Results tagged ‘ Melky Mesa ’
There were some new faces in the Yankees clubhouse Sunday plus some familiar faces that had been in the minors recently. On the day active rosters are allowed to expand from 25 to up to 40 players, the Yankees recalled pitchers Dellin Betances and Brett Marshall and infielder David Adams from Triple A Scranton.
Also brought up were pitcher Cesar Cabral, whose contract was purchased from Scranton, and catcher J.R. Murphy, who signed a major league contract and was selected off the Scranton roster. To create roster space for Cabral and Murphy, the Yankees transferred infielder Jayson Nix (fractured left hand) to the 60-day disabled list and released outfielder Melky Mesa. Pitcher Preston Claiborne is expected to join the team Monday when the Yankees open a three-game series against the White Sox.
About the added personnel, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Just contribute any way they can is the bottom line. It can be one hitter, it can be one at-bat; could play one inning. Any way you could help us out is all we’re asking you to do.”
That said, Girardi reiterated his dislike of the expanded-roster period and belief that each game managers should have to designate which 25 players are eligible to play that day. It is an idea worth pursuing by Major League Baseball which to this point it has not.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. The Yankees’ lineup Tuesday night against Rangers righthander Alexi Ogando did not contain Travis Hafner. Surprised? Probably not. The only surprising thing about is that Hafner is a designated hitter only who bats left-handed. If not in the batting order against a right-handed starting pitcher, then when?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate to answer when questioned by reporters at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. “He’s just not being productive,” the skipper said.
The numbers do not lie. After a torrid April in which he batted .318 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 66 at-bats, Hafner cooled off to the point since then of hitting .172 with six homers and 20 RBI in 186 at-bats. Pronk’s batting average is down to .210 while his OPS is below .700 (.699), not a good neighborhood for someone whose contribution is limited to his offense.
Disregarding platoon notions, Girardi went with right-handed-batting Vernon Wells as the DH with another righty swinger, recent Triple A Scranton callup Melky Mesa, in left field. The move had an early payoff when Mesa jump-started the Yankees in a two-run third inning that ended the Yankees’ 14-inning shutout string.
Mesa’s leadoff double, a hard liner to the gap in left-center, was the Yankees’ first extra-base hit in 24 innings coming after 21 consecutive singles. After going so long without extra-base power, the Yankees got another double immediately, by Austin Romine, for their first run of the game. Singles by Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki got home a second run, but Robinson Cano defused the rally by grounding into a double play.
Still, the Yankees ended a 22-inning scoring drought against Texas pitching. According to Baseball Reference.com, the Rangers (after shutting out the Yankees on three hits Monday night and with their June 27 victory at Yankee Stadium with Derek Holland pitching a 2-0, two-hitter) were the first team to throw consecutive shutouts with three or fewer hits in each game against the Yankees since the Red Sox June 21-22, 1916. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that those games were a complete-game no-hitter by Rube Foster and a complete game three-hitter by Babe Ruth, both at Fenway Park.
Wells joined the doubles parade with a leadoff two-bagger in the fourth, his first extra-base hit in 24 at-bats since July 12. He displayed some alert running skills by crossing to third on a flyout to medium center field by Eduardo Nunez and beating a play at home to score on a fielder’s-choice grounder to second base by Brent Lillibridge.
The remaining schedule favors the Yankees, who moved a huge step in front of the Orioles Monday night by taking control of first place in the American League East with two games to play. Fortunately for the Yankees, their two games are against the last-place Red Sox. Unfortunately for the Orioles, their two games are against the Rays, who have a stake in the postseason sweepstakes.
The Yankees did what they needed to do by overwhelming a Boston squad that seemed more suited for Pawtucket, the Triple-A affiliate. A nine-run second inning fortified by four home runs started the Yankees toward a 10-2 victory behind CC Sabathia, who looked every bit an ace with an eight-inning performance in which he scattered four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
Meanwhile at St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa Bay torpedoed Baltimore, 5-3. The Orioles had the potential tying runs on base in the ninth inning hoping to at least get even and then do their usual magic act in extra innings. Fernando Rodney prevented that, so the Yankees are back alone atop the division by a full game.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi might take some criticism for using Sabathia for so long in a game that appeared decided early. Look, there are no guarantees, and no lead is insurmountable. If Joe had pulled CC after, say, five or six innings, and the Pawtucket Sox somehow managed to rally against the bullpen, fans would have been furious. At this juncture of the season with a division title on the line, it is vital to win games.
With David Phelps starting Tuesday night, Girardi wanted a rested bullpen. I think he was right. Some might say that Sabathia could be called upon to pitch on short rest at some point in the postseason. Perhaps, but a manager cannot worry about that when he has a game to win now.
The Yankees flexed their muscles in a 13-hit attack. As he did recently on the Yanks’ final trip of the season, Robinson Cano led the way. He started the scoring with his 31st home run and added two doubles and two more runs batted in. During his seven-game hitting streak, Cano is batting .621 with seven doubles, one home run and eight RBI in 29 at-bats. He has raised his batting average over that stretch from .293 to .308, a 15-point hike that is almost unheard of this late into a season. The home run was career No. 175 for Cano, who tied Bobby Murcer for 20th place on the franchise list.
Nick Swisher also had three hits to keep his hot streak going. Over his past 14 games, Swish is batting .385 with four home runs and 14 RBI. Mark Teixeira celebrated a return to the lineup with his 24th home run in the four-homer, nine-run second inning that also featured round-trip blows by Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin. Tex’s 20 RBI in 10 games against the Red Sox this season are the most for a Yankees player against Boston in one season since Mickey Mantle had 22 in 1958.
There was also a feel-good moment in the eighth inning when Melky Mesa in his first major-league at-bat singled through the middle for his first major-league hit and RBI at the same time. The rookie was sent to the plate as a pinch hitter for Alex Rodriguez. Who knows where Mesa’s career will take him, but he surely won’t have any trouble remembering all those firsts on a night when the Yankees took over first.
There is an old saying among baseball writers that the sentence you never want to write is something along the lines of “Each side scored four runs in the 13th.”
It is naturally a reference to an unusually long game that seems as if it will never end. Well, I am getting to write that sentence today. The Yankees and the Athletics, both locked into tight races for postseason berths, got tangled in an old fashioned marathon Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
The game ended five hours and 43 minutes after the first pitch and memorably for the Yankees. Frankly, this was nothing short of a miracle. They blew early leads of 4-2 and 5-4 and were left for dead in the 13th when it appeared Oakland had taken an insurmountable lead. But the Yankees would simply not quit and because of that emerged with their most improbable victory this year.
That the winning run of the 10-9, 14-inning victory scored on an error is immaterial. The Yankees earned this victory, which kept them one game ahead of the Orioles in the American League East. The Birds had won yet another extra-inning game earlier at Fenway Park, 9-6, to raise their record in overtime games to 16-2. The Yankees improved to 5-3 in extras, which gives you an idea what kind of season Baltimore is having.
“It was an unbelievable comeback,” Yanks manager Joe Girardi said in the understatement of the season.
The back-and-forth game reached its zenith in the 13th when, that’s right, each side scored four runs. Oakland pounded three home runs in the top half, two off Freddy Garcia and one off Justin Thomas as the Yankees were well into a depleted bullpen.
But then, so were the A’s. Lefthander Pedro Figueroa could not get an out as the Yanks filled the bases in the bottom of the 13th on singles by Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Righthander Pat Neshek, a side-winder, wild-pitched in a run and gave up another on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Nunez.
Raul Ibanez, who had a remarkable game, pushed it into the 14th with a two-run home run. His first homer of the game as a pinch hitter in the fifth unlocked a 4-4 score. In the 12th, Ibanez led off with a double as he looked very much like the Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson, who always broke out of the batter’s box after a hit with an idea of taking an extra base. Ibanez was out at the plate on a contact play later in the inning. There was a lot of contact as he slammed into catcher Derek Norris.
Cory Wade, the Yankees’ ninth pitcher of the game, supplied a scoreless 14th and was rewarded with a winning decision when the Yanks rallied once more in the bottom half. Eric Chavez started it with a single off righthander Tyson Ross. Melky Mesa made his major-league debut as a pinch runner and would figure dramatically later in the rally.
Derek Jeter bunted Mesa to second. After Suzuki was walked intentionally, Rodriguez singled sharply through the middle. Those remaining in the Stadium crowd of 44,026 figured the game was over and were stunned when Mesa did not score. The problem was that he missed third base rounding it and by the time he went back to tag it did not have the momentum to come home even though A’s center fielder Yeonis Cespedes hesitated before throwing the ball.
The situation loomed large when Ross made a graceful fielding play flagging down a high chop and recovering to get a force at the plate for the second out. Nunez followed with a grounder to the right side that behaved like a cue ball with a lot of English on it and clanged off the glove of first baseman Brandon Moss for a tough error but an error nonetheless as Ichiro trotted home.
The scene that followed was something out of a World Series. The Yankees mobbed the field the way they have over the years when a championship was secured. They are a long way from that, of course, but as the Yankees continue their march toward another invitation to the postseason dance they will look back on this game for inspiration.