Results tagged ‘ Pedro Ciriaco ’

Yanks may have lost long before the ninth inning

Before everybody climbs all over David Robertson for getting beat with his third best pitch in the ninth inning, look back to several other innings when the Yankees had a bevy of opportunities to break the game open and failed. In one-run losses, which the Yankees have had too many of this year, there are usually other areas to point to other than the game-losing play.

You could go all the way back to Boston’s starting pitcher, Jon Lester, who walked a career-high seven batters in his 5 1/3-inning outing, including the leadoff hitter in four innings, but only two of them scored. The Yankees were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base in the first six innings. In the final three innings against three Red Sox relievers, the Yankees did not get a runner into scoring position.

The Red Sox treated the 4-3 victory as a playoff triumph, and why not? Playing spoiler is what is left of their season. They surely spoiled Tuesday night for the Yankees, who dropped into a first-place tie in the American League East with the Orioles, 9-2 winners over the Rays.

Holding on to leads continues to be a problem for the Yankees on this trip in which they are 3-5 and amid this 22-game stretch of games against AL East competition in which they are 5-9 to this point with eight remaining. Hiroki Kuroda could not protect 1-0 and 3-2 advantages.

Derek Jeter’s two-run double in the sixth was the Yankees’ lone clutch hit and uplifting at that, but he was left stranded as reliever Junichi Tazawa came in and struck out Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez. In the bottom half, Kuroda gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia that tied the score. Pedroia had a big night with three hits and two RBI.

Even bigger for Boston was Jacoby Ellsbury, whose fourth hit of the game won it. He singled off a changeup from Robertson to compete the winning rally that was created by two ground singles through the left side by Pedro Ciriaco and Mike Aviles, who may have had the at-bat of the game as he fought off several tough pitches before getting the hit.

Robertson used his fastball to great advantage in the eighth in striking out the side. In the ninth, he broke out the breaking ball a bit more, which resulted in some awkward swings by Red Sox hitters but well-placed knocks. The changeup was a dangerous call to Ellsbury, that’s for sure.

Rodriguez’s 13-game hitting streak came to an end, but Swisher showed some life for the first time on the trip with a double and a single. Jayson Nix laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners up that Jeter knocked in with his double.

The Yankees’ record in one-run games fell to 17-22. After stops at Tampa Bay and Baltimore against their closest pursuers in the division, the Yankees may have thought Boston would be a soft stop. What happened Tuesday night should have changed their minds. The Red Sox made it clear they are not rolling over.

Fenway friendly to Swisher

So maybe a little dose of Fenway Park was all Nick Swisher needed to get his bat going again. Buried in slumps covering 28 at-bats (no hits) and 43 at-bats (two hits), Swish came to Boston where he had hit .429 with three doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 21 at-bats this year. On top of that, he was the Yankees’ leading hitter against the Red Sox overall this season with a .444 average, three doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 36 at-bats.

Following a leadoff walk to Derek Jeter, Swisher lined a first-pitch fastball from Jon Lester off the Green Monster for a double. It was Swisher’s first hit since Sept. 2. He had been hitless for the road trip before that at-bat.

It appeared at that point that the Yankees would be off and running against a downtrodden Red Sox team that is playing out the string of a disappointing season. But the Yankees got only one run out of the situation on an infield out by Robinson Cano. Lester loaded the bases with a pair of walks after two were out but got Curtis Granderson on a foul pop to first base.

The Yankees continued their pattern of scant run support for Hiroki Kuroda in the early going. They wasted a one-out double by Jayson Nix in the second inning. Lester walked the first two batters in the third, then after a visit and tongue lashing from manager Bobby Valentine came back to get two strikeouts and an infield out.

Swisher’s bid for a second double, in the fourth, was snuffed out by third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, who has tormented the Yankees all season, mostly with his bat. The rookie made a diving, back-handed grab of Swisher’s hard grounder down the line, and first baseman James Loney made a nice scoop to complete a beauty of a play that Nick could have done without. The Yankees were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position and left seven on base over the first four innings.

Ciriaco’s 16th hit in 33 at-bats (.485) against the Yankees was a leadoff double in the third inning to start a two-run rally that thrust the Red Sox into the lead. He crossed to third on an infield out to the right side and scored on a single against a drawn-in infield by Jacoby Ellsbury. A steal of second base by Ellsbury with two out put him in position to score on a single to right by Dustin Pedroia.

Despite loss, Phelps keeps displaying value

If Jon Lester had pitched all season the way he did Saturday at Yankee Stadium the Red Sox might not be 12 ½ games behind the Yankees in the American League East standings. Yankees fans are grateful that Lester had not been nearly as sharp this year as in Boston’s 4-1 victory.

The lefthander improved his career record against the Yankee to 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA, including 7-2 with a 3.80 ERA at the Stadium. Overall, it has been a dreadful year for Lester, who is 7-10 with a 5.03 ERA overall.

The Yankees found out that sometimes the home run is not enough, especially if there is only one of them and no one was on base. Curtis Granderson accounted for the Yankees’ lone run Saturday with his 32nd home run. It was the sixth home run by the Yankees in the two games against Boston. All have been with the bases empty.

Granderson was the only Yankees hitter to be perfect against Lester with a double and a walk to go with his dinger. Granderson’ homer was his 11th this season off left-handed pitching and 27th since the start of 2011, the most in the major leagues over that span.

Nick Swisher, who has had a monstrous homestand, had three hits, two off Lester, who also struck him out once. Swish is batting .417 with one double, four home runs and 11 RBI on the homestand. He is hitting .324 with five doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI in August and .333 with two doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI in 11 games since moving into the 2-hole in the batting order 10 days ago. Swisher has crushed Boston pitching this season to the tune of .485 in 33 at-bats.

But a season-long problem bugged the Yankees Saturday. They were hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. They had the leadoff batter on base in three innings against Lester but failed to capitalize. Deter Jeter, serving as the designated hitter for the second straight game, was 0-for-3 with a walk as his 13-game hitting streak was snuffed.

Also for the second straight game, first baseman Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup because of left wrist inflammation. He is not likely to start Sunday night in the final game of the homestand.

A positive note despite the losing decision was the start by David Phelps, who has pitched quite well since the Yankees recalled him from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre July 18. He is 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA in nine appearances totaling 22 1/3 innings since that date. Taking the place of disabled CC Sabathia in the rotation for the second turn, Phelps gave up three runs and seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. In five spot start for the Yankees this season, the righthander is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 24 2/3 innings.

“He mixed his pitches very well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Even the home run was a ball off the plate. We like what he has done. He’s a valuable guy because he can do many things well.”

The home run to which Girardi referred was a two-run shot to left field by Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning. The opposite-field blow proved all the offense Boston would need. The Red Sox got a run off Phelps in the fifth after two were out on a single by new Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco and a double by Nick Punto. Ciriaco was 4-for-4 with a stolen base and is 15-for-29 (.517) with three doubles, one triple and seven RBI against the Yankees this year.

Sabathia has been telling writers that he intends to make his next start when he is eligible to come off the DL Friday at Cleveland, but the ever-cautious Girardi is not ready to make that assignment in pen just yet and has told Phelps to be ready to start if need be.

Phelps’ versatility has been a positive key for the Yankees. It remains to be seen where he will fit in when Sabathia and eventually Andy Pettitte return to active duty. Phelps has been effective as a long man, but that bullpen is crowded now that Derek Lowe is here. Girardi’s use of Lowe to get one out in the ninth inning may be an indication he would like to use him the way he once did Cory Wade as a right-handed compliment to Boone Logan.

With Joba Chamberlain struggling in his comeback from Tommy John surgery and an injured ankle, Phelps may find a permanent spot on the staff the rest of the way.

Plenty of power despite no Teixeira

The Yankees may be without Mark Teixeira the next several days because of inflammation in his left wrist. The first baseman was not in Friday night’s lineup against the Red Sox. Manager Joe Girardi said he did not expect the condition to be long term but added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more than a day.”

Teixeira hurt the wrist swinging a bat in a game three weeks ago and aggravated it when he dived for a ball at first base. He received a cortisone injection and continued to play, although the wrist has bothered him off and on all this time. Nick Swisher played first base Friday night and is likely to get first call at that position while Teixeira is sidelined.

The first couple of innings were pretty soggy at Yankee Stadium as rain fell intermittently with thunder and lightning for accompaniment. The grounds crew was called on twice to care for the areas around the plate and on the mound.

The Yankees supplied their own thunder in building a 3-0 lead on solo home runs off lefthander Franklin Morales by Swisher in the first inning and Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin back-to-back in the second. Yet it took the Red Sox only one home run to capture the lead.

Boston’s four runs in the third were unearned because of a costly error by Phil Hughes, who was coming off two consecutive starts in which he failed to last the fifth inning. After giving up a leadoff single to Mike Aviles, Hughes got Scott Podsednik to hit a ball back to the mound. A possible double play fell apart as Hughes threw wildly to second, putting runners on first and third for Boston with none out.

Pedro Ciriaco, the rookie who has raked the Yankees this year (.500, two doubles, one triple, six RBI in 22 at-bats entering play), beat out a play at first base to avoid being doubled up as Aviles scored. Hughes retired Carl Crawford on a foul behind third base, but Dustin Pedroia got all of a 1-0 fastball for a three-run home run to left, achieving with one swing what it took the Yankees three to do.

Robinson Cano, back in the lineup after missing two starts due to stiff neck, made a bid to thrust the Yankees back into the lead in the bottom of the third, but a leaping grab at the right field wall by Podsednik took away a potential two-run homer.

Derek Jeter got the Yankees even in the fifth with yet another solo home run that extended his hitting streak to 13 games and was a milestone blast. The homer was career No. 250 for Jeter, which ties him with Graig Nettles for ninth place on the Yanks’ career list. He also became the 10th player on the 2012 Yankees to hit 10 or more home runs, tying a franchise record for players homering in double figures established in 1998.

The 10 this year: Granderson 31, Cano 25, Teixeira 23, Swisher 17, Raul Ibanez 15, Alex Rodriguez 15, Eric Chavez 13, Andruw Jones 13, Martin 13, Jeter 10.

The 10 in 1998: Tino Martinez 28, Bernie Williams 26, Paul O’Neill 24, Darryl Strawberry 24, Jeter 19, Scott Brosius 19, Chuck Knoblauch 17, Jorge Posada 17, Chad Curtis 10, Shane Spencer 10.

Once again, Yanks fight back but can’t close the deal

The Yankees had a chance over the weekend to bury the Red Sox but failed to do so. Boston took two of the three games to get back to .500 (51-51). While the Sox are still in last place in the American League East they got the deficit below double figures (9 ½ games).

The Yanks were able to overcome a 2-0, second-inning deficit and push Sunday night’s game into extra innings. The way the Yanks’ offense has hummed this season, two runs is almost like being shut out. Russell Martin drove in both Yankees runs with his 12th home run and a single. The Yanks stranded 10 base runners in losing a series at home for only the fourth time this year.

Nine of the Yankees’ past 10 games have been decided by three runs or less, including five by one run, and they have lost all of those. For the second straight game, they came back in the eighth inning to tie the score only to lose the game eventually.

Typical of almost any Yanks-Red Sox match-up, there was some weirdness going on. After David Robertson got himself in trouble by walking Jarrod Saltalamachia to open the 10th, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks attempted a sacrifice on a fastball from Robertson that ran in on the batter. The ball appeared to hit Middlebrooks on the right hand. Plate umpire Brian O’Nora fell to the ground because the ball ricocheted off Middlebrooks’ bat and struck him in the left knee.

The ump then pleased the Yankee Stadium crowd of 48,526 by ruling the play a foul ball. That brought Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine out of the dugout to argue what he thought was a foul call. Bobby V. put on a pretty good show and earned his ejection. What got to Valentine was O’Nora’s explanation, which is where the weird part comes in. After all, how can ump call a play when he is on the ground?

“Heard it,” Valentine said. “That’s what I take exception with. No one saw anything. He just heard it. What are you going to do?”

What Middlebrooks did was even better than bunting over the runner. He singled on a 0-2 pitch. Robertson got an out as Ryan Sweeney grounded into a force play, but new Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco hit a bloop single to right field to drive in what proved the winning run.

Ciriaco, 26, who has bounced all over the majors and minors the past 10 seasons, is hitting an even .500 with two doubles, one triple and six RBI in 22 at-bats against the Yankees this year.

So the Red Sox picked up some hope. They still have to climb over four teams, but there are two months left in the season and nine more games against the Yankees, who now turn their attention to the second-place Orioles, who come to town for a three-game set beginning Monday night.