Results tagged ‘ Mark Ellis ’

Pitchers’ duel decided after their departures

Dodger Stadium has been the sight of many a pitchers’ duel over the past half-century going back to Johnny Podres, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser against the likes of Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Dwight Gooden and Greg Maddux, to name just a few.

Add the names of Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw to that list. The Yankees righthander and the Dodgers lefthander each sporting 10-6 records put on a dazzling show Wednesday night in a game that was not decided until they had left. Had they not come out of the game, it might still be going on. That is how good they were.

Kuroda was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth after pitching shutout ball for seven innings, the eighth time this season he has not allowed a run. Kuroda gave up five singles and only one walk with eight strikeouts. The Dodgers got only two runners to second base during the time Kuroda was on the mound.

It was a great comeback for Kuroda, who pitched at Dodger Stadium, his home from 2008 to 2011, for the first time since he joined the Yankees last year. It was his bad luck to be paired with Kershaw, the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2011 and who was equally effective.

The Yankees got only two runners past first base in eight innings against Kershaw, who gave up five singles and no walks with five strikeouts. Kershaw came out of the game after putting down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the eighth to get a runner in scoring position that never came home.

The game was decided following the departures of Kuroda and Kershaw in a bizarre ninth inning as the Yankees rallied to end a 13-inning scoreless stretch for a 3-0 victory. Lyle Overbay, who had driven in both Yankees runs in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss, ended the shutout with a clutch hit both after and before some shaky Los Angeles defense.

The inning began with a leadoff walk, to Derek Jeter, who was replaced by pinch runner Eduardo Nunez. The Dodgers had a chance for a double play on a ground ball near the middle by Robinson Cano, but shortstop Hanley Ramirez hesitated slightly before feeding second baseman Mark Ellis and only got the force on Nunez.

Alfonso Soriano made the second out on a high bouncer to third baseman Juan Uribe, who had no play at second base so went for the out at first base. With Cano in scoring position, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ordered pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki walked intentionally and brought in lefthander Paco Rodriguez to face the lefty-swinging Overbay, who batted for Brent Lillibridge.

Rodriguez had Overbay looking foolish trying to hit his curveball. After two called strikes on check swings, Overbay got the benefit of the doubt from third base umpire Bill Miller, who did not rule that he went around as he had on the previous pitch. Rodriguez finally hung a curve that Overbay lashed into center field for a single to score Cano.

Mark Ellis, the Dodgers’ hero the night before with the game-winning hit, was responsible for the Yankees’ next two runs when he dropped Jayson Nix’s fly ball to shallow right field. Ellis apparently did not hear Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig call for the ball and nearly collided with him as the ball popped out of his glove.

Mariano Rivera, who was honored by the Dodgers before the game as he received a $10,000 donation to his foundation and an enormous fishing pole, notched his 34th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

While he was stuck with another no-decision, Kuroda had to be pleased about his performance. If anyone in baseball did not want to see the calendar change today, it was Kuroda, who had a magnificent July. In five starts that month, Kuroda was 3-0 with two no-decisions and a 0.55 ERA. Kuroda has made 10 starts in July the past two seasons for the Yankees and is 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 68 innings.

No decision for Pettitte as Dodgers rally late

For his sixth straight start, Andy Pettitte was scored upon in the first inning, one of those “uh-oh” moments for Yankees fans. That turned out a minor blemish for the lefthander in what proved a solid outing Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Pettitte was not able to get his record (7-8) back to .500 because the score was 2-2 when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Andy allowed eight hits but did not walk a batter and struck out three in seven innings. As is often the case with starting pitchers, the early innings can post problems as they search for a rhythm.

Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig jolted Pettitte with one out in the first inning with a booming double to center field. He crossed to third base on a fly ball to right field and scored on a two-out single through the middle by Hanley Ramirez, one of the hottest hitters in the majors (.383).

Lyle Overbay got the run back leading off the second inning with a home run off Zack Greinke, the third jack in 24 career at-bats against the righthander. Juan Uribe matched that, however, with his sixth home run, a 441-foot bomb into the second deck in left field off a hanging 0-2 curve by Pettitte in the bottom half.

Ichiro Suzuki saved Pettitte a run in the third with a tracer’s bullet of a throw home that nailed Ramirez trying to score from second base with two out on a single to right by A.J. Ellis. Catcher Chris Stewart completed the play with a quick tag on Ramirez’s left thigh before his foot touched the plate. That was the first of five straight scoreless innings for Pettitte, who gave his teammates a chance to stay in the game.

The Yankees drew even in the fourth on another RBI by Overbay. A wild pitch by Greinke that allowed Alfonso Soriano, who led off the inning with a double down the left field line, to move up to third base helped set up the run. With the infield back, all Overbay had to do was make contact, which he did with a grounder to the left side as Soriano crossed the plate.

Pettitte’s work turned out to be most encouraging sign for the Yankees, who had only one hit after Soriano’s double. Ichiro doubled to left with one out in the seventh, but Greinke struck out Jayson Nix and retired Stewart on a ground ball.

It was a bullpen game after that, and the Dodgers won it, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out single by Mark Ellis off Shawn Kelley (3-1). It scored Andre Ethier, who had singled with one down and got a big stolen base two pitches before Ellis dropped a single into left-center. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen (4-3) pitched a perfect inning apiece. David Robertson did the same for the Yankees in the eighth before Kelley took over in the ninth.

Aware that the Yankees had no left-handed bat on the bench, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used his hard-throwing righthanders out of the pen. With five straight games on National League soil and no designated hitter in play, that situation hurts the Yankees. There is a chance Curtis Granderson could rejoin the Yankees at the end of the week when they move on to San Diego, which will surely help. Keep your fingers crossed.

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.

CC in comfort zone at Stadium

Think of the old Yankee Stadium and clips of Lefty Gomez or Whitey Ford come to mind. The renovated Stadium provided a showcase for Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte. And there is little doubt that the left-handed pitcher most associated with the new Stadium is CC Sabathia.

Talk about a comfort zone. Sabathia’s tenure with the Yankees coincided with the opening of the new place in 2009 and has it ever been home to him these past two seasons.

His work Thursday in a 5-0 victory over the Athletics was nothing short of masterful. Oakland puts out a lineup that seems the equivalent of a Triple A team, and that is just the way CC handled the A’s. They managed one hit off him in eight innings, but an even greater measure of his dominance was that Sabathia didn’t allow the A’s to hit a ball out of the infield for 5 1/3 innings covering a stretch of 19 plate appearances.

Landon Powell flied out to left field to end the second inning. The next ball to reach the outfield by an A’s hitter was Coco Crisp’s fly to right for the second out in the eighth. In between, there were eight groundouts (one of which was a double play), three infield pops (two of them foul), four strikeouts, two walks, one hit batter and a player reaching on a throwing error by catcher Jorge Posada after fielding a dribbler in front of the plate.

“That’s as good as it gets,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Sabathia seems to be as good as it gets whenever he pitches at Yankee Stadium. He has not lost in his past 21 starts in the Bronx, matching a streak Ford had during the 1964 and ’65 seasons in the original building. The Yankees are 19-2 in those Sabathia starts. His personal record in those starts is 16-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

CC is 11-0 with a 2.27 ERA at the Stadium this year, the first Yankees pitcher in 12 years to win his first 11 home decisions of a season. David Wells and David Cone both did it in 1998. Over his two seasons with the Yankees at the Stadium, Sabathia is 18-2 with a 2.63 ERA. And that does not count his three postseason starts of 2009 when he was 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA. Sabathia’s only loss was in Game 1 of the World Series when he pitched well against the Phillies except for Chase Utley, who homered off him twice.

“Maybe it’s because I like my wife’s cooking,” CC says with a smile. “I enjoy being home and relaxing with my family.”

CC was able to get back home early Thursday because of his efficiency. Mark Ellis’ leadoff single to left in the second was the lone hit Sabathia surrendered. Two home runs by Curtis Granderson, a late fill-in for ailing Nick Swisher (sore left knee) and one by Posada gave CC all the run support he needed.

The only thing close to a rough patch was in the eighth when he hit the first batter and walked the next. Sabathia had plenty left in his tank as he struck out pinch hitter Daric Barton, got Crisp on that fly ball and Rajai Davis on another infield out.

Sabathia wanted to come out for the ninth, but Girardi decided to have the big guy call it a day.

“It was really hot,” Girardi said, “and we need to give him a break once in a while. He’s a big, strong man. He’s a football player playing baseball.”

“I can see myself playing the offensive line,” said Sabathia, who is 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds.

“He had no-hit stuff,” Posada said. “He had a great slider and changeup, especially the slider. His slider in, his slider away, he just kept throwing strikes.”

At 19-5 with a 3.02 ERA, Sabathia is a strong candidate for his second American League Cy Young Award. He has always said his Cy Young year of 2007 with the Indians was his most consistent, but 2010 is pretty close. What CC is also doing is working his way into the AL Most Valuable Player Award conversation.

No knock on Robinson Cano, but it could be argued that Sabathia has been equally as valuable to the Yankees, who have had issues with other pitchers in the rotation.

“He has been the one constant,” Girardi said. “That’s what aces do.”