Results tagged ‘ Dustin Ackley ’

Castro has perfect timing in ruining no-hit bid

Starlin Castro picked an ideal time to break up a no-hitter with a two-run home run Sunday that gave the Yankees a one-run lead. After all, it came in the top of the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Yankees fans know what that means this season — here come Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to do their 7-8-9 magic in the late innings.

It was a startling turnaround for the Yankees, who were facing losing the series against Tampa Bay and falling back into last place in the American League East. On top of that, after being smashed, 9-5, Saturday, the Yanks were on the verge of being no-hit Sunday for the first time in 13 years.

Jake Odorizzi was that good.

If not for a change in an umpire’s decision that allowed Dustin Ackley to reach first base on an error by Rays shortstop Brad Miller, Odorizzi still would have had a perfect game going one out into the seventh. As it was, a no-hitter was in place even after he walked Brett Gardner. Then Castro came through with perfect timing. His home run to left-center was the first — and last — Yankees hit of the game, but it gave them a 2-1 lead in the very capable hands of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who teamed up for nine consecutive outs, seven on strikeouts.

Betances retired the side with two strikeouts in the seventh. Miller struck out the side in the eighth. Chapman duplicated Betances’ feat in the ninth for his seventh save. The 2016 back end of the bullpen formula was perfect again and gave the Yankees a lift leaving Florida for Canada and a three-game date in Toronto with the Blue Jays, who took two of three last week at Yankee Stadium.

As seems to be the custom these days, the Yankees were hit with another injury, a jammed right shoulder to Ackley diving back into first base. Ackley had been playing first base in place of regular Mark Teixeira, who has been out with neck stiffness that required a cortisone injection last week.

After Michael Pineda’s disappointing start Saturday that ended a stretch of nine straight six-plus-inning outings by Yankees starters, Nathan Eovaldi got the rotation on another hopeful roll. The righthander allowed one run, six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings and extended his personal winning streak to six games. Over his past seven starts, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits allowed, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka got the weekend off to strong start with seven innings of no-run, two-hit pitching Friday night in a 4-1 victory that featured home runs by Alex Rodriguez (No. 6 and career No. 693) and Carlos Beltran (No. 11 and career No. 403). Beltran raised those numbers to 12 and 404 with his 2,500th career hit Saturday off Matt Moore, the lone highlight in a loss that continued the slide of Pineda, who was battered for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings as his record fell to 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA.

Eovaldi did a terrific job keeping the Yankees close in a game in which they struggled to get a hit and settled for merely one. But it was good enough for an important ‘W.’

Neck stiffness resurfaces for slumping Teixeira

While Alex Rodriguez is on the road back to good health and expected to rejoin the Yankees for Thursday’s late-afternoon series finale against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, there are other physical concerns disrupting the club.

Rodriguez homered in two at-bats for Double A Trenton Wednesday night after going 2-for-4 with a run batted in Tuesday night on an injury-rehabilitation assignment. It is too bad A-Rod did not take to playing first base a couple of years ago because the Yankees may have a real need there.

Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup Wednesday night because of neck stiffness, the same ailment that forced him to miss two home games earlier this month against the Royals. It has been a rough month for Teixeira, who is batting .164 with three doubles and two RBI in May that has driven his season batting average down to .195. Tex was 4-for-25 (.160) on the recent trip to Phoenix and Oakland. He went 16 games without an RBI from May 3-21, the longest stretch of his career. He was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Tuesday night’s 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Teixeira has not homered since April 13, another career-worst stretch of 124 at-bats.

Dustin Ackley was at first base batting sixth in the order Wednesday night. Manager Joe Girardi conceded he does not have that many options at that position. He said he could use backup catcher Austin Romine at first base or use Romine behind the plate and have regular catcher Brian McCann at first. Romine was taking grounders at first base during batting practice.

Gary Sanchez, the catcher Romine beat out in spring training for the role of McCann’s caddy, is also hurt. Playing at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Sanchez took a foul ball off his right hand Tuesday night and sustained a bone fracture in this thumb that placed him on the disabled list.

A former Yankees catcher was a primary reason the Yankees’ six-game winning streak came to an end. Russell Martin, who entered the game without a home run and only one extra-base hit in 122 at bats, cranked two home runs to drive in three runs for Toronto in its 8-4 victory that dropped the Yankees back below .500(22-23).

The Yanks got a pair of home runs on back-to-back solos by Chase Headley (No. 3) and Didi Gregorius (No. 4) in the seventh but it was too little too late. For the seventh straight game, the Yankees’ starter pitched six innings or more. Ivan Nova (2-2) lasted two outs in the seventh before he hit Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch and was replaced by Chase Shreve, who gave up a two-run homer to Patrick Saunders.

The Blue Jays were not finished with Shreve. Justin Smoak doubled and Martin followed with his second homer of the game. His first came leading off the sixth against Nova, who was charged with four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. A couple of two-out infield singles in the fourth hurt Nova, who then yielded a bases-clearing double by Ryan Goins.

Martin’s sixth-inning homer came in his 125th at-bat, the second longest drought at the start of a season in his career. Martin did not hit a home run in 2009 until his 218th at-bat for the Dodgers. Martin’s bid for a three-homer game came in the ninth but center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught his drive on the warning track.

Toronto starter Marco Estrada earned his first victory in eight starts since April 10. The righthander, who had received scant run support prior to Wednesday night, loaded the bases with none out in the second on singles by Headley and Gregorius and a four-pitch walk to Aaron Hicks but gave up only one run on an infield out. Gregorius had three hits, including a singe off lefthander Chad Girodo, which raised his team-leading batting average against southpaws to .368 in 38 at-bats.

Rodriguez has played only two games at first base, both in 2015, in his career and was not a bit comfortable on that side of the infield as he has been over the years as a shortstop turned third baseman. A-Rod made one error in his 9 2/3 innings as a first baseman.
The Yankees are hopeful Teixeira’s health issues are short-term. If the problem should linger, they would have to weigh all options. After a hot start at SWB, Nick Swisher has cooled off to a .260 batting average with four home runs and 13 RBI. He has been platooned there with Chris Parmelee, who is batting .244 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Contributions from everyone lifts Yanks over KC

Tuesday night’s 10-7 victory over the Royals was a most satisfying victory for the Yankees considering that everyone in the game contributed, which is a rarity. From top to bottom of the batting order the Yanks gave Kansas City pitchers fits, including its vaunted bullpen.

On the pitching side, Masahiro Tanaka was stuck with another no-decision, although in this case it was a positive for him because the Yankees were trailing when he left the game after seven innings. Andrew Miller gave up a run for the first time this season in his new role as the setup man out of the pen, but he ended up with the winning decision when his teammates rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against another previously unscored-upon relief pitcher, Kelvin Herrera. Aroldis Chapman picked up his first save as a Yankee with a shutout ninth amplified by several more fastballs exceeding 100 miles per hour.

The Royals are finding New York much more inhospitable in the Bronx this week than it was for them last October in Queens when they finished off the Mets to win the World Series in five games.

Lorenzo Cain, one of those Series heroes, had a big night for KC with three home runs, the last of which ended Miller’s scoreless streak and tied the score. Miller ended up striking out the side and then watched the offense get him off the hook.

Rookie Ben Gamel in his first major-league start was the only Yankees player without a hit, but he reached base on an error by shortstop Alcides Escobar that got things started with one out in the eighth. Gamel raced home with the go-ahead run on a double to left-center by Brett Gardner. After Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch, Brian McCann boomed a double off the wall in right-center for a two-Rubin double, his third hit of the game.

A costly balk by Royals reliever Joakim Soria had helped the Yankees come to Tanaka’s aid with two runs in the seventh. The RBI hits came from Dustin Ackley (single) and Adam Hicks (double), who are both batting below .200 but combined for three hits, three runs, two walks and three RBI in this game.

One night after clubbing five home runs, the Yankees were homerless but found production in their 13 hits. Didi Gregorius had two doubles and three RBI. Carlos Beltran singled and doubled and scored a run. Chase Headley also singled home a run.

Such an offensive assault was vital because Tanaka was batted about in yielding three home runs. Cain hit two of his homees off Tanaka, the second a three-run jolt in the fifth that turned a 5-2 KC deficit into a 6-5 lead. Tanaka has only one decision, a victory, in seven starts this season.

Another satisfactory aspect of the Yankees’ 4-1 homestand is that they are putting together winning efforts despite a spate of injuries. Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia are on the disabled list. Jacoby Ellsbury is still not ready to play because of a tight right hip, and Mark Teixeira will likely be out for the remainder of this series due to neck spasms.

Players need to rally around one another when confronted with such circumstances, and the Yankees are doing precisely that.

Yankees’ comeback re-heats rivalry

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry seemed pretty dreary last weekend when the Yanks were swept in a three-game series at Fenway Park. It heated up Friday night in a tense, 3-2 Yankees victory at Yankee Stadium, although the Sox’s fury was aimed more at plate umpire Ron Kulpa than the other dugout.

Boston batters were particularly annoyed about Kulpa’s strike zone, which it must be stated was generous. Xander Bogaerts in the seventh and Hanley Ramirez in the eighth were upset about called third strikes, but it really got hairy in the ninth inning when David Ortiz batted with the bases loaded and one out against Andrew Miller, who really had to work to notch his sixth save. Miller had thwarted a rally in the eighth inning with a called strikeout of Jackie Bradley Jr., but the lefthander clearly did not have his A stuff.

The Red Sox reached him for three singles in the ninth to load them up for Ortiz. Miller fell behind 3-1 in the count to Ortiz, who was given the benefit of the doubt by the umpires on a checked swing. The next two pitches were very much borderline, but Kulpa threw his hand up each time. Ortiz beefed after the strike-two call, but Boston manager John Farrell interceded and was ejected for his effort.

After the called strike three, Ortiz walked slowly back to the dugout, then made a turnaround and charged back toward the plate and went ballistic, which resulted in his getting tossed as well. After order was restored, Miller finished off the four-out save by striking out Ramirez.

It was a most satisfying victory for the Yankees, who fell behind 2-0 in the first inning on Ortiz’s seventh homer of the season but came back to tie the score with a run in each of the first two innings against previously unbeaten Rick Porcello, whose record is now 5-1.

That was because Aaron Hicks, who has been struggling in his first season with the Yankees, finally came up with a big hit. He led off the seventh by driving Porcello’s first pitch to right-center for his first home run with the Yankees. Hicks also moved from right field to center field after Jacoby Ellsbury, who had scored the Yankees’ first run on a two-out double by Brian McCann in the first inning, had to leave the game with a tight right hip that will likely sideline him for at least several days.

Dustin Ackley, who played right field after Ellsbury’s departure, drove in the tying run with a two-out single in the second inning. Ben Gamel, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, made his major-league debut taking over for Ackley in right field in the eighth and got a putout right away in gloving a liner by Ortiz leading off that inning.

Another key to the Yankees’ victory was starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s recovery from the first-inning when he allowed two runs and four hits. The righthander lasted through the sixth and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that inning by getting Bradley on a double play. The Red Sox had 13 hits but stranded 12 base runners. Perhaps they have calmed down by now, but do not bet on it.

Tight hip knocks Ellsbury out in 1st inning

Jacoby Ellsbury’s trip around the bases in the first inning Friday night proved costly as the center fielder hurt his right hip while scoring the Yankees’ first run. Ellsbury came out of the game at inning’s end and was to undergo an MRI exam. This is the same hip that Ellsbury injured last year that placed him on the disabled list.

Ellsbury entered the game with a career slash line of .429/.448/.929 in 28 career at-bats against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who brought a 5-0 record and a 13 1/3-inning scoreless streak into the game. Ellsbury helped put an end to that by drawing a four-pitch, leadoff walk, stealing second and third base and scoring on a two-out double by Brian McCann. On the trot home Ellsbury pulled up lame. Dustin Ackley came out to play right field at the start of the second inning with Aaron Hicks moving to Ellsbury’s spot in center.

Ackley tied the score for the Yankee in the bottom of the second with a two-out, RBI single. The Red Sox had scored in the first inning against Michael Pineda on a two-run home run by David Ortiz, his third homer in four games against the Yankees this year and the 50th of his career against them.

Ellsbury’s injury comes at a time when the Yankees are pretty beat up. Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia are on the DL. Brett Gardner returned to the lineup after not starting Thursday night in Baltimore because of a a bruised right triceps.

A-Rod, Hicks not on disabled list — yet

So Alex Rodriguez did not go on the disabled list after all. Neither did Aaron Hicks as the Yankees apparently have decided to play short in the three-game series against the Rangers that opened the 11-day, nine-game trip, which begins Monday night in Arlington, Texas, and continues to Boston and Baltimore.

Rodriguez, who was forced out of Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium against the Rays because of stiffness in his left oblique, told reporters in Texas that he was feeling better and might even be able to pinch hit if called upon. Knowing manager Joe Girardi’s history of caution with ailing players, that would seem doubtful. Still, it was a good sign that A-Rod did not go on the DL and might be back earlier than expected.

Hicks, on the other hand, is probably a no-go for the Texas series as he has yet to do any serious work while nursing bursitis in his left shoulder. With yet another lefthander on the mound, Rangers rookie Cesar Ramos, Hicks would have been in the lineup if healthy.

Due to the roster shortage, Girardi was forced to start three left-handed hitting outfielders. Dustin Ackley was to make his first major-league start in right field (and only his third game there overall) in joining left fielder Brett Gardner and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Regular right fielder Carlos Beltran took Rodriguez’s place as the designated hitter. Second baseman Starlin Castro was moved to the 5-hole to give the Yankees some right-handed pop in thge middle of the order with the switch-hitting Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley.

There was more troubling news on the injury front. James Kaprelian, the Yankees’ first-round selection in last year’s First Year Player Draft, was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad in New York and found to have inflammation in his right elbow after an MRI exam. The righthander will rest the elbow before beginning a throwing program. Kaprelian was off to a strong start for Class A Tampa in the Florida State League with a 2-1 record and a 1.50 ERA.

After getting a second opinion from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, pitcher Branden Pinder has decided to have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He will be out for the remainder of the season.

Five Rays homers cost Yanks shot at sweep

Michael Pineda endured a nightmare of a first inning Sunday that put a damper on a bright, sunshine day in which the Yankees were shooting for their first series sweep since Aug. 28-30 last year at Atlanta. Instead, they fell back into the cellar of the American League East and hobbled their way to Arlington, Texas, to begin an 11-day, nine-game trip that starts Monday night against a Rangers team that is tied for first place in the AL West.

Five pitches into Sunday’s game before a crowd of 40,931 at Yankee Stadium, Pineda had two outs and nobody on base. He then gave up hits to the next six batters, including two doubles and two home runs, as the aggressive Rays attacked him early in the count to put up a five-spot against which the Yankees brought little resistance in falling, 8-1.

The only positive for Pineda Sunday was that he managed to pitch through the fifth inning, which spared manager Joe Girardi of digging too deep into his already overworked bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-inning start Saturday helped, but Girardi knew from the outset Sunday that he did not have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller available. This game turned out not to be the type in which either of the late-inning shutdown guys works.

Birthday boy Steven Souza celebrated turning 27 with two home runs, a two-run shot in the first and a solo blast in the fifth. Pineda also gave up dingers to Corey Dickerson following a two-out double off the top of the center field wall by Evan Longoria in the first inning and to Steve Pearce leading off the third. Logan Forsythe, who had three hits, joined the home run derby with Tampa Bay’s fifth of the game, a solo shot in the eighth off Nick Goody.

It was also Carlos Beltran’s birthday. The Yankees right fielder turned 39 but did not have as explosive a game as Souza. Beltran was 1-for-4. His first-inning single off eventual winning pitcher Drew Smyly was career hit No. 2,472 for Beltran, who tied Ted Simmons for 10th place among switch hitters. In ninth place at 2,605 is Tim Raines.

The day turned grimmer for the Yankees when Alex Rodriguez, who has driven in their only run with a two-out double in the fourth inning, could not bat when his turn came up again in the sixth. Girardi had to use the left-handed hitting Dustin Ackley as a pinch hitter against the lefty-throwing Smyly (although Ackley singled for his first hit of the season, in his eighth at-bat).

An MRI exam on Rodriguez’s sore left oblique was negative, but the situation shows the dilemma the Yankees are in with Aaron Hicks already out several days because of traumatic bursitis in his left shoulder. The Yanks have proved vulnerable to left-handed pitching. They are 2-5 against left-handed starters and are batting .225 with two home runs overall in 213 at-bats off lefties. Against right-handed pitching, the Yankees are batting .246 with 16 home runs in 358 at-bats.

The Yankees said that A-Rod will make the trip to Texas. But if he cannot play right away, and that is very likely considering how lingering oblique injuries tend to be, and with Hicks out as well, the Yankees lose two right-handed bats. Switch-hitter Nick Swisher, who was released by Atlanta and signed a Triple A contract with the Yankees, is playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but is not on the 40-man roster. The Yankees are not believed interested in dropping anyone off the 40-man roster at this time, which limits their options if they make an internal move for outfield and DH help. The best bet for a call-up would be outfielder Ben Gamel, who is hitting .300 with a .368 on-base percentage at SWB but alas bats left-handed.

The Yanks have known along that staying healthy is a challenge to a team with aging players. The upcoming trip that continues to AL East rival stops in Boston and Baltimore could be a major test for them.

Severino continues to move up rotation ladder

The Yankees continue to hold out hope that they can catch the Blue Jays and win the American League East title, although the calendar keeps betraying them. They lost another day Sunday when their 6-1 victory over the White Sox was trumped by the Jays’ comeback, 5-4 victory at Toronto on Josh Donaldson’s ninth-inning home run.

So the space between the Yankees and the Blue Jays remains four games with seven to play. Yet manager Joe Girardi and his players are not yet ready to discuss the possibility of being in the wild card game, which grows more likely by the day.

It was hard not to think of that Sunday as the Yankees reduced their magic number for qualifying for the postseason for the first time in three years to three with a victory that featured six shutout innings from Luis Severino, who in a very short time has moved up the rotation ladder.

“He knows how to pitch,” catcher Brian McCann said of Severino, who just may enter the conversation once Girardi decided to talk about his wild-card game plans.

With Masahiro Tanaka still nursing an aching hamstring, it calls to question which pitcher would start the wild-card game that if the season ended tomorrow would be played at Yankee Stadium. At this point, the Yankees cannot know for sure who their opponent will be so setting up a starter now would be foolish.

Girardi did not announce his rotation for the final home series, a four-game set against the Red Sox, beyond Ivan Nova in the first game Monday night against Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. The Sox will follow with Rick Porcello Tuesday night, Wade Miley Wednesday night and Rich Hill Thursday night while the Yankees have listed TBA (to be announced).

If he is healthy, Tanaka could get the call Tuesday or Wednesday night. Thursday night would seem doubtful if Tanaka is in line to start the wild-card game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6. Then again, Girardi could choose Michael Pineda to start that game, and after what everyone saw Sunday Severino might have worked himself into the mix.

The rookie righthander scattered five hits over six innings with one walk and two strikeouts in improving his record to 5-3 with a 2.77 ERA. It was the second career scoreless start for Severino (also Aug. 29 at Atlanta). Over his past seven starts (since Aug. 22), he is 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 innings. Severino is the first pitcher in franchise history to allow two or fewer runs in eight starts within his first 10 career major-league games.

The final score is a bit misleading because it was a 1-0 game for five of Severino’s six innings. The Yankees got a run without a hit in the first inning off Erik Johnson thanks to two errors by first baseman Jose Abreu but did not score again until Dustin Ackley led off the sixth with his ninth home run, his third since joining the Yankees. They added a second run that inning on a passed ball by catcher Rob Brantly.

Ackley has also worked himself into the playoff mix for the Yanks. Obtained July 30 in a trade from the Mariners, Ackley was out for a month with a back injury but has batted .300 with seven RBI in 40 at-bats since and could displace Stephen Drew as the Yanks’ regular second baseman.

Drew has been battling an inner-ear infection the past 10 days, an ailment that has caused dizziness and affected his balance. Drew and Brendan Ryan, who played third base Sunday, have been in a platoon at second base much of the second half.

The Yankees were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position before they got two hits in a row in those circumstances in the seventh — a single by Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter that loaded the bases and another single by Jacoby Ellsbury that got a run home. Both Yankees runs in the eighth were courtesy of rookies — Greg Bird with an RBI single and Slade Heathcott with a sacrifice fly.

The Yanks finished 3-for-19 (.158) with runners in scoring position and left 15 on base, but those two runs in the eighth meant that Girardi did not have to use Andrew Miller in the ninth.

Sunday’s crowd of 38,690 boosted home attendance to 3,036,446 that marked the 17th consecutive season that the Yankees have drawn at least three million fans to the Stadium. The 2015 paid home attendance will reflect only 80 dates because of the single-admission doubleheader Sept. 12 against the Blue Jays.

Yankees win big after Harvey departs

How is that innings limit on Matt Harvey looking now? To the Yankees, it looked great Sunday night.

No sooner had Harvey been told his night was over after the fifth inning despite working on a one-hit shutout than the Yankees got on the board finally and swayed the momentum of the game. An 11-2 pasting won the Subway Series, four games to two, for the Yankees and moved them to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East on the way to Toronto for a three-game showdown at Rogers Centre.

The Mets had to wonder what kind of karma was going on after Harvey was pulled after throwing 77 pitches, most of them quality, as he allowed one hit, an infield single, and one walk with seven strikeouts.

But in an attempt to limit Harvey’s innings in his return season from Tommy John surgery, the righthander was taken out of a close game and watched blurringly as the Yankees put up a five-spot in the sixth against Hansel Robles.

With Harvey out of the game, the Mets did nothing right that inning nor the rest of the game, for that matter. Two errors in the infield — an errant throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy and a dropped ball at third base by David Wright — fueled the inning highlighted by two extra-base hits — a two-run double by Carlos Beltran and a three-run home run by Dustin Ackley, who has had some big hits for the Yankees this month. Beltran, who entering the Subway Series had never had a game-winning RBI against the Mets, got two in the past two days.

In a matter of minutes, Harvey’s 1-0 gem was turned into a 5-1 Yankees lead for a run-starved and energized CC Sabathia. He gave up a quick run in the first on doubles by Ruben Tejada and Wright but after walking the bases full left the runners stranded by getting Michael Cuddyer on a foul pop. That was the first of nine straight outs as the lefthander hit his stride and kept the Yankees close until they could figure out a way to solve Harvey or hope the Mets would lift him sooner than later.

Sooner it came, and the Mets paid for it later. It turned out to be dark night for the Mets without the “Dark Knight.”

Sabathia was a winner for the first time in 10 starts since July 8 in his third straight strong start since coming off the disabled list. He has come through in his promise to be a factor down the stretch in the division race. Sabathia has allowed only two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings (1.04 ERA) in those three starts.

The night just got better for the Yankees, who added another run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk and poured on five more in the eighth climaxed by a three-run home run by Greg Bird. And all those late runs meant Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could stay seated in the bullpen and be well rested for the series in Toronto.

The Yankees’ 82nd victory guaranteed them a winning season for the 23rd consecutive year, the second longest above-.500 streak in major league history only to the franchise’s record stretch of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926 through 1964.

Yankees cannot repeat a miracle finish

No miracle for the Yankees Tuesday night, and they could have used another one to slice into the lead of the Blue Jays, who lost in Atlanta. Instead, the Yankees remained three games back of Toronto in the American League East because they could not complete another ninth-inning comeback at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Once again, they posed a threat with two outs and no one on base in their last licks. This time, the hurdle was higher as the Yankees were down by three runs, not one. That was because of a bloop, two-run single by J.P. Arencibia off Bryan Mitchell in the bottom of the eighth. Right fielder Rico Noel, the rookie who stayed in the game after pinch running for Carlos Beltran in the top of the inning, came oh-so-close to catching the ball with a diving attempt, but it fell free to give Tampa Bay two huge insurance runs.

Dustin Ackley began the Yanks’ comeback attempt with a pinch single, his fourth consecutive hit dating to Sunday. Rays first baseman James Loney was charged with an error for failing to glove a chopper by Jacoby Ellsbury that put runners on second and third with two down.

Brett Gardner, who had started Monday night’s miraculous finale with a two-out walk, had a chance to duplicate Slade Heathcott’s heroics of the night before, but his fly ball to left field was turned into a routine out.

The closest thing to a miracle for the Yankees this time out was the first-inning, opposite-field home run by Alex Rodriguez off Jake Odorizzi. A-Rod’s 32nd home run of the season came on a night it was revealed that he is playing with a bone bruise in his left knee. He also walked in the fourth and scored on Greg Bird’s impressive home run to center that climaxed a 10-pitch at-bat.

Other than that, the Yankees’ offense was as stagnant as it had been for eight innings Monday night when they totaled one hit.

Adam Warren, thrust back into the rotation with the injury to Nathan Eovaldi, made his first start since June 25 at Houston and lasted only four innings as his pitch count soared to 65. Warren gave up four hits in the first inning but only one run. An errant throw by catcher Brian McCann trying to prevent Mikie Mathook from stealing third base in the second inning accounted for the second run off Warren.

The Rays had a miracle of their own in the sixth inning. Nick Franklin, a .133 hitter who entered the game at shortstop after Asdrubal Cabrera strained his knee, trumped Bird by clocking a two-run home run to right off Nick Rumbelow, who had worked out of a jam the previous inning with two key strikeouts but gave up a leadoff single to Logan Forsythe before Franklin’s unlikely bomb.

Forced to empty his bullpen, manager Joe Girardi got quality work from Chasen Shreve and Branden Pinder before Mitchell had his second straight ineffective outing in letting the Rays pull away and leaving the Yankees hoping for another miracle.