Results tagged ‘ Ike Davis ’

Beltran scratched with swollen left knee

With no designated hitter allowed in Denver, a National League city, it was no surprise that Alex Rodriguez was not in the Yankees’ starting lineup Tuesday night. But no Carlos Beltran? Now that was a surprise.

Beltran was scratched because of a swollen left knee, which raised some caution flags for the Yankees. Beltran has a long history of problems with his right knee, but this was the first time his left knee was an issue. The Yankees spent their open date Monday in Denver after flying there Sunday night. Beltran said he had dinner five blocks away from the hotel that night and did not experience any difficulty until he awoke Tuesday morning and felt stiffness due to swelling.

Aaron Hicks started in right field in place of Beltran, and second baseman Starlin Castro was moved into the third spot in the batting order. The loss of Beltran, no pun intended, hurts. He has been the Yanks’ most productive hitter with club-high totals in home runs (16) and RBI (44) that has put him in place as a possible choice for the American League All-Star team.

In addition, Denver’s Coors Field has been one of Beltran’s favorite stops dating back to his NL days with the Astros, Mets, Giants and Cardinals. He has a .526 career slugging percentage there and had his only career three-homer game at Coors Field May 12, 2011 with the Mets when he was 3-for-5 with three runs and six RBI. Beltran held out the possibility that he might be able to come off the bench as a pinch hitter and perhaps return to the lineup for Wednesday’s afternoon game.

With Mark Teixeira on the 15-day disabled list because of torn cartilage in his right knee, the Yankees signed former Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who was released from the Rangers’ Triple A affiliate and will be in a platoon with Rob Refsnyder, who started Tuesday night against lefthander Jorge De La Rosa. Davis is a second-generation Yankee. His father, relief pitcher Ron Davis, spent the first four of his 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees from 1978-81.

Andy recovers but hurt by 1st-inning 5-spot

The first inning Friday night at Citi Field was a stunning development for Andy Pettitte, who allowed five runs, which was the total he had yielded in his previous two starts covering 13 innings. Both were no-decisions, by the way, which Andy might have settled for again if the Yankees could get back in the game.

The five spot in the first put the Yankees in a decided hole and not surprisingly all the runs were scored after two were out. This has been a Mets specialty this season. They lead the majors in two-out runs. Their first-inning uprising brought the season total of two-out runs to 155.

The Mets had the bases loaded with one out, but it looked like Pettitte would work out of danger when he got Lucas Duda on a fly to shallow center. Justin Turner turned back a 1-2 sinker for a single through the middle that scored two runs. The real killer blow came on the next pitch, a hanging slider on Pettitte’s first delivery to Ike Davis, who popped a three-run home run to right field.

That was a crusher for Pettitte, who allowed insult to injury by later in the inning giving up a single to opposing pitcher Jonathan Niese, although Pettitte would return the favor the next inning.

Two weekends ago when the Yankees were out-homering the Mets, 8-2, in the Bombers’ sweep of the first round of the Subway Series, a lot of people around the Mets complained about the cheapness of home runs to right field at Yankee Stadium. Well, the homer by Davis was just as much a bargain-basement job.

In fact, the ball was almost caught by Nick Swisher. The right fielder leaped at the wall near the 330-foot mark for the ball that hit against the thumb of his glove and fell over the fence when his glove hand made contact with the top of the wall. So who’s talking cheap now?

Davis, who has shown recent signs of coming out of a season-long slump, was hitting only .121 at Citi Field this year before that at-bat but over his past 12 games overall has hit .382 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 34 at-bats. As horrid as Davis has been this year, his 36 RBI are only three behind David Wright, who is hitting over .350.

It was also Davis’ first career at-bat against Pettitte, who was retired last year. Davis broke into the majors in 2010 but did not face Pettitte. Mets manager Terry Collins loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters against the lefty Pettitte except for Davis, Duda and, of course, Niese. Andy caught a break with Jason Bay on the disabled list because of a concussion. Bay is a .400 hitter in 35 career at-bats against Pettitte.

Before the series, Collins said Citi Field would play different from Yankee Stadium as far as home runs were concerned. That was probably wishful thinking. Citi Field was an airline hangar for three seasons before the Mets got wise and brought in the fences the past offseason to make the yard fairer to hitters. It is by no means a bandbox, but the Yankees have proved they can hit home runs anywhere.

This was demonstrated by Alex Rodriguez, who got the Yankees on the board in the sixth by driving a 1-1 cutter into the Big Apple well over the 408-foot mark in straightaway center for his 12th home run of the season and career No. 641.

Leading off the seventh, Andruw Jones, who gave the Mets fits for years in his heyday with the Braves, launched his seventh home run into the left field stands beyond the old dimensions. Jones also made one of the fielding gems of the night, a diving catch in left field in the seventh that became a double play as Wright, who had doubled in a run, kept running and was forced out at second.

Pettitte was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh after having settled in nicely after the first-inning debacle. He pitched five scoreless innings after that with only two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts.

Late life in Yankees’ bats

I don’t want to sound like a broken record here (does anyone remember what that was?), but I have been concerned all year about the Yankees’ relative silence at the plate in the late innings.

You have read it here more than once that the franchise that was responsible for the coinage of the phrase, “five o’clock lightning,” (yes, I’ll explain that, too) had become so meek offensively in the latter third of games.

That is what made the seventh inning rally in Sunday’s Subway Series finale against the Mets at Yankee Stadium so uplifting and encouraging and game winning.

This was beginning to appear as one of those games where the Yankees hit a ball over the fence and nothing else. Curtis Granderson homered in the first (his 16th, unbelievable; he didn’t get to 16 home runs last year until Sept. 2) off Mike Pelfrey, who tamed the Yankees after that through the sixth and seemed well in control of a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees’ track record in such situations had been grim. They were 1-14 in games when they trailed after six innings. Not much five o’clock lightning. OK, what that is all about is this: back when the Yankees were called “Murderers Row” and the “Bronx Bombers,” back in what my kids used to call the “black and white days,” the starting time for games at the Stadium was 3 p.m. (no night games back then, remember). Come 5 o’clock, or sometime in the sixth or seventh inning, the Yankees would start unloading against a tired pitcher, hence, five o’clock lightning.

Sunday’s game, the first in daylight for the Yankees after 12 consecutive night games, had a 1:05 p.m. start, so the seventh-inning resurgence was more like “3:30 lightning.” And how about this: not a home run in sight.

The Yankees banged around Pelfrey and three Mets relievers with another commodity that has been lacking – hits with runners in scoring position, five in seven at-bats, including 4-for-4 with the bags juiced. Over their previous five home games, the Yankees were 4-for-33 (.121) in clutch situations.

It was a beautiful sight for the sore eyes of manager Joe Girardi, who before the game had said, “I don’t care how we score runs.”

This time, the Yankees did so in bunches, beginning with Derek Jeter’s bases-loaded single that tied the score and ran his career hit total to 2,975, just 25 away from as magic a number as there is in baseball. Then, get this, the slugger Granderson, the left-handed version of Jose Bautista, put down a bunt to advance the runners. Let’s see Bautista do that when the Blue Jays come to town Monday night.

“I was trying to get a lead,” Girardi said. “I thought it was a good time to put the bunt on.”

That prompted the Mets to walk Mark Teixeira, filling the bases for Alex Rodriguez and hoping he would hit a double-play ball. As Pete Seeger wrote, “When will they ever learn?” Instead, A-Rod hit a dribbler to third for a hit that scored the go-ahead run.

Rodriguez is 6-for-8 (.750) with three home runs and 19 RBI when batting after Tex has been intentionally walked. Mets manager Terry Collins said he wasn’t aware of those numbers and would have walked Tex anyway even if he knew. Cue Pete Seeger.

Now the Yankees had the Mets where they wanted them. Robinson Cano singled in a run to keep the line moving that was briefly interrupted when Jorge Posada was called out on strikes on a questionable third strike on a pitch in the dirt. Brett Gardner, who began the rally with a single, doubled in two runs, and Chris Dickerson plopped a well-placed single to left for two more runs.

Rodriguez had his second four-hit game in a week and is batting .481 with three homers and 10 RBI in 27 at-bats over his past six games. Jeter continued feasting on Mets pitching, running his hitting streak against the Mets at the Stadium to 25 games. The Captain has the highest batting average (.381) against the Mets of any opponent with a minimum of 150 at-bats. DJ’s run in the seventh was career No. 1,713, pushing him past Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 23rd place on the all-time list.

The result was that the Yankees won bragging rights in New York until the teams meet again in July at Citi Field. Mets fans can whine about playing without David Wright and Ike Davis, but the Yankees didn’t have Phil Hughes or Rafael Soriano, either. What the Yankees had was late life in their bats, a modern, Technicolor, high definition version of five o’clock lightning.

Another Stadium, another Davis

There was a decided lack of buzz at Yankee Stadium before the opener of Subway Series II. Perhaps it was due to the late-arriving crowd dealing with the usual Friday in the summer rush-hour traffic. At any rate, it was so quiet you would have thought you were at Dodger Stadium, where entering the park in the third inning and leaving in the seventh has been a ritual in L.A.

Then the game started, and it didn’t take long for the folks to get into it. Mets third baseman David Wright, who entered the game leading the National League in runs batted in, got Yankees fans booing when he doubled to left with two out in the first. Ike Davis, in his first Yankee Stadium at-bat, dropped a single in front of Nick Swisher in right field.

A play at the plate followed, with Wright sliding hands first and slapping the bottom of the plate while eluding catcher Francisco Cervelli’s swipe tag. Yankees fans bellowed, but replays from several angles indicated that Cervelli never touched Wright.

Davis was looking forward to playing at the Stadium. “It would have been nice to have played at the old one where my dad pitched, but this is just as cool,” Ike said before the game.

Ike’s father was Ron Davis, a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher who is often considered the first set-up reliever. He may not have been the first, but in his four seasons with the Yankees (1979-82) setting up for Goose Gossage Davis was one of the best.

The 6-4, 200-pounder was 27-10 with a 2.93 ERA in 144 appearances for the Yankees, including a spectacular 1979 season when he was 14-2 with nine saves and a 2.85 ERA. Davis was that rarity, a non-closer who made the All-Star team, in 1981. However, he did get roughed up by the Dodgers that year in the World Series (23.14 ERA) after he had pitched 9 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit relief in the playoffs.

The Yankees found themselves in need of a veteran shortstop early in the 1982 season and that April they traded Davis and two minor-leaguers, pitcher Paul Boris and infielder Greg Gagne, to the Twins for Roy Smalley. The Twins made Davis their closer, and while he had 108 saves in five years in Minnesota his record was 19-40 with a 4.51 ERA. It was a bad trade all around because Gagne turned out to be a much better shortstop than Smalley, who if nothing else was sartorially splendid and earned the nickname “Tootsie,” after the popular Dustin Hoffman movie.

Ron Davis lives in Arizona, but he and his family are in town for the weekend and will be at the Stadium to see their boy play.

Speaking of newcomers, the Yankees signed their first-round draft choice, shortstop Cito Culver of Rochester, N.Y. He had committed to attend the University of Maryland, but that was before he was drafted by the Yankees. College will have to wait.
 

Bay still hurting Yankees

Jason Bay went from one rivalry against the Yankees to another when he left the Red Sox after the 2009 season as a free agent and signed a four-year, $66-million contract with the Mets. The Yankees were glad to see Bay leave the American League. By going to the Mets, Bay would play against the Yankees in only six games compared to 18 for the Red Sox.

Bay has continued his career success against the Yankees in his first Subway Series. He got a big hit Friday night, a two-out double off the left field wall at Citi Field that preceded a double by Ike Davis for a run that very nearly put Mariano Rivera on the ropes as a 2-0 score became 2-1. Mo worked out of trouble for the save, but Bay kept up his strong offense Saturday night with hits in his first three at-bats.

Bay has been a bit of a disappointment to the Mets because he has not hit with power (only one home run in 161 at-bats), but he gave Yankees pitchers fits. Phil Hughes had trouble with the middle of the Mets’ batting order as Bay, Ike Davis and David Wright combined to go 4-for-7 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBI. Bay was 4-for-4 and scored three times in the game.

His fourth hit was an infield single in the seventh off reliever Chan Ho Park. Bay essentially stole a run that inning. Park didn’t bother to look over to first base, and Bay swiped second without a throw from catcher Rod Barajas. It was close to defensive indifference. If there was such a thing as pitcher’s indifference, it would have been called on Park.

It cost him a run, too. Angel Pagan doubled down the left field line, sending home Bay, who likely would not have been able to score had he still been on first base.

In 114 career at-bats against the Yankees, Bay has batted .342 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs and 22 RBI. Yes, the Yankees would not want him in an opposing lineup 18 times anymore.

The Mets’ fourth run off Hughes was something of a gift. Official scorer Bill Shannon generously credited Pagan with a double on a ball down the left field line that Randy Winn overran. It never hit Winn’s glove and fell for two bases. Hughes departed after yielding a two-out, RBI single to Alex Cora. Hughes threw a career high 117 pitches, of which 41 were foul balls, an unusually high total. It indicated that while the Mets were not making good contact, they made enough contact to drive up Hughes’ pitch count.

The Mets had only three foul balls in 10 combined at-bats against Park and Sergio Mitre. The loss was the first for Hughes in 12 starts since July 30, 2009 against the White Sox.

The Mets’ first two rallies against Hughes occurred after two were out and nobody on base. In each case, he gave up hits to Bay and Wright sandwiched around walks to Davis. This failure to close out at-bats made it hard for Hughes to last through six innings. Manager Joe Girardi only used two relievers, so he has a fairly fresh bullpen for Sunday night’s series finale, a match pairing two of the game’s top lefthanders and former Cy Young Award winners, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and the Mets’ Johann Santana.

Mets starter Mike Pelfrey and four relievers combined to hold the top of the Yankees’ order in check. The first three hitters – Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira – were 0-for-13 with two walks and five strikeouts combined. Gardner and Teixeira are both hitless in the series and Jeter is 1-for-9 with a walk. Teixeira must feel like he is back in April. His batting average is down to .204, and he has struck out seven times in his past 20 at-bats.