Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Lucroy ’

2-for-2 for No. 2 in final All-Star Game

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MINNEAPOLIS — It did not take Derek Jeter very long to get involved in the 2014 All-Star Game. On the very first play of the game, Jeter made a diving stop of a hard grounder toward the middle by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, but the reigning National League Most Valuable Player beat the throw to first base for a single.

McCutchen never stopped running that inning. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch during the at-bat of Yasiel Puig, who struck out, and stole third base as Troy Tulowitzki struck out. Mac never made it home, however, as Paul Goldschmidt grounded out to third.

The Twins, who have done a magnificent job as host of the All-Star Game, came up with a nice touch by having a tape of the late Yankees public address voice Bob Sheppard announce Jeter as he stepped to the plate as the first American League hitter in the bottom of the first inning. The tape was apparently from the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

The Target Field crowd was generous with its applause and gave Jeter a standing ovation. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove and the ball on the rubber and stepped back off the mound in joining his NL teammates in applauding Jeter, who removed his helmet, waved to the crowd and pointed to both dugouts. He motioned to Wainwright to start pitching, but the Cardinals ace remained behind the mound for probably a full minute before taking position.

As play resumed, fans treated the Captain to a “Der-ek Jee-ter” chant familiar to the roll call the bleacher creatures at the Stadium salute him with every night, another cool touch. Jeet got things started for the AL with one of his patented line drives to right field that went into the corner as Jeter legged out a double. The crowd loved it.

And how about that to those who thought Jeter should not have been the AL’s leadoff hitter? One swing, and he was in scoring position. Not bad, eh?

Angels outfielder Mike Trout got Jeter home with the AL’s second extra-base hit of the inning, a triple off the right field wall that the Dodgers’ Yasieal Puig played poorly. After Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano struck out, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera got the AL’s third extra-base hit of the inning, a home run to left field. The score was 3-0, and the Americans had not had a single yet. Perhaps Wainwright should have stayed off the mound.

The National League, which was shut out at Citi Field last year, closed to 3-2 in the second on RBI doubles by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy to end a 15-inning scoreless streak dating to 2012 at Kansas City.

Jeter was a leadoff hitter again in the third inning against Reds righthander Alfredo Simon and got the AL’s first single on another hit to right field. A wild pitch advanced Jeter into scoring position this time, but he was stranded.

Before the start of the fourth inning, AL manager John Farrell of the Red Sox sent White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez onto the field to replace Jeter, who was showered with another round of long applause while the PA system played Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” that is heard at the end of every Yankees home game.

Jeter again waved to the crowd, pointed to the NL dugout and then shook the hands of every one of his teammates in the AL dugout and urged on by the crowd came onto the field once more to acknowledge their cheers. He left All-Star competition with a .481 career average in 27 at-bats and seemed in place for maybe another game Most Valuable Player Award to match the one he received in 2000 at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

One stumbling block to that was the NL tying the score in the fourth on another RBI double by Lucroy, this time off White Sox lefthander Chris Sale. That opened the door for Trout, who with his second extra-base hit of the game, a double in the fifth, gave the AL the lead and put him in position to be the MVP.

But if the fans here had their choice, I’m sure they would vote for Jeter.

Just another All-Star Game for Jeter

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MINNEAPOLIS — It was typical of Derek Jeter to take a matter-of-fact approach to the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field and not place any special significance of his last go-round among the top players of the game.

The FOX network that is broadcasting Tuesday night’s event had wanted to have a microphone on Jeter to record his throughs during the game. You know his answer to that, an emphatic no. Yankees fans would have been proud of Jeter’s appearance at Monday’s media session at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. While most players were dressed casually, there was Jeter in a power blue suit complete with tie. Classy, as usual.

“I don’t go into things with expectations,” Jeter told reporters. “I’m looking forward to playing the game, and I pretty much stopped it right there. I’ve always enjoyed All-Star Games, and I’ve always appreciated it, so I don’t think I’ll treat this one any differently. Everybody wants me to be so emotional all of the time, but I’m coming here to play the game, and everything else that comes with it, I don’t know.”

Opposing catcher Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers for one cannot wait to see what the reaction to Jeter will be.

“When he comes to the plate, you know he’s going to get a two-minute standing ovation,” Lucroy said. “I was telling my wife, ‘What am I going to do? It’s going to be awkward.’ I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my hands. I may drop everything and start cheering myself.”

Jeter has been pretty coy about this farewell tour stuff, not wanting teams to over-do it. He’s a different sort from Mariano Rivera, who basked in the glow of his farewell tour a year ago. Jeter just wants to go about his business. There is still baseball to play this year. He is still wearing a Yankees uniform. He is still ready to contribute on a daily basis.

I cannot believe that some writers criticized American League manager John Farrell of the Red Sox for batting Jeter leadoff in the game, claiming the Yankees captain was not deserving due to his .272 batting average. Give me a break. Have these people no sense of propriety. Jeter earned the spot not just for this season but for all 19 years that preceded it.

I would like to remind these critics that Jeter has had one of the best All-Star careers in the game’s history. He took a .440 average into Tuesday night’s game with five runs, one double, one home run and three RBI in 25 at-bats. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2000 game at Turner Field in Atlanta when he went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Later that year, he was the MVP of the Yankees’ World Series triumph over the Mets. His All-Star home run came in 2001 at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Farrell is not alone in his admiration for Jeter. Listen to what two other managers, AL coaches Ron Gardenhire of the Twins and Terry Francona of the Indians, had to say about Jeter to USA Today:

“Although he has kicked our butt a lot of times and knocked us out of the playoffs, I admire him so much,” Gardenhire said, referring to the Yankees beating the Twins, 12-2, in postseason games with Jeter at shortstop.

Added Francona, “That’s the single high point of being here, to watch him in person. I am thrilled. He represents what is good about this game.”

Chiming in was National League shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies: “He’s everything I always wanted to be. He’s why I play shortstop. He’s why I wear No. 2. And to be starting across the side opposite side of him in his final All-Star Game will definitely be cool.”

It was also typical of Jeter when asked his favorite All-Star moment not to pick a game in which he starred. He picked the 1999 game at Fenway Park in Boston when he was 0-for-1. What made it special to Jeter was that the All-Century Team was honored before the game.

“All those great players on the field, and I get a tap on my shoulder,” Jeter recalled. “It’s Hank Aaron. He said he was looking for me because he wanted to meet me. He wants to meet me? That’s one of the best moments on the baseball field that stands out for me.”

In the same vein, commissioner Bud Selig commented on Jeter during his annual question-and-answer session at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s All-Star meeting at the Marriott City Center Hotel.

“If you said two decades ago that this is the guy you wanted to be the face of baseball and being what this generation will remember, you couldn’t have written a script better,” Selig said. “I said to a friend of mine last night talking about Henry Aaron, ‘How lucky can you be to have an American icon like Henry Aaron?’ How lucky can this sport be to have an icon for this generation like Derek Jeter? He has just been remarkable.”

Yanks too much for sloppy Brew Crew

The Zack Greinke the Yankees faced Tuesday night was not the Zack Greinke who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009. Now in the National League with the Brewers, Greinke went into the game with a good record – 7-2 – but a poor ERA – 4.77 – which only got worse – 5.63 – after his two dreadful innings.

The Yankees had success against Greinke in his years with Kansas City when he was 2-3 with a 5.27 ERA against them, but Tuesday night was simply ridiculous. They knocked him out with seven runs on five hits and three walks in two innings. Greinke also hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and gave up a well-struck home run to Nick Swisher, who has been on fire lately.

The first inning was truly bizarre. Greinke began it by hitting Brett Gardner with a pitch. Curtis Granderson followed with a fly ball that center fielder Nyjer Morgan misplayed into a triple. Morgan turned the wrong way and then tripped as the ball fell free without his touching it. The Brewers played the infield back conceding the second run as Granderson scored on a grounder to second by Mark Teixeira.

Milwaukee next applied a shift defense against Alex Rodriguez with the second baseman, Rickie Weeks, playing behind the bag. This didn’t make sense to me since A-Rod has been hitting the ball to the right side quite a bit lately. Sure enough, he hit a grounder to the right side for a gift single.

One out later, the Yankees had the bases loaded after a walk to Swisher and a weird fielder’s choice on a grounder inside third by Jorge Posada. Third baseman Casey McGehee made a diving, back-handed stop but instead of going straight to the bag for the third out on a force he tried to tag Rodriguez, who eluded him and arrived safely.

Greinke avoided further damage when Russell Martin flied out to end the inning, but the Yanks started up quickly again in the second. Eduardo Nunez led off with a single. Gardner won a nine-pitch at-bat and walked. The two pulled off a double steal. Teixeira got his second RBI grounder, which was the second out, but Greinke couldn’t finish the inning off. He walked A-Rod, gave up a run-scoring single to Robinson Cano and grooved a 2-0 fastball to Swisher, who connected for his 10th home run.

Swish hit .213 with three home runs and 20 RBI over the first two months of the season in 169 at-bats. His low point was May 27 when he was batting .204. In 29 games since then, Swish has batted .320 with 14 runs, 8 doubles, 8 home runs, 23 RBI and 23 walks in 97 at-bats. The switch-hitter had been atrocious from the left side, but he has gradually worked those stats up to where he is finally over .200 (.211) with 7 home runs and 29 RBI in 175 at-bats.

Swisher, who got a fourth RBI with a double in the eighth, was active on both sides of the field Tuesday night. He threw out Corey Hart trying to score to end the sixth and was part of another inning-ending play in which a Brewers runner, Mat Gamel, was thrown out on the bases in the fourth.

After getting two RBI on balls that did not leave the infield, Teixeira picked up two more RBI in the sixth on a ball that left the yard, for his 24th home run. That kept Tex in a tie for the home run lead with the Blue Jays’ Juan Bautista, who also slugged his 24th at Toronto.

The Yankees poured it on to the extent that by the seventh when he was trailing, 11-2, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke started emptying his bench. So did Yanks manager Joe Girardi. That same inning, Hector Noesi took over for Freddy Garcia and threw 34 pitches – 24 combined to only two batters. Jonathan Lucroy got a well-earned single in a 13-pitch at-bat, and Noesi struck out Weeks on the 11th pitch of that at-bat.

There was plenty of weird stuff to go around in this one, but it was a great night all around for the Yankees, who pushed their lead in the AL East to 1 ½ games over the Red Sox, who were shut out by Cliff Lee at Philadelphia, and moved to a season-high 15 games over .500.