Results tagged ‘ Jason Varitek ’

Jeter runs it out as usual in final big-league game

Once you saw Carl Yastrzemski on the field at Fenway Park before Sunday’s season finale that marked Derek Jeter’s last major-league game you know this was a big deal. Yaz is one of the most reclusive former athletes in the world. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and has gone back for a ceremony only twice, in 2000 and 2009 for the inductions of former teammates Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice, respectively.

So there was Yaz on the Fenway infield with other Boston stars of the past – Rice, Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek – all decked out in Red Sox jerseys to pay homage to a star of the Yankees. The Red Sox did it up big for the Yanks’ captain. Along with Varitek, DJ’s counterpart with the Red Sox, former captains of Boston’s other pro sports teams – Bobby Orr (Bruins), Troy Brown (Patriots) and Paul Pierce (Celtics) – were on hand for the pregame ceremony as well.

The Red Sox had taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to Mariano Rivera’s farewell last year, and it laid a huge egg. They made up for that this year with a grand sendoff for Jeter. David Ortiz and Red Sox shortstop Zander Bogaerts presented Jeter with a sign made up of Fenway scoreboard lettering reading, “Re2spect,” and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who became friendly with Jeter when they were teammates on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic several years ago, handed the retiring icon second base with No. 2 in pinstripes across the front. The Red Sox organization also gave Jeter a $22,222.22 donation to the Captain’s Turn2 Foundation, equaling the largest check he received from an opposing team, that of the Mets. Major League Baseball had also given Jeter a check for that amount, but not surprisingly the Yankees came up with the largest donation of all — $222,222.22.

There had been some speculation that Jeter might pull a Ted Williams and not play in the three-game series following his triumphant final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night when he had the game-winning hit. Teddy Ballgame homered in his final Fenway at-bat in 1960 and decided not even to go to New York for the last series considering the Yankees had already clinched the American League pennant. Well, the Yankees were out of contention this week, too, something Jeter was not accustomed to, but out of respect for the game and the supporters of the Yankees’ biggest rivals he made the trip to Boston.

There were no such things as farewell tours years ago. Players would receive a standing ovation and then just go home. In fact, Jeter’s last game came on the 46th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s last big-league appearance, also at Fenway Park. The Mick started at first base but never took the field. He batted in the first inning, popped out to shortstop, and was replaced at his position by Andy Kosco. Unlike Jeter, however, Mantle did not announce his retirement in that season of 1968 but rather the following March before the start of spring training in 1969.

Jeter had made a pact with manager Joe Girardi that he would make two plate appearances as the designated hitter, the same as he did Saturday. Jeter did not play Friday night because he was exhausted from all the tension and excitement of his Stadium exit game as well as his last as a shortstop. DJ lined out to short in the first inning. Batting with Ichiro Suzuki on third base after hitting a two-run triple in the third, Jeter hit chopper off the plate and beat it out for a single that drove in a run, his 50th RBI of the season, and settled his career hit total at 3,465, sixth on the all-time list.

At that point, Jeter came out of the game for a pinch runner, of all people, Brian McCann, one of the slowest runners in the majors (he even lost a pregame footrace to Mark Teixeira). Unlike last Thursday night when his emotions nearly got the best of him, Jeter was calm and flashed often his signature smile. While he left the game, he did not leave the dugout and cheered on his mates through a 9-5 victory.

The Red Sox had one more cool surprise for Jeter. They arranged for Bernie Williams, former Yankees center fielder and current road musician, to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his guitar for his old teammate during the seventh-inning stretch, a poignant moment that echoed the end of an era for the Yankees. Perhaps that is why the Red Sox celebrated the day.

Jeter, not always comfortable with the out-of-town attention this year and under some criticism lately for what seemed at times an over-merchandizing of his farewell tour, was grateful to the Red Sox for this parting glass.

What I will take mostly from this game was Jeter’s hit itself. He ran hard to first base as he did from Day One in a Yankees uniform, forcing an infielder to hurry and eventually be unable to make the play. Most Yankees fans would have surely loved to see Jeet rip one over the Green Monster to finish off his career, but the dash to first base exemplified what Jeter was all about the past 20 years. You run everything out. It is the only way he played every day.

Yanks get bullpen help in Derek Lowe

With David Phelps filling in momentarily for disabled CC Sabathia in the rotation, the Yankees needed to find length for the bullpen and did so Monday with the signing of Derek Lowe, who joined the team at Yankee Stadium Monday and was available for the night game against Texas.

The righthander, 39, was 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA in 21 starts and 119 innings for the Indians before he was designated for assignment Aug. 2 and released Aug. 10. Lowe’s career mark is 174-156 with 85 saves and a 4.01 ERA in 655 games, including 377 starts, over 16 major-league seasons with the Mariners, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves and Indians. He is one of three pitchers to have won at least 160 games and saved at least 80, along with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz.

“He’s a guy in our bullpen who can give us distance,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He has done well in a lot of different roles.”

Lowe has made 278 career relief appearances, going 18-22 with a 2.95 ERA in 381 innings and holding opponents to a .248 batting average. In his career, Lowe has compiled a 3.54 combined ERA from Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, nearly three-quarters of a run lower than his combined ERA to start the season through July 31 (4.22).

The most successful period of Lowe’s career came during his eight seasons in Boston. He and catcher Jason Varitek were acquired July 31, 1997 from the Mariners in a lopsided traded that only cost the Red Sox relief pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb. Lowe was 70-55 with 85 saves and a 3.72 ERA for the Red Sox. He pitched a no-hitter April 27, 2002 against Tampa Bay during a season when he was converted to a starter and was 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA. Two years earlier, Lowe led the American League in saves with 42 as Boston’s closer. He was named to AL All-Star squads in 2000 at Atlanta and 2002 at Milwaukee.

Lowe has made 23 postseason appearances, including 12 starts, and has a 5-7 record with one save and a 3.21 ERA in 95 1/3 innings. When the Red Sox ended their 86-year drought and won the World Series in 2004, Lowe was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of all three of their postseason series – Game 3 of the AL Division Series sweep of the Angels, Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees and Game 4 of the World Series sweep of the Cardinals.

Truthfully, that was many years ago. In recent seasons, Lowe has struggled. He led the National League in losses last year when he was 9-17 for the Braves. Over the past two seasons, Lowe has a 17-27 record with a 5.24 ERA. As with Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees are hoping that a return to a contending club might rejuvenate Lowe, who has never been on the disabled list.

Just a piece of cake for Yanks-Red Sox rivalry

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry will take on a different, er, flavor with a cupcake competition this week involving former Bombers center fielder Bernie Williams and former Boston catcher Jason Varitek.

Georgetown Cupcake owner Sophie LaMontagne, star of The Learning Channel’s DC Cupcakes program, will team with Williams against her sister, Katharine Kallinis, and Varitek, to see which team can sell the most cupcakes over a six-day period through Sunday, July 22.

Williams and LaMontagne are offering the New York Pinstripe Pretzel, a Valrhona chocolate cake baked with butterscotch chips and crushed pretzels, topped with a butterscotch-infused buttercream frosting. Varitek’s and Kallinis’ entry is the Green Monstah cupcake, a green version of Georgetown Cupcake’s signature red velvet cupcake topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting.

The Boston-vs.-New York/Sister-vs.-Sister completion will begin Tuesday with Bernie’s arrival at Georgetown Cupcake’s Soho store at 111 Mercer Street between Spring and Prince Streets. Sophie chose to donate all proceeds of her special New York cupcake sales to Bernie’s charity, Hillside Food Outreach, which delivers groceries to needy families in Westchester and Putnam counties.

Varitek will join Kallinis Thursday at Boston’s Faneuil Hall to boost sales to support his charity, Pitching for Kids. The non-profit youth organization is dedicated to improving the lives of children across New England.

This is one case where the rivalry will have no losers.

Valentine keeps sniping

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was expected to get a little more juice (as if that was needed) when Bobby Valentine gave up his cozy cushion at ESPN for the hot seat belonging to Boston’s manager. Bobby V got the tweaking started before spring training with his quips about Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, and he added to it Thursday night by criticizing Yankees manager Joe Girardi for refusing to continue playing in the 10th inning of a 4-4 game because he had run out of pitchers.

“They had plenty of pitching,” Valentine told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. “The umpire came over and said we couldn’t play. I don’t care about not playing. It’s just, ‘Why do I have to warm up my pitcher, who’s trying to make a team — come in a tie game against the Yankees and maybe help him make a team — and instead, he has to walk off the mound and take a shower?’ That’s just not very courteous.”

Let us all try to remember that this is spring training. The games do not count. They are designed for players to get work in preparation for the regular season. Yes, Girardi still had some pitchers left, minor-leaguers, but the Yankees had a pair of split-squad games scheduled Friday, so why tax arms in a game that had already gone nine innings?

Before anyone gets on Girardi for taking his team off the field when a result had not yet been established, this is spring training. Yes, fans paid for their tickets, but they got what was guaranteed — nine innings of baseball — for what they paid for. Of course, this would not be allowed in a regular-season game, but spring training is different.

Girardi had burned one of his pitchers by having him throw a bullpen session after the Yankees had taken a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox’ comeback, climaxed by a suicide-squeeze play in the bottom of the ninth, left the Yankees vulnerable to using more pitchers less than 24 hours before playing was essentially a doubleheader.

This is really small stuff, but Valentine chose to mole-hill it. Get ready, Yankees fans, Bobby V will continue in this vein all year. Not long ago, he belittled Jeter’s famous shuttle toss to Jorge Posada to cut down Jeremy Giambi in Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series and doubted whether the Yankees practice that play during spring training, which they have done for more than a decade. The Red Sox new skipper also insulted Rodriguez when in praising retired catcher Jason Varitek pointed to his “beating up” A-Rod in a 2003 brawl at Fenway Park. Even Varitek was embarrassed by the remark.

Valentine should concentrate on his job, which is to try and replace Terry Francona, whose legacy of winning two World Series (with an 8-0 Series record) should not be completely tarnished by Boston’s el-fold-o in the last month of 2011.

Yanks can’t find knockout punch against Beckett

The Yankees had Josh Beckett on the ropes, a position they had not come close to putting him in this season, but they allowed the righthander to squirm out of it Wednesday night and ended up losing so that it is now impossible for them to leave Boston after Thursday night’s finale of the three-game series in first place in the American League East.

The Yanks found themselves in the same spot they were when they arrived at Fenway Park, 1 ½ games behind (1 in the loss column) behind the first-place Sox after a 9-5 loss that really stung. Phil Hughes failed to hold leads of 1-0 and 5-4, the second the most disturbing, and may have failed to hang on to his spot in the rotation as well, particularly if A.J. Burnett can finally come up with a big performance Thursday night, which is now decidedly necessary if the Yanks want to keep the Red Sox in their headlights.

Beckett had been lights out against the Yankees all season. The four runs they scored in the sixth inning was one more than they had scored off Beckett in 27 innings against him heading into this game. Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez came through with RBI doubles to tie the score. Eduardo Nunez put the Yankees ahead with a sacrifice fly, but that turned out to be the first of 12 straight outs by them through the end of the game as Beckett stiffened with a perfect seventh followed by duplicate efforts in the eighth by Daniel Bard and ninth by Jonathan Palelbon.

The game was there for the taking for the Yankees at 5-4, but Hughes ran into trouble in the sixth with a one-out walk to Josh Reddick, who scored the tying run on Jason Varitek’s double into the left field corner. Marco Scutaro made the second out on a scorcher to center, which had manager Joe Girardi bringing in Boone Logan to face Jacoby Ellsbury.

Logan’s stretch of 11 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run ended as Ellsbury homered over the Green Monster to make it 7-5 Boston. That was an absolute crushing blow for the Yankees, who never recovered. Varitek struck again with a two-run home run in the eighth off Luis Ayala to complete what turned out to be an onslaught. Beckett improved to 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA against the Yankees this season and 14-7 despite a 5.36 ERA in his career.

The series is even at one game apiece, but the Red Sox’ offense has hardly been quiet. Boston has banged out 25 hits – 11 for extra bases – and probably should have won two blowouts if not for having only four hits in 22 at-bats (.182) with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox have clubbed the Yankees this year, batting .299 with a .482 slugging percentage and outscoring them, 86-56.

The Yankees are batting .226 with a .369 slugging percentage against the Red Sox, who have dominated the season series with 11 victories in 14 games. Wednesday night, the Yankees had only six hits, including two singles by Derek Jeter, who had 41 hits this August, the most in a month for him since August 2009 (46).