Results tagged ‘ Kevin Youkilis ’

No action for Yanks as trade deadline passes

The non-waiver trading deadline came and went at 4 p.m. Eastern Wednesday without the Yankees making a swap. Despite rumors throughout the day regarding Phillies infielder Michael Young, who reportedly waived the no-trade clause in his contract to clear a possible deal to the Yankees, nothing came of it.

“We had a lot of conversations with a lot of organizations,” general manager Brian Cashman said on a conference telephone call with Yankees beat writers, “but we didn’t get anything that would lead us to deal. We will have to contend with what we have right now unless we find ways to improve it. It wasn’t a deep market at all, and obviously what I was offering wasn’t enough.”

So for the time being, the addition of outfielder Alfonso Soriano will have to suffice. Cashman alluded to the impending return from the disabled list of outfielder Curtis Granderson maybe as early as Friday night at San Diego will serve as a major addition akin to a big trade. Cash is also holding out hope that corner infielder Kevin Youkilis, who is recovering from back surgery, may be back sometime in September.

The GM was less optimistic about a return of catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has soreness in his right elbow while recuperating from a broken right thumb and will be examined by Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist, this week.

“None of this information is positive,” Cashman said. “We’re running out of time and it’s looking like he’s done for the year.”

Yanks’ gloves come up empty on Bat Day

There are few items more disappointing to a club that on a day of a major giveaway promotion that the home team gives away the game as well. Bat Day at Yankee Stadium drew a crowd of 43,131 Sunday against the less-than-marquee-attraction Twins, but the Yankees let the game get away from them early and made what is often the shortest day of the year in baseball terms turn into one of the longest.

Games played on the day before the All-Star break tend to be among the briefest of the season because players who are not going to the All-Star Game want to bolt the scene early to get a head start on the only vacation they get for eight months. First-pitch swinging is usually the order of the day.

Not Sunday. This baby lasted for 3 hours, 36 minutes, and for Yankees fans much of it was sheer torture. The 10-4 victory completed Minnesota’s first winning series at the Stadium in 12 years. The Yankees have a 31-9 record over the Twins at the Stadium since 2002. It was also the first winning series by the Twins over the Yankees anywhere in five years.

“It hasn’t happened to us here for a long time, but the breaks went our way,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “When they made mistakes, we took advantage of them. Believe me, we have been on the flip side of that a lot.”

CC Sabathia was gone after four innings and 93 pitches, the victim of eight hits and two errors committed by teammates. That five of the eight runs charged to Sabathia were unearned speaks to the misplays, but he must shoulder at least some of the blame for not overcoming the boots.

The most hurtful was an errant throw by shortstop Eduardo Nunez that should have been the third out of the third inning. The Yankees were already down, 2-0, at that point. One pitch later, it was 5-0. Trevor Plouffe smacked the first pitch Sabathia threw after the error for a three-run home run.

More sloppiness was to come in the fourth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Sabathia failed to glove a soft liner by Justin Morneau that landed behind the mound out of the pitcher’s reach for an RBI single. Another run scored when Lyle Overbay let a hard grounder by Ryan Doumit get past him at first base. The Yanks caught a break on the play when Doumit got caught in a rundown and was tagged out. Coming to bat in the fourth inning, the Yankees were staring at an 8-1 deficit, quite a mountain for an offense that is next to last in the league.

Actually, defense has been the least of the Yankees’ worries this year. They rank third in the American League in fielding percentage.

“We played horrible on defense,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Our defense has been great most of the year. For whatever reason, it wasn’t today.”

It was the second straight loss and third in four starts for Sabathia, whose record fell to 9-8 with a 4.07 ERA. Sabathia’s eight runs allowed were the second most for him in a start since joining the Yankees in 2009, topped only by nine runs (five earned) Oct. 2, 2009 at St. Petersburg, Fla. CC equaled his career high for losses before the All-Star break. He was 6-8 with the Indians in 2008.

On the positive side, Robinson Cano (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games, which tied Kevin Youkilis’ team season high of April 1-12. Cano, who is headed across the Triboro Bridge to Citi Field for the All-Star Game as the AL starting second baseman and Home Run Derby captain, is batting .414 with one double, one home run and eight RBI in 29 at-bats during the streak. He has had at least one RBI in eight straight games against Minnesota, which marks the longest such stretch by a Yankee against the Twins franchise since Gene Woodling had an eight-game RBI run from Aug. 31, 1952 to April 26, 1953 when the Twins played as the Washington Senators.

Ichiro Suzuki (3-for-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI) played in his 2,000th career major-league game and raised his hit total to 2,696. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that only five players whose careers began since 1900 accumulated more hits through their first 2,000 career games – Ty Cobb (2,796), George Sisler (2,753), Al Simmons (2,743), Rogers Hornsby (2,715) and Paul Waner (2,707).

Overbay reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances (2 singles, 2 walks). It was his second such game this season (also May 10 at Kansas City – 1 single, 2 doubles, 1 home run).

The Yankees reached the break at the end of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days in which they played .500 ball (10-10), including a 5-5 homestand. In the middle was a seven-game winning streak, their longest of the season, but a 3-4 mark over the past week against the Royals and the Twins was a decided downer.

The Yankees have fallen seven games out of first place in the AL East and 3 ½ games behind in the race for the second wild-card spot.

“It’s not where I want to be,” Girardi said. “I don’t think anyone should be satisfied where we are at.”

Jeter back on the shelf at least through All-Star break

APJeet Derek Jeter (AP Photo)

Derek Jeter officially became a part of the Yankees’ 2013 season Thursday. And following in the gingerly footsteps of Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, Jeter took a big step back after making a step forward off the disabled list.

The Captain hasn’t been put back on the DL yet. The Yankees have decided to wait out the All-Star break to see if the Grade 1 strain of Jeter’s left quadriceps improves with rest. The goal now is to have DJ back in harness by July 19 when the Yanks start the post-break schedule against the first-place Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Jeter will sit out this weekend’s three-game series against the Twins after which he will have four more days during the All-Star break to allow his condition to heal. General manager Brian Cashman said before Friday night’s game that the DL remains an option that the Yankees hope they will not have to use as they were forced to with the re-injuries of Granderson, Teixeira and Youkilis. In addition, catcher Francisco Cervelli had a setback during his rehabilitation from a fractured right hand.

Jeter missed 91 games while recovering from surgery to repair a fractured left ankle and a broken bone in another part of the same ankle. He was activated Thursday and went 1-for-4 in the 8-4 victory over the Royals at Yankee Stadium but had to come out of the game because of the quad injury sustained as he tried to beat out an infield single.

There is no idle gear in Jeter’s game, so such an injury is not all that surprising for a player who just turned 39 and has not played a game of nine innings in 10 months. Before wondering if the Yankees made a mistake in bringing Jeter up too early, be mindful that the injury could just as well have occurred if he had played that day at Triple A Scranton. Again, Jeter knows no other way to play but full throttle. Now he is forced to back off once more.

“It’s frustrating,” Jeter said. “I don’t know what else you want me to say. I worked hard to get to the point of rejoining the team. It’s not how you draw it up, but hopefully I’ll be back out there soon and help this team win some games.”

A-Rod cleared by Yanks to play injury-rehab games

Yankees fans have to hope that Alex Rodriguez’s comeback from injury goes better than that of Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis. All three ended up back on the disabled list after briefly returning to action. Teixeira, who need surgery on his left wrist, will be gone for the rest of the season. The Yankees are hopeful that Granderson, who broke his hand, will return sometime later this month and Youkilis, who required spinal surgery, perhaps in September.

Rodriguez, who had off-season left hip surgery, was finally given clearance to begin an injury-rehabilitation assignment by the Yankees Monday and will play a minimum of three innings for Class A Charleston Tuesday night. The Yanks chose the South Carolina affiliate because there are weather issues for Triple A Scranton and Double A Trenton, although A-Rod eventually will make stops in both minor-league towns as he works his way back to the Yankees.

“I’m actually very excited,” Rodriguez told reporters in Tampa where he has been working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “It will be the first game I’ve played in maybe over eight months. It has been a long time. And it will be great to suit up again. Its gets me one step closer to helping my team win in New York.’’

Youkilis needs surgery; Teixeira back on DL

What was considered good news about Mark Teixeira wasn’t entirely good. The first baseman does not have a tear in the sheath of his right wrist, just inflammation. That is why everybody thought that was good news. But after getting a cortisone injection, Teixeira had to go back on the 15-day disabled list, which is not good news.

“We knew that we would be without Tex for at least a week,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We did not want to be short-handed for that long. I am confident that Tex will be able to come back full strength when the 15 days are up.”

The news on Kevin Youkilis was not good at all. He remained in southern California at the end of the Yankees’ West Coast swing and was examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, the noted back specialist in Marina del Ray. Youkilis has a herniated disk that will require surgery. Dr. Watkins will perform the procedure Thursday. The recovery period will be 10 to 12 weeks.

So the player who was supposed to keep third base warm until Alex Rodriguez was able to return from hip surgery will now be lost for up to three months. Youkilis, who was batting .219 with two home runs and eight RBI in 105 at-bats, has been troubled by back issues in recent years. He had a strong spring training for the Yankees and got off to a hot start, but a lumbar sprain forced him onto the DL in late April for an entire month.

“We are going with what we have,” general manager Brian Cashman said about what the Yanks would do at third base with Youkilis out. Tuesday night’s lineup before the rainout had David Adams at the position. The Yankees will also use Jayson Nix, who has also been used quite a bit at shortstop because of the injuries to Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez.

To replace Youkilis on the 25-man roster, the Yankees called up outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple A Scranton. The switch hitter played all three outfield positions for Scranton where he hit .297 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 36 RBI in 68 games and 259 at-bats. The Yankees also recalled pitcher Adam Warren from Scranton and designated pitcher Chris Bootcheck for assignment.

Yanks lose 5th straight and Teixeira

The Yankees expected to get a big jolt this month with the return from the disabled list of Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis. Yet one day after Youkilis went back on the DL with a recurring lumbar ailment, Teixeira came out of Saturday’s game against the Angels in the fourth inning because of stiffness in his right wrist.

Teixeira flied out to right field and fouled out to third base in his two at-bats. David Adams took over at first base in the bottom of the fourth. Yanks manager Joe Girardi told Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on the FOX telecast that Teixeira could not get much snap from his wrist in his swing and will return to New York to be examined by Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yankees’ team physician.

The fear is that Teixeira may have suffered the same sort of setback that Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista did last year when he sustained a torn sheath in his wrist and aggravated it later in a game against the Yankees and was lost for the rest of the season. Teixeira’s condition this year is much the same as Bautista’s was in 2012.

Teixeira barely got untracked for the Yankees. In 15 games, he was hitting .151 with one double, three home runs and 12 RBI in 53 at-bats. He was particularly ineffective batting left-handed, as he did Saturday, with only three hits in 35 at-bats (.082) with two home runs and eight RBI. If Teixeira needs to go back on the DL, he would be the third regular to do a second stint, following Youkilis and Curtis Granderson.

The Yanks’ June swoon continued with a 6-2 loss, their fifth straight defeat and the fourth game in a row in which they scored just two runs. The Yankees have scored in only three of their past 38 innings. They got all their runs in one inning again Saturday with two out in the third on a single by Chris Stewart, a triple by Brett Gardner and a single by Jayson Nix. The 3-4-5 hitters came up 0-for-11 to continue a disturbing trend of low production from the middle of the order. Five Angels pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

The Angels banged out 12 hits against three Yankees pitchers, including three more hits plus a walk by Yankee killer Howie Kendrick, who raised his career average against them to .354 in 198 at-bats. David Phelps (4-4) gave up a home run to Eric Aybar, who later singled home a run in the sixth that unlocked a 2-2 score. Shawn Kelley had an unusual streak of wildness (three walks) in a two-run Angels seventh. Even slumping Josh Hamilton (.213) contributed an RBI double. Joba Chamberlain was victimized by a two-out single in the eighth by Albert Pujols for his second RBI of the game.

Ichiro Suzuki was the bright light for the Yankees Saturday with two hits, two stolen bases (and should have had a third if not for an umpire’s missed call) and two tumbling catches in right field. However, when Ichiro stole second and third in the seventh inning he was left stranded as Thomas Neal, Reid Brignac and Stewart all struck out. The Yankees are 7-for-39 (.179) with runners in scoring position and are averaging three runs per game during the losing streak.

The Yankees’ record in June fell to 6-8 as their offense continues to decline. They hit .261 as a team in April, .233 in May and are at .212 in June while slugging merely .327. The slide finds the Yankees only one game out of fourth place in the American League East. They will turn to CC Sabathia on Father’s Day to try and save face on the final day of the trip.

Back woes knock Youkilis back on DL

One of the drawbacks in this era when pitching revolves around the bullpen is that someone like Adam Warren gets shipped out after giving a terrific performance. Warren threw 85 pitches in his six-inning relief appearance Thursday in the 18-inning marathon at Oakland that the Yankees lost.

With a clutch hit in any one of five extra innings, Warren might have been the winning pitcher, but that didn’t happen and he was left to accept a pat on the back. But since Warren essentially pitched as long as a normal starter, he would not have been available for the three-game series at Anaheim that began Friday night.

Needing another long reliever for the Angels series, the Yankees recalled Chris Bootcheck, a 6-foot-5 righthander, and optioned Warren to the Triple A affiliate. Bootcheck, 34, a former first-round draft pick of the Angels who pitched in parts of five seasons for them (3-7, 6.04 ERA) and also part of one season for the Pirates (0-0, 11.05 ERA), was 5-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 11 starts for Scranton.

That was one of two transactions Friday by the Yankees, who also recalled outfielder Thomas Neal from Scranton as infielder Kevin Youkilis went back on the 15-day disabled list with a reoccurrence of lower back pain. Youkilis reported numbness in his right leg and foot the day after playing all 18 innings at Oakland. He will remain in the area after the series ends Sunday to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, a back surgeon based in Marina del Ray, Calif.

This will be the second DL stint due to back problems for Youkilis. He returned to action May 31 but had only six hits in 41 at-bats (.146) with one RBI in 11 games and was hitting .219 with two home runs and eight RBI for the season. Jayson Nix, who was at third base Friday night, and rookie David Adams will handle the position for the time being. Youkilis’ disabling is also why the Yankees were smart not to let go of Lyle Overbay, who is backing up Mark Teixeira at first base.

Instead of bringing up another infielder, the Yankees went for Neal, who was doing well at Scranton with a .339 batting average, 12 doubles, two home runs and 24 RBI, and who went into the lineup immediately in right field. Neal, 25, is a native Californian who grew up in Poway near San Diego and played at Riverside Junior College. He played briefly last year for the Indians and hit .217 in 23 at-bats and was released. The Yankees signed him as a free agent in the offseason.

Yanks’ 18-inning loss in historical context

The Yankees’ 3-2, 18-inning loss at Oakland Thursday was their longest game since Sept. 11, 1988 at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers, a 5-4 victory on Claudell Washington’s two-run home run off Guillermo “Willie” Hernandez in the bottom of the 18th. An RBI single by Torey Lovullo, now the bench coach of the Red Sox, had given Detroit a 4-3 lead in the top of that inning.

The Athletics completed a sweep of the Yankees, their first this year in a series of three or more games (they were swept in consecutive two-game series May 27-30 by the Mets). Yanks pitchers held the A’s scoreless for 14 consecutive innings (from the fourth through the 17th). The Yankees had 10 hits but left 14 runners on base and had 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Most embarrassing for the Yankees’ offense was the performance of the 4-through-7 batters in the order who were a combined 0-for-28 – Mark Teixeira (0-for-5, 2 walks, 1 hit by pitch, 3 strikeouts), Travis Hafner (0-for-8, 3K), Kevin Youkilis (0-for-7, 1BB, 3K) and Vernon Wells 0-for-8, 3K). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in modern major-league history (since 1900) in a game of any length that four starters batting in consecutive lineup slots went hitless in a combined total of 28 or more at-bats. Elias also noted that it was the first game in modern history in which a team had three different players each go hitless in at least seven at-bats, with each player striking out at least three times and marked the first game in the history of the Yankees that the team had four different players who struck out at least three times.

Hiroki Kuroda started and allowed two earned runs, two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in eight innings and remained winless in five starts since May 17 with a 0-3 record and 4.40 over 28 2/3 innings during that stretch. Robinson Cano, who had 3-for-6, reached base five times with one home run, two doubles and five walks. His homer, the club’s first in 53 innings since June 6, accounted for both Yankees runs in the first inning.

Teixeira recorded 21 putouts at first base, the second time since 1999 that a Yankees player had that many or more putouts in a single game (Andy Phillips had 22 June 28, 2006 in a 4-3 Yanks victory over the Braves at the Stadium). Kuroda surpassed 1,000 career innings in the majors and is the third Japanese-born pitcher in MLB history to do so, joining Hideo Nomo (1,976 1/3) and Tomo Ohka (1,070).

The Yankees have lost seven straight games at the Coliseum dating to last year. It comes on the heels of a franchise-record nine consecutive victories at Oakland from July 5, 2010 to May 27, 2012. The Yanks have had only one longer losing streak in Oakland. They dropped 10 in a row there from Sept. 9, 1989 through May 1, 1991.

The Yanks’ public relations staff put together the following chart detailing the last time prior to Thursday that the Yankees reached the following statistics:

Statistic First time since
Game Time (5:35) Sept. 22, 2012 vs. Athletics (5:43, 14 innings)
Innings played (18) Sept. 11, 1988 vs. Tigers (18, 5-4 victory)
Innings played in loss (18) April 22, 1970 at Washington (18, 2-1)
Innings played on road (18) April 22, 1970 at Washington (18, 2-1 loss)
Most AB, Yankees Batters (60) June 1, 2003 at Detroit (61 in 17 innings, 10-9 victory)
Most AB, Yankees Player (8, Hafner/Wells) Sept. 22, 2012 vs. A’s (8, Cano, 14 innings)
Relief Innings (6, Warren) June 7, 2011 vs. Red Sox (6, Noesi, 9-inning game)
Strikeouts, Yankees Batters (15) Sept. 5, 2012 at Tampa Bay (15, 9-inning game)
Putouts, Yankees Fielder (21, Teixeira) June 28, 2006 vs. Braves (22, Phillips, 12 innings)
Consecutive scoreless innings, Yankees Pitchers (14) Aug. 25, 1976 vs. Twins (17 of 19)
Consecutive scoreless innings, Yankees Batters (17) June 24, 1962 at Detroit (19 of 22)

Late rallies fall short

When discussing using Lyle Overbay in right field now that Mark Teixeira is back at first base on a regular basis, Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that it is not a great risk for a career first baseman to play out there because that patch at Yankee Stadium is not very large. That is not the case in a place like Oakland’s Coliseum.

Overbay did a serviceable job playing right field at the Stadium for three games last week against the Indians. No incidents and it helped to keep his bat in the lineup. Overbay was 3-for-9 in the series.

Tuesday night was another story. The Coliseum’s outfield is among the largest in the majors and foul ground is the most, which adds to the real estate outfielders need to cover. Overbay’s lack of experience came into play in the second inning when the Athletics got a run on a no-man’s-land double by Derek Morris, the Oakland catcher. With two out and a runner on first base, Morris hit a slicing flare near the right field line. Overbay looked to second baseman Robinson Cano as he ran in for the ball rather than taking charge. That slight hesitation was enough for the ball to drop just inside the line. Running on the crack of the bat, Josh Reddick scored all the way from first to push Oakland’s lead to 2-0.

The situation might have proved critical if the game had remained close, which was not the case until the last inning. In the fourth, Morris broke it open with a three-run home run off CC Sabathia, who had a rough night in his home area. Sabathia, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., also allowed a run with a wild pitch in the sixth inning when he got a late break off the mound and could not recover in time to cover the plate.

The A’s got to Sabathia immediately as Coco Crisp led off the first inning with his eighth homer of the season and third leading off a game this year and 15th of his career. It was not a good omen for Sabathia (6-5, 4.07 ERA), who was stung for six runs and eight hits in six innings as his career mark against the A’s went to 8-10 with a 4.66 ERA in 172 innings, including 4-6 with a 5.30 ERA at the Coliseum in 86 2/3 innings.

The 6-4 Oakland victory marked the first time this year that the Yankees lost a game started by a former Cy Young Award winner. They had been 6-0 in such games before suffering the defeat to Bartolo Colon, the 2005 winner when he was with the Angels.

The Yankees threatened Colon in the top of the first by loading the bases with one out on a single by Brett Gardner, last week’s American League Player of the Week, and two walks. Colon entered the game with only six walks in 77 1/3 innings, so the sudden lack of control was surprising. The Yankees failed to capitalize as Kevin Youkilis and Overbay both popped out.

Colon allowed the Yankees only two more hits and two more walks through the sixth. He had to sweat out the last two innings as the Yankees scored two runs each in the eighth and ninth before being able to celebrate his sixth straight victory that improve his record to 8-2. Colon has given up only three runs in 36 innings (0.75 ERA) over that stretch to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 2.92.

The Yankees didn’t do much offensively until the last two innings. There were some good signs in the loss. Teixeira knocked in three runs with a pair of singles. Cano, who has been in a slump on the trip, reached base four times with a double, a single and two walks. Vernon Wells, also struggling, came off the bench and got a big RBI single. Gardner had two more hits, and so did Chris Stewart. Travis Hafner walked twice and smashed the ball hard twice but had nothing to show for it. Left fielder Seth Smith gloved Hafner’s drive in the ninth at the wall for the final out.

Yanks keep winning except on All-Star ballot

Yankees fans need to hit the ballot box on a regular basis if they want the team to have a heavy representation in the All-Star Game July 16 at Citi Field. One of the drawbacks of the current, 10-game trip to the West Coast is that voting at Yankee Stadium is suspended for another week. Fans need to make their choices on or while the team is away.

In the latest tally of votes, only one Yankees player is leading at his position, Robinson Cano at second base, and only one other, disabled shortstop Derek Jeter, is in the top five at his position. The injuries to first baseman Mark Teixeira, third baseman Kevin Youkilis and outfielder Curtis Granderson has hurt their chances to garner support.

A testament to Jeter’s popularity is that even though he has yet to play a game as he recovers from off-season left ankle surgery the Captain has received the fifth highest vote total among shortstops with 529,234 as of Saturday’s announced count. The current leader at the position is the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy with 1,231,843 that gives him a 185,958-vote lead over runner-up Elvis Andrus of the Rangers.

Since it was known at the start of the season that Alex Rodriguez would be out until after the All-Star break while recovering from left hip surgery he was not placed on the ballot at third base. Jeter had been expected back earlier in the season but sustained a crack in another area of the ankle that has extended his recovery period.

At second base, with 1,851,371 votes Cano has a lead of 744,422 over the Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia. The other position leaders at this point are the Twins’ Joe Mauer at catcher; the Orioles’ Chris Davis at first base; the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera at third base; the Red Sox’ David Ortiz at designated hitter and the Angels’ Mike Trout, the Orioles’ Adam Jones and the Tigers’ Torii Hunter in the outfield. Among the outfielders, the best the Yankees are doing so far is Ichiro Suzuki in 15th place with 477,870 votes.

Brett Gardner should have raised some attention with voters with his four-hit game Sunday in the Yankees’ 2-1 victory over the Mariners, always a plus in a game started by Felix Hernandez. The 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner was not the losing pitcher. He left after seven innings with the score 1-1 as David Phelps, who went six innings for the Yankees, dueled him to a draw.

The finale of the four-game set in which the Yanks won three times ended up in the bullpen with the Bombers’ relief corps being superior, which is often the case. Boone Logan pitched a perfect, two-strikeout seventh. David Robertson (4-1) withstood a leadoff double and a sacrifice to post two straight strikeouts and strand the potential go-ahead run at third base in the eighth. After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, Mariano Rivera handled the bottom half for his 23rd save of the season and career No. 631.

With the muscle part of their order coming up small, the Yankees got major contributions from top and bottom. Cano, Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, the 2-through-5 hitters, combined to go 0-for-14. Tex wore the golden sombrero (four strikeouts) but made an excellent defensive play in the ninth to get a key double play for Mo.

Suzuki, who was also hitless, walked to start the winning rally off Yoervis Medina. A textbook sacrifice bunt by Jayson Nix got Ichiro to second base from where he scored on a two-out single to left by Chris Stewart.

The Yankees’ run off Hernandez in the second inning was driven in by one of Gardner’s four hits. His quartet of knocks followed a three-hit effort Saturday night and topped off a big series for the center fielder. He had 9-for-17 (.529) with four doubles to raise his season batting average to .284, which leads the team. Gardner drove in one run and scored three. He has hit safely in 15 of his past 17 games, a stretch during which he has batted .365 in 63 at-bats.

Gardner’s hit scored Nix, who had a leadoff single and stole second base. Nix is also on a strong run. He has hit safely in 12 of his past 13 games that he has had an at-bat and is hitting .340 in 47 at-bats over that stretch. Nix, who is 8-for-8 in stolen bases, is batting a team-high .310 on the road with 12 runs and eight RBI in 26 games and 84 at-bats.

Andy Pettitte became the 45th pitcher in major-league history to get to 250 career victories (and the 24th in 70 seasons dating to 1944) with Saturday’s winning decision. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only six of that latter group of the most recent pitchers to enter the 250-victory circle did so with fewer losses than Pettitte, whose record is 250-145: Randy Johnson (250-130), Roger Clemens (250-136), Greg Maddux (250-140), Jim Palmer (250-142), Tom Seaver (250-142) and Mike Mussina (250-144).