Results tagged ‘ Ichiro Suzuki ’
Derek Jeter’s election as the American League’s starting shortstop in next week’s All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis marks the ninth time in his career that he has been voted in the fan balloting to start the game. He received 3,928,422 votes, which raised his career total to 47,433,242, second only to Ken Griffey Jr., the all-time leader with 50,045,065 total votes.
This year will mark the 14th All-Star appearance for Jeter as he passed former teammate Mariano Rivera and Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio into third place on the franchise list behind two other Hall of Famers, Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jeter is the only active player to be named to the All-Star Game with his current team at least 14 times. The record for All-Star Games by a player for only one team is 24 by Hall of Famer Stan Musial with the Cardinals. Hank Aaron was on 25 All-Star Game rosters — 24 with the Braves and one with the Brewers. Willie Mays played in 23 All-Star Games with the Giants and one with the Mets. The AL record is 19 games by Ted Williams with the Red Sox and Cal Ripken Jr. with the Orioles.
The other two Yankees on the AL squad are newcomers to the process, pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. This will be the first time the Yankees have had two rookies attending the All-Star Game.
These are all good choices, but I think more consideration should have been given to David Robertson and Brett Gardner. Rivera used to be an automatic choice. D-Rob isn’t at Mo’s level yet, but he has easily been one of the best closers in the league and leads AL pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings. Gardner got lost in the abundance of outfielders, but he has been the Yankees’ steadiest offensive player and remains the league’s top defensive left fielder.
Gardner got hits in his first two at-bats Monday night at Cleveland and has reached base safely in 22 straight games with a plate appearance since June 13. It is the longest such streak for the Yankees since Robinson Cano reached base safely in 26 straight games in 2012 from June 20 to July 20. It also matches Gardner’s longest such streak from 2009. He has hit safely in 18 of those 22 games.
Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki with three singles apiece Sunday at Minnesota became the third pair of teammates each in their 40s in major-league history to get at least three hits in the same game, joining the 1928 Philadelphia Athletics’ Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker and the 2006 San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Elias also pointed out that notes Saturda, Jeter and Suzuki became the first pair of 40-year-old teammates with a stolen base in the same game since Bonds and Omar Vizquel for the Giants in 2007.
Prior to Monday night’s game at Progressive Field, the Indians organization paid tribute to the team’s late TV/radio personality Mike Hegan, who died last Christmas Day of a heart condition at the age of 71. Hegan was originally signed by the Yankees in 1961 and played for them in two separate stints. He was the son of former Indians All-Star catcher Jim Hegan, who later was a bullpen coach with the Yankees.
Mike Hegan spent 12 seasons in the majors and had some distinctions. With the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, he hit the first home run for that franchise and made the AL All-Star team. The Pilots lasted only one season in Seattle and moved in 1970 to Milwaukee and became the Brewers.
Hegan was a member of the Oakland A’s team that won the first of three straight World Series in 1972 before returning to the Yankees. Mike was the last player to bat in the original Yankee Stadium Sept. 30, 1973 in a loss to the Tigers. By the time the Yankees opened the renovated Stadium, Hegan was back in Milwaukee. I was working in Detroit in the 1970s and was at Tiger Stadium covering the Sept. 3, 1976 game when Hegan hit for the cycle.
After his playing days, Hegan went into the broadcast booth with the Brewers for 12 seasons before returning to his hometown Cleveland and working Indians games for 23 seasons. A heart ailment forced him into retirement after the 2012 season.
Sunday was a busy day for the Yankees. They designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, traded Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for another starting pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, and built a 9-0 lead over the Twins by the fourth inning and hung on to win, 9-7.
The game was the best part of the day as the Yankees took three of four games from Minnesota. Derek Jeter had three hits to raise his career total to 3,400. He received a standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field during his ninth-inning at-bat, which the fans figured was his last in their ballpark. Well, he will back be there again next week when the All-Star Game is played. Jeter was chosen by the fans to start at shortstop for the American League.
Also with a three-hit game was Ichiro Suzuki, who has become the Yanks’ regular right fielder now that Soriano is gone. They were in a platoon until Sunday, a platoon that was not working for Soriano.
What a difference a year makes. Last July 26, Soriano returned to the Yankees in a trade from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Corey Black and gave the team a jump-start in the second half. He hit .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI in 58 games and 219 at-bats.
Yet in essentially the same amount of time this year (67 games and 226 at-bats) Soriano hit .221 with six home runs and 23 RBI. He was batting only .204 against right-handed pitching and was facing most lefthanders in a platoon but was hitting only .247 against them. He had not hit a home run in 73 at-bats since May 17. Soriano had a miserable game Saturday as he went 0-for-4 and made two fielding blunders in left field although he was not charged with any errors.
With Carlos Beltran limited to designated hitter duty because of an ailing right elbow, right field now belongs to Suzuki, who began the season on the bench but has become the Yankees’ leading hitter with a .294 average.
Brian McCann returned to the lineup and caught after missing two games because of a sore left foot. He drove in one of the Yanks’ two first-inning runs with a double. They pounded Twins starter Ricky Nolasco for four more runs in the third, three coming on Jacoby Ellsbury’s fifth home run of the season.
By the fourth inning, the Yankees were up, 9-0, but Hiroki Kuroda could hardly coast. He was cuffed for four runs, seven hits and two walks and committed an error in 5 2/3 innings. Adam Warren, Jim Miller and David Robertson allowed one run apiece as the Twins got within two runs before D-Rob notched his 21st save. Robertson is averaging 16.43 strikeouts per nine innings, the best mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 25 innings. Eight of his past nine outs have been by strikeout.
Robertson was passed over for the All-Star Game, however, as two other Yankees pitchers were named to the AL staff, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. The latter is a rarity considering that most pitchers chosen for All-Star staffs are starters or closers. Robertson himself was one of those exceptions when he was selected for the game at Phoenix in 2011 when he was still a setup reliever.
Nuno, 26, pitched in 17 games for the Yankees this season and was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 78 innings while posting a .282 opponents average with 26 walks and 60 strikeouts. In his 14 starts, he was 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA in 73 2/3 innings.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is only the 12th pitcher since 1900 to pitch at least five innings while allowing two runs or less and five hits or less in each of his first four major league starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He made his big-league debut last year and in five games, including three starts, was 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings. In his three starts, Nuno was 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in17 innings.
In 22 career games (17 starts) for the Yankees, he was 3-7 with a 4.78 ERA, a .268 opponents average, 32 walks and 69 strikeouts in 98 innings. Nuno, who will turn 27 on July 26, signed with the Yankees as a minor-league free agent June 18, 2011. He was originally selected by the Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. He was born in San Diego and resides in National City, Calif.
McCarthy, who turns 31 Monday, has a 3-10 record with a 5.01 ERA, a .298 opponents average, 20 walks and 93 strikeouts in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings this season. He started 40 games over parts of two seasons with Arizona and went 8-21 with a 4.75 ERA, a .297 opponents average, 41 walks and 169 strikeouts in 244 2/3 innings. McCarthy has a career mark of 45-60 with a 4.21 ERA in 193 games (139 starts) over nine major league seasons with the White Sox (2005-06), Rangers (2007-09), Athletics (2011-12) and D-backs (2013-14).
The 6-foot-7 righthander is expected to make his first start for the Yankees Wednesday night at Cleveland. The Yankees plan to call up righthander Shane Greene from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start Monday night against the Indians.
After seemingly breaking out of their offensive malaise with 13 runs total in their victories against the Twins Thursday night and Friday, the Yankees returned to meager production Saturday and went into extra innings.
They were actually fortunate to push the game that far because the one run they scored might have been a gift. Surely the winning run for the Twins in their 2-1, 11-inning victory was just that. A throwing error by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli trying for an inning-ending double play sent Josh Winningham home from second base with the deciding run.
Before Cervelli’s wild throw, it appeared that Matt Thornton had worked out of the bases-loaded jam. Minnesota filled the bags on a pinch double off the right field wall by Chris Colabello, a one-out intentional walk to Winningham and when Oswaldo Arcia was hit by a pitch for the third time in his past six plate appearances.
Trevor Plouffe followed with a dribbler in front of the mound that was pounced on by Thornton, who made an underhand toss to Cervelli for a forceout. Cervelli turned to throw to first base, but his peg sailed over Mark Teixeira and down the right field line as Winningham trotted home.
Cervelli had not been in the original lineup but turned out to be a central figure in the game. Brian McCann was supposed to be the starting catcher and batting third but was scratched because of persistent pain in his left foot. X-rays were negative, but McCann is in a day-to-day situation.
One day after collecting eight extra-base hits, all seven of the Yankees’ hits were singles. Their run was scored with a measure of luck. With two out in the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki stole second base. Or did he?
Video replays appeared to indicate that Suzuki was tagged in the chest by shortstop Eduardo Escobar before reaching the bag. Yet the Twins did not call for a review. Manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected from the game earlier, so maybe there was a mixup in the dugout.
The Yankees took advantage of the break. Ichiro moved up to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left field by Cervelli.
David Phelps was making that run look mighty large the way he was pitching. The righthander retired 11 batters in a row until Willingham ended the stretch leading off the seventh by driving a 1-1 fastball off the second deck in left field for his eighth home run.
That tied the score and took Twins starter Yohan Pino off the hook. The late-blooming (30) rookie righthander held the Yankees to three hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings to keep pace with Phelps. Over his past five starts, Phelps is 2-0 with three no-decisions and a 3.16 ERA in that span covering 31 1/3 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 4.01.
The Twins did not do very well reviewing umpires’ calls. They did not challenge the Ichiro steal. In the 10th inning, they disputed an out call at second base after Sam Fuld had been picked off first only to have it verified by a video review.
The Yankees got a runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th when Derek Jeter singled to right with two out. That stopped a 0-for-14 slump for the Captain, whose 3,397th career hit was also his 2,539th single. Jeet stole second base but was stranded as Brian Roberts, who had four extra-base hits Friday, grounded out.
Before the game, Jeter received a nice parting gift from the Twins. Second baseman Brian Dozier presented DJ with the last second base bag used at the old Metrodome. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, now a Twins coach, on behalf of the organization gave Jeter a $10,000 donation to his Turn2 Foundation. A year ago, the Twins came up with the cleverest gift Mariano Rivera received in his farewell tour, a rocking chair made of bats broken by Mo’s legendary cut fastball.
You could feel the air come out of Yankee Stadium in the third inning Sunday night when David Ortiz blasted a 0-1 pitch from Chase Whitley into the right field bleachers for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Red Sox lead.
The Stadium crowd was pretty lively until that point but turned gloomy at the reality of seeing the offensive-struggling Yankees down that much early against as solid a pitcher as Boston’s John Lackey.
Whitley had given up a run in the second inning on a double by Mike Napoli and a one-out single by Stephen Drew, but it was the Ortiz bomb that spelled disaster for the Yankees. It was career homer No. 450 for Big Papi, who ranks 37th on the all-time list. The Yankees would have some fireworks of their own, however, to work themselves back into the game.
It began with a gift run in the bottom of the third. Ichiro Suzuki reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Brock Holt. After Ichiro stole second base, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter put Lackey to work. Gardner grounded out at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat with Suzuki crossing to third. Jeter then pushed Lackey to 11 pitches, pushing a single to right field on the last one to get the Yankees on the board.
The fireworks came in the fourth as Mark Teixeira (No. 15) and Carlos Beltran (No. 8) took Lackey deep to make it a one-run game. That brought the crowd back into play, but Yankees fans were not pleased at all with what came next.
Whitley came out of the game after he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to begin the fifth. Shawn Kelley was not any better. He walked Holt and Daniel Nava, which loaded the bases with no outs and no hits. Dustin Pedroia lofted a flare just over first base for a two-run single that also sent Nava to third base.
Lefthander David Huff came in to face Ortiz and kept him in the yard with a flyout to shallow left field. Huff picked Pedroia off first base, but the runner kept himself in a rundown long enough for Nava to cross the plate while the out was made at first base. Just like that, the Yankees were down by four runs again.
Whitley, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in mid-May to pitch in the rotation after CC Sabathia went on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation, did well in his first seven starts as he went 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA during that stretch. In his past two starts, however, the righthander has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits in 7 1/3 innings for a 15.95 ERA that has driven his season ERA to 4.70.
Unlike Saturday night’s 2-1 Boston victory, Sunday night was more like Yankees-Red Sox games we have come to know. The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a triple by Suzuki, a double by Gardner and two infield outs.
Ichiro’s triple was a drive to right on which rookie Mookie Betts attempted a diving catch only to have the ball bounce past him. Ichiro’s 40-year-old legs got to third base, but there was a time he would have made it all the way home on such a hit.
Betts was playing in his first major-league game. He got his first hit, a single, in the fourth. I am amused at the idea of a player named Mookie with the Red Sox. Baseball’s only other Mookie — Wilson — broke Sox fans hearts with his tapper past first baseman Bill Buckner that won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for the Mets. It turns out that Mookie Betts was not named after Wilson but after Mookie Blaylock, his mother’s favorite NBA player.
The Yankees finally got a pitcher who threw strikes consistently when Dellin Betances entered the game in the sixth and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs situation. The Red Sox got minimal damage with one run on a sacrifice fly by Pedroia after Nava struck out. Betances won the battle against Ortiz, who grounded out to second.
Pushed to 96 pitches, Lackey was gone after the fifth. The Yanks lost a scoring opportunity in the sixth against Burke Bradenhop when Carlos Beltran, who had doubled with one out, was thrown out at the plate by Bradley on a single to center by Kelly Johnson.
In the seventh, Betances struck out Napoli with a high fastball. What an idiot.
Napoli did not fare any better in the ninth when he was called out on strikes against Jose Ramirez. By then, the die had been cast. Boston was polishing off an 8-5 victory saved by Koji Uehara. The Red Sox took the series, two games to one, as the Yankees once again failed to capitalize on Toronto and Baltimore both losing and remained in third place in the American League East. They also fell to 6-6 in the stretch of 15 games against AL East competition that concludes with the three-game set against the Rays starting Monday night at the Stadium.
Masahiro Tanaka and Jon Lester, who were paired against each other Saturday night at Yankees Stadium, first hooked up April 22 at Fenway Park. At the time, Tanaka was still an unknown quantity although he had already opened plenty of eyes. But in the tense atmosphere of Boston’s old yard, the Japanese righthander was going to face some strong scrutiny.
He passed with flying colors. Tanaka pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs and seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in improving his record to 3-0. The Yankees pounded Lester for 11 hits and eight runs, although five were not earned due to errors by catcher A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Mike Napoli.
Tanaka’s record was up to 11-2 entering play Saturday night. The Elias Sports Bureau put together some interesting information on the American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year candidate.
Tanaka has pitched at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer in each of his 15 starts. In the past 103 seasons since earned runs became an official statistis in 1912, he is one of only two pitchers to produce such an outing in each of his first 15 major-league games. The other was the Expos’ Steve Rogers, who did so in each of his first 16 games for Montreal in 1973).
Tanaka is the only pitcher to produce such an outing in each of his first 15 starts with the Yankees and one of only three Yankees pitchers to produce such a start in 15 consecutive starts at any point in their careers. The others were CC Sabathia (16 games) in 2010 from June 3 to Aug. 22 and Ron Guidry (15 games) in 1978 from April 8 to June 22.
No pitcher has recorded a longer such streak since the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong had 16 consecutive quality starts in 2012 from May 3 to July 29.
Elias also pointed out that Friday night’s 6-0 victory over the Red Sox marked the first time in franchise history that two non-pitchers each age 40 or older started a game together for the Yankees in shortstop Derek Jeter and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. The last pair of 40-year-olds to start for the Yankees prior to Friday was pitcher Andy Pettitte and outfielder Raul Ibanez in 2012.
Yankees fans should take note that the rainout makeup game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City will be at 7:10 p.m. Aug. 25.
What a difference a venue makes. Last week at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the first-place Blue Jays that let Toronto know it was not going to run away and hide in the American League East. That sweep ran to 16 games the Yankees’ winning streak at home against the Jays.
The return engagement at Rogers Centre was a different story, at least for Monday night’s series opener. The Blue Jays struck early and often in their own building to end Chase Whitley’s good luck charm on the road with an 8-3 victory.
The Yankees had been 5-0 in road games started by Whitley, the Triple A call-up who has done a splendid job in plugging up one of the holes in the injury-riddled rotation. The Alabama righthander did not have it this night, however, as Toronto burst out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. That marked as many runs as Whitley allowed over his four previous starts combined covering 24 2/3 innings.
Melky Cabrera, who has tormented his former teammates since he left after the 2009 season, got the ball rolling for the Jays with a one-out double in the first inning. Adam Lind, batting in the 3-hole with Jose Bautista out because of hamstring problems, knocked in Cabrera with a single.
Lind did quite a bit more damage in the six-run Toronto second inning. The Jays loaded the bases with none out on three straight singles. A fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Cabrera made the score 3-0 before Lind broke the game open with a three-run home run over the center field wall.
Cabrera extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 20 games. During the stretch, he has batted .349 with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in 83 at-bats. Melky has reached base safely in all 22 career games against his former club. The last player with a 20-game hitting streak against the Yankees was also named Cabrera, the Tigers’ Miguel (no relation) from 2006-10.
Whitley, who had walked only four batters in his seven prior starts totaling 38 2/3 innings, walked the first two guys up in the fourth and appeared gassed. Dioner Navarro singled to drive in the Blue Jays’ eighth run, which forced manager Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen.
The relief work of David Huff and Shawn Kelley were bright spots for the Yankees. Huff pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. Kelley struck out the side in the eighth and gave up one hit.
It was the first poor outing for Whitley, who was charged with eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings as his ERA hiked from 2.56 to 4.07. The righthander allowed 11 hits and three walks with one strikeout and one wild pitch.
Marcus Stroman, who could not get through the fourth inning last week at the Stadium, pitched a solid eight for the Blue Jays this time. The righthander from Long Island gave up one run on Mark Teixeira’s 13th homer and only two other hits, singles by Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki, and had seven strikeouts.
Considering the state of the Yankees’ offense these days, the hole Whitley put his team in was too great out of which for his teammates to climb. The Yankees did score a couple of runs in the ninth off Chad Jenkins. Yangervis Solarte, who entered the game in the eighth, stopped a 0-for-28 slump with an RBI single, and Kelly Johnson doubled in a run.
Those were the Yankees’ only runs other than the two from a pair of homers by Teixeira over the past 27 innings for the Yankees, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays, a sign that they were no longer at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Joe Girardi, pitchers David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, David Phelps and Matt Thornton; catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki surprised Jaclyn Murphy, a student at Marist College, and three young children who are participants in the Friends of Jaclyn program, Wednesday as part of the Yankees’ HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) initiative.
Ryan Tucker, 12, and Quinn Ostergren, 4, who are cousins, and Sean Callahan, 11, were with Murphy and began their day by having lunch with the players and coaches at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan.
As honorary team members in the afternoon, the Yankees held a press conference to welcome them to the team in the Yankee Stadium press conference room. The children were given their own lockers in the clubhouse and suited up in Yankees uniforms before joining their new teammates for a variety of batting practice activities. After being on the field for pregame ceremonies, the Murphy, Tucker, Ostergren and Callahan families and Friends of Jaclyn representatives were guests of the Yankees for their game against the Blue Jays.
Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and given a 30-percent chance of survival when she was nine years old. When the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team learned about what Jaclyn was going through and about her passion for lacrosse, the Wildcats “adopted” her as an honorary member of the team. Later that spring, Northwestern won its first national championship in school history. Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern.
“Everything that they were doing for Jaclyn impacted her health — I know that for a fact,” her father, Denis Murphy, said. “I realized I had to do that for other kids.”
Thus began Friends of Jaclyn, a foundation created to improve the quality of life of pediatric brain tumor patients by pairing them with collegiate and high school sports teams. One such child is Tucker, a diehard Yankees fan who began his battle with cancer when he was three years old. Ryan’s 4-year-old cousin, Quinn, Ostergren is also battling cancer and has already undergone two surgeries in addition to chemotherapy treatment.
“We strive to create relationships that provide love, support and friendship,” Friends of Jaclyn executive director Erin Perkins said. “These children are nothing but loved by their teammates. Being adopted, in many cases, will be their only chance to be part of a team.”
Friends of Jaclyn celebrated its 500th adoption in May. Even though his daughter has been cancer-free for nine years, Denis Murphy continues to devote all of his time to the foundation. Having witnessed what the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team did for Jaclyn during her darkest days, he believes he has discovered the best medicine of all.
“Nothing—no chemotherapy, no pill, no drug—is more powerful than love and support.”
There were so many good things about the Yankees’ 7-0 victory Friday night over the Athletics that it is hard to figure out where to start. Well, not really. Start with starting pitcher David Phelps, who ended a personal four-game losing streak and pushed the Yankees’ winning streak to four games. The victorious tide began after the Yankees’ embarrassing 2-1 loss at Kansas City last Sunday when they managed just one hit in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Well, the Yankees are 13-for-35 (.371) in clutch situations since then, including 6-for-13 (.462) Friday night in beating the team with the best record in the American League. The Yanks banged out 12 hits – all singles – with six different players driving in runs. Jacoby Ellsbury kept his hitting streak alive at 17 games with Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts collecting two hits apiece.
Phelps and two relievers, Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez, limited the A’s to merely two hits as the Yankees won in Oakland for the first time in eight games dating back to 2011. Phelps had a no-hitter one out into the fifth inning before Derek Norris singled with one out. The A’s only other hit was a two-out double in the seventh by Jed Lowrie, Phelps’ last batter.
It was an important victory for Phelps, his first in nearly a month since beating the Pirates May 17 at Yankee Stadium. The righthander had lost four consecutive starts since then with a 6.57 ERA and 30 hits allowed in 24 2/3 innings. His season ERA climbed as high as 4.88 but dropped to 4.32 after his splendid effort Friday night.
The Yankees gave Phelps an early lead with two runs in the first inning off Sonny Gray and added a third run the next inning. Phelps made the margin seem huge with his pitching. In the eighth, the Yankees jumped all over lefthander Jeff Francis for four runs and five hits to turn the game into a rout.
One Yankees player who had a rough night was Brendan Ryan. With the Yankees comfortably in front by seven runs entering the ninth inning, manager Joe Girardi sent Ryan up as a pinch hitter for Derek Jeter leading off the inning. This did not sit well with the O.co Coliseum crowd of 36,037, many of whom hung around despite their team getting spanked to watch Jeter get one more time at the plate. Poor Ryan was showered with a loud chorus of boos that had to be shared by Girardi.
It got worse for Ryan. He was hit by pitch from righthander Jim Johnson. Granted, it was a curve that struck Ryan, but it hit him right on the funny bone and caused him much pain. He was able to stay in the game, however, and a postgame x-ray was negative. It was that kind of night for the Yankees when just about everything went right.
That was as makeshift a lineup as Yankees manager Joe Girardi has formulated all season in Wednesday night’s finale of the trip through Chicago and St. Louis. Regular catcher Brian McCann made his first major-league start at first base with backup catcher John Ryan Murphy batting fifth in the order.
With Mark Teixeira still bothered by an inflamed right wrist and Derek Jeter and Yangervis Solarte needing some time off, the Yankees’ alignment had a decidedly different look. Solarte has shown signs of weariness while in a 0-for-14 slump, so Girardi needed Kelly Johnson to play third base. Johnson had been playing first base during Teixeira’s absence. The other backup first baseman Girardi has used is Brendan Ryan, but he had to start at shortstop for Jeter, who played all but one inning of the previous eight games on the trip, three of which went into extras.
And with Alfonso Soriano on the bench, once again the Yankees’ lineup was not overloaded with power.
So what happened? All those singles the somewhat soft batting order put together against a tough pitcher, St. Louis starter Shelby Miller, constructed a 7-0 lead by the fourth inning and went on to a 7-4 victory that made it a 5-4 trip, not bad when you consider that the Yanks were 1-3 at one point.
Miller’s Achilles heel is the base on balls (30 in 56 2/3 innings entering the game), which was a factor as well. He walked only two batters, but both came in the third to fuel a rally. Singles by Brian Roberts and Jacoby Ellsbury following a walk to Brett Gardner created the first run. After Miller walked McCann to load the bases, Murphy singled to center for two more runs. The third run scored when Ichiro Suzuki beat the relay to first base to avoid a double play.
The Yankees struck for three more runs the next inning after two were out. Two runners came home on a single by Ellsbury, who had three hits, three RBI and two stolen bases in the game and seems to be back on track. McCann made it 7-0 with a single.
Hiroki Kuroda, who last year suffered from lack of offensive support from his teammates, welcomed the huge lead. The righthander was touched for nine hits in 5 2/3 innings but no walks and left with the Yankees ahead, 7-3.
Dellin Betances continued his effective relief by getting a key out in the sixth when the Cardinals threatened to tighten the score. St. Louis had a run in and runners on first and third with two out in the sixth when Betances was summoned to face Matt Holliday, who ended the threat with a flyout to left.
That was the extent of Betances’ work Wednesday night and did not include a strikeout, which has been a specialty of the rookie this season. Betances leads all major league relievers with 51 strikeouts among the 92 outs he has recorded. The hard-throwing righthander is holding batters to a .143 average in 105 at-bats. He has struck out multiple batters in 18 of his 20 appearances this season in which he has faced at least two batters, including 11 straight from April 11 to May 10.
Girardi brought in David Robertson for the final four outs. Things got a bit dicey when Robertson gave up an RBI single to Kolten Wong, his fourth hit, in the eighth and put the first two batters on base in the ninth. But D-Rob rebounded to strike out the side and preserve Kuroda’s first road victory since July 25 last year in 12 starts. He had been 0-7 away from Yankee Stadium since then.
The Yankees finished with 12 hits. Joining Ellsbury in the parade were Roberts, McCann, Ryan and Johnson with two apiece. All the hits were singles except for Roberts’ fourth-inning double. The Yanks were able to put enough singles together to end the trip on a positive note.
For eight innings Wednesday, there was very un-Wrigley Field-like game going on at the venerated National League ballpark on Chicago’s North Side that is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Cubs entered the ninth inning clinging to a 2-0 lead over the Yankees, who had scored merely one run in 17 innings in a place considered a hitters’ paradise.
Wrigley is also one of those places where no lead is ever safe, let alone one as narrow as the one the Cubs had. Just like that, the Yankees got to Cubs closer Hector Roncon, who blew his first save opportunity of the season in six tries.
A broken-bat single by Mark Teixeira, a walk to Brian McCann and an infield single by Yangervis Solarte loaded the bases. Ichiro Suzuki hit a ground ball to shortstop. The Cubs conceded a run to try for the double play but got only one out and watched the Yankees tie the score. Second baseman Darwin Barney, just into the game on a double switch, threw wildly past first base in a vain attempt to double-up Ichiro that allowed pinch runner Brendan Ryan to follow Teixiera home with the tying run.
The Yankees’ rally that eventually pushed the game into extra innings was a disastrous but all too familiar situation for Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, who despite pitcing seven shutout innings was stuck with a no-decision that kept his winless streak going to 16 starts since Aug. 30 last year.
Samardzija has the best earned run average in the major leagues at 1.46 over 68 innings, but all he has to show for it is a 0-4 record. Since his last previous victory Aug. 24 last year at San Diego, Samardzija has a 2.99 ERA over 105 1/3 innings with a record of 0-6. The righthander has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past 13 starts since Sept. 17 last year, a stretch equaling that of former Cubs pitcher Matt Garza from Aug. 3, 2011 through April 12, 2012.
Heading into extras, none of the four runs scored to that point had been by a hit. The Yankees’ two runs were on a fielder’s choice and an error. The Cubs’ two runs were on a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice squeeze bunt.
The Yanks’ rally in the ninth took rookie Chase Whitley off the hook. The righthander had another decent start, allowing one run, six hits and one walk with three strikeout in 4 1/3 innings. And just as he had done last week at Citi Field, Dellin Betances followed Whitley with 1 2/3 brilliant innings by retiring all five batters he faced, three on strikeouts.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi ended up using every available relief pitcher and all but four players on the 25-man roster in the game, which the Yankees won, 4-2, in 13 innings. When Derek Jeter came to bat in the eighth, he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 34,808 for what it perceived to be his last at-bat at Wrigley. Little did the fans realize that DJ would get three more times up in what became a 4-hour, 39-minute marathon.
Preston Claiborne (2-0), the seventh of eight Yankees pitchers, helped himself to the winning decision with a perfect sacrifice in the 13th that advanced Brendan Ryan, who led off with an infield single, to third base and Solarte, who walked, to second. A wild pitch by Jose Veras (0-1) sent Ryan home with the go-ahead run, and John Ryan Murphy added an insurance run with a single to right field. David Robertson earned his ninth save with a shutout 13th.
The Yankees, who had four hits entering the ninth, finished with 13, all singles, and won for the first time this season when trailing after eight innings. Being swept by the team with the worse record in the majors would have been demoralizing. Now they move to Chicago’s South Side for a four-game series against the White Sox with a spring in their step.