Results tagged ‘ Hank Conger ’

Weapons old and new sustain Yankees

The Yankees have a new weapon in their offensive arsenal this year. It is called catcher’s interference whereby a player is awarded first base if the opposing catcher interferes with the batter’s swing.

For the third time in a season that is only 16 games old for the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base Saturday due to catcher’s interference, in this case that of Tampa Bay’s Hank Conger. It was a painful play as well for Conger, who hurt his left hand and had to come out of the game.

The situation kept a rally alive for the Yankees in the seventh inning. It came on a 3-2 pitch, which is Ellsbury’s favorite count these days. Friday night, he stole home on a 3-2 pitch to Brett Gardner, an unusual decision to say the least.

The catcher’s interference call loaded the bases for the Yanks with two out. Gardner followed with a laser-beam line drive off the glove of pitcher Xavier Cedeno, one of three lefthanders Rays manager Kevin Cash threw against the Bombers in the game. Cedeno keep the ball from getting to the outfield, but the infield single was good enough to score the tying run.

Knotting the score at that point put the Yankees in position to use their favorite bullpen formula, Dellin Betances in the eighth and Andrew Miller in the ninth.

Masahiro Tanaka, who had a strong outing (two runs, five hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, one home run in seven innings) was off the hook with a no-decision. So, too, was Tampa Bay rookie Blake Snell, who held the Yankees to two hits and a walk with six strikeouts over five innings in an impressive major-league debut.

It was the Yankees’ more traditional weapon that settled Saturday’s game, a jolting home run by Gardner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off Erasmo Ramirez, the only righthander in the game for the Rays.

Stacking lefties against the Yankees is a tactic by opponents. Cash will throw another lefthander, Drew Smyly, against the Yankees and Michael Pineda Sunday in the series finale. The idea, of course, is to neutralize Ellsbury and Gardner, left-handed outfielders at the top of the batting order. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had taken to sitting one of them and using right-handed Aaron Hicks in the outfield against lefties, but Hicks got hurt Friday night and will be out for several more days because of traumatic bursitis in his left shoulder, so Ellsbury and Gardner were both in the lineup and had a huge game.

They combined to reach base five times in 10 plate appearances. Gardner had both RBI for the Yankees. Their other run was scored in the first inning on a wild pitch by Snell, who settled down after that. It was the first walk-off victory for the Yankees this season, and the second game-winning homer of Gardner’s career. The other was Aug. 11, 2013 against the Tigers.

Gardner has been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter on the homestand by batting .444 with five runs, two doubles, two home runs, four RBI and five walks in seven games and 25 at-bats.

This has been a big bounce back series for the Yanks, who were swept by Oakland and dropped two of three to Seattle in stumbling into last place in the American League East. They switched places with the Rays with the victories Friday night and Saturday.

Before the game, the Yankees saluted CC Sabathia, wife and mother Marge for their PitCCh In Foundation’s initiative to renovate a baseball field at Claremont Park in the Bronx. The Sabathia’s thanked supporters of the project to refurbish the facility at the corner of Clay and Webster Avenues at a cost of approximately $500,000. Partners involved with the Claremont Park project included members from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the Yankees, the New York Police Department’s 44th Precinct and Roc Nation. The Foundation dedicated the field renovation to the Rolando Paulino Little League, which was represented by board member Emily Rufino and Little League players Justin Zapata and Elias Barcacel

Mound woes still troubling Yankees

What kind of night was it Friday for Hiroki Kuroda? Well, put it this way; the Angels had a 5-0 lead in the third inning and Mike Trout had not done anything yet. It turned out that Trout never did do anything. The Halos somehow soared to a 13-1 victory despite Trout going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

That is how awful things went for the Yankees. They held Trout in check and still got clobbered. Remember Brennan Boesch, who was one of the record 56 players used by the Yankees last year? Now with the Angels, he pinch hit for Trout in the eighth inning of the lopsided game. That’s something he can tell his grandchildren some day (not that they will believe him).

Kuroda had trouble keeping the ball down and was hurt more by the bottom of the lineup than the top, at least until the fifth inning when Albert Pujols crushed career home run No. 501 to left field. It was Pujols’ ninth home run this month, which tied the club record for homers in April set by Brian Downing in 1986.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the second inning on singles by Ian Stewart and Erick Aybar, a double off the top of the wall in right by Hank Conger, a suicide squeeze bunt by Collin Cowgill and an infield out. The Angels struck again with two out in the third on a two-run home run by Stewart.

Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited Kuroda on the mound and likely told him he would need to take one for the team. No one was warming up in a bullpen that was pretty much spent after the recently-completed trip through St. Petersburg and Boston.

Kuroda hung on until the fifth, but the balls kept ringing off Angels bats. One out after Pujols’ bomb, Howie Kendrick doubled to right-center on a hard line drive. Kuroda should have been out of the inning on Aybar’s fly ball into the right field corner, but the usually dependable Carlos Beltran dropped it for a two-base error and a free run.

That ended the night finally for Kuroda, whose line was a bit ugly — 4 2/3 innings, 10 hits, 8 runs (6 earned), 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch, 2 home runs. Those untidy figures resulted in his ERA rising to 5.28. The righthander also had another night of non-support from his offense. The Yankees did not score while he was in the game and have had two runs or fewer in 12 of his past 17 starts.

The relatively brief outing by Kuroda added to the staff’s current woes with Ivan Nova gone for the season to Tommy John elbow surgery and Michael Pineda on suspension for another eight days. Their absence has taken lefthander Vidal Nuno and righthander David Phelps out of the bullpen for starting assignments, leaving the relief corps a bit short.

Bruce Billings had to give the Yankees some length Friday night to help keep the pen fresh for the rest of the weekend. Matt Daley and Preston Claiborne, who provided relief help this past week, are ineligible for recall from Triple A Scranton at this time because of the 10-day rule that prohibits minor leaguers from merely being shuttled back and forth.

Billings did his job, although he was taken deep by Aybar and Cowgill in the seventh. The righthander had seven strikeouts in four innings and gave the pen a break. Strangely, manager Joe Girardi brought in Shawn Kelley to get the last out of the ninth, but he gave up a run before doing so.

The Yankees did not get on the board until the sixth against lefthander C.J. Wilson, who had allowed only two singles to Brett Gardner before that inning. Beltran helped build a run to offset the one his error cost by following a one-out single to right by Derek Jeter with a double to left. Alfonso Soriano got the Captain home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Unfortunately, it was the only run of the game for the Yankees, who have been outscored, 110-100, despite holding first place in the American League East.

Umps’ calls: Yankee win one, lose one

It would be nice to watch a game once in a while that did not have a questionable call or two by an umpire. In the age of high definition television, umpires are under even more scrutiny, which they should be.

There were a couple of more examples in the early going Saturday at Angel Stadium. In one case, the Yankees may have caught a break. In another case, they got hosed.

Brett Gardner flirted with a home run to right field with two out in the third inning and settled for a run-scoring triple. TV replays indicated that a fan leaning over the railing may have interfered with the ball that affected Josh Hamilton’s play on the carom. That was the argument of Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

On interference, Gardner would have had to stop at second with an automatic double and Chris Stewart, who had scored from first base on the hit, would have had to go back to third. Scoscia lost his beef. Replays from various angles were inconclusive, but there was no checking by the umpires because that is restricted to home run calls, and there was not a question about whether Gardner’s ball was a homer.

A more conclusive replay was that of a steal attempt of third base by Ichiro Suzuki, who doubled with one out in the fourth. With Thomas Neal at the plate, Ichiro broke for third and appeared to have the base stolen, but umpire Manny Gonzalez ruled otherwise.

Yanks manager Joe Girardi, who had a perfect view of the play from his dugout perch, argued the call but was told the ball beat the runner. Heck, we all knew that. The question was whether third baseman Alberto Callaspo placed the tag on Suzuki before he reached the bag, which he did not. The throw to third from catcher Hank Conger was in the dirt, causing Callaspo to raise his glove to catch it on a short hop. The replay clearly showed that Ichiro’s right foot was on the bag when Callaspo tagged him near the waist.

I am not suggesting more replays, which would only serve to delay games that already take place on a snail’s pace. But can the umps get the obvious calls right? Please?