one down and got a big stolen base two pitches before Ellis dropped a single into left-center. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen (4-3) pitched a perfect inning apiece. David Robertson did the same for the Yankees in the eighth before Kelley took over in the ninth.

Aware that the Yankees had no left-handed bat on the bench, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used his hard-throwing righthanders out of the pen. With five straight games on National League soil and no designated hitter in play, that situation hurts the Yankees. There is a chance Curtis Granderson could rejoin the Yankees at the end of the week when they move on to San Diego, which will surely help. Keep your fingers crossed.

Lots of history with Yankees and Dodgers

There was a time when a matchup of the Yankees and the Dodgers in games that count could only occur during the World Series, which happened more often than with any two major league clubs. The Yanks and Dodgers opposed each other in 11 World Series with the Yankees winning eight of them.

Only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, who have played for the NBA title 12 times, have had more championship series than the Yankees and the Dodgers. For the record, the most such matchups in the NHL have been seven by two sets of teams – the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs – and in the NFL six between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. In the Super Bowl alone, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers played each other three times.

Inter-league play has changed all that for the Yankees and the Dodgers. The two-game series at Dodger Stadium that began Tuesday night marks the fourth in-season encounter by the long-time postseason rivals. The Yankees took two of three games twice before at Dodger Stadium in 2010 and 2004. The only time they have faced each other at Yankee Stadium was June 19 this year in a rainout-forced, separate-admission doubleheader that the teams split.

When the Dodgers left New York that night, their record was 30-40, which had them in last place in the National League West and eight games out of first. Los Angeles has gone 26-8 since then and started play Tuesday night in first place in its division with a 2 ½-game lead. In the 34-game stretch, the Dodgers made up 10 ½ games in the standings. Conversely, the Yankees were 39-33 after the twin bill and in third place in the American League East and 3 ½ games out of first. They have gone 16-18 since and are now in fourth place and 7 ½ games from the top.

In postseason play, the Yankees have a 37-29 record in games – 22-10 at Yankee Stadium, 12-11 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and 3-8 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Yanks won each of the first five times the clubs met in the World Series, in 1941, ’47, ’49, ’52 and ’53 before the Dodgers finally won in 1955.

The Yankees’ 1956 Series victory was highlighted by Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5, the only no-hitter in World Series history. The Yankees are 2-2 in Series against the Dodgers since their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The Yanks were swept in 1963, just one of three times in 40 World Series appearances that they did not win a game (also in 1922 against the Giants and in 1976 against the Reds). The Yankees’ back-to-back World Series titles in 1977 and ’78 mark the most recent instance of back-to-back World Series victories over the same team, the first such occurrence since the Yanks defeated the Dodgers in 1952-53).

Some other nuggets about the two legendary teams:

Babe Ruth’s last job in professional baseball was as a Brooklyn Dodgers coach in 1938. Ruth, who wore uniform No. 3 with the Yankees, donned No. 35 with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers won their only championship in Brooklyn history when left-ander Johnny Podres beat the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Dodgers and Yankees staged an exhibition game May 7, 1959 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles to benefit Roy Campanella, the former Dodgers catcher who had been paralyzed in an auto accident prior to the 1958 season. This game drew 93,103, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game until an exhibition game in 2008 between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.

Of the six World Series championships in team history, the only one clinched by the Dodgers on their home field was in 1963, when lefthander Sandy Koufax pitched a 2-1 victory in Game 4 to clinch the sweep of the Yankees.

Rangers, Islanders, Devils coming to Yankee Stadium

Are you ready for hockey at Yankee Stadium? It will be Hockey Week in the Bronx come next January.

Two outdoor regular-season National Hockey League games will be played at the Stadium during the 2013-14 season as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. And these are not just any two games. The first game will be Sunday, Jan. 26, between the Rangers and the Devils. The second game will be Wednesday, Jan. 29, between the Rangers and the Islanders.

The two games at Yankee Stadium complete the four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series scheduled for next season. The Anaheim Ducks will play the Los Angeles Kings Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and the Chicago Blackhawks will play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“The innovative nature of the Stadium Series affords the opportunity to have all three NHL teams in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area play, outdoors, at one of the most-celebrated stadiums in the world,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We’ll be able to create a multi-faceted, multi-day experience for our fans, and we thank the teams, Coors Light, the New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium for their support of this memorable NHL event.”

In just five years of its existence, the Stadium already has provided the setting for some of the country’s most popular events as the baseball diamond has been transformed to be the site of games between several of college football’s finest programs – including the annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl – concerts by Grammy Award-winning acts, top-tier soccer talent from around the world and a super welterweight title boxing match. The 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series will be the first time the Stadium has been used for hockey.

“We have long thought that Yankee Stadium would be a great venue for outdoor hockey,” Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said. “In addition to being a first-class baseball facility, Yankee Stadium was designed to house unique and memorable events, such as the NHL Stadium Series. Hosting two of the NHL’s classic rivalries at Yankee Stadium will be a great kickoff for the worldwide sporting events in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area scheduled in early 2014.”

“The New Jersey Devils are proud to have been selected to host the first of two games at Yankee Stadium,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “The NHL Stadium Series will be a memorable experience for our organization, our players and, most importantly, our fans. We are thrilled to play our divisional rival, while adding to the legacy of one of the nation’s most recognized sports facilities.”

“The New York Islanders are honored to take part in the National Hockey League’s outdoor stadium series,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “Our fan-base is one of the most passionate in the NHL. The support we consistently receive from our fans was on display during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and I expect it to be on an even greater scale when we take on the Rangers. This is what makes the games against the Rangers one of the best rivalries in the league. I look forward to seeing a strong contingent of the orange and blue in the stands at Yankee Stadium.”

“The New York Rangers are honored to participate in these two historic games at Yankee Stadium, bringing hockey into the home of another one of New York’s iconic sports franchises,” Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said. “Playing hockey outdoors takes the game back to its roots and reminds us all why we laced up our skates as youngsters. We are excited to be able to bring that experience and thrill to our fans and the city of New York.”

The Rangers, Islanders and Devils have combined to win 11 Stanley Cup championships. They are division foes during the regular season and have also have battled each other in memorable postseasons.

The Rangers and Devils have met six times in the playoffs. Perhaps the most memorable of those series was in 1994 when the clubs faced off in the Eastern Conference Final with the Rangers’ Stephane Matteau winning the deciding Game 7 in double-overtime. The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup in seven games over the Vancouver Canucks. The Devils countered 12 months later by winning the first of their three Stanley Cup titles over the following nine seasons.

The Rangers and Islanders have met eight times in the postseason, including four straight years from 1981-84. The Devils and Islanders have met once in the postseason, with New Jersey earning a 4-2 series victory in the 1988 Patrick Division Semifinal.

The Rangers first played the Islanders in a regular-season game Oct. 21, 1972, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island – a 2-1 Rangers victory. The Rangers first faced the Devils in a regular-season game (after the team moved to New Jersey) Oct. 8, 1982, at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. – a 3-2 Devils victory.

Further details on this special NHL event, including national broadcast information and specifics on ticket opportunities for the season-ticket holders of each team, will be released shortly. Fans interested in receiving more information on ticketing, news and special offers around the event should register at

The NHL recently announced that the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 1, when the Detroit Red Wings will play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. Since the facility holds a capacity of 101,000, it is anticipated that the game will set a world record for attendance at a hockey match.

The first-ever NHL regular-season game contested outdoors was in 2003 between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta. Since then, the NHL has played six additional regular-season games outdoors.

Yankee Stadium nice fit for Japanese imports

The Yankees’ Japanese tandem of Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki has certainly found a comfortable home at Yankee Stadium. Sunday night’s 4-1 victory in the rubber game of the series against Boston was achieved mainly through their combined efforts.

Kuroda was brilliant again for eight innings, marking the seventh straight start in which he has allowed three runs or less. This time, it was only one. Kuroda was working on a two-hit shutout when he gave up a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez with one out in the seventh. Suzuki had already helped stake Kuroda to a four-run lead with a pair of solo home runs.

“The thing about both Hiroki and Ichiro is that they are extremely well prepared,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They are ready to do and do their jobs.”

The Stadium seems to bring about the best in these two guys. Kuroda came to the Yankees as a free agent after pitching for four seasons for the Dodgers. There were concerns that he might not find hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to his liking as much as pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. It was reasonable to assume he would have to make adjustments, but one thing he did not change was his approach.

“This is a smaller park that some others, but you cannot be afraid,” Kuroda said. “You still have to stay aggressive, and I try to be as aggressive as possible.”

The key for Kuroda is to keep the ball down, which he has done with regularity.

“He has been on a tremendous roll,” Girardi said of Kuroda, who is 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA over his past 11 starts and 9-2 with a 2.22 ERA over his past 16 starts. “The consistency of his sinker and slider has been amazing, and he throws in a few splitters as well.”

In 15 starts at the Stadium this year, Kuroda is 9-4 with a 2.03 ERA in 113 2/3 innings. Opposing hitters are batting only .210 against him with eight home runs and 25 RBI in 377 at-bats. Kuroda is pitching better for the Yankees than he did for the Dodgers just as he pitched better for the Dodgers than he did in Japan.

“I try to evolve and be creative as a pitcher,” he said. “Every year I try to pitch better.”

As for Ichiro, he has really gotten into the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and was jubilant after the victory. Sunday night capped off a terrific homestand in which he had 10-for-19 (.526) with a double, a triple and the two homers. He has 14 hits in his past 30 at-bats, a .467 stretch that has raised his batting average 12 points to .272. Suzuki is batting .322 in 87 at-bats since joining the Yankees and is even better at the Stadium as he has hit .358 with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and four RBI.

For his career, Ichiro is batting .345 with five home runs in 116 at-bats at the current Stadium and .343 with eight home runs in 280 at-bats at the old and new Stadiums combined.

“I haven’t changed at all,” Suzuki said when asked if his approach is different at the Stadium. “A guy my size (5-10, 170 pounds) is still going to find it tough to get the ball out there.”

Anyone who has seen Ichiro take batting practice knows that he can turn on a ball with power on occasion, similar to the way Wade Boggs used to be.

“I just feel so good coming into this clubhouse every day,” Suzuki said.

The feeling among the Yankees is mutual.

Kuroda has found a home at Yankee Stadium

There is always concern whether a pitcher who has had success in the National League can transfer that to the American League where lineups tend to be deeper because of the designated hitter rule. This is particularly true in the AL East where pitchers get very little margin for error. Go ask Javier Vazquez or A.J. Burnett.

The issue came up when the Yankees signed Hiroko Kuroda in the off-season. The Japanese-born righthander was a sturdy if unspectacular starter with the Dodgers who had a 41-46 record and 3.45 ERA over four seasons in Los Angeles. I can remember Lou Piniella saying years ago that teams needed to be careful when acquiring pitchers from the Dodgers because their statistics are aided greatly by the conditions at Dodger Stadium where the dimensions are deep and where the ball does not travel well in the damp southern California air, especially at night.

So along comes Kuroda, who seems to have turned that theory upside-down. Yankee Stadium, with its cozy right-field porch and other hitter-friendly amenities, is hardly a pitchers’ dream, but Kuroda has pitched better in the Bronx than he ever did in Chavez Ravine.

His latest success story at the Stadium was Wednesday’s rain-shortened, 6-0 seven-inning victory. Kuroda gave up a double and three singles, did not walk a batter and struck out five in improving his record to 9-7 with a 3.46 ERA.

In 11 starts at Yankee Stadium this year, Kuroda is 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA and has held opponents to a .219 batting average with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 270 at-bats. Just think; in his years at Dodger Stadium, Kuroda was barely a .500 pitcher with a 20-21 record and 3.43 ERA.

The Yankees wasted no time in providing Kuroda a comfort level as they struck for four runs in the first inning off Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero. On a day when figurines of his likeness were distributed to fans, Mark Teixeira followed a double by Derek Jeter and a run-scoring single by Nick Swisher with a home run. One out later, Robinson Cano doubled and came home on a single by Andruw Jones.

Cano ran his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest for the Yankees since Jeter had a 25-gamer in 2006 from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16. Cano is batting .402 with 14 runs, six doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI during the streak.

The rally guaranteed that the Yankees would extend their team steak of games in which they have scored three or more runs to 42, a franchise record and six shy of the major league mark by the 1994 Indians.

Jayson Nix, who played for the Blue Jays last year, got his second straight start against Toronto and kept up his assault on his former team. Nix, who played shortstop as Jeter was the DH, has 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and three runs this year against his old mates.

It was part of a good day for the Yanks’ bench. DeWayne Wise, who spelled Curtis Granderson in center field, had a double, a single and two RBI.

The Yankees finished the 5-1 homestand with their eighth series sweep, one shy of last year’s total. It was their third series sweep at home this year. The others were June 8-10 against the Mets and June 25-27 against the Indians.

The Blue Jays, once considered contenders in the American League East, fell two games under .500 and into last place, 12 ½ games behind the division-leading Yankees. Toronto had 1-for-25 (.040) with runners in scoring position in the series and lost two position players. Outielder Jose Bautista was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a left wrist strain. Third baseman Brett Lawrie bruised his right calf tumbling into the photographer’s well next to the visitors’ dugout. It has been that kind of year for the Blue Jays, who lost three starting pitchers to injury in the same week last month.

The Yankees are off to the West Coast for a four-game series at Oakland and a three-game set at Seattle, and I am off to Cooperstown, N.Y., for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

Good & bad about All-Star selections

The good news is that the Yankees will have six players on the American League roster, four in the starting lineup, for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The bad news is that several deserving players from the Yankees will not be making the trip next week to Arizona.

Let’s start with the positive. The Yankees will make up three-quarters of the AL starting infield for the third time in franchise history with second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter.

The only other time the Yankees had three infielders elected to the starting unit was for the 2004 game at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Rodriguez, Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi.

The Yankees also had three starting infielders in 1980 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but only one – shortstop Bucky Dent – had been elected by the fans. Graig Nettles started at third base as a replacement for injured George Brett of the Royals. The Brewers’ Paul Molitor was voted the starter at second base but had to be replaced due to injury as well. The Angels’ Bobby Grich was added to the roster, but the Yankees’ Willie Randolph started the game at the position.

This will mark the 10th time that the Yankees have had at least three infielders on the All-Star roster. First baseman Mark Teixeira’s failure to make the squad this year cost the Yankees the chance to have four infielders overall for the third time. The Yankees had four infield All-Stars in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (Jeter, Giambi, 2B Alfonoso Soriano, 3B Robin Ventura) and in 1939 at Yankee Stadium (1B Lou Gehrig, 2B Joe Gordon, 3B Red Rolfe, SS Frankie Crosetti). Giambi and Soriano were starters in 2004 and Gordon in 1939.

Other years in which the Yankees had three All-Star infielders were 1950 at Comiskey Park in Chicago (1B Tommy Henrich, 2B Jerry Coleman, SS Phil Rizzuto), 1957 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (1B Moose Skowron, 2B Bobby Richardson, SS Gil McDougald), Game 1 in 1959 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (Skowron, Richardson, SS Tony Kubek), Game 2 in 1959 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Skowron, Kubek, McDougald) and 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez).

Yankees catcher Russell Martin had led in the voting until the last week when he was passed by the Tigers’ Alex Avila. At least Martin made the team as an alternate. His handling of the Yanks’ pitching staff has been superb.

Mariano Rivera was an obvious choice for the staff despite his blown save Sunday, which ended a 26-save streak against National League clubs in inter-league play.

Now for the head-scratching stuff – why no Teixeira or CC Sabathia? And has anyone other than Yankees fans been paying attention to the season David Robertson is having?

Tex fell out of the balloting lead at first base last month behind the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, an admitted Most Valuable Player Award candidate, but still ran a strong second in the voting. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cannot compare with Teixeira defensively and trails him in homers, 25-17, and RBI, 65-56, but his .328 batting average is 80 points higher than Tex’s.

Now, here’s the rub. Teixeira has been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby. Nice. He can’t be on the team but he can fly all the way to Phoenix and take part in an exercise that could ruin his swing. Ask Bobby Abreu or David Wright about that? Say no, Tex.

All Sabathia has done is lead the AL in victories with 11 and posted a 3.05 ERA. Oh, that’s right. Pitching victories do not count anymore. I guess that’s why there was room for Felix Hernandez on the staff. The word is that CC pitching Sunday before the Tuesday night All-Star Game hurt his chances of making the team. Dumb reason.

To his credit, AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers said nice things about Robertson when Texas was in town and that he was given him strong consideration. With so many other Yankees on the team, Robertson didn’t stand much of a chance, particularly since every team needs to be represented. When you see the Royals’ Aaron Crow in the pre-game announcements, think of Robertson. Crow, also a set-up reliever, is Kansas City’ lone representative.

It is a tough break for Robertson, but he is no more deserving than Sabathia, so it is hard to say he was snubbed. A lot of people don’t like the baseball rule about All-Star Games having to have players from each team, but I think it is a good thing. The 2012 game is supposed to be in Kansas City. It would be a shame if someone from the Royals was not on the team.

Each club no matter where it is in the standings has someone who deserves All-Star recognition. That the Yankees have so many is a testament to the terrific season the team is having.

Manny slinks away

The stunning news that Manny Ramirez is retiring from baseball comes appropriately while the Yankees and the Red Sox are playing each other in a series at Fenway Park. Ramirez was a big part of this rivalry for the better part of eight seasons.

His career came to an end Friday and, unfortunately, with another steroids-related issue that will stain his legacy. Just looking at the career statistics Manny left behind, a spot in the Hall of Fame should be assured for this eccentric but nonetheless remarkable hitter who despite the reputation as a sort of man-child turned into Albert Einstein once he entered a batter’s box.

Reports that Ramirez had failed yet another drug test allegedly resulted in his abrupt departure from the sport rather than face another suspension. Manny was set down for 50 games in 2009 for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. A second offense comes with a suspension of 100 games, so Manny probably figured what’s the point in hanging around to place one-third of a season for a Tampa Bay team that started the schedule with six straight losses while he went 1-for-17.

Make no mistake, however, that this is a big smudge on Ramirez’s hopes for Cooperstown. Look at the voting totals for Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro to see how voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America feel about whether PED users belong on plaques in the Hall of Fame gallery.

This is all very early, of course. Ramirez is not eligible for the Hall of Fame until the 2017 ballot. A lot can happen before then. But consider that Palmeiro tested positive once and McGwire was never tested but admitted he used anabolic steroids and figure out how voters may view Ramirez, who appears to have tested positive twice.

For Yankees fans, Ramirez was the Red Sox player they loved to hate, except for those from his old neighborhood of Washington Heights in upper Manhattan who came to Yankee Stadium to cheer Manny on. He loved playing against the Yanks, as his record against them attests. He batted .322 with 55 home runs in 861 at-bats against Yankees pitching, including .321 with 29 homers at the Stadium.

He was one of the greatest players to come out of New York City and should have joined the other Hall of Famers who came out of the five boroughs, such as Willie Keeler, Waite Hoyt, Lou Gehrig, Frankie Frisch, Hank Greenberg, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax.

Ramirez was also an icon in Boston as the Most Valuable Player of the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox won their first championship in 86 years and in Los Angeles where “Mannywood” was celebrated at Dodger Stadium in 2008.

And now it has all come to an end, quietly and shamefully.

Texas barbeques Yankees

If anyone thought the Rangers might not be a force in the post-season assuming they remain in command of the American League West, Texas’ sweep of the Yankees should dispel those doubts and perhaps give the Yankees some doubts of their own. It was the first time the Yankees were swept in a road series this year, and it was not a fluke because the Yankees were outplayed on just about every level.

Texas won the first two games on walk-offs, including one against the invincible Mariano Rivera, and then put on a clinic for pitching and base running in Sunday’s 4-1 victory that sent the Yankees hobbling to Tampa Bay. They are still alone in first place in the AL East but barely, by a half-game. The teams are even in the loss column going into a three-game series at Tropicana Field that begins Monday night.

Cliff Lee looked every bit like the pitcher the Yankees faced in last year’s World Series when he was 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA for the Phillies. The Yankees didn’t get a ball into the outfield against the lefthander until one out into the sixth inning when Eduardo Nunez broke up Lee’s no-hit bid with a single to center. Derek Jeter recovered his inside-out swing for a run-scoring double to right, career hit No. 2,900.

That was all the Yankees mustered against Lee, who was winless in his previous five starts and skipped from his last scheduled assignment due to back spasms that required a cortisone injection. He was a bit wild with three walks, his season high and only the third time in 25 starts this year that Lee walked more than one batter. The third walk, in the ninth to Jeter, prompted Rangers manager Ron Washington to bring in closer Neftali Perez, who struck out the side. Washington used 18 pitchers the two prior games, but Lee kept his manager’s strolls to the mound at a minimum.

Before getting too carried away with Lee’s performances, the Yankees’ lineup Sunday was on the skinny side with three regulars on the bench. Then again, the Rangers played the entire series without Josh Hamilton, their AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate.

Manager Joe Girardi wanted to give Alex Rodriguez a day off before the three-game set on the artificial turf at St. Petersburg, Fla. A-Rod has decent career numbers against Lee: .273 with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats.

Girardi originally planned to start Nick Swisher, but the right fielder is still bothered by stiffness in his left knee and had to be scratched. As an aside, think of how big Swisher’s two-run, walk-off homer Wednesday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium looks now. Without that, the Yankees would be amid a seven-game losing streak. As it is, they are in their second three-game losing streak in a week. They have not lost more than three games in a row all season.

Also unavailable Sunday was left fielder Brett Gardner, who was removed from Saturday night’s game because of a sore right wrist. He will undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test Monday on the wrist that has troubled Gardner since he was struck there by a pitch June 27 at Dodger Stadium. On that day, Gardner was batting .321 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 24 stolen bases. Since then, he has batted .229 with two homers, 22 RBI and 16 steals.

Dustin Moseley, making a spot start for Phil Hughes to keep his innings total in check, had faced only two batters since Aug. 30, but he hung with Lee for five innings before the dreadful leadoff walk hurt him in the sixth and seventh. Impressive base running by the Rangers fueled both rallies.

After he walked leading off the sixth, Elvis Andrus promptly stole second. He crossed to third after Michael Young flied out to right. On the contact play, Andrus broke for home on David Murphy’s grounder to first and scored ahead of Mark Teixeira’s throw.

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was the highlight of the seventh. He led off with a walk and alertly moved to third base on two successive fly balls to right field. Julio Borbon, a real pest in the series, dropped a bunt to the right side and slid into the bag at first to beat Moseley covering for a single that scored Kinsler and gave Texas the lead.

It was the fifth RBI in the series for Borbon, who played center field for Hamilton, and got the Rangers running again with a steal of second. He scored on a hit by Andrus that chased Moseley, and Texas added a run on singles by Young and Murphy off Jonathan Albaladejo.

It was a weekend to make Rangers president Nolan Ryan proud and remind the Yankees the hardship that could face them in post-season play.