Results tagged ‘ Ernesto Frieri ’

Roberts’ homer comes too late for Kuroda

This was the Hiroki Kuroda we have come to know and love but had not seen much of lately. The Japanese righthander had his best outing of the season Tuesday night at Angel Stadium. It was an absolute shame that he ended up with a no-decision and remains winless on the road for the past 10 months.

On the plus side, the Yankees did win the game, thanks to a home run to right field by Brian Roberts off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri with two out in the top of the ninth inning. Roberts had a strong night at the plate with an RBI single in a two-run fifth inning.

The Yankees gave Kuroda a 3-2 lead in the eighth, and the way he was pitching it looked as if it might hold up. He got the first two outs in the bottom half of that inning but then lost a nine-pitch at-bat to Mike Trout, who smoked a drive halfway up the scoreboard in right field and legged it out for a triple.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Shawn Kelley at that point to face Albert Pujols. Kelley had hoped to bounce back from his Monday night loss when he walked four batters and gave up three runs. Pujols had other ideas, however, and lined a 3-2 pitch into left-center field for a single that scored Trout with the tying run.

That was the only earned run the Angels got off Kuroda, who gave up five hits, did not walk a batter (he did hit one) and struck out eight in 7 2/3 innings, his longest stint this season. Los Angeles’ two runs in the third were set up by a botched play by the Yankees on a sacrifice bunt.

One of the drawbacks to these over-shift defenses employe more often in recent years is that it can be exposed on bunt plays. Bunts are not as common in the American League because of the designated hitter, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose playing career was with the Dodgers in the National League, likes to rely on small ball.

Roberts was too close to second base to cover first base as Mark Teixeira charged to field a bunt by Colin Cowgill that went to the left side. Tex tried to get back to first as third baseman Yangervis Solarte fielded the ball but could not make it in time and Solarte’s throw sailed past him for an error that put runners on second and third with none out. Both scored on sacrifice flies by Erick Aybar and Trout.

The Yankees finally got to C.J. Wilson in the fifth on successive singles by Solarte, Brett Gardner and Roberts with the second run scoring as Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a double play. A two-out, RBI single in the eighth by Alfonso Soriano put the Yankees ahead, but Kuroda could not get that third out in the bottom half.

Ironically, the winning decision went to Kelley, who had allowed the tying run. David Robertson wrapped up the victory nicely for his fifth save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The good news in addition to Roberts’ two big RBI and first home run with the Yankees was the return to form of Kuroda.

Granderson at ‘center’ of comeback attempt

Curtis Granderson just had to get up in the ninth inning with a chance to win Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium, didn’t he? I mean, that was just poetic justice.

That it actually happened was pretty surprising, considering that the Yankees needed a big rally to keep the line moving to Granderson, who was the eighth batter of the inning. The game had been quite a showcase for Granderson, who made two sparkling catches in center field and had a couple of hits, including his 24th home run which at the time – the sixth inning – got the Yankees within a run of the Angels.

By the time the Yanks came up for last licks, they were down by five runs, however. The Angels matched the Yankees in home runs with four, but an eighth-inning rally against reliever Chad Qualls contained none of them. Mark Trumbo’s homer off D.J. Mitchell in the top of the ninth seemed unnecessary until the Yankees kept putting runners on base in the bottom half.

Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who had not allowed a run in 26 1/3 innings since joining the Angels from the Blue Jays May 5, walked two batters and gave up a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira that forced Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia to make a move to lefthander Scott Downs, who lost Friday night’s game.

Raul Ibanez’s single that tore Downs’ glove off was a bad omen for Downs, but he came back to strike out pinch hitter Andruw Jones and retire Russell Martin on a fielder’s choice. A four-pitch walk to Derek Jeter brought the moment those remaining in the Stadium crowd of 46,679 longed for.

Granderson gave the fans plenty to cheer for with an eight-pitch at-bat that included a loud foul that had everyone gasping. Granderson worked a hard-earned walk that forced in a run that got the Yankees to 10-8.

“Downs has always been tough on me,” Granderson said. “I was hoping to get a ball up in the zone, but when I got one I fouled it off. The crowd got excited, but I knew it was foul when I hit it.”

Alex Rodriguez, who had started the Yankees’ scoring in the first inning with a two-run home run following a Granderson single, had several good cuts in his duel with righthander Kevin Jepsen but eventually ended the game by fouling out to first baseman Albert Pujols.

“It was an awesome situation,” Rodriguez said. “You want to be in that situation. I took some good swings but had a lousy result.”

The Yankees lead the majors with comeback victories at 29. Had this been No. 30, it would have been very satisfying. For the second straight day, they erased a 2-0, first-inning deficit. Starting pitcher Ivan Nova struggled through his six-plus innings without an effective breaking pitch and falling behind in counts with his fastball that made his changeup useless.

Nova could have had it worse if not for Granderson. His back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a drive by fellow center fielder Mike Trout in the third inning was right out of the Willie Mays handbook.

“I knew it was past me, and I wasn’t sure I could get underneath it,” Granderson said. “I looked and saw that I had more room than I thought between me and the wall. The wall out there is solid concrete, so even with the padding it is pretty hard.”

“It was an unbelievable catch,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Trout has taken so many hits away from us; it was nice to see one taken away from him.”

Granderson also made a fine, diving catch in right center to Alberto Callaspo of an extra-base hit that became a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

So it was fitting that he got the chance to make a terrific individual game complete by taking part in the ninth-inning rally. Granderson certainly did his part.