Results tagged ‘ Jason Vargas ’

Nova can’t extend winning streak

Mariano Rivera did not get the chance for a record-tying 601st save because the Yankees could not grab a lead in extra innings before the Mariners won it, 2-1, in the 12th on a home run by Rodriguez off Cory Wade, who suffered his first loss in six decisions with the Yankees. Wade had pitched the Yankees out of a jam in the 11th. Yankees pitchers limited Seattle to two hits in 24 at-bats (.083) with runners in scoring position, so it would take a solo home run for the M’s to win.Ivan Nova’s personal, 11-game winning streak remained intact Wednesday night at Seattle, but for the second straight start the rookie righthander did not extend it. Nova was hung with another no-decision and had only himself to blame.

The only run Nova gave up was on a two-out, two-strike wild pitch in the fourth inning that allowed Mike Carp to score from third base. Nova had a problem really with only one batter, shortstop Luis Rodriguez, who is struggling to hit .180 in nearly 100 at-bats but nailed Nova twice for doubles to the gap in right-center, the second of which threatened to put the pitcher in a position to suffer a losing decision.

David Robertson bailed out Nova at that point with yet another impressive rescue mission. Rodriguez doubled leading off the eighth and was sacrificed to third. After Nova walked Ichiro Suzuki intentionally, Robertson entered the game and retired Kyle Seager on a fly to left that was too shallow for Rodriguez to attempt to score. Robertson then caught impressive rookie Dustin Ackley looking at a called third strike to keep the score 1-1.

The Yankees had tied the score in the seventh on the only mistake by Mariners starter Jason Vargas, who was working on a two-hit shutout. The lefthander lost that and the lead when Nick Swisher slammed his 23rd home run to left. The Yankees had only two other hits off Vargas, who walked one batter and struck out six.

Nova stayed at 15-4 with a 7 1/3-inning stint in which he allowed five hits and four walks with five strikeouts in lowering his ERA to 3.81. But his Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidacy has taken a hit with his failure to win either of his past two starts.

Derek Jeter’s ground single to left field in the sixth inning Wednesday night at Seattle was his 150th hit of the season. It marked his 16th consecutive season of 150 or more hits, which tied him with Pete Rose for the second longest such streak. The only player in history to get 150 or more hits in more consecutive seasons was Henry Aaron with 17.

Mariano Rivera did not get the chance for a record-tying 601st save because the Yankees could not grab a lead in extra innings before the Mariners won it, 2-1, in the 12th on a home run by Rodriguez off Cory Wade, who suffered his first loss in six decisions with the Yankees. Wade had pitched the Yankees out of a jam in the 11th. Yankees pitchers limited Seattle to two hits in 24 at-bats (.083) with runners in scoring position in the series, so it would take a solo home run for the M’s to win.

Yanks turn to CC, who does them a good turn

Did the Yankees ever need what they got from CC Sabathia Sunday? That is rhetorical question, of course. After two one-run losses, the second coming in a 12-inning game, the Yankees needed what the ace of a staff is paid the big money to do – to stop losing streaks and instill confidence.

Sabathia did all that and more as the Yankees salvaged the finale of the series and avoided being swept by a team with the weakest offense in the American League with a convincing 7-1 victory. Seattle proved resilient in the first two games by coming back from deficits each time and even winning Saturday night against the great Mariano Rivera, but the hole the Mariners got into this time was too deep against CC.

The Yankees had more hits with runners in scoring position (3-for-6) in the five-run third inning than they did in the first two games combined (2-for-16). That gave Sabathia a 6-0 bulge, and no lead ever appeared safer as he punished the Mariners for eight innings allowing only one run on a home run by Justin Smoak in the sixth.

The Mariners should be familiar with all this. Sabathia has pretty much had his way against the Mariners, particularly at Seattle. He improved his career record there to 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 10-4 with a 2.49 ERA against them overall.

The Yankees still had trouble generating an offense against Seattle’s improved bullpen, but it did not matter all that much Sunday. Their only run in 15 innings against the Mariners’ pen came in the fourth inning Sunday on a double by Curtis Granderson and a single by Mark Teixeira that swelled the Yankees’ lead to 7-0. These were the same two guys who became the first teammates to hit 15 or more home runs through the first 50 games since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle 50 years ago. Granderson has 16 and Teixeira 15.

A home run by Nick Swisher in the second got the Yankees started, but the fifth-inning rally was marked by good situational hitting that the team has lacked as it has come to rely on long balls. A huge blow was a bases-clearing double by Andruw Jones, whose appearance in the lineup will be more on a regular basis. Jones subsequently scored on the first major-league triple from Eduardo Nunez, whose name will be showing up regularly as well against left-handed pitching.

The Yankees’ batting order will have a different look depending on the starting pitcher, which was evident Sunday as they faced a left-handed starter in the Mariners’ Jason Vargas, who they disposed of after three innings.

The continuing struggles of the switch-hitting Swisher and Jorge Posada have forced manager Joe Girardi’s hand. The duo is no longer guaranteed to be in the lineup. Posada, still hitless in 26 at-bats from the right side, has been benched against lefthanders as Girardi has various options at designated hitter, either by using Jones in that spot or what the manager did Sunday by playing Jones in the outfield and using Nunez at shortstop to provide Derek Jeter a half-day off as the DH. Girardi can also use Nunez at third base and give Alex Rodriguez a turn at DH.

Swisher’s home run was his first in 61 at-bats since May 7 and his first from the right side all year. He is batting .298 with seven RBI in 47 at-bats as a right-handed hitter but .174 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 115 at-bats as a left-handed hitter. If Swish doesn’t turn it around, there is a chance left-handed hitting Chris Dickerson could get some at-bats against righthanders. At this time a year ago, Swisher was batting .317 with nine home runs. He is hitting .210 with three home runs this year.

Girardi has made a bold move by benching Posada against lefties. He may do something similar with Swisher against righties.

Vanishing Vazquez

The pitching mound at Yankee Stadium may as well have been a nudist colony as far as Javier Vazquez was concerned. That’s how naked he was out there Saturday.

The struggling righthander was armed with a fastball that barely reached 87 mph, no breaking ball to speak of and a full arsenal of changeups. The problem with having changeups only is that there is nothing to change off of. So the batters just wait and crush, which the Mariners did at will against Vazquez. Ichiro Suzuki hit two home runs, for crying out loud.

An announcement came in the press box that this was Ichiro’s fifth career multi-homer game, which may surprise some people but not the ones who have ever seen him take batting practice. Ichiro is just like Wade Boggs, who put on some of the best BP displays this side of Darryl Strawberry. “Same pitch, same location,” Boggsy used to say of why it was so easy for him to crank bombs during BP.

One year, Boggs decided to prove he could hit the long ball if he put his mind to it. He hit 24 home runs in 1987 and then basically said to everybody, “Okay, leave me alone now so I can go back to hitting .350.”

Vazquez just played into Ichiro’s hands or, rather, swings. You want to throw changeups, watch me trot, Ichiro, the successor to Boggs as the Singles King of the major leagues, might have said to himself. In Japanese, of course.

On a serious level, the Yankees need to find out if they can solve Vazquez’s problems. He is winless in five starts since July 26 and is 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA during that span and lucky to have three no-decisions.

In 23 innings, Vazquez has allowed 35 hits, including 8 home runs, with as many walks as strikeouts, 17 apiece. His ERA for the season has swollen to 5.05. The home run Russell Branyan hit off Vazquez in the first inning went into the right field upper deck, heretofore territory that had been unreachable at the new Stadium.

An old pal, Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant, just came over and told me that the fan who caught Branyan’s ball refused to FED-Ex it back onto the field.

Chad Gaudin supplied three scoreless innings of one-hit relief in what might have been an audition for a start five days from now. Clearly, the Yankees have to think about that, although Yankees manager Joe Girardi is not one to tip his hand.

Despite Vazquez’s ineffectiveness, the Yankees were still in the game, thanks to the four-run assault of Seattle starter Jason Vargas in the first on a run-scoring double by Mark Teixeria, an RBI single by Robinson Cano, who has gotten the hang of this cleanup stuff with Alex Rodriguez out of the lineup again, and a two-run home run by Jorge Posada.

The Yankees wisely chose to place A-Rod on the disabled list and give that nagging left calf a chance to heal. He would not have been available Sunday anyway. With the Yankees going on to Toronto Monday, it makes sense for them to keep him off the artificial surface at Rogers Centre. 

Vargas settled down and retired 15 batters in a row into the sixth before the Yankees threatened in the seventh on one-out singles by Austin Kearns, who has a 10-game hitting streak, and Curtis Granderson, who is having a strong homestand (.368). Eduardo Nunez’s first major-league hit, a bouncing single to right, also resulted in his first major-league RBI and gave the Yankees the lead. Pad-on runs followed on a single by Derek Jeter and a sacrifice fly by Teixeria.

This time Vazquez was not around to give up the lead. The question is: How long will be he around in the rotation?

The Yankees plan to call up Ivan Nova from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start Monday night against the Blue Jays and push all the starters back one day. With an open date Thursday the opportunity is there to skip Vazquez altogether. We’ll see.

All-Star game comes early

Six of the Yankees’ eight All-Star selections showed a Safeco Field crowd of 37,442 in Seattle Friday night why they will be going to Anaheim after this series. The 3-1 victory extended the Yankees’ winning streak to six games and marked the 19th time this year that the Mariners lost in an opponents’ last at-bat.

On the 16th anniversary of his major-league debut with the Mariners, Alex Rodriguez spoiled the game for the home crowd with a two-run single in the ninth that scored fellow All-Stars Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher. A-Rod also had a hand in the Yankees’ tying the score in the eighth when he took third base on a wild pitch by Brian Sweeney, which enabled him to score on a double play.

The Yankees were hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position before Rodriguez’s hit in the ninth and had stranded 10 base runners through the first eight innings. Mariners lefthander Jason Vargas, who lost his previous two starts, gave up nine hits but kept the Yankees from touching the plate until the eighth.

That left All-Star pitcher Andy Pettitte next to no margin for error, and he responded with eight strong innings (one run, five hits, nine strikeouts). Seattle’s run scored on a wild throw to first base by Pettitte, his third error this year, season, but he worked out of a bases-loaded jam that inning with two strikeouts.

Mariano Rivera, who was named to the All-Star staff but has decided to take time off to nurse some aching muscles, pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 20th save in preserving Pettitte’s 11th victory in 13 decisions. All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano snapped out of a mild slump with two hits and a walk. The other two Yankees All-Stars, pitchers CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, watched appreciably from the bench, as did All-Star manager Joe Girardi.

Rodriguez was again booed by fans that had once cheered him but have never forgiven him for leaving Seattle as a free agent after the 2000 season and signing with the Rangers. He derived satisfaction with his 83rd and 84th RBI in 109 games at Safeco Field as a visiting player.

Seattle has not been one of Pettitte’s favorite places. He got to .500 Friday night at 11-11 for his career against the Mariners, but he is 3-7 at Seattle and 2-5 at Safeco. This year, however, the road everywhere has been kind to the lefthander. Pettitte is 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA away from Yankee Stadium.

The leadoff batter reached base against Pettitte in five innings, but only one scored, and it was his fault. After Josh Wilson and Michael Saunders singled in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, Ichiro Suzuki dropped a bunt in front of the plate. Pettitte fielded it, spun around and fired to first, but the ball sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira.

“I just panicked,” Pettitte said later.

Ichiro was credited with a hit, which was a gift from the official scorer. He was, after all, sacrificing. He didn’t beat the play at first base. It was an errant throw. Where’s the hit? Forgive me. Some official scoring decisions just drive me nuts.

And is there any doubt that Swisher belongs on the All-Star team? He was perfect Friday night with two doubles, two singles and a walk, has seven hits in his past eight at-bats and has raised his average to .307. Swisher is batting .469 with five doubles and a home run in July, as hot as the weather.