Results tagged ‘ R.A. Dickey ’

It is getting awfully tight in the AL East

After playing .500 ball (3-3) on their trip to Kansas City and Baltimore, the Yankees got off to a strong start on the next to last homestand of the season. A 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays kept the Yankees 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the second wild card playoff berth and also moved them to 5 1/2 games of first place in the American League East.

That is still a lot of ground to make up with 26 games remaining in the regular season, but all but three of them are against teams in their own division, including six against the Blue Jays, whose hold on first place is teetering. The Red Sox, who had a late afternoon game at San Diego, were in position to tie Toronto for the division lead, and the Orioles are only two games back. It is getting tight in the division in the final month.

After doing the near impossible by failing to get a single extra-base hit in three games over the weekend at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, the Yankees broke out of that spell Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Jacoby Ellsbury ended the 27-inning, 89-at-bat extra-base hitless streak with a two-run home run in the first inning off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey that erased a 1-0 Yankees deficit. That was the first of three hits in the game for Ellsbury, who did not start in Sunday’s series finale at Baltimore.

Rookie first baseman Tyler Austin doubled leading off the third and scored on a one-out single by Ellsbury. Austin got another double with two out in the fourth, and that one sent home two runners and essentially ended the day for Dickey, who got the final out that inning but did not return for the fifth.

The return of extra-base power provided sufficient support for Masahiro Tanaka, who improved his record to 12-4. Although he told reporters after the game that he did not have his best stuff, Tanaka allowed only two runs over 6 1/3 innings. He did give up seven hits and three walks, but the Blue Jays were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him and 2-for-9 for the game.

Toronto also ran into some outs. Catcher Gary Sanchez threw out Melvin Upton Jr. trying to steal second base in the fourth. Jose Bautista inexplicably tried to go from first to third on a single to left by Edwin Encarnacion the next inning and was easy prey for Brett Gardner for the third out.

The Yankees sweated through the seventh inning when the Jays loaded the bases on three walks, one by Tanaka and two by rookie Jonathan Holder. Encarnacion’s third hit of the game was a single to right off another rookie, Ben Heller, that scored two runs. Tommy Layne, the Yanks’ fourth pitcher of the inning, prevented further damage by retiring pinch hitter Russell Martin on an infield fly.

Tyler Clippard retired the side in order in the eighth, and Dellin Betances did the same in the ninth for his ninth save in 10 tries since becoming the closer July 31. Betances has allowed only two earned runs in 30 1/3 innings (0.59 ERA) at the Stadium this year.

In 21 appearances since the All-Star break, Betances has given up two earned runs in 22 innings (0.82 ERA) with eight hits allowed, 10 walks and 34 strikeouts. He leads major-league relievers in K’s with 114. Betances led all relievers in strikeouts the previous two seasons with 131 last year and 135 in 2014. This is the first season in Yankees history in which three pitchers had at least nine saves apiece. Andrew Miller, now with the Indians, also had nine, and Aroldis Chapman, now with the Cubs, had 20.

Three walks were unusual for Tanaka, considering that he walked only one batter total in six August starts covering 39 innings. The Japanese righthander is 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his past six starts and has won five consecutive decisions for the first time since May 25 through June 17, 2014. Tanaka, who has a career record of 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA against the Blue Jays, is 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts totaling 59 innings against AL East clubs this year.

The Yankees have scored exactly five runs in five of their past seven games and nine of 15 since Aug. 20.

Yankees starting to growl in dog days

The Yankees are trying to convince their American League East rivals that they are not out of contention. The Yanks made a very convincing argument Monday night in a 1-0 victory over the first-place Blue Jays.

OK, maybe convincing is overstating it a mite. The Yankees had a miserable night of it with runners in scoring position (2-for-18) and left 14 runners on base. It was their highest number of runners left on base in a 1-0 victory since July 4, 1925 when they stranded 15 against the Philadelphia Athletics. But in games like this, pitching becomes paramount, and pitching the Yankees got.

One night after Luis Severino struggled against the Rays, another young pitcher, Chad Green, had a terrific outing. The righthander flirted with a perfect game into the fifth inning when he lost it but pitched out of a jam to maintain the one-run lead.

Troy Tulowitzki broke up the perfecto bid with a single to left field. Darrell Ceciliani then ripped a double into the right field corner, which put Green into trouble for the first time. He handled it with authority by striking out Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr.

That was the only inning the Blue Jays reached base against Green (2-2), who retired the side in order in his other five innings. He got three strikeouts apiece in three innings and totaled 11 in his six innings. The Yankees got 1-2-3 innings from Tyler Clippard in the seventh and Adam Warren in the eighth before Dellin Betances (fifth save) walked the wire in the ninth.

A leadoff walk to .155-batting, 9-hole hitter Josh Thole and a one-out single by Josh Donaldson gave Toronto runners on the corners with one out and the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion (33 home runs, 97 RBI) at the plate. Encarnacion made solid contact on the first pitch, but his hard ground ball to third baseman Chase Headley was turned into a game-ending, around-the-horn double play.

Talk about walking the wire, R.A. Dickey did the same in his five innings of work. The knuckleballer gave up four hits and four walks but repeatedly worked out of danger. The Yankees had the first two batters on base in both the first and second innings and could not get them home.

They finally broke through in the fourth when Aaron Judge followed two walks with a double to right-center. Judge is the first player in Yankees history to get an extra-base hit in each of his first three career games.

The Yankees posed another threat in the fifth when Headley led off with a double, but Dickey (8-13) once again turned them away. Against the Toronto bullpen, the Yanks failed to capitalize on bases-loaded situations in the sixth and the eighth. They had three at-bats with runners in scoring position in six different innings and were successful only twice with one of the hits failing to drive in a run.

The victory put the Yankees 5 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, although they remained 4 1/2 games behind for the second wild-card berth as the Red Sox also won in Cleveland. Still, the addition of the new, young talent has had an uplift on the field and in the clubhouse. The Yankees are showing some bite in the dog days of August.

Yanks, Jays going in opposite directions

The team that zoomed past the Yankees last year to the American League East title is moving past them in a different direction this year. The Blue Jays have replaced the Yankees in last place in the division. The Yanks climbed out of the cellar over the weekend in Oakland and have fought back to the .500 mark (22-22) with the 6-0 victory Tuesday night over a Jays team that is not scoring in bunches as it did a year ago.

The Yankees’ stretch of first-rate starting pitching during the six-game winning streak that has pushed them into third place in the AL East continued with Nathan Eovaldi (5-2) shutting out the Blue Jays on two hits in six-plus innings with three walks and five strikeouts in winning his fourth consecutive start and extending his streak of winning decisions to five.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.16 ERA over his past four starts and a 2.92 ERA over his past six starts as his season ERA has dropped from 6.11 to 3.95. Relievers Dellin Betances, Kirby Yates and Luis Cessa held Toronto hitless over the final three innings. During the winning streak, Yankees pitchers have a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings. Opponents are batting only .148 in 189 at-bats off Yankees pitching in the past six games.

Eovaldi ran his streak of consecutive batters retired to 22 before Troy Tulowitzki’s one-out single in the second inning. The righthander also retired 12 batters in a row from the first out in the third through the final out of the sixth. Since allowing a leadoff double in the first inning May 18 at Phoenix, Eovaldi has set down 36 of 41 batters faced.

The Yankees’ offense could not be slowed down even in the throes of having to face a knuckleballer. They jumped on R.A. Dickey (2-6) early with a run in the first inning. As it turned out, that was all the scoring they needed.

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista, the most powerful leadoff hitter in the major leagues, helped the Yankees to that run in the first with a poor decision to dive for a Jacoby Ellsbury line drive that ended up rolling to the wall for a leadoff triple. A walk and a strikeout later, Carlos Beltran beat out a play at first to avoid being doubled up as Ellsbury scored.

Beltran, the Yankees’ hottest hitter of late, got a more legitimate RBI in the fourth with his 10th home run. He also walked and scored in the Yankees’ two-run eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley. Didi Gregorius singled in the second run.

Dickey was gone by then. He was chased in the seventh after giving up an RBI double to Austin Romine. Ellsbury greeted reliever Joe Biagini with a run-scoring single.

Beltran started off the brief homestand as well as he finished off the two-city trip in which he batted .407 with three runs, five doubles, one homer and nine RBI in seven games and 27 at-bats. In nine games since May 15, Beltran has hit .394 with seven runs, five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 33 at-bats.

Tanaka gem ends home losing streak

It took six tries, but the Yankees finally guaranteed themselves another winning season at Yankee Stadium. At the same time, they saved some face in a long, exasperating weekend against the front-running Blue Jays.

Sunday’s 5-0 triumph behind a determined Masahiro Tanaka was the Yankees’ 41st victory at the Stadium this year, which extended their stretch of consecutive winning seasons at home to 24 (since 1992). It is the longest current winning streak in the major leagues and the most since the Yankees’ big-league record of 47 winning seasons at home from 1918 through 1964.

It ended a five-game losing streak at the Stadium and followed a twin killing Saturday in a miserably long day. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that the team needed a well-pitched game more than anything, and Tanaka gave him all he could have wanted and more.

The Japanese righthander shut down the Blue Jays on four hits and no walks over seven innings and 108 pitches. Tanaka has given up only one earned run in 16 innings against Toronto’s powerful lineup this year.

“Location” was Girardi’s response for why Tanaka has done so well against a Blue Jays team that leads the American League in runs and home runs. “He was down in the zone all day. He had a good splitter, a good slider and worked in a cutter as well.”

Tanaka also helped himself with a pickoff play at second base that nailed Kevin Pillar, who had doubled with one out in the second inning. It was a rough weekend for Pillar, who was 1-for-13 at the plate and ran into his teammate, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is out indefinitely due to a small crack in his left shoulder blade.

There were contributions all around in the Yankees’ victory that moved them back to 3 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and ended a personal seven-game winning streak by former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Dustin Ackley, who joined the Yankees in a trade from Seattle only to land on the disabled list because of a back ailment, knocked in three runs with a sacrifice fly in the second and his first home run in pinstripes, a two-run shot in the fourth.

Girardi decided to start Ackley at first base when he found out that Greg Bird, who has played there primarily since the season-ending injury to Mark Teixeira, had faced a knuckleball pitcher only once in the minor leagues. Ackley, on the other hand, had some success against Dickey and continued it Sunday. In 13 career at-bats against Dickey, Ackley is batting .462 with two home runs.

“The simple approach is better,” Ackley said of hitting knuckleball pitchers. “He was running the ball inside. I just looked for the first good one over the plate. The important thing is to get out in front and not stay back and let the knuckleball move too much.”

Alex Rodriguez, who was honored by the Yankees in a pregame ceremony for his 3,000th hit earlier in the season, showed some hustle in the second scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius. A-Rod also drove in a run with a two-out double in the eighth that ended Dickey’s outing.

Brett Gardner, who had a huge day at the plate Saturday (4-for-9, three home runs, seven RBI) took a 0-for-4 collar Sunday but made two outstanding running catches in left field to take away potential extra-base hits from Justin Smoak in the seventh and Matt Hague in the ninth.

“Everybody is relieved that we are going on the road [to Tampa Bay] with confidence,” Ackley said.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Yankees have fallen into a 2-1 rut

So where was that all that high-powered offense that was expected from the American League’s two most prolific run scoring teams Friday night? The Yankees and the Blue Jays mustered only one run each as the game was pushed into extra innings.

Credit the Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi and the Jays’ R.A. Dickey with keeping the combustible lineups under control. Solo home runs by Toronto’s Josh Donaldson in the first inning and the Yanks’ Mark Teixeira in the second was all the scoring accomplished in regulation.

It was another solo home run — by Jose Bautista with one out in the 10th off Brandon Pinder — that was the difference in the third consecutive 2-1 game played by the Yankees and the second loss. The other setback was Wednesday night to the Red Sox and Steven Wright, like Dickey a knuckleball pitcher. That flutterball has stymied the Yankees’ offense.

Eovaldi kept his six-game winning streak intact but could not add to it. Same with Dickey, who had won his three previous starts. Since his last loss June 16, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.87 ERA over 53 1/3 innings in lowering his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.15. In 10 starts this season at Yankee Stadium, the righthander is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 58 innings. He gave the Yankees 6 1/3 quality innings Friday night in allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Dickey remains the one former Cy Young Award winner the Yankees have had trouble with this year, and they will face another one Saturday in lefthander David Price, who was recently obtained in a trade from the Tigers. Dickey pitched seven innings and scattered six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The Yankees are 6-2 this year in games started by former Cy Young Award winners, who have a combined ERA of 5.48 in those games. Dickey started both of those games the Yankees lost and posted a 1.27 ERA in those starts over 21 1/3 innings.

The loss sliced the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over the Blue Jays, who are nonetheless five games back in the loss column. That is the nail in the coffin in pennant races because a loss cannot be made up so long as the team you are trailing keeps winning.

Still, the Yankees wasted a good pitching effort and used their back end of the bullpen combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in a game they failed to win. It was not the way they wanted to start what may be a critical weekend.

Ain’t that a shame

The Yankees’ 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays Monday night falls into the “damn shame” category.

It was a damn shame that Chase Whitley, who pitched seven shutout innings, could not register a winning decision.

It was a damn shame that third baseman Chase Headley, who made a remarkable play just to stop Russell Martin’s grounder behind third base in the eighth inning, had to be charged with an error on his subsequent, hurried throw to first base that bounced in front of Garrett Jones, who failed to scoop it for what would have been the final out.

The bullpen, which has been a major strength for the Yankees, came up short this time in trying to protect a 1-0 lead that the Yankees were able to scratch off R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer who gives them fits, especially at Rogers Centre.  Carlos Beltran, who is showing signs of breaking out of his season-long slump, led off the seventh inning against Dickey with a double to right, crossed to third on an infield out and scored on a hot-shot grounder off first baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s glove by Jones.

That single run loomed large for the Yankees, considering the way Whitley was pitching. He tacked on another zero in the seventh before turning matters over to the pen, which has been good as gold much of the season.

Whitley scattered six hits, did not walk a batter ands struck out six in lowering his ERA to 0.75. He worked out of trouble efficiently the few times he got into trouble. One time was of his own making, in the third when he got a poor grip on the ball fielding a grounder and threw wildly past first base, which put Ezequiel Carrera on third base with one out. Whitley came back to strike out Devon Travis and get Josh Donaldson on a ground ball.

Travis led off the sixth with a single, and Donaldson followed with a double. Whitley held firm again. He kept Jose Bautista in the infield with a grounder to third, struck out Encarnacion and got Kevin Pillar on an infield pop.

The Yankees managed only three hits plus three walks off Dickey, who ended up the winning pitcher for the first time this season, thanks to his teammates’ upsetting the Yankees’ bullpen plan. Manager Joe Girardi did not want to use closer Andrew Miller, who had a lengthy outing Sunday night at Boston, and intended to use Dellin Betances for a four- or five-out save, if ncessary.

It proved necessary when Chris Martin gave up one-out singles to Donaldson and Bautista in the eighth. Betances  came on and gave up a double down the left field line by Encarnacion that tied the score. Pillar made the second out on an infield fly before Russell Martin came up as a pinch hitter. Martin, the Yankees’ regular catcher in 2012 and ’13, hit a hard grounder ticketed for left field before Headley made one of his patented, back-handed stops. That he even had a chance to make a play at first base was miraculous.

It was a damn shame that Jones could not handle the throw as two runs scored on the play.

Dickey improved his career record against the Yankees to 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA. Even more impressive, the former National League Cy Young Award winner (2013 with the Mets) is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA against the Yankees at Rogers Centre. To have to face him in Toronto is always a damn shame for the Yankees.

Hey, a rally is a rally

It was not exactly a rally to write home about, but considering the conditions and circumstances the Yankees will take it. The only hard hit ball of the inning was a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached base four times in the game. Still, the three runs wiped out a 3-1 deficit and sent them to their first victory of the season, 4-3.

They used a wind-blown, bloop double by pinch hitter Chris Young, the Ellsbury single, a wild pitch, an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira, two hit batters (Brett Gardner and Brian McCann) and an infield single by Chase Headley to steal the game away from the Blue Jays bullpen.

By contrast, the Yankees’ pen had another good game. Dellin Betances, charged with an unearned run in the eighth inning due to an error by Brian McCann, turned out the winning pitcher as the result of the Yanks’ three-run bottom of the eighth.

Andrew Miller was used in the closer role for his Yankees debut and pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. Manager Joe Girardi has talked about closing out games based on match-ups, and this one called for Betances in the eighth and Miller in the ninth. Another night it could be the reverse.

By the eighth inning, temperatures had dropped into the 30s with a wicked wind picking up and blowing a mist around the Stadium. The conditions were brutal and were reflected in the game with a pair of hit batters and a couple of errors. It was not picture perfect baseball.

One of the keys to the victory was Girardi using Young to bat for Didi Gregorius to start the eighth. Grigorius has a history of being vulnerable against left-handed pitching. With lefty Aaron Loup on the mound for the Blue Jays, Girardi made the call to Young. In all honesty, Young’s fly ball near the right field line likely would have been caught on a milder night, but the wind played havoc by that point in the game.

Hey, a break is a break. Give Young credit for busting it out of the box and getting in position to turn the hit into a double. Ellsbury followed with a dart to center field, and those remaining in the Yankee Stadium crowd of 31,020 began to sense it was a good idea after all to stick around.

The Yanks cut the deficit to 3-2 when Young scored from third on a wild pitch by Loup, who then hit Gardner with a fastball, a big ouch on a night like this. One out and an intentional pass later, McCann took oner off the wrist from lefthander Brett Cecil, and the game was tied. Headley put the Yankees ahead with a shot off Cecil’s glove for a single.

The rally would not qualify for any highlight film but not all have to be patterned after Murderers’ Row or the Bronx Bombers. A team that has major offensive issues a year ago took a small first step in showing its ability to dig itself out of a hole.

Pineda weathers cold minus pine tar

Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium was one of those early-season games when a pitcher could really use some pine tar to help him grip the ball. Except that to do so is illegal, which the Yankees’ Michael Pineda discovered infamously last year.

The righthander drew a suspension for using the substance that was smeared on his neck during an April 2014 game at Fenway Park, which got him tossed from the game. Pineda learned his lesson and weathered the 42-degree climate against the Blue Jays without anything beyond the talent contained in his right arm. His 96-pitch effort over six innings was a solid first start, but the Yankees did not get him any run support until his last inning.

Pineda gave up two runs, six hits and a walk with six strikeouts against a Toronto lineup that can be dangerous. Half of his K’s came against slugger Jose Bautista, including in the third inning when the Jays threatened to break the game open.

Toronto used two infield singles and a double to get its first run and had runners on first and second with none out when Pineda retired Jose Reyes on a fly ball to right and struck out Russell Martin and Bautista. Another infield hit played a factor in the Blue Jays’ second run that came home on a sacrifice fly by Martin in the fifth.

Meanwhile, the Yankees struggled against R.A. Dickey. Just what the Yankees did not need after a one-run, three-hit performance in the opener was to have to face a knuckleballer. It is hard to break out of a slump against that pitch.

Switch hitter Mark Teixeira chose to bat right-handed against the right-handed Dickey. It worked Tex’s first time up as he lashed a double to left field, but the Yankees could not get him past third base.

Jacoby Ellsbury was the main cog in manufacturing a run in the sixth. He led off with a single and promptly stole second base. A grounder to first by Brett Gardner advanced Ellsbury to third from where he scored on a lineout to center field by Carlos Beltran.

Yankees fans got their first 2015 look at Dellin Betances, who worked the eighth inning after Chris Martin pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Martin has retired all six batters he has faced in the Yankees’ first two games.

Betances was not especially sharp. He gave up a single and two walks, but he should have gotten through the eighth unscathed except that an errant pickoff attempt by catcher Brian McCann to first base went down the right field line allowing a run to score for a 3-1 Toronto lead and putting runners on second and third with one out. Betances avoided further damage by getting the next two hitters on grounders to the mound.

Jeter was right to wait to celebrate

There is no use trying to avoid what is going on with the Yankees these closing days of the season. A playoff berth remains a mathematical possibility but only by the slimmest of margins. Yanks manager Joe Girardi said at the start of the recent trip to Baltimore and St. Petersburg, Fla., that the Yankees needed to win every game, and they proceeded to lost five of seven.

They returned to Yankee Stadium Thursday night to begin their final homestand of the season. Despite the dire circumstances of the Yanks’ position in the standings, the Stadium had a buzz to it in the crowd that was by no means capacity but was nevertheless enthusiastic.

Perhaps the reason could have something to do with the person playing shortstop for the Yankees. This is Derek Jeter’s last hurrah at the Stadium, and that may be enough to keep the folks in the seats keeping the faith.

The Captain did not disappoint the faithful, either. Coming off a dreadful trip during which he had a hitless string stretch to 28 at-bats, Jeter got the crowd cheering in the first inning when he beat out a grounder to deep shortstop for a single. The assembled got to roar their approval five innings later when DJ ripped a 3-1 knuckleball from R.A. Dickey to right field for a home run, the cap’s first dinger in 158 at-bats since Aug. 1 at Boston.

As fiercely as the crowd reacted to the blow, Jeter declined to take a curtain call, which is typical of him. The homer made the score 2-0 Yankees with too much baseball left in the game to celebrate at that point. He did not go into the dumps when he was 0-for-28, so he was not going to do any flips for hitting his first home run in six weeks. Never too high, never too low; that defines the Captain.

Indeed, the game was not over by any means. Dellin Betances preserved the shutout work by Shane Greene by getting the final out of the seventh, but Shawn Kelley gave up a game-tying home run to Jose Bautista on a 0-2 pitch with two out in the eighth.

Kelley hung his head as Bautista circled the bases on his 33rd homer of the season as well the pitcher should have. After fouling off a 94-mph fastball back to the screen on 0-1, Bautista made a gesture indicating he just missed a pitch he should have creamed. Kelley threw the same pitch on the next delivery to the same spot, and this time Bautista did not miss it but powered into the left field seats.

After Jeter flied out leading off the home eighth, quite a few fans headed for the exits assuming that he would not bat again. They missed a dramatic finish as the Yankees won, 3-2, on a walk-off error.

Chris Young, who seems to be in the middle of what good things the Yankees have done recently, led off the inning against Aaron Sanchez with a single to center. Antoan Richardson ran for Young and promptly stole second base.

With the count 3-0, Brett Gardner surprised the crowd, not to mention Girardi, by attempting to bunt. He fouled off the pitch and the next one as well as the count went full. Gardy tried one more and dropped a two-strike bunt for a sacrifice to get Richardson to third base. Gardner, bunting on his own, told Girardi in the dugout that Sanchez’s ball was running so much he did not think he could pull him.

The Blue Jays brought the infield in and got what they wanted when Chase Headley hit a ground ball to the right side, but first baseman Aaron Lind let the ball get by him that gave the Yankees another day of hope. They gained a game on the Athletics for the second wild-card spot but still trail by five games with 10 to play.

The ‘right’ thing to do at the time

Sometimes you have to be creative against a knuckleball pitcher. Or sometimes you have to do something to ease the frustration. It may have been a little of both for Yankees third baseman Chase Headley against the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey in the fifth inning of Thursday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.

A switch-hitter, Headley chose to bat right-handed against the right-handed Dickey with two down in the fifth. Batting his customary left-handed against Dickey in the third, Headley flied out to center field.

I remember that Bernie Williams occasionally batted right-handed against the Red Sox’ righty knuckler, Tim Wakefield. Bernie told me it gave him a different perspective because he could see the ball out of Wakefield’s hand better. That, and because as a left-handed batter he had little success against him.

Headley was able to get on base with a walk and eventually scored the first run of the game. Stephen Drew, a left-handed batter, then ripped a double into the right-fielder corner. Jose Bautista made a lazar of a relay to first baseman Adam Lind, who then threw a curveball to the plate that was up the line as Headley reached the plate.