Results tagged ‘ Nelson Cruz ’

Yankees lose home run derby to Mariners

The day he was notified that he was the American League Player of the Week for the games that ended Sunday night Gary Sanchez went out and campaigned for winning the award again this week. The rookie catcher continued the impressive start to his major league career Monday night, although his performance was not sufficient to prevent the Yankees from dropping a 7-5 decision to the Mariners in a game in which all the runs were the result of home runs, an unusual sight in spacious Safeco Field.

Sanchez cranked two home runs, which made him the first player in club history to total eight dingers in his first 19 major-league games. He connected for a solo home run off Seattle starter Cody Martin with two out in the first inning. Then after Kyle Seager put the Mariners ahead, 3-2, with a three-run home run off Michael Pineda in the fourth inning, Sanchez regained the lead for the Yanks with a two-run bomb over the center field wall in the sixth.

Two batters after Sanchez’s two home runs were a couple of solo shots by Starlin Castro, which marked the first time two Yankees teammates homered twice in the same game since Oct. 3, 2012 by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.

Cano now plays second base for the Mariners and had three hits Monday night. He nearly had a 4-for-4 game, but Jacoby Ellsbury robbed Cano of a potential extra-base hit with a dazzling, running catch in right-center in the eighth inning. The next batter, Nelson Cruz, homered to left off Kirby Yates for the seventh round-tripper of the night. On his 32nd home run of the season, Cruz broke his bat and the Yankees’ backs.

They threatened in the ninth against a shaky Edwin Diaz, who walked Brian McCann on four pitches to start the inning, gave up a one-out single to Chase Headley and then balked the potential tying runs into scoring position before recovering to retire pinch hitter Mark Teixeira on a fly ball and Brett Gardner on a grounder.

The key blow came in the bottom of the sixth when Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a quick hook of Pineda after he walked Seager with two out. Pineda had thrown only 82 pitches to that point, but Girardi called on lefthander Tommy Layne to face lefty-swinging Adam Lind, who popped up for the second out.

Girardi then brought in righthander Anthony Swarzak to face righty-swinging Mike Zunino. This did not turn out as well. The Mariners catcher drove a 3-2 slider into the right field seats that as it turned out put Seattle ahead for good.

The Yankees tried to get Sanchez an at-bat in the ninth, but the rally ended two batters before his next turn. He had another solid night back of the plate as well as Sanchez threw out another base runner to end the seventh inning.

Drew at center of two huge late-inning rallies

Just a few days ago, it appeared that Stephen Drew was in the process of losing his job. He was benched for the last two games in Oakland only to resurface at second base Monday night in Seattle where he reached base twice with a walk and a single.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has continued to be supportive of Drew, who has spent the past two years well below the Mendoza line with a sub-.200 batting average. Girardi’s patience paid off Tuesday night when Drew avoided another hitless game with a two-out double in the ninth inning off Fernando Rodney to tie the score.

Drew’s RBI hit followed a clutch, pinch-hit single by Brian McCann that sent Chase Headley, who led off the inning with a walk. Had a pinch runner been used for McCann the Yankees might have gotten a second run on Drew’s double, but McCann had to stay on the bases because he had batted for John Ryan Murphy and would have to stay in the game to catch, which he did.

How satisfying was it to watch the third blown save in 17 tries for Rodney, who is such a showoff on the mound whenever he gets a save? Very.

Even more satisfying was the Yankees pulling out a 5-3, 11-inning victory in dramatic fashion. A three-run home run by Garrett Jones broke a 2-2 score, but the Mariners rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano off Andrew Miller, who then faced major-league home run leader Nelson Cruz with two on and struck him out.

It Drew who re-started the Yanks’ 11th-inning rally following a double play with a single to right. After Brett Gardner doubled, Jones went deep on a 2-0 pitch from lefthander Joe Beimel into the right-center field bleachers.

Much was made entering this series about the offensive struggles of Cano, who nearly a third of the way through the season is hitting below .250 with only two home runs. The same could have been said about another Mariners player with ties to the Yankees, but Austin Jackson looked like anything but a struggling player by reaching base six times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.

Three of Jackson’s hits came off Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was nearly tagged with the losing decision that would have sunk his record to 2-8. To avoid having Sabathia face Jackson a fourth time, manager Joe Girardi took out the lefthander with two out and two on in the sixth inning.

Jackson handled reliever David Carpenter the same way he had Sabathia and doubled to center to score what looked for a while as if it would be the deciding run.

Jackson reached base a fifth time when he walked to lead off the ninth against Dellin Betances and quickly stole second. Cano had a chance to be the hero for the Mariners, but Betances blew him away with 98-mph petrol and kept Jackson at second base as the game went into extras.

The ninth-inning Yankees rally took Sabathia off the hook. He dealt with base runners throughout his 5 2/3 innings (nine hits, two walks) but let in only two runs as the Mariners stranded seven over the first five innings. It also spoiled Mike Montgomery’s shot at a victory in his major-league debut. The Seattle lefthander allowed one run and four hits in six innings, and that run was somewhat tainted. It was scored by Gardner, who had walked on a disputed fourth ball that replays showed he had actually gone too far around on a checked swing. Manager Lloyd McClendon and catcher Mike Zunino were ejected later in the inning for arguing a similar call in Alex Rodriguez’s favor.

CC got annoyed with Kyle Seager for trying to bunt a runner home from third for the third out of the fifth, but frankly I thought it was a smart play on Seager’s part. Sabathia may not like it, but his poor mobility should be tested more often by opponents. CC is lucky most major leaguers do not know how to bunt.

Jeter cannot provide dream ending

Those in the crowd of 43,201 at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night who waited long enough for what appeared at the time to be Derek Jeter’s possible last at-bat of the game were rewarded when the Captain beat out a slow roller to third base for a single with two out.

An even greater award came two pitches later as Brian McCann belted a 94-mph fastball from lefthander Andrew Miller, one of the hardest-throwing relief pitchers in the game, for a two-run home run that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-4. McCann, who had singled and scored in the sixth inning, had eight home runs in September, his most in a calendar month since July 2012 when he had nine.

It was not that long ago that the Yankees were down by four runs on scores of 4-0 and 5-1 to the Orioles, who used the long ball to build the large leads against Brandon McCarthy. His pitches were up for much of his 5 1/3 innings and he paid the price for that.

Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all took McCarthy deep. Johnson, who started the season with the Yankees and was dealt to Boston for Stephen Drew in July, got his first home run since joining the Orioles Aug. 30 leading off the second inning. Markakis added a two-run shot in the fourth. Cruz led off the next inning with his 40th home run, the most in the majors.

So instead of a sizable portion of the crowd heading for the exits after getting one last glance at Jeter the house remained full with the improved prospects of a Yankees comeback and a hope that the Captain might get one more time at the plate.

Someone needed to get on base in the ninth for that to happen because Jeter was the fourth scheduled batter that inning. Brett Gardner provided the opportunity for DJ with a two-out single over the mound against lefthander Zach Britton, the Baltimore closer.

With the crowd chanting “Der-ek Je-ter,” the Captain had his chance to be a hero, but this would not be a Hollywood ending. Britton struck Jeter out on three pitches.

One night after scratching out only one hit against the Yankees, the Orioles banged out 17 hits, including four by Markakis and three apiece by Cruz, Johnson and Nick Hundley. Yet only one of their hits came with a runner in scoring position in seven at-bats as Baltimore stranded 11 base runners.

The Yankees did not do well in that category, either, with eight hitless at-bats in the clutch. Yankees pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts (eight by McCarthy, two by Dellin Betances and one by David Robertson) to set a season franchise record of 1,319, one more than the previous mark of 2012.

With the Royals winning in Cleveland, the Yankees remained five games back in the wild card hunt and failed to take advantage of the Mariners losing at Toronto. Only five games remain in the regular season for the Yankees, and they are down to this: they must win every game and hope clubs ahead of them stumble.

Playoff hopes dampen after Baltimore weekend

The Yankees got a taste of their own recent medicine over the weekend in Baltimore where their post-season hopes grew grimmer after losing three of four games to an Orioles team that has its magic number for clinching the American League East title to three. The Yankees’ last gasping hope for a trip to the playoffs lay in the second wild-card slot, and they are five games back with 14 games to play.

The Yankees started the series at Camden Yards trip on a high from consecutive comeback victories over Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium in which they obliterated 4-0 deficits. Chris Young, who made huge contributions to both those victories, was in position to be the hero again Friday in the afternoon game of a day/night doubleheader when he homered with two outs in the 11th inning to break a scoreless tie.

Adam Warren, pitching the bottom of the 11th because closer David Robertson had already pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief, couldn’t hold the Orioles down, however, and lost the game on a bases-loaded, two-out double by pinch hitter Jimmy Paredes. The Yankees then got shut out, 5-0, on four hits in the night game, which took away any sense of momentum they had from the Rays series.

Saturday’s 4-3 victory behind Shane Greene and four relievers was a brief reprieve, but the fact that the Yankees had no runs and one hit in the eight innings other than their three-run second that included a home run by Brian McCann and a steal of home by Young was emblematic of the offensive struggles that would continue in the series.

Sunday night’s game resembled the day-game loss Friday in that the Yankees took a one-run lead in the last inning and then gave up two runs in the bottom half for another walk-off loss, their eighth of the season. McCann’s second home run of the series and 20th of the season put the Yanks up, 2-1, in the top of the ninth.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to bring in Robertson for the third straight day instead of staying with Dellin Betances, who had pitched a shutout eighth with two strikeouts. That gave him 130 for the season, tying Mariano Rivera’s 1996 franchise mark for K’s by a relief pitcher.

I do not fault Girardi’s judgment here. Robertson is his closer. The manager has been careful with his relievers all year so they would be strong in September where they are needed most. Robertson’s stuff was up all inning. The Orioles quickly tied the score on successive doubles by Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce. One out later, Kelly Johnson, of all people, drove in the winner with another double. Johnson batted .219 in 77 games and 201 at-bats for the Yankees this year before he was traded to the Red Sox July 31 for Stephen Drew, who is hitting .135 in 104 at-bats for the Yankees. The Orioles acquired Johnson in an Aug. 30 deal with Boston. Playing for his third AL East team this season, Johnson finally ended up in first place.

The crushing loss obscured a very good outing by Hiroki Kuroda, who gave up one run and six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in seven innings. Once again, Yankees pitching was not the main problem despite the two bullpen leaks.

The Yankees batted .172 and slugged .261 as a team in the series in which they totaled six runs in 38 innings. They were 2-for-20 (.100) with runners in scoring position. Jacoby Ellsbury was 2-for-17, Mark Teixeira 1-for-11, Brett Gardner 1-for-10 and Derek Jeter 0-for-11. The Captain’s slump goes beyond this series; he is hitless in his past 24 at-bats as his average has sunk to .250.

To make matters worse, the Sunday Night Baseball date means the Yankees will arrive in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the wee hours of the morning Monday where that night they open a three-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The playoff outlook is equally as bleary.

Yankees blown out by Orioles in series opener

It is still too early to consider a series a must-win, yet that was how the Yankees identified the three-game set against the Orioles that began Monday night with a thud. All the 11-3 loss did was to add more pressure on the Yankees, who need to win the next two games to capture the series.

Based on what happened at Camden Yards Monday night, it is hard to remain optimistic. The Yankees blew a 3-1 lead and were outscored, 9-0, with only one hit, a Derek Jeter double in the fifth, after the second inning. It is easy to say that the bullpen let the game get away from the Yankees, but the offense was also at fault as it failed to tack on runs and force the Orioles out of their game.

Instead, Baltimore remained close enough to strike back and did so in a big way on a two-run home run by Chris Davis off Chris Capuano in the fifth and a three-run bomb by Nelson Cruz in the seventh off Adam Warren. Joseph Schoop added a three-run homer in the eighth off Chase Whitley as the final crusing blown of a 14-hit attack that included eight for extra bases.

Davis, struggling this year after his 53-homer season in 2013, was not even in the starting lineup. He entered the game at third base in place of Manny Machado, who exited in the third inning due to a sprained right knee.

The offensive outburst was a continuation of combustable forces by the Orioles, who have scored 10 or more runs in three of the past four games. What a difference compared to the Yankees, who have reached double figures in runs in only four games all season. Monday night, they got three runs without a run-scoring hit. The runs came on an infield out and a double steal aided by two Baltimore errors.

We all keep waiting for them to turn things around, and there is no better time than now against the first-place team in the American League East. The Yankees now trail the Orioles by seven games. The clubs have nine games remaining against each other, but the Yankees need to make up some ground as early as possible.

High school play nets 2 runs for Yanks

So desperate have the Yankees been to score runs that they resorted to the old high school play in the second inning Monday night at Baltimore and came away with two runs off it, thanks to some wild throws by the Orioles.

Martin Prado was at the plate with runners on first and third and one out when the Yankees went into motion. It is possible that Prado or Chase Headley, the runner at first base, may have even missed a sign. Both are relatively new to the club, after all.

Headley broke for second base and stopped midway up the line as catcher Caleb Joseph threw to the bag. As Headley retreated toward first base, Carlos Beltran broke from third for home and scored after third baseman Manny Machado’s relay to the plate struck Beltan’s helmet.

Headley went all the way to third on that error and was able to score on pitcher Bud Norris’ errant flip. On that one broken play, the Yankees scored more runs than they did in the two games combined Saturday and Sunday against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles closed to 3-2 in the third on a two-out, RBI single by Adam Jones that followed a tough loss for Baltimore. Machado had to be carried off the field after he hurt his knee in the at-bat prior to Jones. Machado fell in the batter’s box and grabbed his right knee after hitting a bat-shattering ground ball to shortstop. Machado was out for half of the 2013 season because of knee surgery on his left knee.

Machado had been hot lately. He doubled and eventually scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Nelson Cruz and was 8-for-16 (.500) in the current homestand. This could be a deep wound for the Orioles.

Sometimes it’s easy being Greene

The Yankees’ rotation has had an overhaul this season with four-fifths of the Opening Day starting unit gone to the disabled list. The situation has afforded opportunities to some pitchers. Shane Greene is one who has given the Yankees reason to believe they just might get through this crisis.

The Floridian righthander earned his first major-league victory earlier in the week at Cleveland and followed it up Saturday with an even more impressive performance at Baltimore. Greene’s 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball in the Yankees’ 3-0 victory was quite a showing in the hitting paradise that is Camden Yards.

Just as he did last Monday night against the Indians, Greene had his sinker working as few balls hit by the Orioles made their way to the outfield. Other than their four hits, all singles, only two other batted balls by the Birds were outfield flies. Green got 10 outs on infield grounders and another on an infield popup. Oh, yeah, he also totaled nine strikeouts. Nelson Cruz, who entered the game tied for the major league lead in home runs (28) and RBI (74), went down on strikes three times.

This was an outing similar to what we have seen this year from another rookie righthander, Masahiro Tanaka. There will be no suggestion here that Greene is the equivalent of the Japanese phenom, but the Triple A Scranton call-up has proved a worthy substitute trying to work his way into the Yankees’ plans.

Greene did not allow a hit until two outs in the fifth inning. Manny Machado broke up the no-hit bid with a single to left, and Ryan Flaherty followed with a single to center that sent Machado to third base.

The score was 1-0 at that point, so it was a juncture when Greene might have wavered. Instead, he kept the Orioles off the board with a strikeout of Nick Hundley, the same guy whose 10th-inning single Friday night did in the Yankees.

The Orioles threatened again in the sixth when Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce began the inning with well-struck singles. If Greene ever needed a ground ball, this was the time. He got it, too, in the direction of Brian Roberts, who gloved it near second base, got to the bag for the force and made an off-balanced throw to first base for a rally-injuring double play. Greene supplied the killing blow by striking out Cruz.

The Yankees then supported their young pitcher in a way they have not been doing in recent games in which they have often taken early leads but have not tacked on runs later on. Orioles starter Chris Tillman kept pace with Greene for six innings. The Yankees scored a run in the third on a double by Mark Teixeira but lost another run when Derek Jeter was thrown out at the plate.

In the seventh, a pair of two-out hits, a single by Jeter off Tillman and a double by Jacoby Ellsbury off reliever T.J. McFarland, gave the Yanks two key insurance run. Brian McCann’s third hit of the game almost got another run in, but a strong throw to the plate by center fielder Adam Jones nailed Ellsbury.

It was encouraging to see the Yankees put together a sustained attack in the late innings, but as it turned out one run was all Greene needed. After he got the first out of the eighth, Greene was removed for lefthander David Huff, who gave up a single to Nick Markakis. Shawn Kelley got the final two outs of the inning before David Robertson finished it off with a perfect ninth for his 23rd save.

So after two brilliant starts, Greene is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA and has given the Yankees hope that there may be more good stuff to come.

“He’s stepping up; that’s for sure,” Girardi told reporters. “He’s earning starts is what he’s doing.”

Long ball haunts Nuno at Stadium

Probably a lot that could be written about Vidal Nuno this year would be similar to what pertained to Phil Hughes last year. He may not be suited for Yankee Stadium. There is a big difference, however, and it is not favorable for Nuno. He is left-handed.

Traditionally, the Stadium has favored lefthanders, much more so many years ago when the left-center field fence at the original yard was 467 feet from the plate, much deeper than the 399-foot power alley at the current Stadium.

The Orioles smacked four home runs Saturday in a 6-1 victory over the Yankees with only one of the drives, an opposite-field job by Nelson Cruz, dipping into the right-field porch. The home runs off Nuno by Adam Jones in the first inning and Steve Pearce in the fifth both landed in the left field seats as did J.J. Hardy’s first homer of the year, in the eighth off Jose Ramirez.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that Nuno is “a bit of a fly-ball pitcher,” the same handle once attached to Hughes, who was often victimized by the long ball at the Stadium. Nuno is now filling that role. He has allowed 13 home runs in 39 1/3 innings at the Stadium this year compared to two in 28 innings on the road.

“He made some mistakes,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, when he is making mistakes, they are hitting them out of the park.”

“I left fastballs up that were supposed to sink,” Nuno said. “I have no regrets about my approach, but they got to my fastball.”

Did the Orioles ever. Baltimore’s home run derby made it another dark day for Nuno, who remained winless in eight starts since May 7 at Anaheim when he earned his only victory of the season. Nuno is 0-4 with a 4.37 ERA since his last victory. His record at the Stadium this year fell to 0-3 with a 7.09 ERA.

Naturally, Girardi had to field questions about Nuno’s place in the rotation. The skipper has not changed his view. Michael Pineda’s snail-paced return from shoulder soreness creates the need for Nuno in the rotation. Pineda still has inflammation in the area and does not appear to be close to returning.

Adam Warren remains an option, but Girardi is comfortable with the righthander in the bullpen. I don’t blame him. If Warren goes into the rotation, who would do what he does in the pen? Nuno? I don’t think so.

The debate is a waste of time because Girardi is not about to make a change.

“It’s not like there are starting pitchers lying around out there,” he said. “This is our rotation and what it will be.”

A home run also accounted for the Yankees’ only scoring. Mark Teixeira clouted his 12th of the season in the fourth inning off eventual winning pitcher Bud Norris. That the Yankees could do no more damage and that Nuno could not keep the ball in the yard put an end to their four-game winning streak.

Nova did his job, rest of the Yanks didn’t

The Yankees were looking to Ivan Nova to continue his hot hand Monday night on a 99-degree night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. Nova has worked himself back into the rotation nicely in recent weeks and seemed up to the responsibility to bounce his club back from a tough loss the night before and a long, somber flight through the wee hours.

And Nova did his job, too, a good one despite less than commanding stuff that he has displayed lately. That is a sign of a maturing pitcher, someone who can get outs on a night when the curve isn’t as sharp nor the fastball as zippy.

Nova was not the problem Monday night. Yu Darvish was. Coming off the disabled list from a trapezius strain, Darvish got right back to where he left off two weeks ago with 6 1/3 innings of two-hit, shutout pitching in the Rangers’ 3-0 victory.

The Yankees did not get a hit until the fifth inning, a bloop single by Lyle Overbay, and added only two more singles (by Overbay and Ichiro Suzuki) the rest of the way. They have now gone 21 innings without an extra-base hit. Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 as his 12-game hitting streak came to an end.

With so tight a margin for error, Nova did remarkably well. He walked three batters, two of whom scored, and gave up a long home run to Nelson Cruz in the seventh, his last inning. The righthander pitched well enough to win but no pitcher can chalk up a ‘W’ if his teammates do not score. The Yankees were shut out for the eighth time this season.

In five appearances since coming off the DL, Nova is 2-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. He was clearly one of the few highlights for the Yankees in the game. Third baseman Luis Cruz made the defensive play of the night with a running, back-to-the-infield catch along the left field line to rob Mitch Moreland of a hit in the third inning.

Brett Gardner tried to wear out Rangers closer Joe Nathan in the ninth by leading off the inning with a 14-pitch at-bat that unfortunately ended in an out on a fly to center. Ichiro’s hit followed, but Nathan struck out Cano and retired Overbay on a fly to deep center for his 31st save as Texas halted a four-game losing streak.

Andy ties Whitey for K record in loss

Andy Pettitte couldn’t even come away with a consolation prize Wednesday night. A seventh strikeout in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Rangers would have given Pettitte the club record. His strikeout of Adrian Beltre in the fifth inning was career No. 1,957 for Pettitte, who tied Whitey Ford for the most punchouts by a pitcher in franchise history.

Pettitte’s final inning was the sixth. After retiring A.J. Pierzynski, the leadoff hitter that inning, Pettitte got two strikes on the next four hitters but failed to get strike three each time. Lance Berkman grounded out to third. Mitch Moreland singled to center. David Murphy came back from 0-2 to draw a walk. Leonys Martin ended the inning with a popout to shortstop.

The Yankees tried to get Pettitte off the hook in the bottom of the sixth. Trailing, 4-1, the Yanks rallied to make the score 4-3 on RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner but could get no closer. Lyle Overbay, who had homered off Texas starter Justin Grimm for the Yankees’ first run in the second inning, struck out. After a walk to Zoilo Almonte loaded the bases, Jayson Nix grounded into a double play.

Pettitte’s third consecutive loss that dropped his record to 5-6 came down to one bad inning – the third when the Rangers scored four runs, one of which was unearned due to a throwing error by Nix on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus that filled the bases with none out. Petttitte caught Nelson Cruz looking at a third strike, but Beltre and Pierzynski followed with two-run doubles. Pettitte at least stranded Pierzynski at second by retiring Berkman on a groundout and Moreland on a called third strike.

After the Yankees closed the gap, Joba Chamberlain opened it again in the seventh by giving up a two-run homer to Cruz. Chamberlain needed to be bailed out by Preston Claiborne after being touched for another double by Beltre and a two-out single by Berkman. Claiborne got Moreland on an infield pop for the third out after replacing Chamberlain, whose ERA skied to 6.38.

Chamberlain’s stretch of ineffectiveness covers his past seven appearances in which he has given up nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (12.15 ERA).

“He is making mistakes in the middle of the plate,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I still have confidence in him. His stuff is too good not to turn it around.”

The Yankees tried to turn it around for them in the seventh when a two-run home run by Ichiro Suzuki off Ross Wolf again made it a one-run game at 6-5. Yet once again, the Yankees let the Rangers stretch their lead with a two-run ninth. Both runs were not earned. An error by center fielder Brett Gardner, who dropped a drive by Pierzynski on the warning track in left-center, put runners on second and third with one out. A single by Berkman and sacrifice fly by Moreland added insurance runs for Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who notched his 26th save with a perfect bottom of the ninth.

The loss dropped the Yankees 3 ½ games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and in a virtual tie for second place with the Orioles, who also lost.