Results tagged ‘ Kurt Suzuki ’

Yanks’ trip smoothing out after ‘rocky’ start

After the disappointment of getting swept in a two-game series at Denver, the Yankees are on the verge of trumping that with a four-game sweep at Minneapolis. They are three-quarters of the way there with very impressive victories over the Twins heading into a Father’s Day finale Sunday with Nathan Eovaldi opposing Minnesota’s Ervin Santana.

Friday night, the Yankees struck early with four first-inning runs on the way to an 8-2 victory behind Masahiro Tanaka (4-2), who was sharp as a tack (one run, seven hits, no walks, five strikeouts) over eight innings. Carlos Beltran, who missed both games against the Rockies, whacked a two-run home run in that first inning to stop a 0-for-12 slump.

Beltran added another two-run homer at a more clutch moment Saturday. The opposite-field blow to left off righthander Kevin Jepsen tied the score with one down in the eighth inning. The Yankees continued their comeback against the Twins’ ragged bullpen with three runs in the ninth, then had to hold their breath somewhat when Aroldis Chapman gave up back-to-back homers to Eduardo Escobar and pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki to survive, 7-6.

Give Suzuki credit. He fouled off four consecutive 102-mph fastballs from Chapman before connecting on yet another 102-mph heater. But most of the credit Saturday went to the Yankees, who had fallen into a 4-0 hole against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, who had a four-hit shutout working through six innings.

Leading off the seventh, Beltran got one of his rare leg hits these days with a dribbler to the left side on which Eduardo Nunez could not make a bare-handed play. Alex Rodriguez, who had a three-homer game at Target Field in late July last year, followed with a drive to right off a 1-2 fastball for his eighth home run of the season and career No. 695.

The Yankees got two more hits that inning but pushed across no more runs. With one out in the eighth, another infield single, this time by Brett Gardner, preceded a home run, Beltran’s 18th of the season. Gardner had been hitless in his previous 14 at-bats and was 1-for-15 on the trip.

Lefthander Fernando Abad, who was having a fine season out of the bullpen until the Yankees came to town, got the last out of the eighth, which turned out to be the only one he would get in the game. He began the ninth with a walk to Chase Headley. You could always hear the uh-oh coming out of Twins manager Paul Molitor’s mouth in the dugout.

Didi Gregorius, who has broken a 1-1 score with a three-run home run off a first-pitch fastball from Abad Thursday night, dropped down a beauty of a bunt for a single. After a Juan Centeno passed ball advanced the runners, Rob Refsnyder was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Righthander Ryan Pressly came on and struck out pinch hitter Starlin Castro but fell into a full count with Jacoby Ellsbury and had to come in with a fastball which Ellsbury knocked into right-center for a two-run single. A wild pitch by Pressly moved crucial as it turned out. It moved Refsnyder to third from where he scored on a fly ball by Gardner. That run proved vital when Chapman gave up the two homers after he had struck out the first two batters.

So it was a shaky 13th save for Chapman that preserved the winning decision for Andrew Miller (4-0), who had shut down Minnesota with two strikeouts in the eighth. Anthony Swarzak also played a big part in the game with a 1 2/3 hitless innings of two-strikeout relief.

The Yankees’ late rallies took Michael Pineda off the hook. The righthander had another of his weird games where he was overpowering (nine strikeouts) but unable to pick up key third outs of innings. Three of the Twins’ four runs off Pineda in 5 1/3 innings were scored after two were out on an RBI single by Escobar in the second and a two-run homer by Korean slugger Byung Ho Park in the fourth. An error by Pineda in the sixth led to a run on a sacrifice fly by Park.

With 55 hits, including a dozen Saturday, the Yankees are averaging 11 hits per game on the trip. Beltran and Gregorius had three hits apiece Saturday. Beltran has homered in six of his past 13 games, eight of 19 and 13 of 36. Gregorius has had a huge trip with 10-for-20 (.500), two homers, six runs and nine RBI. The bunt single off Abad increased Didi’s batting average against left-handed pitching to .383 in 60 at-bats. He is hitting .287 overall.

Headley, who could not get off the Interstate for the first two months, has his average up to .260 while batting .471 in 17 at-bats on the trip and .417 in his seven-game hitting streak. Now if only the Yankees could get Brian McCann re-started. The catcher took an 0-for-4 collar Saturday, is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and in a 4-for-32 (.125) rut that has shrunken his season average to .207.

Yanks to honor ‘My Dad, My MVP’ winner July 24

Frank Sumi of North Tonawanda, N.Y., is the Yankees’ winner of Major League Baseball’s 20011 “My Dad, My MVP” contest, a campaign that gives fans an opportunity to celebrate the father figures in their lives.

Sumi was nominated by his son, Ryan, who was born with a spinal deformity and hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain causing it to swell. Since Ryan’s birth, Frank has dedicated his life to caring for him, even in the face of his son’s numerous health problems.

Essentially serving as Ryan’s nurse, Frank aids in numerous tasks, including dressing him. Whenever possible, father and son enjoy going to sporting events and participating in adaptive sports.

The Yankees will honor Frank Sunday, July 24, before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium. Frank will be the team’s guest in a pregame dugout visit, assist in the delivery of the lineup card to the plate and throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

The “My Dad, My MVP” contest was introduced this year to recognize extraordinary fathers and father figures as part of the MLB Father’s Day celebration. More than 3,200 stories were submitted online in this inaugural campaign. One winner for each of the 30 MLB Clubs was selected by a celebrity panel of judges and nearly 270,000 fan votes on MLB.com/mvpdad.

In addition to the fan voting, a celebrity panel helped select the 30 “MVP Dad” winners. The list of judges were country music stars Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of the duo Montgomery Gentry; MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre; Founder and Chairman of the Prostate Cancer Foundation Michael Milken; Mets left fielder Jason Bay, Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, Cubs first baseman Carlos Peña, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki, Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson and MLB Network analyst Billy Ripken.

The winning stories were selected based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to the role of father and public appeal.

MLB supports the prostate cancer cause during Father’s Day celebrations, specifically with the annual “Home Run Challenge” to fund the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). The initiative, which culminated on Father’s Day, June 19, and is now in its 15th year, helps increase awareness and early detection of prostate cancer.

Since its inception, this initiative has raised more than $36 million toward prostate cancer research. For each home run that was hit during 60 select MLB games from June 8-19, including all games played on Father’s Day, fans had the opportunity to make monetary donations and pledges to the PCF at http://www.homerunchallenge.org, or by making a $10 donation by texting HRC to 20222.

Money raised through the “Home Run Challenge” goes directly to the PCF to advance prostate cancer research. In 2010, more than $2.3 million was raised to fight prostate cancer through the PCF “Home Run Challenge”. Major League Baseball Charities has committed $50,000 to PCF as part of this program.

Additionally, players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and groundskeepers wore blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals symbolizing prostate cancer awareness. The blue ribbon logo also appeared on the official dugout lineup cards, which were blue. In an effort to emphasize the impact of the disease, all games played June 19 featured messages giving valuable health information about prostate cancer.

Colon provides relief for Yanks’ pen

The national holiday of Memorial Day turned out to be a full day off for the Yankees’ bullpen as well Monday. The relievers have Bartolo Colon to thank for that with an old-fashioned complete game shutout, the ninth of his career but the first in five seasons, in a 5-0 dusting of the Athletics.

Except for the date on his birth certificate, there doesn’t appear anything old about Colon, who turned 38 last week but has turned back the clock for the Yankees this year. Still wounded by a no-decision May 18 at Baltimore when he came out of the game after eight scoreless innings of three-hit, seven-strikeout ball only to watch the game go 15 innings before the Yankees finally pulled it out, Colon took care of business for himself Monday.

His pitch count was still a manageable 96 entering the ninth inning, and Colon remained on the mound after he gave up a leadoff double. The runner got to third base but no farther as the A’s for a second time in the game wasted a leadoff double.

The other occasion was back in the second, one inning after the Yankees had staked Colon to a 3-0 lead. The veteran righthander, who pitched a game reminiscent of his 2005 American League Cy Young Award season, set the tone of the game in that inning by keeping the runner at second by getting a foul pop, a strikeout and an infield out.

That began a stretch of 12 consecutive outs that Kevin Kouzmanoff ended with a leadoff single in the sixth. Colon ran off six more outs in a row before yielding another leadoff hit, an infield single by Kurt Suzuki in the eighth. Mark Ellis followed with a grounder up the middle that Colon wisely let go past him to shortstop Derek Jeter, who fielded the ball, stepped on second and threw to first to finish off a double play.

Except for some warm-up throws by Joba Chamberlain in the ninth, the bullpen was quiet. After being forced to use his relief corps for 7 2/3 innings in Saturday night’s 12-inning loss at Seattle, Yankees manager Joe Girardi enjoyed watching Colon and CC Sabathia combine to pitch 17 of the next 18 innings. Only Lance Pendleton’s mop-up job for CC Sunday counted as a work day for the bullpen.

The victory was welcomed by Colon, who had not had a winning decision in his previous five starts and was 0-2 with a 4.60 ERA during that stretch. Colon’s first victory since April 27 got his season record even at 3-3 to go with a spiffy 3.26 ERA.

In what has been a habit for the Yankees on this West Coast trip, they struck early against the starting pitcher, in this case Trevor Cahill, who got off to a 6-0 start this year but is now winless in his past four starts despite a decent 3.51 ERA during that stretch. With an offense ranked 12th among the 14 AL teams, Oakland leaves little margin for error to its pitchers.

On the 16th anniversary of his first major-league hit, Jeter opened the game with a knock and scored one out later on Mark Teixeira’s two-run home run. That made it 16 jacks for Tex, who tied Curtis Granderson for the club lead and passed the center fielder in RBI, 38-37. Teixeira is on a homer binge lately with four in his past five games and seven in his past 11. Tex hit 10 homers in May. He didn’t get to 16 home runs last year until July 9.

Colon hadn’t stepped on the rubber yet, so who knew that would be all the runs the Yankees would need. Robinson Cano mae it 3-0 with a double to score Alex Rodriguez, who had walked. Jeter and Francisco Cervelli, who caught while Russell Martin nursed a sore left foot, supplied pad-on runs with late-inning sacrifice flies.

Cervelli sure didn’t act like a catcher on the bases. He had two steals, as did Brett Gardner. The duo’s running in the seventh after drawing walks helped the Yankees to a run without a hit. The rest was all Colon, who made this Memorial Day memorable.

I’ll be out of town the next few days to attend the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, an annual event at the National Baseball Hall of Fame where academics and other baseball aficionados gather to discuss seriously through individual presentations and panel groups the connection between the game and the American experience. I am honored to give the keynote address. I only hope my delivery is as effective as that of Bartolo Colon.

Charity event at NYY Steak

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Craig Breslow will make the NYY Steak restaurant at Yankee Stadium the site of a fund raiser for his Strike 3 Foundation for childhood cancer research when the A’s come to town later this month.

Breslow, who started the foundation based on an older sister’s successful battle with thyroid cancer as a child, has held several charity events throughout the year. The one at NYY Steak will be Wednesday, Sept. 1, before the third of four games between the A’s and the Yankees on the next homestand.

“I was able to eat at the steakhouse last year, and I found it to be the perfect venue,” Breslow told MLB.com. “It’s a great place, where fans can come and interact and mingle with players in a more formal and intimate environment.”

The luncheon will feature appearances by several Oakland players – pitchers Andrew Bailey and Dallas Braden and catcher Kurt Suzuki – as well as the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain and Curtis Granderson.

A limited number of tickets priced at $450 apiece for the exclusive event are available to fans and may be purchased through Aug. 25 at strike3foundation.org.

“All the money goes straight to the foundation,” Breslow said. “That’s what great about this. It’s always directly helping kids.”