Results tagged ‘ Great American Ball Park ’

Betances does his part in AL All-Star victory

CINCINNATI — American League manager Ned Yost of the Royals came through for Dellin Betances. Aware that Betances never got out of the AL bullpen at last year’s All-Star Game at Minneapolis, Yost told the righthander the seventh inning would be all his Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Betances did his part in the AL’s 6-3 victory that guaranteed home field advantage in the World Series to the league, although that did not help Yost last year as his Royals lost Game 7 at home to the Giants. Blame that on Madison Bumgarner.

The Yankees’ set-up reliever got through the seventh unscathed, much like he has during the regular season. Working with a 5-2 lead thanks to a two-run rally in the top of the inning that was fueled in part by teammate Mark Teixeira, Betances retired Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on a ground ball to second base. After walking Cubs rookie outfielder Kris Bryant, Betances came back to strike out Giants second baseman Joe Panick, the former St. John’s University standout, and set down Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock on a grounder to third.

In the top of the seventh, Teixeira grounded out to the left side that pushed the Orioles’ Manny Machado to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by the Rangers’ Prince Fielder. Teixeira had a rougher time in the ninth inning as he made the final out of the game striking out on a 103-mph fastball by the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman.

Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ other representative in the game, also had a tough night. He was called out on strikes in both of his at-bats, in the fifth inning against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and in the eighth against former Yankees teammate Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pirates.

It was also announced during the All-Star festivities the Franchise Four for each of the 30 clubs in a vote of fans. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America took part in setting up the ballot of eight players from each franchise (full disclosure: I was the BBWAA voter assigned to the Yankees).

It should come as no surprise that the Yanks’ Franchise Four were the team’s Mount Rushmore: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. It is pretty hard to break through that quartet. Younger fans may wonder about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera considering all the club records they have, but the other four men helped shape the franchise and are among the most decorated players in baseball history.

For the record, the eight players on the Yankees’ ballot in addition to the four were Jeter, Rivera, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Believe me, it was hard to leave players like Bill Dickey and Don Mattingly off that list. This was one of those promotions where the Yankees were hurt because of the richness of their history.

There was a nice moment before the game where the four men voted the game’s greatest living players came onto the field — Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. I had three of those players on my ballot but chose Yogi over Koufax in a close call. Some might say that Berra belonged there more than Bench, but even Yogi told me once that he thinks JB was the best catcher who ever lived.

Yanks dominant in inter-league play

Perhaps a dose of inter-league play is just what the Yankees need to shake this three-game losing streak. After all, the Yankees have the most victories and the highest winning percentage of any club since inter-league play began in 1997. Ironically, that first year was the worst for the Yanks in inter-league competition with a 5-10 mark, their only losing record.

The Reds stayed in New York after a two-game series at Citi Field and opened a three-game set Friday night against the Yankees. This is Cincinnati’s first visit to the current Yankee Stadium. The Reds are the 20th club to come to the new Stadium. The Yankees are 14-5 against clubs in their first games in the new digs.

This weekend’s series marks the first three of 18 inter-league games the Yankees will play this year. The other games are against the Mets June 8-10 at the Stadium and June 22-24 at Citi Field, the Braves June 11-13 at Atlanta’s Turner Field and June 18-20 at the Stadium and the Nationals June 15-17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Yankees’ two series against Atlanta will mark the second time they are facing a National League opponent other than the Mets in a home-and-home series in the same year. The other time was also against the Braves in 1998, the same year that the Yankees began playing the Mets twice in the same season.

The Yankees were 13-5 (.722) in inter-league play in 2011 and have an overall record of 157-107 (.595) against NL teams in the regular season. Derek Jeter is the all-time inter-league leader in hits (326) and runs (185). Alex Rodriguez is the career inter-league leader in RBI (186) and is second in hits (293) and third in runs (173).

The Yankees and Reds are playing each other for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in inter-league play. The Yanks won two of three games last year at Great American Ball Park and are 4-5 overall in regular-season matchups. Cincinnati won two of three games in 2003 at Great American and 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium.

The two clubs have met three times in the World Series – 1939, 1961 and 1976. The Yanks won a four-game sweep over Cincinnati in 1939 and lost a four-game sweep to the Reds in 1976. The ’61 Series was won by the Yankees in five games. The ’76 Series was one of only two sustained by the Yankees. The other was in 1963 to the Dodgers. The ’39 Series was one of eight sweeps by the Yankees. The others were in 1927 over the Pirates, 1928 over the Cardinals, 1932 and 1938 over the Cubs, 1950 over the Phillies, 1998 over the Padres and 1999 over the Braves.

Launching pad brings Gordon back to Earth

Brian Gordon was brought back to Earth Wednesday night. Five days after making a successful major-league debut following 11 seasons in the minors, Gordon was done in by the long ball at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, one of the big leagues’ launching pads.

There had been only one home run (by Jorge Posada) in the first two games of the Yankees-Reds series, but Gordon was taken deep three times in the finale. The righthander gave up a leadoff home run to Chris Heisey on a 3-2 cutter. Gordon has said developing a cut fastball is what has been mostly responsible for the turnaround in his effectiveness that generated the Yanks’ interest in signing him, but he has not had much of a feel for the pitch in either of his starts.

Gordon showed off above-average breaking pitches in his debut last week, but they didn’t break well for him Wednesday night. He hung a curve on a 0-2 count in the second inning to Jonny Gomes, who drove the ball into the second deck in left field. Heisey’s second homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, was off another hanging breaking ball, a first-pitch slider.

That gave the Reds a 4-1 lead and ended Gordon’s night after five innings. The converted outfielder who hit 119 home runs in the minors got to bat twice and walked and struck out. The score was still 4-1 when the Yankees threatened to get back into the game by loading the bases with one down in the seventh, but Ramiro Pena and Posada swung at first pitches and grounded out.

The Yanks’ chances of coming back went awry when the Reds struck for six runs and eight hits in the seventh and eighth against Hector Noesi, who had a rare poor outing. Two of the eighth-inning runs came on the third homer of the night by Heisey, who drove in five runs and scored four. The Yankees just got too much of Heisey in this one.

The balls were carrying well in the humid air around the Ohio River. One of the Yankees’ runs also came on a homer, by Nick Swisher in the second. That was one of only two hits the Yanks managed in seven innings off Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who obviously was recovered from the stiff neck that resulted in his being scratched from his scheduled start Monday night and may have been responsible for the Reds making an early rainout call Tuesday night that forced the teams to play two games Wednesday.

The Yankees won the day game to guarantee a winning trip as they went 4-2 through Chicago and Cincinnati. The loss at night cost the Yanks a chance to take over first place in the American League East, however.

Nova maturing with each start

Ivan Nova has gone from the Yankees’ No. 5 starter coming out of spring training to the point where now he is the rotation’s No. 2 starter. His 5-3 victory Monday night at Cincinnati improved Nova’s record to 7-4. Only ace CC Sabathia (9-4) has won more games than Nova.

Armed with a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, Nova overcame a shaky beginning when he gave up singles to the first two Reds batters to fashion his best outing of the season. Nova was quite willing to trade a run for two outs by getting 2010 National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto to ground into a double play. Those were the first two of 15 consecutive outs Nova recorded before Paul Janish ended the string with a two-out single in the fifth. Nova retired nine of the last 10 batters before calling it a game after the eighth for the longest outing of his career.

Nova got 16 outs in the infield and struck out seven batters. Only two outs were to the outfield. Nova recorded 25 outs in eight innings, one more than necessary because Drew Stubbs reached on a third-strike wild pitch in the third. Nova had outstanding control. He did not walk a batter.

With Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon on the disabled list, Nova has been relied on to take up the slack in the rotation and for the most part has come through. He has won three straight starts and lowered his ERA to 4.13. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Nova has a 7-1 career record in games when he has a lead of more than one run, and the Yankees are 11-1 in those games.

Nova’s blending in a changeup to go with his fastball, curve and slider has been a major factor in his current three-start winning streak. Yankees fans are getting to watch a young pitcher mature with each start.

With victories in nine of the past 11 games, the Yankees are 13 games above .500, their high mark of the season, and stayed within 1 ½ games of the first-place Red Sox in the American League East.

The Yankees got clicking in the first inning against Travis Wood, a last-minute replacement for scheduled Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who had a stiff neck and may start Tuesday night against Yankees rookie Brian Gordon.

Great American Ball Park is known as a bandbox, but the Yankees stayed in the yard and used four singles and a double to produce four runs in the top of the first. Their other run came in the eighth without a hit as Curtis Granderson walked, stole second, continued to third on an error by Janish at shortstop and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Jose Arredondo.

Things got a bit hairy in the ninth when Luis Ayala gave up a hit and Boone Logan hit a batter. Both runners scored, but Mariano Rivera restored order for his 18th save. After setting a three-game series attendance record over the weekend at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the Yankees played to another full house Monday night at Cincinnati. The prime attractions of inter-league play are giving NL audiences their money’s worth.