Results tagged ‘ Javier Vazquez ’

Gardner saves Rivera again

Brett Gardner came to Mariano Rivera’s rescue again. The way Gardner looked at it, a Yankees hitter picking up Mo was due for all the game’s greatest closer has meant to the team the past 19 seasons.

“I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times,” Gardner said. “Things like that happen.”

Well, not quite. Rivera had never blown three consecutive save opportunities before the past five days nor had he ever allowed two home runs in a save opportunity. That was the case Sunday when trying to nail down a 4-2 victory over the Tigers Mo gave up solo shots to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez that tied the score.

“There’s always a first time,” Rivera said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff; just go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven’t done it. You have to continue battling.”

But in the last two of those blown-save situations, the Yankees came back to win the game with Gardner getting the climactic hit each time. Friday night after Cabrera stunned Rivera with a two-run bomb over Monument Park in the top of the ninth, Gardner won it for the Yankees with a single in the bottom of the 10th. Sunday it was Gardner who put the Yankees over the top again with his first career walk-off home run, off Jose Veras.

“That’s the first time I ever hit a walk-off homer and might be the last,” Gardner said. “I’ve had a couple of seeing-eye singles, up the middle and through the left side, but never a home run like that. It felt good. It didn’t matter if it was me or somebody else; we just needed to get a win today. I was glad we made it happen.”

It was a happening all right. The Yankees won two of three games from the club with the best record in the American League. It was the first winning series for the Yankees since July 5-7 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Before Sunday, the Yankees had endured eight consecutive non-winning series (five losses, three splits), their longest such stretch in 22 years.

Gardner’s walk-off homer was the second of the season for the Yankees. The other was by Ichiro Suzuki June 25 against the Rangers at the Stadium. Gardner’s eight home runs are the most he has hit in one season. With 23 career homers, the Yankees are 20-3 in those games.

Rivera allowed two home runs in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since May 7, 2009 to the Rays’ Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Sunday was the first time Mo was taken deep twice in a save opportunity, however.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, the fewest runs he has allowed in a game since June 8 at Seattle and the fewest in a game at the Stadium since April 4 against the Red Sox. The run off Pettitte came in the first inning, marking the eighth straight start in which he has been scored upon in the first inning, equaling a franchise-record streak by Javier Vazquez from April 3 to May 15, 2011.

With his first home run of the season, Alex Rodriguez passed Stan Musial into fifth place in career RBI with 1,951. It was career homer No. 648 for A-Rod, who is 12 behind fourth-place Willie Mays on the all-time list.

Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run (No. 20) in the fourth inning was his 2,000th career hit. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that Soriano is one of four players who made their major league debuts with the Yankees in the past 60 years to get at least 2,000 career hits, joining Derek Jeter (3,308), Bernie Williams (2,336) and Don Mattingly (2,153). Sori also joined the Red Sox’ David Ortiz as the only players to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past 12 seasons (2002-13).

David Robertson allowed a solo home run to Brayan Pena at the start of the eighth inning. It ended D-Rob’s 20 1/3-inning scoreless stretch dating to June 19. Robertson still has a streak of holding opponents hitless each of their past 23 at-bats with runners on base.

Kuroda has found a home at Yankee Stadium

There is always concern whether a pitcher who has had success in the National League can transfer that to the American League where lineups tend to be deeper because of the designated hitter rule. This is particularly true in the AL East where pitchers get very little margin for error. Go ask Javier Vazquez or A.J. Burnett.

The issue came up when the Yankees signed Hiroko Kuroda in the off-season. The Japanese-born righthander was a sturdy if unspectacular starter with the Dodgers who had a 41-46 record and 3.45 ERA over four seasons in Los Angeles. I can remember Lou Piniella saying years ago that teams needed to be careful when acquiring pitchers from the Dodgers because their statistics are aided greatly by the conditions at Dodger Stadium where the dimensions are deep and where the ball does not travel well in the damp southern California air, especially at night.

So along comes Kuroda, who seems to have turned that theory upside-down. Yankee Stadium, with its cozy right-field porch and other hitter-friendly amenities, is hardly a pitchers’ dream, but Kuroda has pitched better in the Bronx than he ever did in Chavez Ravine.

His latest success story at the Stadium was Wednesday’s rain-shortened, 6-0 seven-inning victory. Kuroda gave up a double and three singles, did not walk a batter and struck out five in improving his record to 9-7 with a 3.46 ERA.

In 11 starts at Yankee Stadium this year, Kuroda is 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA and has held opponents to a .219 batting average with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 270 at-bats. Just think; in his years at Dodger Stadium, Kuroda was barely a .500 pitcher with a 20-21 record and 3.43 ERA.

The Yankees wasted no time in providing Kuroda a comfort level as they struck for four runs in the first inning off Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero. On a day when figurines of his likeness were distributed to fans, Mark Teixeira followed a double by Derek Jeter and a run-scoring single by Nick Swisher with a home run. One out later, Robinson Cano doubled and came home on a single by Andruw Jones.

Cano ran his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest for the Yankees since Jeter had a 25-gamer in 2006 from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16. Cano is batting .402 with 14 runs, six doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI during the streak.

The rally guaranteed that the Yankees would extend their team steak of games in which they have scored three or more runs to 42, a franchise record and six shy of the major league mark by the 1994 Indians.

Jayson Nix, who played for the Blue Jays last year, got his second straight start against Toronto and kept up his assault on his former team. Nix, who played shortstop as Jeter was the DH, has 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and three runs this year against his old mates.

It was part of a good day for the Yanks’ bench. DeWayne Wise, who spelled Curtis Granderson in center field, had a double, a single and two RBI.

The Yankees finished the 5-1 homestand with their eighth series sweep, one shy of last year’s total. It was their third series sweep at home this year. The others were June 8-10 against the Mets and June 25-27 against the Indians.

The Blue Jays, once considered contenders in the American League East, fell two games under .500 and into last place, 12 ½ games behind the division-leading Yankees. Toronto had 1-for-25 (.040) with runners in scoring position in the series and lost two position players. Outielder Jose Bautista was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a left wrist strain. Third baseman Brett Lawrie bruised his right calf tumbling into the photographer’s well next to the visitors’ dugout. It has been that kind of year for the Blue Jays, who lost three starting pitchers to injury in the same week last month.

The Yankees are off to the West Coast for a four-game series at Oakland and a three-game set at Seattle, and I am off to Cooperstown, N.Y., for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

Huge start for Hughes

Phil Hughes was back at zero Saturday night. No more concern about his workload now that the Yankees are in the post-season.

The Yankees kept close watch all season on the innings total for Hughes, who had pitched mostly out of the bullpen last year. He beat out Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre in spring training for the fifth starter’s job and had such a good year that he passed Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett on the rotation ladder and finished with the second highest victory total on the staff with 18, three behind ace CC Sabathia.

Hughes enjoyed the finest run support among pitchers who qualified for the ERA title at 7.45 runs per nine innings (7.49 in his starts; he also won one game in relief), and Game 3 of the American League Division Series was no different. The Yankees had to come from behind to win the first two games of the series but this time they had a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning.

Hughes didn’t pitch to the scoreboard but rather to the situation. His focus was such that the game may as well have been scoreless as far as he was concerned. The Yankees were poised to push him beyond 100 pitches, but Hughes dusted off the Twins on nine pitches in the seventh to keep the total at 99.

After three perfect innings, Hughes gave up a leadoff single in the fourth to Denard Span, who was quickly erased on a double play. Armed with the five-run lead, Hughes faced his first tough situation in the fifth after Delmon Young singled and Jim Thome walked. Hughes struck out Michael Cuddyer on a foul tip off a 94-mph fastball and got Danny Valencia on a popup.

In the sixth, the Twins put runners on first and second with two-out singles by Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer. Hughes then went to work on Jason Kubel, spinning a breaking ball for a called strike one, getting a foul ball off a 91-mph fastball and burning 93-mph heat past him for strike three.

Four singles and a walk were all the Twins could manage in seven innings against Hughes, who even outdid Sabathia and Andy Pettitte in his first career post-season start, a magnificent job.

Vazquez comes up small

If Javier Vazquez was pitching Wednesday night for a spot on the Yankees’ post-season roster – and he almost certainly was – it was not an ideal audition in Toronto. The Yankees showed they placed value on the game by starting an 80-percent A-list lineup on the night after clinching a playoff berth.

Manager Joe Girardi decided to hold Andy Pettitte back to Friday night at Boston and handed the ball to Vazquez, who began the season in the rotation but eventually pitched himself into the second tier of the bullpen because of too many outings that resembled this last start. The Blue Jays jumped on Vazquez for seven runs and 10 hits, including three home runs, in 4 2/3 innings. Javy walked two batters, threw a wild pitch and had no strikeouts, but at least he did not hit any batters as he did in his previous appearance Sunday night when he plunked three Red Sox in a row.

Girardi still has decisions to make about his post-season staff, but it would appear the locks are starters CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett and relievers David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera. Assuming that the Yankees will go with an 11-man staff, that would leave two openings with the candidates being Vazquez, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, Ivan Nova and Royce Ring.

Perhaps I am making a big assumption about Burnett, who has been horrid in the second half, but the Yankees will need four starters. There has been some good talk about Nova, but he is a rookie with no post-season experience. As inconsistent as A.J. has been, his track record is superior to the others, including Vazquez, who did not advance his case in the 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays.

There is a good chance the Yankees will take several looks this week at Ring, who spent most of the year at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but has big-league experience and would give Girardi a second left-handed option out of the pen along with Logan, an option most managers would love. Ring retired the only batter he faced Wednesday night. The most impressive inning from an auditioning pitcher was by Mitre, who struck out the side in the eighth.

Vazquez needed to prove he can be an effective innings soaker but was little more than a punching bag and put the Yankees in a 7-0 hole in the fifth. Like many other games this September, the Yankees had to go uphill throughout the evening.

Toronto lefthander Brett Cecil shut them down for five innings before making the mistake of hitting Robinson Cano with a pitch after Alex Rodriguez had homered leading off the sixth. That’s 14 seasons of at least 30 homers and 100 RBI for A-Rod. The Yankees tagged Cecil for two more runs, but the rally died on a double play. The Jays hung on to improve Cecil’s record against the Yankees this year to 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA, which is Roy Halladay territory.

The loss ruined the Yankees’ opportunity to move ahead of the Rays in the American League East standings. Tampa Bay maintains a one-game edge in the loss column.

Rays take season series from Yanks

The rematch of American League Cy Young Award candidates CC Sabathia and David Price Thursday night at Yankee Stadium did not duplicate their pairing of Sept. 13 at Tropicana Field when both lefthanders pitched eight shutout innings in a game the Rays won, 1-0, in the 11th.

Neither was involved in the decision 10 days ago, but they were this time. Sabathia blew a 3-1 lead in the sixth as Tampa Bay scored seven times and went on to coast to a 10-3 victory that improved Price’s record to 18-6. CC fell to 20-7 for a performance in which he allowed the most runs, seven, in any of his starts this year.

The Yankees stung Price early and had a chance to do more damage, but they let him off the ropes by stranding the bases loaded in both the fifth and sixth innings. Price was particularly impressive in the fifth by getting Robinson Cano on an infield pop and striking out Marcus Thames, who had homered off him earlier. If Price stays on turn, he would make two more starts and have a shot to win 20

Sabathia appeared to lose confidence in his fastball in the sixth and inexplicably walked the 8- and 9-hole hitters to force in the go-ahead run. Joba Chamberlain then gave up a two-run double to B.J. Upton and a two-run single to Carl Crawford to make the score 8-3.

Earlier in the day at Toronto, Mariners righthander Felix Hernandez lost again to fall to 12-12, but he gave up only one run – on Jose Bautista’s 50th home run – in his sixth complete game and had his ERA drop to 2.31. Despite his .500 won-lost record, King Felix remains a Cy Young candidate because of his gaudy statistics other than victories. He is also victimized by one of the worst offensive teams since the designated hitter came to the AL in 1973. Seattle has scored two or fewer runs in 15 of Hernandez’s 33 starts. He is 2-10 despite a 2.84 ERA in those starts.

The Yankees have more things to worry about than whether Sabathia will win the Cy Young Award. A split of the four-game set with the Rays prevented the Yankees from putting some space between them and Tampa Bay in the AL East standings. It would have helped since the Rays have the lighter schedule the rest of the way with two three-game home series against the Marines and Orioles and a four-game trip to Kansas City while the Yankees finish up at home this weekend with the Red Sox and then travel to Toronto and Boston. Another break for the Rays is that they won’t have to face Hernandez in the Seattle series.

Also, by winning Thursday night, the Rays took the season series, 10-8, which means that if the teams remained tied (which they are in the loss column), then Tampa Bay would win the division based on head-to-head matchups.

For the Yankees, this was a disappointing game and a bit of a bizarre one. In the seventh inning, Javier Vazquez hit three batters in a row with pitches, tying a major-league record (eighth time), most recently done by the Dodgers’ Jeff Weaver in 2004. As any Yankees fan knows, doing something Jeff Weaver did is not a good thing.

Javy rallied to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth. Let’s face it; he is pitching for a spot on the post-season roster that is anything but a lock for him.

Girardi does his homework

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been careful not to go into great detail about his post-season pitching plans until the team clinches a playoff spot, which is smart. The playoff berth may be a foregone conclusion, but nobody wants to look presumptuous. Notice that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t announce his post-season rotation until the day after Minnesota clinched the American League Central title.

All that Girardi has conceded thus far is that the Yankees will have a four-man rotation in the playoffs. In 2009, the post-season schedule had more open dates than it will this year, and that allowed Girardi to go through the whole post-season by starting only three pitchers – CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. In 2010, Girardi will need a fourth starter, and the likely addition will be Phil Hughes.

There has been speculation in some media outlets that the Yankees might use Hughes out of the bullpen as they did a year ago and perhaps insert rookie Ivan Nova as the fourth starter (if the Yankees get to the World Series, maybe they would consider Javier Vazquez because of his success against National League competition).

While it is true that the Yankees have kept a close watch on Hughes’ workload, Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman have pointed out that everything goes back to zero with the righthander once post-season play begins. And remember that Hughes pitched out of the bullpen for the majority of the 2009 regular season whereas this year he has been primarily a starter.

The second-half improvement of Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson and the addition of Kerry Wood have the Yankees in good shape with regard to right-handed relief. Hughes will continue to be monitored closely for the rest of the regular season and deserves the chance to start in the playoffs.

Girardi did not dismiss Nova completely, saying, “I’m going to make a decision now. But he has the least amount of experience, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Some Yankees followers have also suggested Nova would be better in the rotation than Burnett, who is winless in his past four starts since Sept. 1 and has lost 12 of his past 16 decisions. Burnett’s 10-14 record and 5.05 ERA belies the fact that he pitches for a team that is tied for the best record in the majors. Despite that, it is hard to imagine that the Yankees would consider dropping Burnett from the rotation entirely.

Girardi still has time to sort all this out. The rest of us just have to be patient.

Important for Yanks to maintain edge

Halfway through this four-game showdown between the American League East contenders at Yankee Stadium, the series has played out far differently from last week at Tropicana Field where the Yankees and Rays had three one-run games, two of which went into extra innings.

The Yankees have won the first two games handily to open a 2 -game lead and are guaranteed to be in first place at the end of this series regardless of how the final two games play out. This is important because once these clubs are finished playing each other in the regular season, the remaining schedule benefits the Rays, whose final three series are all against last-place teams.

The Rays return home to play three-game sets against the Mariners and Orioles and then finish up with a four-game series against the Royals in Kansas City. The Yankees close out their home schedule this coming weekend against the Red Sox, then travel to Toronto and Boston for three games apiece.

“We still have a lot of games left, and we need to play good baseball throughout,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Given an early, five-run lead Tuesday night, Phil Hughes struggled and had some dicey moments in the third and fourth innings when the Rays threaten to get back in the game, but he came away relatively unscathed by allowing only one run in those innings. That took a toll on his pitch count, but Hughes finished strong with 1-2-3 work in the fifth and sixth.

Girardi allowed Hughes to start the seventh, stretching the righthander to 112 pitches before calling on Javier Vazquez with one out and a runner on first base. That runner eventually scored, but Hughes was still in position for his 17th victory as the Yankees prevailed, 8-3, and have outscored Tampa Bay in the series, 16-9.

Hughes is not right up against 170 innings, so it just may be that Tuesday night’s start was his last. If the Yankees want to keep him fresh for the post-season, they could back him off and use him in short relief stints. Then again, Hughes may be needed to start if the battle for first place is still tight. Time will tell about that.

“He didn’t have command of his curve and got into some long counts,” Girardi said of Hughes. “He used his changeup more, and that has become a pretty good weapon.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman pointed out before the game that post-season assignments will be based on merit, not contract status, so the starters know they have to show effectiveness from here on out to earn spots in the rotation.

The Yankees treated Rays starter James Shields in the first inning like they used to. His nickname is “Big Game,” but before this year that rarely applied to his outings against the Yankees. The Yankees ran into a different Shields in earlier starts in 2010. He was 2-0 against them before Tuesday night after having gone 1-7 against them prior to this season.

Nick Swisher got things started with his 27th home run. The Yankees were most impressive with three consecutive, two-outs hits – a single by Jorge Posada, a two-run double by Lance Berkman and a single by Curtis Granderson – to finish off a five-spot inning.

For a while there, it looked as if the Yankees were finished scoring. Shields settled down, and the Yankees did not get on the board again until the seventh against the Tampa Bay bullpen. A bloop double to left by Robinson Cano off lefthander Randy Choate scored two more two-out runs.

That gave the Yankees some breathing room, which they needed in the eighth when the Rays loaded the bases with one out. Joba Chamberlain was to the task, however, getting a big strikeout of pinch hitter Brad Hawpe on a 3-2 slider and retiring John Jaso on a fly ball to center.

The Yankees had one more two-out run up their sleeve on doubles by Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter in the eighth. Don’t look now, but the recently-maligned captain has a 10-game hitting streak in which he is batting .311 with four doubles and five RBI in 45 at-bats. It must be getting close to October.

Javy has no cause to gripe

In his previous start, Javier Vazquez was removed from the game with two outs in the fifth inning with the Yankees ahead, thereby denied the chance for a winning decision. After the game, Vazquez made it clear that he was not in agreement with manager Joe Girardi’s decision. The bullpen eventually lost Vazquez’s lead, but the Yankees won in the later innings.

Friday night in Texas, Vazquez made it through the fifth but barely. After giving up a leadoff single to Ian Kinsler in the sixth, Vazquez was lifted for reliever Boone Logan. Again, Vazquez was not happy about the situation even though Girardi took him out with the Yankees leading by two runs. That meant Vazquez still had a shot at being the winning pitcher and was guaranteed that he could not be the loser.

Kinsler ended up scoring that inning, but the Yankees remained ahead, 5-4, until the eighth when Joba Chamberlain, not Girardi, cost Vazquez the pitching victory by yielding a game-tying home run to Nelson Cruz.

Vazquez and Girardi have gone back and forth all season, but is it the manager’s fault? Vazquez was skipped twice in the rotation back in May when he was struggling and he came out of the rotation last month after another rough stretch but he eventually earned himself a return to starting duty.

But the numbers do not lie. The only reason Vazquez is a game over .500 with a 10-9 record is that he got a victory May 17 when Marcus Thames hit a walk-off home run against the Red Sox. It made a winner of Vazquez, who got one out – a big one, coming out of the bullpen to strike out Kevin Youkilis with runners on first and third in the top of the ninth.

The Yankees gave Vazquez a 4-1 lead in the third inning against the Rangers. An inning later, Vazquez made it a one-run game. He has a 5.09 ERA and no reason to sulk when taken out of games.

Playoff preview: oh, please

Enough of this playoff preview stuff already. That seems to be the theme a lot of writers and broadcasters are taking to describing the Yankees-Rangers series this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Except that it really isn’t.

Yes, if the season ended today the Yankees and Rangers would oppose each other in the American League Division Series. Yes, there is a good chance the Yankees will win the AL East and the Rangers the AL West. There are still four weeks left in the season. A lot can happen. The Yankees may have to settle for a wild-card berth, which would mean an ALDS date with the Twins instead.

Yet even if the Yankees and the Rangers are destined to meet in the playoffs, this series is no preview. A big to begin with is that Texas is currently without its best player, center fielder Josh Hamilton, who probably won’t play in this series while still recovering from a strained left ribcage. Hamilton just happens to be the leading candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Yankees’ rotation is another clue that this is no playoff preview. Does anyone believe for a minute that Javier Vazquez, Friday night’s starter, or Dustin Moseley, the projected starter for Sunday, would be in the rotation for a playoff series? Heck, the way he is going lately, Saturday night’s scheduled starter, A.J. Burnett, may be considered iffy as a post-season starter as well.

Yankees regular catcher Jorge Posada, who has been cleared to play after tests for concussion symptoms were negative, was available as a pinch hitter only and probably just in an emergency situation. Andy Pettitte, one of baseball’s top post-season pitchers, was to report to Texas Saturday after an encouraging start at Double A Trenton Thursday night. The lefthander will need to make one more minor-league start or simulated game before returning for major-league action not before Sunday, Sept. 19, at Baltimore.

It cannot be much of a playoff preview if that many significant players who could be major factors a month from now are missing, so let’s tone down the rhetoric.

Posada condition dampens walk-off win

This was going to be an uplifting post about a walk-off home run that prevented a disastrous end to what began as a very promising homestand for the Yankees. On precisely one year to the date of his previous game-winning home run, Nick Swisher squared up a 2-and-0 fastball from Orioles closer Koji Uehara and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.

This was the fourth walk-off victory of the year for the Yankees, who made a habit of these finishes in 2009 with 15. A.J. Burnett got the whipped-cream pie out and delighted the remains of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 44,163 who had not witnessed a scene so familiar last year since May 17 when Marcus Thames clocked Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The Yankees were still celebrating among each other when word came out during manager Joe Girardi’s post-game news conference that catcher Jorge Posada was undergoing tests at New York Presbyterian Hospital for concussion symptoms. That he was not in the lineup set off no signals because Posada is often rested in day games that follow night games.

It was not until the seventh inning when Francisco Cervelli batted for himself with two out and runners on first and third and the Yankees trailing by one run that some of us in the press box suspected that Posada was not available at all because this was an obvious pinch-hitting situation.

Jorgie took a foul ball by Nick Markakis off the left side of his mask Tuesday night. He mentioned it after the game to Girardi but did not seem overly concerned until he reported to the Stadium Wednesday and told the manager that he had trouble sleeping because of severe headaches. That’s when alarms sounded, and Posada went through a battery of tests and was sent off to see a neurologist.

This is no Sissy Mary. This is Jorge Posada, who is probably the toughest guy in the room. When he gets hurt, it is usually something pretty serious. Jorgie played a game with a bone fracture in his right foot before going on the disabled list in mid-May.

Concussions are nothing to fool with. The Mets have been without left fielder Jason Bay since July 25 when he collided into a wall at Dodger Stadium. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau suffered a concussion July 7 when he got hit in the head by a knee while sliding into second base and may not play again this season.

At this point, it would appear unlikely that Posada would make the 3 -hour flight from New York to Dallas that the Yankees have scheduled Thursday night even if the test results are in his favor. Air travel is one of the worst things for a person with concussion symptoms. The Mets made that mistake last year with outfielder Ryan Church, who never fully recovered from two concussions.

Yankees players were unaware of the Posada situation after Wednesday’s game. It was sobering news to all as well it should be.

“Obviously, we don’t want to lose anyone, and Jorge’s a crucial part of this team,” said Alex Rodriguez, who started the ninth-inning comeback with a leadoff single. “So we have to hope for the best right now.”

The Yankees embark on a 10-day, nine-game trip through Texas, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Rangers and Rays are playoff-bound teams, and the Yankees discovered that under Buck Showalter the Orioles have gotten tougher.

“This was an important win for us,” A-Rod said. “To get swept at home is unacceptable.”

Yet it very nearly happened. After sweeping a four-game set from the Athletics and taking two of three games from the Blue Jays, the Yankees needed Swisher’s 26th home run, a jolt over the left-center field fence, to avoid losing three in a row to the last-place Orioles.

Impressive ensemble pitching by the young Orioles staff quieted Yankees bats until Swisher’s blow kept the broom in the closet. Post-game merriment was muted once Posada’s condition became known. The Yankees are headed for the backstretch of their season having to rely on Cervelli and fellow backup Chad Moeller, who a week ago was in the minor leagues.

“If I got to do it, I got to do it,” Cervelli said. “I have been learning a lot here.”

The Yankees are skipping Phil Hughes for a turn in the rotation and will go with Javier Vazquez, Burnett and Dustin Moseley in Texas. They were clinging to the hope that they would not have to skip their catcher as well.