Results tagged ‘ Joel Peralta ’

Yanks barely over .500 at halfway point

There was a point Monday night when it seemed like Joe Girardi was managing as if this was Game 7 of the World Series instead of a game in late June.

The score was 2-2 in the eighth inning. Dellin Betances, the third of six Yankees pitchers in the game, had just walked two batters after two were out. Girardi hopped out of the dugout and made the call to David Robertson. Using his closer in the eighth inning of a tie game was certainly an indication that Girardi wanted to win this game badly.

Robertson and Betances have been the Yankees’ best relievers, but on this night neither got the job done. Robertson gave up a single to Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.

You cannot fault Girardi. After losing two of three games to American League East rivals in each of their previous three series, the skipper wanted very much to get a victory at the start of this series, the fifth straight against division foes.

Brian Roberts gave the Yankees that opportunity with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to right with one out in the ninth off Joel Peralta, whose blown save cost Yankee killer Chris Archer a winning decision.

Archer gave the Yankees his usual hard time, although he did blow a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Matt Joyce and Kevin Kiermaier by giving up two runs in the bottom of the third. Archer asked for trouble by hitting Ichiro Suzuki with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning. He came around to score on a triple to right by Brett Gardner. The Rays conceded a run by playing the infield back against Derek Jeter, who obliged with one of his four ground balls to second base in the game that scored Gardner.

And there it stood until the eighth when the Rays scratched that run off Betances and Robertson. David Phelps had started for the Yankees and gave up the two long balls but otherwise was solid. Roberts’ homer hung a no-decision on Archer, who is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA against the Yankees in his career, including 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Yankee Stadium.

Whatever lift Roberts’ shot gave the Yankees was short-lived. The Rays scored a run with two out in the 12th to send the Yankees to their third straight loss and put their record at 41-40 at the halfway mark of the season.

“It has been up and down,” Girardi said. “We have had our share of issues in the first half, but we’re still in the thick of it.”

Rookie Jose Ramirez walked Brandon Guyer with two out in the 12th. Guyer’s steal of second base was crucial, putting him in position to score on a single to center by Logan Forsythe. Rays reliever Brad Boxberger retired the Yankees in order in both the 11th and the 12th and was the winning pitcher.

Tampa Bay has been hit hardest in the division by injuries but still presented a problem for the Yankees Monday night.

Wells delivers big-time in the pinch

For the first time in more than a month, Vernon Wells found himself talking to reporters after a game about something other than struggling with the bat. A slump that had reached disastrous proportions – 9-for-his-previous 90 at-bats, a chilly .100 stretch – put him on the bench in favor of recent Triple A call-up Zoilo Almonte, already a crowd favorite at Yankee Stadium.

Wells tried not to get discouraged. He continues to work on a daily basis with batting coach Kevin Long to recover a stroke that got him off a strong start this year with the Yankees. So when manager Joe Girardi told him in the seventh inning to get ready that he may be needed off the bench, Wells saw that flame-throwing lefthander Jake McGee was in the Tampa Bay bullpen and went down the tunnel into the cage and hit some balls off a tee.

The call from the skipper came for Wells to bat for Chris Stewart after a bases-loaded walk to David Adams that got the Yankees to 5-4 in the game. With two out, a big hit was needed to put the Yankees in control. Wells got the big hit, his biggest in a long time, a bases-clearing double that headed the Yankees toward a 7-5 victory. With one swing, Wells drove in as many runs (three) as he had in his previous 97 at-bats combined.

“I never lost my confidence,” Wells said. “When you lose your confidence, you’re done.”

Wells concentrated on tracking McGee’s fastball. He decided to take the first pitch, which came in at 96 miles per hour and was a strike.

“I saw the ball really well and when I saw 96 on the scoreboard, I thought, ‘OK, at least I could see it,’ ” Wells said. “It’s the ones that go into the catcher’s mitt you don’t see that worry you. After that, I thought about getting a good swing and letting him supply the power. It felt good to hit a ball that didn’t land in somebody’s glove.”

The comeback victory was big for the Yankees, who coupled with the Orioles loss trail second-place Baltimore by only a half-game in the American League East standings. Meanwhile, the Rays’ loss dropped them into a virtual tie for fourth in the division with the red-hot Blue Jays, who won their 10th straight game.

“We have a chance to win a series against a division rival that has been tough on us, so this was an important victory,” Girardi said.

In many ways, it was a victory gift-wrapped from the opposition. Five Rays pitchers combined to walk nine batters, four of whom scored. Robinson Cano reached base five times, including a career-high four walks, the most for a Yankees player in a game since Alex Rodriguez May 15, 2009 against the Twins. Adams walked twice. He entered the game with zero walks in 86 major-league plate appearances. Tampa Bay also made two errors that resulted in three unearned runs, all driven in by Almonte with a two-run single and, of course, a bases-loaded walk.

A 3-1 Yankees lead all went away in the sixth inning when Wil Myers clouted his first major-league home run, a grand slam off a 0-1 fastball from CC Sabathia. The rookie’s drive to right-center was nearly caught by center fielder Brett Gardner but slammed off the top of the auxiliary scoreboard and into the stands.

Myers, who was called up from the minors two weeks ago, was the centerpiece of an off-season trade with the Royals in which the Rays surrendered pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. Tampa Bay seems to grow pitchers. Alex Colome, Saturday’s starter, has not allowed an earned run in two major-league starts totaling nine innings.

Girardi hit pay dirt with the Wells move but not the one that called for Evan Longoria to be walked intentionally to pitch to Myers. You can’t fault the manager there, however. Longoria had already homered in the game to continue a loud history against Sabathia (.383, four doubles and six home runs in 47 at-bats). Myers may be on the come but prior to that at-bat he had yet to prove himself. He may start making managers re-think their positions.

The Yankees caught a major break when Rays manager Joe Maddon replaced Alex Torres at the start of the seventh. The lefthander had retired the five batters he had faced – three on strikeouts – and the Yankees had three lefty batters due up that inning – Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay. Despite being right-handed, Joel Peralta has Maddon’s confidence in getting left-handed batters out. Peralta did retire Hafner but after walking Cano and before allowing a double to Overbay. A rally was in place. Walks to Almonte and Adams set the stage for Wells.

“In this game,” Wells said, “You never know what can happen.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Woes continue for Sabathia

For so long CC Sabathia has been high among the things you can count on around the Yankees that it is surprising to see him go through the stretch he has had the past month. CC bottomed out Sunday in an 8-3 loss to the Rays in which he was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits in seven innings. Clearly, seven was not a lucky number for Sabathia as the Yankees surrendered sole possession of first place in the American League East and dropped into a tie with the Red Sox, who come to Yankee Stadium later this week.

Perhaps surprising is not the word for Sabathia against the Rays or at Tropicana Field. The Rays have been a difficult opponent for the lefthander, whose career record against them fell below .500 (10-11) with a 3.48 ERA in 220 innings. At the Trop, CC is 3-7 with a 4.39 ERA in 108 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in the St. Petersburg, Fla., dome in two starts this season with 14 hits allowed, including five home runs, in 14 innings.

Sabathia remained winless since April 27 and over five starts in that stretch is 0-2 with three no-decisions and a 4.85 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with 37 hits allowed, five of them homers. His ERA for the season has climbed to 3.96.

Tepid velocity on his fastball has been an issue for Sabathia this season. The home runs by Sean Rodriguez, a two-run shot in the third, and James Loney, a three-run bomb in the sixth, were off ineffective fastballs. CC also didn’t help himself in a two-run second inning when the Rays got one hit, a soft single at that, by not covering first base on a play that prolonged the inning.

The Yankees could not afford such lax play on a day when Rays starter Alex Cobb, who is becoming something of a Yankee killer with a 3-1 mark and 2.21 ERA against them, was his usual stingy self against the Bombers. The righthander, who improved to 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA, took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning before Brett Gardner finally got the Yanks on the scoreboard with his fifth home run.

That ended Cobb’s scoreless streak against the Yankees at 22 1/3 innings. They got two more runs with assistance from wild reliever Cesar Ramos, who allowed two four-pitch walks and a two-run double by David Adams, before Joel Peralta restored order.

David Huff, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians and added to the roster Sunday, also had control issues in giving up a run in the eighth on two walks and a double to Desmond Jennings. From the seventh inning on this year, the Yankees have outscored opponents, 70-42. This was a game, however, that was decided long before the seventh inning.

Yanks still waiting for ace-like work from CC

It was a pretty somber clubhouse Friday night, as you would expect. A 6-4 loss to the Rays was not the way the Yankee wanted to open this homestand. With the Orioles playing on the West Coast, the Yanks faced the possibility of waking up Saturday in second place in the American League East for the first time in three months.

For the Yankees to survive this division race that grows tighter by the day, they will need CC Sabathia to pitch like the ace he has been since his arrival in 2009. That has not been the case, however, for four consecutive starts in which he has surrendered leads in each game.

Friday night’s advantage was only 1-0, but there was a time when that was sufficient for CC. He struggled through the fifth inning and allowed three runs on three hits, two walks and two wild pitches. One of those walks was to .193-hitting Carlos Pena.

“That’s when the inning got away from him,” manager Joe Girardi said.

“I’m not making pitches when I need to,” Sabathia said. “When I get a lead and give it up against someone like David Price, that’s tough. Every game I right now is crucial. My arm feels good; my body feels good. I’ve just got to get back to pitching the way I know I am capable.”

Price, an AL Cy Young Award candidate, added to his credentials with seven strong innings. The score was 5-2 Rays when the lefthander exited as Rays manager Joe Maddon did the Yankees a favor by making a pitching change that I found questionable. Tampa Bay was coming off a 14-inning loss that completed a three-game sweep at Baltimore and had fallen four games behind in the division race. This was as big a must-win situation as the Rays could have, yet Maddon let Price call it a night and brought in Joel Peralta!

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez could not have said “Thank you, Joe” loud enough with a double and a home run, respectively, in the bottom of the eighth to get the Yankees to 5-4. Maddon came to his senses and relied on Fernando Rodney for a five-out save, which he got, aided by a tack-on run in the ninth created by a clutch, two-out steal of second base by Desmond Jennings and an error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

So Price ended up with his 18th victory of the season and the Rays their 10th in 16 games against the Yankees this year while Sabathia remained winless in four starts since Aug. 24. He is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA and 30 hits allowed in 27 innings during the stretch.

“I still believe in CC,” Girardi said. “I’m with him every day in that clubhouse, and I know his heart.”

Even in a quiet clubhouse, it was hard to hear the Yankees’ collective heart beating.