Results tagged ‘ Howie Kendrick ’

A walk-off before the ninth inning

The Angels walked all over the Yankees Monday night — literally. Los Angeles unlocked a 1-1 game with three Yankees relievers providing the keys. The Halos scored three runs without a hit as the Yankees issued six walks — five of them in succession after two were out and only one was intentional.

It was a dismal way to open a road trip following a disappointing, 3-5 home stand during which the Yankees continually failed in the clutch by going 7-for-63 (.111) with runners in scoring position. Maybe what they needed was to walk more often. The Angels were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position but won the game thanks to three consecutive bases on balls with the bases loaded.

The Yanks were actually 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position but failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases against Jered Weaver on three singles with none out. Just as quickly, however, the rally died as Brett Gardner struck out and Derek Jeter grounded into a double play.

The Yankees had issues with plate umpire Laz Diaz’s strike zone all night and paid for their disagreement with two ejections. Manager Joe Girardi was tossed for arguing balls and strikes during Gardner’s at-bat in the eighth. Losing pitcher Shawn Kelley was heaved after shouting at Diaz while walking off the mound following his four-walk, three-run disaster in the bottom of the eighth.

It was a tough break for David Phelps, who did a fine job in his start replacing the disabled Ivan Nova. Phelps gave up one run, three hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Howie Kendrick tripled to lead off the fifth and scored on an infield out with Jeter making a fine play covering a ton of ground on an over-shift setup against Ian Stewart.

Jeter also showed positive signs of getting his groove back offensively by ending a 0-for-14 swoon with a single and a double. Too bad neither hit came when those bases were full in the eighth. Mark Teixeira kept up his productive stroke with an RBI single in the seventh for the Yankees’ only run.

A day a young catcher will never forget

Why do fans do it? Is getting a baseball at a game more important than your team getting a crucial out in that game?

The outcome of Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium was put severely at risk by a fan along the first base rail just beyond the dugout who got in the way of first baseman Mark Teixeira trying to catch a foul ball in the ninth inning with one out, a runner at first base while the Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead and none other than Albert Pujols at the plate.

“It’s not what you want to see,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I understand it. People want baseballs, but it’s not want you want to see in your ballpark.”

One pitch later, Mike Trout stole second base, putting the potential tying run in scoring position with Pujols given a second life and adding to the pressure of David Robertson trying to nail down his third save and his first in three weeks since coming off the disabled list.

D-Rob prevailed this time. He retired the latest member of the 500 Home Run Club on a routine fly ball to left field and then back from 3-0 in the count to perennial Yankee killer Howie Kendrick (.352 in 210 career at-bats) and struck him out.

The save by Mariano Rivera’s heir preserved an important victory for the Yankees coming off Friday night’s walloping and a memorable one for two of the team’s younger members. Backup catcher John Ryan Murphy drove in three runs with a clutch, two-run single in the second inning and his first major-league home run, leading off the fifth. It marked the first major-league victory for Dellin Betances, who pitched two shutout innings but was quick to credit the equally impressive relief work by Shawn Kelley, Matt Thoronton and Robertson.

“It makes it easier when you’ve caught someone before,” Murphy said. “I have said it before. When Betances is in the strike zone, he can be unhittable.”

“Collectively, the bullpen did a goof job,” Betances said. “The bullpen on the whole was great. We feed off each other.”

Betances also had nice things to say about his former Triple A Scranton batterymate, Murphy.

“He definitely did the job today,” Betances said. “We played together last year, and he became one of my best friends. He had a great game.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Girardi, a former catcher who well knows that games such as the 4-3 victory are savored by cachers.

“A huge day,” Girardi said about Murphy’s 2-for-3, three-RBI effort and work with starter Vidal Nuno and four relievers. “He did a great job behind the plate. [The home run] is special It’s and even means more because it was a one-run game. He’ll never forget it.”

Murphy impressed the Yankees with his work behind the plate last year as a September call-up and again this spring, but he did not begin the season on the major-league roster as the Yankees kept Francisco Cervelli to support starter Brian McCann. But when Cervelli went on the 60-day disabled list because of a hamstring strain, the call from Yankees came for Murphy over Austin Romine.

“I can’t say whether I was surprised or not because my attitude is that you always have to be ready,” Murphy said.

His two-run single came after a balk by Angels starter Hector Santiago that placed runners on second and third. The situation did not change Murphy’s approach, which was the same when he took Santiago deep off a first-pitch fastball for his home run.

“I want to be aggressive at the plate when I do play,” Murphy said. “The home run ball is going to my mom [Carolina]. I’ll let her decide what to do with it.”

Murphy did get the ball. He was on his way out of the clubhouse to meet the person in the stands who caught it and wanted to return it to him. At least one fan in the stands did the right thing.

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.

Twilight start no help to pitchers

Normally when games have a twilight start on the west coast such as Monday night’s match-up between the Yankees and Angels at Anaheim (6 p.m., PDT) there is a tremendous advantage for the pitchers because the ball is difficult for hitters to pick up. Not this time. The Yankees batted around in the top of the first inning and Los Angeles came within one batter of doing the same in the bottom half.

The Yankees’ three-run first was aided a great deal by two Angels errors and the loss of starter Jered Weaver. The LA ace was forced from the game with a lower back ailment sustained after an awkward follow through on a pitch to Robinson Cano four batters in. The Yanks already had a run on the board thanks to a bobble by shortstop Erick Aybar on what might have been the start of a double play.

Righthander Bobby Cassevah came out of the bullpen for his first appearance of the season to replace Weaver, who pitched a no-hitter earlier this year and entered the game with a 6-1 mark. A sacrifice fly by Raul Ibanez got a second run home. Just when the Angels thought they would get out of the inning when Nick Swisher hit a dribbler to the left of the mound, Cassevah threw the ball wildly to first base for an error allowing another runner to cross the plate.

So despite going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position (there is that dreaded statistic again), the Yankees had a 3-0 lead. They wished they had cashed in on some of those clutch chances when the Angels came back hard against Phil Hughes in the bottom of the inning to pull ahead, 4-3.

The Angels lashed five hits off Hughes, whose parents were in the stands. Hughes grew up in southern California and pitched at Angel Stadium in the 2010 All-Star Game. He did not look much like an All-Star Monday night. After Curtis Granderson tied the score in the second with his 15th home run, Hughes allowed the Angels to regain the lead in the third.

Granderson collided with Swisher as the pair pursued a drive to right-center by Mark Trumbo that fell between them for a triple. Howie Kendrick, who drove in two runs with a single in the first inning, scored Trumbo with a fly to right. Mike Trout’s leadoff home run in the fourth made it 10 consecutive starts from the beginning of the season that Hughes has been taken deep.

Unlike the way the Angels’ bullpen kept the team in the game after Weaver was knocked out, Hughes was not picked up by his pen. After he left the game with one out and a runner on second in the sixth, Hughes watched the Angels load the bases off Cody Eppley and get two runs on a double by Kendrys Morales off David Phelps.

It was the Yankees’ offense that came to Hughes’ rescue by taking him off the hook with three runs in the seventh to tie the score. The big hit was a bases-loaded double by Russell Martin, who has struggled at the plate all season.

Honorary Bat Girl on Mother’s Day

Erika Rech, a sophomore at the Villanova University School of Business, is the Yankees’ winner of Major League Baseball’s Honorary Bat Girl program that recognizes baseball fans – one for each of the 30 clubs – who have been affected by breast cancer and show a commitment to the fight against the disease.

Erika will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday at Yankee Stadium as well as bring the lineup card to the plate prior to the 1:05 p.m. Mother’s Day pairing of the Yankees and Mariners.

Rech was 15 years old when her mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Six months later, her aunt was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. A second aunt was diagnosed soon after. Erika wanted to make a difference to women struggling with breast cancer and, with her cousin, started the charity Breast Intentions. (www.breastintentions.org).

Erika has worked the past four years to build her charity and raise money for women who are struggling financially while at the lowest point in their lives. Her charity has raised more than $500,000, which has all gone back to patients in need. She has expanded her charity to New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Connecticut.

In 2011, Rech paid the following for patients in need: 13 mortgage payments, 8 medication payments,11 co-pays, 21 electric bills, 14 gas bills, 2 sewer bills, 8 phone bills, 7 cable bills, 4 water bills, 18 rent payments, 1 maintenance fee, 5 car payments, 1 car repair bill, 2 garbage bills, 2 tax bills, 2 health insurance premiums, 2 car insurance premiums, 1 MRI, purchased a wheelchair, purchased groceries/gift cards for 12 patients, purchased gas cards for 16 patients, purchased holiday gifts for 2 families, purchased college text books for 1 family, purchased a microwave for 1 family, purchased flowers for 1 family, arranged for lawn mowing service for 1 patient and provided transportation from surgery for 1 patient.

Erika is one of the 30 winners who will take part in pre-game activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. Winners were selected by a guest judging panel that includes MLB players and celebrities in addition to fan votes casted on HonoraryBatGirl.com.

The panel included Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor; Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, whose aunt passed away from lung cancer; Angels infielder Howie Kendrick, whose best friend’s mom is a breast cancer survivor; and Giants pitcher Barry Zito, whose mother was affected by cancer. Also on the panel was MLB Network host Chris Rose, who has several close friends who have been affected by the disease; international soccer star Mia Hamm, supporter of the Honorary Girl Initiative with her husband, former player and current ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer; actor James Denton of Desperate Housewives, who lost his mother to breast cancer.

Nine-time Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt, who lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease.

Also on Mother’s Day, hundreds of MLB players will use pink bats by Louisville Slugger stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To demonstrate further their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.

The Honorary Bat Girl contest was introduced in 2009 to raise awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative created by MLB in 2006 and celebrated each Mother’s Day. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother’s Day games that are authenticated by MLB will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit cancer research.

Phelps makes strong impression to appreciative fans

It has been an eventful few weeks for David Phelps, the Yankees’ lone bright spot Saturday in a lifeless, 7-1 loss to the Angels. He became a father for the first time during spring training. Thursday night at the Welcome Home Dinner, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who gave the invocation, asked general manager Brian Cashman, “Which one is Phelps? I’d like to meet him.”

“That was awesome,” Phelps said. “My wife has two priests in her family. It is always an honor to meet people who devote their lives that way.”

The Dolan-Phelps connection was based on their shared hometown of St. Louis and Phelps’ background as a Notre Dame student. Saturday, there was another type of Cardinal who was in Phelps’ path, a former Cardinal, that is, by the name of Albert Pujols.

The three-time National League Most Valuable Player in his first year with a new team, the Angels, and in a new league, American, was the first batter Phelps faced Saturday after coming to the rescue of Phil Hughes, who was blasted for six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. Phelps faced Pujols three times in the game and retired him on each occasion.

Yeah, that’s the kind of streak Phelps is on.

“I’ve rooted for him pretty much my whole life,” Phelps said of Pujols, who doubled in a run off Hughes but remains homerless eight games and 32 at-bats into the season. “He is intimidating. I’ve never met him. We worked out in the same facility in St. Louis but not at the same time. I just left it in Russell’s [catcher Martin’s] hands. I wasn’t going to shake him off.”

Phelps’ mixture of fastballs, curves, sliders and changeups combined to hold Albert in check after he had gotten two hits off Hughes. Phelps lasted for 78 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, a worthy performance from a bullpen long man, which is the righthander’s role for the present.

Phelps opened plenty of eyes this spring when he earned the James P. Dawson Award as the top rookie in Yankees camp and has continued to do so in the regular season. In three appearances covering 8 1/3 innings, Phelps has allowed only one hit, the home run Vernon Wells hit Saturday off a wayward slider in the fifth. Phelps has walked two batters and struck out nine.

The Yankee Stadium crowd treated Phelps to a standing ovation when he came out of the game after retiring the first two batters in the ninth.

“That was awesome,” he said, “especially in a game when we were down. That tells you something about how great Yankees fans are.”

Fans especially like to feel they are recognizing quality in a young player on the rise. There has been a sense in watching Phelps pitch so far this year that he could turn out to be someone very special. Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t want to speculate about whether Phelps would be a starter someday but acknowledged that “he has been a starter his whole career.”

Right now, the Yankees are up to their elbows in starters. They have the current rotation plus Michael Pineda on the disabled list and Andy Pettitte working his legs back into shape. The manager contends the rotation will consist of the five best starters at a particular moment, so there is likelihood for change if a pitcher falters too often.

Girardi was not ready to suggest Hughes is in trouble, but he is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. Unlike a year ago, arm strength is not an issue with Hughes. His fastball was in the 91-94-mph range much of the game, but his pitches were up and he fell into a lot of deep counts, pushing his pitch count to 84 one out into the fourth inning when he was relieved after giving up a bomb of a three-run homer to Howie Kendrick.

“Phil got strikeouts [six] up in the zone, but he also got hurt up in the zone.” Girardi said. “They either missed it or got hits. I’m not getting too concerned yet. The arm strength is there. With the spring he had, I expected him to pitch well at the beginning.”

The skipper was delighted to get length and quality from Phelps.

“He hasn’t been phased at all by the situations we’ve put him in,” Girardi said. “He has come into games with men on base, and this time the first batter he sees is Albert Pujols.”

Right, but did Albert know that Phelps had another Cardinal on his side?

Quiet 1st inning for a change, then noise started

Saturday’ game was the eighth of the season for the Yankees and the first in which no runs were scored in the first inning. Each team threatened but neither scored. The Angels got one-out singles from Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols off Phil Hughes, who then struck out Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter on 94-mph fastballs. Hughes had superb velocity but needed 25 pitches to get through the inning.

The Yankees also had two runners on base in the first inning against C.J. Wilson as Derek Jeter singled off Pujols’ glove and Nick Swisher followed with a single to left. Wilson recovered to catch Robinson Cano looking at a third strike and retire Alex Rodriguez on a fielder’s choice and Mark Teixeira on a check-swing grounder.

For a brief period that inning, there was an awful lot of money on first base where A-Rod was leading off the bag and being held on by Pujols. That was about half a billion dollars’ worth of big-league personnel in one spot.

The Yankees had scored in the first inning of their previous four games for a total of seven runs. Opponents had also scored in four first innings for a total of nine runs.

The Angels got on the board in the second inning on one of the shortest home runs that can be hit in the major leagues. Angels catcher Chris Iannetta lined a first-pitch fastball over the 314-foot sign near the right-field foul pole for a two-run homer. The 315-footer was an opposite-field job for the right-handed hitting Iannetta, who found the fabled right field porch at Yankee Stadium to his liking.

Pujols, who has struggled early on in his transfer to the American League having entered the game batting .222 with no home runs, showed his impressive power in the third inning when he connected on a Hughes fastball above the letters and drove the ball over Curtis Granderson for a double off the center field wall that increased the Angels’ lead to 3-0.

A much longer home run than Iannetta’s ended Hughes’ afternoon prematurely with one out in the fourth. Howie Kendrick got plenty of wood on an 86-mph cut fastball and drilled it into the left field bleachers for a three-run home run. It was Hughes’ 84th pitch, an usually high total less than halfway through a game.