Results tagged ‘ J.A. Happ ’

Yankees ‘fight’ it out for a thrilling victory

Mark Teixeira, who will call it a career at the end of the regular season and will be honored by the Yankees on the final homestand, had a retirement gift for the club before it showers him with presents. It came with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning Monday night, and did the Yankees ever need it.

Tex’s 14th homer of the season and career No. 408 passing Duke Snider on the all-time list tied the score and gave the Yankees a chance to salvage something from a disastrous trip. His grateful teammates responded with a rally that produced four more runs, nearly all of which proved necessary when Dellin Betances had another meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Tommy Layne, who has done a solid job as a situational left-handed reliever, was magnificent in bailing out Betances and nailing down a 7-5 victory.

It was an incredible finish to a trip in which the Yankees lost eight of 11 games and have come painfully close to falling out of contention for a playoff berth. The Yankees are on life support as far as postseason play is concerned. But they sure showed a lot of fight.

With Luis Severino letting himself get baited into a retaliation battle with Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, the Yankees ended up having to use seven other pitchers to get through the last game of a very bumpy trip. Happ took two pitches to hit Chase Headley in the second, the inning after Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson had been struck by a pitch from Severino. Plate umpire Todd Tichenor issued a warning after benches had emptied with a lot of shoving but not much else.

Severino was tossed after he hit Justin Smoak to start the Toronto second. That cost the Yankees their starter, who was ejected. Once again, benches emptied into the usual scrum. When the smoke cleared, not only was Severino tossed but also manager Joe Girardi, bench coach Rob Thompson and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The Yankees were furious that Happ should have been warned after the first close pitch to Headley and thrown out after he hit him. Maybe so, but that does not excuse Severino, who did not do a smart thing by getting ejected from a must-win game for the Yankees in the second inning.

The Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead into the eighth, and thinks looked bleak for the Yankees. Brett Gardner doubled with one out in the eighth and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury to make it a one-run game. With overworked Jose Osuna unavailable, Jays manager John Gibbons gave the save situation to Jason Grilli, who got a quick out but was victimized by Teixeira. Didi Gregorius kept the inning going with a single, and Aaron Hicks thrust the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. They added two insurance runs that proved needed on a double by Donovan Solano, a walk to Gardner, a single by Ellsbury and a sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez.

Betances, who had a miserable trip, walked the leadoff batter for his third straight inning and made an error on a bunt, then walked another batter to load the bases with none out. Layne was called on to face Toronto’s dangerous right-handed hitters. He walked in one run and gave up another on a single but made a sensational fielding play to get a key out at the plate and ended the game by getting Troy Tulowitzki on a fly ball.

The victory kept the Yanks’ frail playoff hopes alive. They are still five games out of the second wild card slot with six games remaining, but the last three are against the Orioles, who were not scheduled Monday.

Yanks’ bats remain cold in Toronto

It was another night of offensive futility Tuesday night at Toronto for the Yankees. They managed to score only one run — and that was on an out — as support for CC Sabathia, who was tagged with an underserved losing decision.

The combination of a punchless offense and uncharacteristic relief work by Dellin Betances sent Sabathia to his second straight loss despite six-plus innings of solid pitching (two runs, five hits, one walk, four strikeouts). A home run with two outs in the fourth inning by Justin Smoak that tied the score at 1 was one of the few mistakes made by Sabathia, who gave up a double to Edwin Encarnacion to start the seventh that hastened the call to Betances.

Manager Joe Girardi’s hook despite the fact that Sabathia had thrown just 80 pitches looked like the move to make when Betances struck out Smoak and retired Russell Martin on a fly ball to left field. That drive reached the warning track, which might have been an omen. So, too, was a four-pitch walk to Devon Travis.

There were more blunders to come. Betances got too much of the plate with a fastball to free-swinging Kevin Pillar, who punched a single to right field where Rob Refsnyder made a multi-bounce, offline throw home that failed to prevent Encarnacion from crossing the plate with the go-ahead run. Pillar, who made two sensational fielding plays in center field, made another heads-up play by stealing second base, so when Darwin Barney also singled to right two more runs, not just one, scored.

A three-run deficit in the ninth seemed insurmountable to a Yankees lineup that has gone to sleep lately, and there would be no Brian McCann pinch-hit home run to make things closer than the 4-1 final score.

This marked the 22nd time this season that the Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in a game. They have lost 20 of them, and in one of the two victories (Saturday at St. Pete) they got only one hit. Their only hit in eight at-bats Tuesday night with a runner in scoring position did not drive in a run. A single by Austin Romine only served to move Chase Headley, who had two hits, from second base to third. If Aaron Hicks had not beaten out a potential double play with a spring to first base, the Yankees might have been shut out.

Girardi is running out of rabbits to pull out of his hat to turn things around. Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez (1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since coming off the disabled list last week) was on the bench for the second consecutive night. A-Rod’s career 0-for-14 record against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was all Girardi needed to see to use Carlos Beltran instead as designated hitter.

The manager was not singling out Rodriguez, who these days has looked every bit the 40-year-old not named David Ortiz. McCann (1-for-22) and Brett Gardner (0-for-20) were also on the pine. Refsnyder got a start over Gardner and had a first-inning double but was left stranded. With right-handed Jesse Chavez on base by the eighth, Gardner batted for Refsnyder and was called out on strikes. Girardi might have used A-Rod as a pinch hitter if more than one runner had gotten on base, but that situation did not present itself after the second inning.

The six-game winning streak that brought the Yankees to a .500 record seems like ancient history now that they have lost five of their past seven games to fall three games below par at 24-27.

Memorial Day weekend a draw for Yankees

The Memorial Day weekend was a push for the Yankees as they went 2-2. They took two of three games from the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and dropped the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Centre in Toronto Monday night. The road has been kinder recently to the Yankees, who have won seven of their past nine games away from home after having lost 12 of their first 16 road games.

The Blue Jays series continues tonight on the last day of May with one of the month’s hottest pitchers starting for the Yanks.

CC Sabathia gets the call opposite fellow lefthander J.A. Happ, who beat the Yankees last Thursday at Yankee Stadium despite Sabathia having allowed two unearned runs, two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Happ was equally tough with seven innings of one-run, three-hit, three-walk, five-strikeout pitching.

Sabathia leads the major leagues in earned run average this month with 0.45 for pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched and has the lowest WHIP (0.75) in the American League in May. Sabathia’s season ERA of 2.83 is the latest in a season he has held an ERA that low since Aug. 6, 2011 when it was 2.81 ERA after 25 starts. In last Thursday’s start, CC was the first Yankees starter to take a loss without allowing an earned run since Shane Greene Sept. 9, 2014 against the Royals.

The lefthander has pitched six or more innings and allowed three or fewer hits in each of his last two starts. With 2,610 career strikeouts, Sabathia is tied with Chuck Finley for 23rd place on the all-time list. In 22nd place is former Yankees pitcher David Cone at 2,668.

Yankees pitchers have held both right fielder Jose Bautista and designated hitter-first baseman Edwin Encarnacion homerless through a combined 58 plate appearances this year after the pair banged 21 home runs (in 284 plate appearances) off them over the previous two seasons. Bautista (13) and Encarnacion (8) ranked first and tied for third, respectively, in homers against the Yankees over the 2014 and ’15 seasons (2014-15).

The Yankees will stop in Detroit Thursday for a 7:40 p.m. game to make up a game that was postponed April 10 because of the geniuses at ESPN who thought scheduling a Sunday Night Baseball game in Detroit in early April was a smart idea. This will be the Yankees’ first one-game series since Aug. 25, 2014 at Kansas City, when they made up a June 9, 2014 rainout at Kauffman Stadium. That make-up game preceded a scheduled six-game road trip, which coincidentally included three-game series at Detroit and Toronto. In that makeup game, RHP Michael Pineda – who will also start Thursday night at Comerica Park – allowed one run over six innings in the Yankees’ 8-1 victory over the Royals

Yankees waste solid effort from Sabathia

It is tough to lose a two-hitter, but that is what happened to CC Sabathia Thursday. The lefthander gave up only two singles through seven innings, which marked the eighth consecutive game in which the Yankees’ starting pitcher lasted six or more innings.

That was the good part. The bad part is that Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ was just as stingy in limiting the Yankees to one run in seven innings. A home run with two out in the first inning by Starlin Castro accounted for the Yankees’ scoring in a 3-1 loss that allowed Toronto to jump ahead of them in the American League East standings.

The Yankees stayed out of last place in the division but fell two games under .500 in dropping two of the three games in the abbreviated home stand against a club that has had more than it share of turmoil lately. Losing the series stunted much of the momentum derived from a 5-2 trip to Phoenix and Oakland. The Yankees will spend the next 10 days on the road again with stops in St. Petersburg, Fla. (three games), Toronto (three), Detroit (one), and Baltimore (three). Only the rainout makeup game against the Tigers will be outside the AL East, so there will be plenty of chances for the Yanks to gain ground in the standings.

It hurt to waste so strong an effort by Sabathia, whose record fell to 3-3 butt whose ERA shrunk to 2.83. Neither of the two runs off Sabathia, who struck out seven batters, walked one and hit one, was earned because of an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius, whose defense has been inconsistent (eight errors in 42 games).

Gregorius booted a hard grounder by Devon Travis with one out. Sabathia retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center but loaded the bases by yielding a single to Jose Bautista and walking Josh Donaldson. Edwin Encarnacion lashed a single to left to score the two runs that gave the Jays the lead for what turned out to be for good.

Sabathia kept the Yankees in the game after that with four hitless innings, but the Yankees could not muster much of an offense against Happ and two relievers. Chase Headley and Gregorius singled with one out in the fifth before Austin Romine grounded into a double play. In the eighth against righthander Gavin Floyd, Jacoby Ellsbury batted for Romine and led off with a single. He reached second on an infield out but was stranded as Aaron Hicks flied out and Alex Rodriguez struck out.

Rodriguez was back from his two-game, injury-rehabilitation assignment at Double A Trenton and in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time since he went on the 15-day disabled list May 4. A-Rod was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Carlos Beltran, who had been the Yankees’ hottest hitter as a frequent DH in Rodriguez’s absence, was back in right field and had a brutal day at the plate (0-for-4, all strikeouts). He is now hitless in his past nine at-bats. Romine played first base in place of Mark Teixeira, who had an injection in his ailing neck and will be out of the lineup for several days. Relief pitcher Chasen Shreve was placed on the DL because of a sprained left shoulder.

The Blue Jays scored an insurance run in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman, who was not in a save situation and gave up three singles.

Thursday marked Sabathia’s 10th career start of seven or more innings pitched and two hits or fewer without allowing an earned run and his first since April 5, 2011 against the Twins (seven innings, two hits). With his seven strikeouts, Sabathia raised his career total to 2,610, surpassing Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (2,607) and tying Chuck Finley (2,610) for 23rd place on the all-time list.

Behind the 8-ball, Yanks erupt in the 8th

For seven innings Wednesday night, it looked like “second verse same as the first” for the Yankees, who were shut out Tuesday night by the Blue Jays and were six outs from having that happen again at a time when losing is not an option if the Bombers want to take that wild-card ticket into the playoffs.

Toronto lefthander J.A. Happ took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning but was removed after giving up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan. Even with the emphasis on bullpens, there is nothing more welcome to opposing hitters than the departure of a starting pitcher whom they have not solved all night.

The Happ-less Blue Jays were hapless as the Yankees struck for four runs on three straight RBI hits off reliever Steve Delabar (5-5) and knocked off Toronto, 4-3, with Mariano Rivera coming through with a four-out save.

Delabar entered the game after lefthander Aaron Loup allowed a single to Curtis Granderson that gave the Yankees runners at the corners with none out. Delabar struck out Alex Rodriguez on a nifty changeup, but the righthander did not get another out. Robinson Cano singled to center to send home Ryan with the Yankees’ first run in 17 innings.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to make the score 3-2. Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have gone to a left-handed batter, Lyle Overbay or Ichiro Suzuki, to bat for Vernon Wells, but he stayed with him and Wells came through with a double to left to put the Yankees in front.

Whereas Toronto’s bullpen came apart, the Yankees’ pen was a key to the victory. David Huff took over for Phil Hughes one out in the fourth after Colby Rasmus belted a two-run home run into the second deck of right field at Rogers Centre. Huff (3-1) gave up another second-deck homer, to Ryan Goins (the first of his career), but the lefthander retired the next 10 batters in order.

The eighth-inning rally by the Yankees set up the last two innings perfectly for them with David Robertson and Rivera plenty rested to finish things off. Girardi was just as quick to lift D-Rob as he was for Hughes in calling for Mo with two outs and a runner on second base. The skipper was in no mood for one of Robertson’s Houdini acts. Girardi wanted the sure thing, which is what he is used to getting from Rivera.

The Blue Jays created some drama when Adam Lind and Rasmus started the ninth with singles. Pinch hitter Munenori Kawasaki got off a lousy sacrifice attempt and Overbay cut down the lead runner at third base. Mo took care of the rest of it by getting Goins on a grounder to second and striking out J.P. Arencibia on three pitches.

It remains very much an uphill climb for the Yankees, but they avoided a major slide to stay on the incline.

Long ball returns to Yankees’ arsenal

The power is back for the Yankees, is it ever. I don’t think we will hear people complaining about the Yankees relying too much on the long ball the way they did last year. As tepid as the Yanks’ offensive attack has been this year, watching balls go over fence is a welcome sight.

Alfonso Soriano led the way Tuesday night with two home runs and four RBI in the Yankees’ 7-1 victory over the Blue Jays. Sori fell into a slump as he approached his 2,000th career hit, but the same thing did not happen as he approached his 400th home run. He reached it one pitch after he cranked out No. 399 two innings earlier. Soriano also made a dazzling defensive play in left field in the ninth inning with a terrific, running and leaping catch to help stall a late Toronto rally.

Alex Rodriguez hit career home run No. 651, and Mark Reynolds went hard as well. Reynolds also played one inning at second base as both Robinson Cano and Eduardo Nunez came out of the game with injuries. Reynolds, normally a corner infielder, played second base twice in 2007 with the Diamondbacks. His ninth-inning, fill-in role included being part of a double play that ended the game. It was one of four twin killings for the Yankees in the game.

Cano left the game in the first inning after being hit by a pitch from Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ in the left hand. X-rays were negative. Nunez, who took over at second base and was a part of two double plays, twisted his right knee in the eighth. He remained in the game and got a single in the ninth. Manager Joe Girardi decided to play it safe and had Lyle Overbay pinch run for Nunez. Overbay stayed in the game at first base with Reynolds moving over to second.

Andy Pettitte pitched another beauty with seven shutout innings in which he allowed five hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Pettitte pushed his season record over .500 at 10-9 and in so doing reached double figures in victories for the 14th time pitching for the Yankees, which set a franchise record as he broke the tie he had shared with Whitey Ford.

It was a continuation of good fortune for Pettitte, who hit a bit of a wall at mid-season but has rebounded nicely. In his past six starts, Pettitte is 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA in 33 2/3 innings and has allowed two runs or less in five of those starts.

Derek Jeter, in his second game back from the disabled list, got into the mix with two hits and an RBI.

This was a satisfying victory all around for the Yankees, who were hoping to gain some ground in the postseason chase and moved within one game of third place in the American League East.

A break for Yanks: Cano’s hand not broken

The Yankees got good news on the medical front for a change. X-rays on Robinson Cano’s left hand that was struck by a pitch from J.A. Happ in the first inning Tuesday night were negative.

Cano has a nasty bruise and will likely miss several games, but fortunately he did not suffer the fate of teammates Curtis Granderson and Jayson Nix, both of whom sustained fractures when hit by pitches that kept them on the 15-day disabled list for extended periods.

The Yankees are a bit skinny in the middle infield these days. Eduardo Nunez took over for Cano and did a nice job at a position with which he is not all that familiar. He took part in a couple of double plays and looked like he had been playing second base all his life.

Soriano joins 400 Home Run Club

Two pitches, two home runs. How’s that for efficiency?

That is what Alfonso Soriano did in his first two at-bats Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. Sori’s first bomb was just that, a Jose Canseco-like towering drive right down the line. It scored Derek Jeter, who had singled in a run, and Robinson Cano, who was hit by a pitch, to give the Yankees and Andy Pettitte a 4-0 lead right off the bat.

At the end of the inning, Cano came out of the game and was replaced at second base by Eduardo Nunez. Here is where the Yankees miss someone like Jayson Nix, who is on the disabled list because of a fractured left hand that was also the result of being hit by a pitch. Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ was the same pitcher who broke Curtis Granderson’s left wrist with a wayward pitch in the first exhibition game of spring training.

Cano had been one of the constants for the Yankees this year. He had played much of the season without his regular infield partners – first baseman Mark Teixeira, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter as well as A-Rod’s replacement at third, Kevin Youkilis, and Jeter’s replacement at shortstop, Nunez. Second base was the only position unaffected by injuries this year. In addition to the other infield spots, the Yankees also lost to the DL pitchers Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Joba Chamberlain and David Phelps; catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielders Granderson and Zoilo Almonte.

So the Yankees are keeping their fingers crossed about Cano and hope he can cross the fingers on that left hand.

Soriano paid Happ back in the third inning by driving a first-pitch slider off the back side of the left field fence for his second home run of the game and the 400th homer of his career. Soriano became the 51st player to enter the 400 Home Run Club. Ahead of him on the all-time list in 50th place is Duke Snider with 407.

Sweet sweep continues Yanks’ turnaround

The brief homestand turned out a nice rest stop for the Yankees, who continued their dominance of the Blue Jays this season with a four-game sweep that improved their record against Toronto to 12-1. The dustup of the Jays was just the sort of momentum builder the Yanks needed as they headed for St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game showdown with the Rays.

It was not too long ago that the upcoming set at Tropicana Field would not have much at stake, back when the Yankees were 11 ½ games out of first place in the American League East and 7 ½ games out of the second wild-card spot. How things change when a few potent bats are added to the lineup.

After Thursday’s 5-3 victory, their fifth straight, the Yankees stood six games behind the first-place Red Sox in the division and 3 1/2 back in the wild-card chase. Considered buried in the not so distant past, the Yankees are now very much in the hunt for another postseason berth.

“We’re continuing to make up ground and winning series,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It makes [postseason play] seem more attainable.”

After suffering through eight straight non-winning series, the Yankees have run off four winning series in a row and have won 10 of their past 12 games. The trade for Alfonso Soriano and the return from the disabled list of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez are major factors in the Yankees’ recent turnaround.

As Girardi said, “You feel you can back into the game pretty easily.”

The Yankees came from behind in all four games against the Jays. In Thursday’s game, Toronto went ahead on a home run by J.P. Arencibia off Andy Pettitte. Rodriguez made a fine maneuver to pull off a rally-killing double play in that inning and Granderson answered Arencibia’s home run with one of his own off J.A. Happ, the pitcher who broke his wrist in spring training, to tie the score.

Yet another questionable umpiring call helped the Yankees later in the fifth when a fly ball by Vernon Wells that appeared to have been caught by center fielder Rajai Davis was ruled a trap as a run scored. Video replays indicated that Davis had indeed caught the ball. There was no reason for the Yankees to feel bad about that because Rodriguez was called out at first base on an earlier play that replays showed he clearly had beaten.

The Yanks scored three runs with only one hit in the sixth as they took advantage of three walks that loaded the bases for Eduardo Nunez, who singled in two runs. In all, the Yankees received six free passes in the game.

Pettitte pitched a sturdy six innings (one run, four hits, three walks, three strikeouts) in winning his second straight decision and getting his record back to .500 at 9-9. He continued his career success against the Blue Jays with a 24-13 mark. Shawn Kelley had a bit of a hiccup in the seventh when he allowed two runs, but effective relief work by Preston Claiborne and David Robertson (second save) put a nice finish to a very long day.

The start of the game was held up for 3 ½ hours because of rain. The sun finally broke through around the time of the first pitch. The Yankees remained in the sunshine the rest of the way.

Variation on an over-shift

These over-shifts employed by teams against certain dead pull hitters get weirder by the day. In the second inning Thursday with Curtis Granderson at the plate for the Yankees, the Blue Jays went with an over-shift that had third baseman Brett Lawrie trot across the diamond and play in shallow right field.

Most such shifts merely move each infielder over one position. The one used by Jays manager John Gibbons was interesting because it allowed the second baseman and shortstop to remain in their usual spots. For the life of me I still do not understand why batters don’t take advantage of these defense and bunt their way on. I know Yankees fans would prefer that Granderson put one in the seats, but with two outs and nobody on what’s wrong with getting on base? Granderson swung away, of course, and flied out to left field.

The Blue Jays utilized the same formation when Granderson came to bat in the fifth inning. This time he did exactly what the fans wanted and drove his fourth home run of the season into the second deck in right field. That matched the homer J.P. Arencibia had hit in the top of the inning for the Blue Jays, who later loaded the bases before Rajai Davis grounded into an inning-ending double play.

There must have been a great measure of satisfaction for Granderson because his home run was off Jays lefthander J.A. Happ, the same pitcher who hit him with a pitch and broke his right wrist during spring training.

With Toronto making its final appearance at Yankee Stadium this season, the clubs were determined to get the game in and sat through a 3-hour, 32-minute rain delay before the first pitch was thrown by Andy Pettitte at 4:37 p.m. just as the sun broke through for the first time in the afternoon.