Results tagged ‘ Franklin Gutierrez ’

Felix no king this time against Yanks

The Yankees ran into a little déjà vu Saturday night in that they scored three runs early against a tough, young pitcher but failed to maintain the lead. Giving a second chance to a pitcher of Felix Hernandez’s quality is never the way to go. Twice Yankees starter Ivan Nova gave up leads that his teammates provided him.

The Yankees scored only one run in 26 innings a year ago against Hernandez, who won the American League Cy Young Award despite a 13-12 record but with a truckload of remarkable statistics. The Yanks matched their 2010 output against King Felix by the second inning on the 10th home run of the season by Robinson Cano.

One thing we know about the Mariners is that they hit the ball on the ground. The AL’s weakest offense scored all of its runs in Friday night’s 4-3 victory on infield outs. The Mariners made it five runs in a row in the bottom of the second scoring the tying run on a fielder’s choice. In fact, the first nine out Seattle made Saturday night were on infield grounders.

That should have been a good sign for Nova, who was given a 3-1 lead when Mark Teixeira connected for his 15th home run, a two-run shot, in the third. It was the sixth homer in the past nine games for Tex, who is heating up again.

An infield single by Franklin Gutierrez leading off the fourth on a play that had originally been scored an error by shortstop Derek Jeter was one of the last grounders Nova got as the Mariners began to elevate the ball. Doubles by Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo tied the score for Seattle, which went ahead on a one-out single by Brendan Ryan as Nova failed to last the inning.

Given new life, Hernandez settled in with three scoreless innings. Unlike Friday night, the Yankees did not stop when the score was 4-3. They got back into the game in the seventh on the unlikeliest of situations at Safeco Field, a misplayed fly ball by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Hernandez walked Jeter with two out and paid for it when Curtis Granderson followed with a triple off the right field wall. TV replays indicated that Ichiro may have gotten a poor read on Grandy’s drive or perhaps the wind was a factor, but for whatever reason the Gold Glove winner who normally comes down with the ball whenever he jumps for one couldn’t get leather on it.

Good thing, too, because it allowed the Yankees to tie the score. They couldn’t push Granderson across but took consolation in sticking Hernandez with a no-decision. That the Yankees stayed close enough to draw even was due in part to 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief by Hector Noesi, who has really been a nice addition to the bullpen and how has a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings.

Knocking phenom out early isn’t enough for Yanks

The Yankees went against the grain Friday night at Seattle in not falling under the spell of a pitcher that they had not faced before. In recent years, the Yankees’ unfamiliarity with a pitcher had been their Achilles heel. That was not the case this time, although they did not exactly batter Michael Pineda about.

In fact, Pineda was his own worst enemy in this start, his shortest of the season, in which he left after five innings. The Yankees got to the 6-foot-7 righthander from the Dominican Republic right away on Mark Teixeira’s 14th home run with two out in the first inning that ended a string of 14 scoreless innings by Pineda.

The Yankees had only two other hits off Pineda, who walked five batters, a season high, and threw a very costly wild pitch. Pineda was also aided by his center fielder, Franklin Gutierrez, who robbed Nick Swisher of a home run in the fourth inning with a wall-climbing catch after a long run.

Pineda’s damaging wild pitch came in the fifth. He pitched himself into a fix after two were out by walking Curtis Granderson and giving up a single to right by Teixeira that sent Granderson to third base.

Pineda had been successful against Alex Rodriguez pounding him with mid-90-mph fastballs but spun a slider that A-Rod swung at and missed. Catcher Miguel Olivo missed it, too, allowing Granderson to score and Teixeira to take second. It proved additionally beneficial to the Yankees when Rodriguez singled to center to increase their lead to 3-0.

By pushing Pineda’s pitch count to 96, the Yankees were successful in prompting the rookie’s departure after the fifth. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they were not successful in holding that lead.

The Mariners went ahead by scoring two runs apiece in the fifth and sixth without an RBI hit in either inning. A.J. Burnett also came out after five innings with five walks but was in place for his first winning decision on the road since July 28 last year at Cleveland when he left the game with the score 3-2.

Seattle had runners on second and third after a single by Brendan Ryan and a double by Ichiro Suzuki. They both scored on infield outs. Something similar happened in the sixth after Adam Kennedy singled off Boone Logan and Olivo singled off Luis Ayala, who then walked Carlos Peguero to load the bases with none out. One run scored on a fielder’s choice by Ryan and the second on a groundout by Ichiro. The Mariners pulled in front despite going hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees weren’t much better in clutch situations. A-Rod’s single was their only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. After driving Pineda from the game prematurely, the Yankees were held to two hits over four innings by three Seattle relievers and lost a runner at second base in the eighth inning when pinch runner Eduardo Nunez was picked off. Ouch!

The no-decision kept Burnett winless on the road in his past 10 regular-season starts away from Yankee Stadium. Over that stretch, A.J. is 0-5 with a 5.64 ERA. He is 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts on the road this season.

This was a tough loss for the Yankees, who coughed up a three-run lead on the eve of having to face 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, who was 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA against them last year. King Felix’s dominance against the Yankees was a prime factor in his winning the Cy Young Award despite a season record of 13-12. The Yanks wouldn’t mind making him pay for taking an honor that might have gone instead to CC Sabathia.

Blueprint comes alive

This is what Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik envisioned the past off-season when he acquired Cliff Lee from the Phillies in the three-team deal that also involved the Blue Jays and Roy Halladay. Lee would team with Felix Hernandez for a lefty-righty, 1-2 punch in the rotation that would thrust Seattle back into contention in the American League West.

It hasn’t exactly turned out that way, although the Mariners’ fall into last place has been due mostly to an anemic offense. Seattle bats have come alive the past two nights against Yankees pitching. The Mariners had 12 hits the previous night and followed that with a four-homer game in a 7-0 rout, the first complete-game shutout against the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium.

Javier Vazquez gave up solo shots to Milton Bradley and Michael Saunders and yielded a run in the third after hitting Russ Branyan with a pitch with two out. Bradley beat out a hit to third base, and Jose Lopez singled to drive in Branyan.

Vazquez worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with a strikeout of Ryan Langerhans, a late replacement for ailing center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, and had three perfect innings. It was a decent if unspectacular performance from Javy, what is known as a quality start (three runs, six innings), but not a start that could match Hernandez, who is merely 6-5 despite a 3.03 ERA because of lousy run support.

The Seattle righthander was so dominant that Yankees fans cheered when Ramiro Pena, a ninth-inning substitute for Derek Jeter, worked out a walk to become their first base runner after 12 consecutive outs. The Yankees had not lost back-to-back complete games to opposing pitchers in 10 years, by Toronto’s Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar.

“That’s as good as we have seen from a pitcher all year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He was throwing his sinker 93 miles an hour with a great changeup and curve.”

The killer blows came after Vazquez left the game. Damaso Marte gave up a two-run home run to Branyan after Chone Figgins had singled in a nine-pitch at-bat with one out and stole second. Branyan was sitting on Marte’s slider. He let a 2-1 fastball go over the heart of the plate for strike two, but Marte came back with a slider on 2-2, and the ball ended up in the Yankees’ bullpen beyond the fence in right-center.

Saunders hit another homer in the eighth off Chad Gaudin, although second baseman Robinson Cano had a hand in extending the inning. On a foul pop down the right field line by Rob Johnson, Cano called off first baseman Mark Teixeira and reached for the ball, but it tipped off his glove. Official scorer Howie Karpin ruled no play rather than charging Cano with an error.

No play or not, Johnson remained at the plate and eventually walked and scored on Saunders’ blast to right. It was a terrific game all around for Saunders, who made an excellent, leaping catch on the dead run in left field in the first inning to rob Cano of a potential, run-scoring extra-base hit.

“That was about the end of our chances,” Girardi noted.

It was a tough defensive night for second basemen. Figgins lost two fly balls in the moon, I guess, one of which was one of the two hits the Yankees got off Hernandez, a double in the fifth by Colin Curtis. Francisco Cervelli followed with a fly to shallow right-center that Figgins didn’t see, either, but right fielder Ichiro Suzuki did and caught it.

A lot of balls hit by the Yankees are landing in fielders’ gloves. Teixeira has an 11-game hitting streak but with only 12 hits in 44 at-bats (.273). Cano is eight for his last 33 (.242). Francisco Cervelli is 0-for-13 and 1-for-17. Kevin Russo is 4-for-31 (.129). Jorge Posada is batting .195 in 24 games since coming off the disabled list. Alex Rodriguez is hitless in his past 18 at-bats at Yankee Stadium, dropping his season average at home from .351 to .295.

Who would have thought the Mariners would put the Yankees in a funk? Maybe only Jack Zduriencik.

Belly ache fells Yankee killer

The Yankees caught something of a break in the second inning Wednesday night when Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was lifted for a pinch hitter, Ryan Langerhans. It may not have seemed that way at first because Langerhans got a hit. In the long run, though, no Gutierrez in the lineup was good for the Yankees. He has been wearing out Yankees pitching since he came to the majors five years ago.

Gutierrez had 2-for-3 with a home run in Seattle’s victory Tuesday night and had hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games against the Yankees with a .429 average. In 80 career at-bats against the Yankees, Gutierrez has hit .363 with four doubles, three home runs and eight RBI.

There were plenty of quizzical faces in the press box when Langerhans came to the plate. Gutierrez had been in center field in the first inning when the Yankees batted. Mariners publicist Tim Hevly checked downstairs with the Seattle dugout and found out that Gutierrez left the game because of an upset stomach. Swallowing tobacco causes that, but I don’t know if Gutierrez is a tobacco chewer.

It was to the Yankees’ advantage in the third inning that Langerhans batted and not Gutierrez with runners on first and third and two out. Langerhans struck out. Seattle already had scored twice in that inning on a home run by Michael Saunders, who replaced Gutierrez in center field by moving over from left, and a two-out, RBI single by Jose Lopez off a Javier Vazquez changeup.

The Yankees were also minus a productive player. Brett Gardner, who was hit by a pitch Sunday in Los Angeles and suffered a bruised right forearm, was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Wednesday was the last day in June, and Gardner was the Yankees’ best hitter that month, batting .383 with two doubles, one triples, one home run, seven RBI, 13 runs scored and a .472 on-base percentage in 60 at-bats.

Gardner was available to the Yankees as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, but manager Joe Girardi said he would not use him as a pinch hitter. Gardner took batting practice and remained day-to-day.

 

Hughes rules lose

Were the Yankees the victims of the “Hughes Rules” Tuesday night? Maybe. The Yankees’ idea of skipping Phil Hughes a turn in the rotation was designed to conserve innings and not overtax his arm, following a theory that a young pitcher should not throw more than 30 innings than his previous high workload per year.

To have Hughes able to pitch in significant games in September, the Yankees will need to hold him out of the rotation on occasion or limit his innings in starts because they want to avoid his pitching more than 175 to 180 innings. Rest does not hurt a pitcher, but it can interrupt his rhythm. Hughes appeared rusty Tuesday night and lost to a Seattle club with the worst offense in the league.

It didn’t help that it came against Mariners lefthander Cliff Lee, who showed that he hasn’t forgotten how to handle the Yankees. The 2008 Cy Young Award winner won both of the Phillies’ victories over the Yankees in the World Series last year and was every bit as effective this time with his fifth complete game in 12 starts.

Lee held the Yankees to two runs on Nick Swisher home runs until the ninth when the Yankees tried to stage  their second straight last-inning rally. They pushed across two runs, but 7-4 was as close as the Yankees could get.

A bevy of scouts were on hand at Yankee Stadium to watch Lee, who could be trade bait next month. He recorded his third consecutive complete game in 2 hours, 30 minutes, which must have delighted plate umpire Joe West. Lee was slightly off his game. He actually walked a batter. The free pass to Jorge Posada in the second was only the fifth walk yielded this year by Lee and ended a stretch of 38 innings and 144 batters without a base on balls.

Hughes’ velocity was noticeably low, his fastball topping off at 91 mph as he failed to show off that occasionally 95-mph heat. He gave back the 1-0, first-inning lead provided by the first of Swisher’s bombs in the second as .206-hitting 9-hole batter Michael Saunders doubled and scored on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

The Mariners took the lead in the fourth on Franklin Gutierrez’s seventh home run. Seattle scored in five straight innings against Hughes, who lost for the first time in six starts and the first time in eight starts at Yankee Stadium. He had season highs in runs allowed (7), earned runs allowed (6) and hits (10) and watched his ERA swell to 3.58. Hughes’ ERA at the Stadium is 4.38; he is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA on the road.

Seattle entered the game with a .239 team batting average and was averaging 3.4 runs per game (conversely, the Yankees were averaging 5.5 runs per game), but banged out 12 hits with every member of the lineup contributing. Catcher Rob Johnson, a .208 hitter, had two doubles and two RBI.

Except for Swisher, the Yankees did nothing against Lee until the ninth. The threat ended with a runner on second as Curtis Granderson, who had two earlier hits off Lee, and Chad Huffman both popped out. The Yankees are unlikely to get involved in the Lee sweepstakes but will surely pay close attention. His destination could have consequences for them come post-season time, particularly if he should end up in Minnesota.
 Microsoft Word – 2010 ASG – AL Balloting Update #6_062810

Michael R. Teevan
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