Results tagged ‘ Richard Bleier ’

Wild night at Dodger, er, Yankee Stadium

The Yankees find fans all over the map as they travel around North America during the season. The boosters are akin to Notre Dame’s famed subway alumni.

I recall a game at Anaheim in the early 1990s when Don Mattingly came off the bench at whacked a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning that pushed the Yankees into the lead of a game they eventually won. As Mattingly rounded the bases, the cheers from the Big A’s stands were so loud you would have sworn you were in the Bronx, which is about as far from Orange County, California, as you can get.

Whatever the venue, be it Baltimore’s Camden Yards, certainly Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field or even Boston’s Fenway Park, pockets of Yankees fans abound in the stands. Well, a collection of boisterous Dodgers fans gave the Yankees at taste of their own medicine Monday night at Yankee Stadium in the opener of a three-game, inter-league series.

A cluster of Dodgers fans filled a sizeable portion of the seats along the third base to left field line. The group went even so far as to mimic the roll call of the Yankees’ bleacher creatures but by calling out the names of the Dodgers instead. When the Dodgers rallied for a run right off the bat in the first inning, it seemed more like Dodger Stadium than Yankee Stadium.

Yankees fans finally responded with loud boos when fans near the left field foul pole unveiled a blue “LA” banner amid a three-run rally by the Dodgers.

There is plenty of history between these clubs. After all, they have been paired in 11 World Series, the most of any two teams. When the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn prior to 1958, they faced the Yanks seven times in the Series and won only once, in 1955. Since they made Southern California home, the Dodgers split four Series against the Yankees, winning in 1963 and ’81 and losing in 1977 and ’78.

Unfortunately, the Yankees did not give their fans much reason to retaliate in the 8-2 loss that caused them to lose ground in the Wild Card race. The Yanks remained two games behind the Orioles and dropped a game behind the Tigers for the second Wild Card berth.

It was a rough night for the Baby Bombers. Right fielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez made errors that led to runs. Starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell could not get out of the third inning, although four of the six runs against him were not earned, due to the two errors. Tyler Austin wore the golden sombrero with four strikeouts. The most effective Yankees pitcher was lefthander Richard Bleier, who tossed four shutout innings of hitless relief. He walked one batter, hit one and struck out three.

The Yankees’ runs came on two long home runs. Starlin Castro’s 21st dinger of the season landed in the second deck in left field in the second inning. Judge bashed a 432-foot bomb into the left-center field bleachers in the fifth. The Dodgers countered with late-inning home runs by Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner, to the absolute delight of the Dodgers Blue crowd than drowned out Yankees Universe at least for one night.

Yankees disappointing capacity crowds

The paid crowd of 48,329 Saturday at Yankee Stadium was the largest of the season. The night before there was another sellout audience of 47,439. It is definitely a sign of summer and that the Red Sox are in town.

It is also the time when you want your ball club to be at its best, to convince those in the stands to come back again. That is part of the frustration the Yankees as an organization feels about losing to Boston in the first two games of what is most definitely a crucial homestand for them.

Fans go home with as sour a taste in their mouths as the players in the clubhouse after another game of disappointment. And the situation continues to challenge the Yankees, who conclude the series against the Red Sox Sunday night behind Masahiro Tanaka in a marquee pairing against Boston’s David Price.

CC Sabathia tried to turn the tide in the Yankees’ favor Saturday while his teammates hoped to tee off on Eduardo Rodriguez, the lefthander who has struggled mightily this season but who always seems to save his best for the Bombers.

Rodriguez had been optioned to Triple A Pawtucket after giving up nine earned runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings to the Rays June 27 in a 13-7 loss that skyrocketed his ERA to 8.59. After pitching to a 3.08 ERA at Triple A, Rodriguez was recalled Friday to make this start, and make the best of it he did.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner in the third inning was the only run Rodriguez allowed in seven innings. It ended a 180-at-bat homerless stretch for Gardner, who had last gone deep May 18. Gardy proved the only real nemesis for Rodriguez, who also gave up a single and walked the leadoff hitter.

It was a close game for the first five innings. Sabathia gave up an unearned run in the third on a rally started by a throwing error by shortstop Didi Gregorius. A couple of infield hits fueled another small rally in the fourth when the Red Sox went ahead on a two-out single by catcher Sandy Leon.

Boston broke it open in the fourth. Manager Joe Girardi again pointed to soft hits off Sabathia enabling the Red Sox, but there was nothing soft about the three-run shot Leon drove into the left-field bleachers.

It was the fifth straight winless start for Sabathia, whose ERA has grown over that period from 2.20 to 3.94. The big lefthander has allowed 39 hits, including five home runs, with 10 walks and 19 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings in those starts. His record over that span is 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA.

Conversely, Rodriguez improved his record in five career starts against the Yankees to 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. The Yankees have definitely been vulnerable to left-handed pitching. They are 11-16 in games started by lefties.

No sooner had Rodriguez left the game than Chase Headley launched a home run to right-center off Matt Barnes. No other hits followed that as the Yankees went down meekly against Barnes and closer Koji Uehara (sixth save).

Other than the solo jacks by Gardner and Headley, the only other highlight for the Yankees was scoreless relief work by Anthony Swarzak (2 2/3 innings) and Richard Bleier (one inning). Yankees relievers have shut out opponents over their past 16 innings since June 9 at Cleveland.

HOPE Week: ‘Harlem Grown’

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The Yankees continued their eighth annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Wednesday by recognizing the organization Harlem Grown and its founder, Tony Hillery. Pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Andrew Miller, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Chasen Shreve, Kirby Yates and Richard Bleier, catcher Austin Romine and infielder-outfielder Rob Refsnyder visited the Harlem Grown garden and greenhouse on 134th Street, surprising Hillery and a class of kindergarten students from P.S. 125.

Tony and the children were treated to a salad prep demonstration from celebrity chef Andrew Carmellini. Then the group got down in the dirt, planting seeds and doing work in the garden. Additional participants included hip-hop artists “The Lox” (featuring group members: Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Styles P), Miss New York USA 2016 Serena Bucaj and singer-songwriter Kany Garcia. During the ceremonies, the Yankees presented a donation to Harlem Grown on behalf of the New York Yankees Foundation.

Hillery, a Bronx resident, was ready for a career change after the 2009 recession and decided to leave behind his limousine business to do something to help the next generation. While volunteering at Harlem’s P.S. 175 (where most students come from female-led, single-parent homes), Hillery noticed the utter lack of healthy food options in the neighborhood. He counted 53 fried chicken restaurants within a three-block radius of the school without a single place to get a fresh salad.

“I was like most of us, reading and hearing that low income people don’t want to eat healthy,” Hillery said. “But when you go to where they live, there is pizza, fried chicken, fried fish, fried everything, and absolutely no healthy food.”

Hillery took an abandoned lot across the street from the school and reclaimed it through an application to the Parks Department, turning the space into an “urban farm” with farming skills he learned from the internet. He started a program called Harlem Grown, which inspires youth to live healthy and ambitious lives through hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability and nutrition.

The programs have expanded to include one-on-one mentoring, operation of a hydroponic greenhouse (which produces arugula, kale, Swiss chard and basil among other items), a summer camp, cooking workshops, and training for Harlem parents to learn about urban agriculture. All of the food produced by Harlem Grown is given to the children to take home or sold to local establishments for revenue that is reinvested in the program.

Yankees needed more than 1 hit to avoid this loss

Well, at least somebody on the Yankees broke out of a slump Monday night. Brian McCann had been hitless in his previous 21 at-bats before he crushed a two-run home run off the second-deck facade in center field at Rogers Centre in the ninth inning, but that was pretty much for the Yanks offensively in a 4-2 loss.

And if not for the every-night reliance on the bullpen these days maybe McCann would still be in an 0-for. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not give Marco Estrada a chance to pitch a complete game. Yes, Estrada threw 108 pitches, past the ridiculous magic number of 100, so naturally he had to come out of the game. Never mind that he was almost never in trouble and rarely had to throw a stressful pitch, but convention today says you must go to the bullpen. Well, that is what Gibby gets for turning the game over to Aaron Loup, who hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch with one out and gave up the humongous bomb to McCann.

Gibbons was forced to dip into his bullpen some more and brought in Drew Storen, who did not help matters right away by giving up a double off the right field wall to Mark Teixeira, who narrowly missed his first home run in 129 at-bats since April 113. Estrada’s second victory over the Yankees in a week’s time was clearly in jeopardy at that point, but they went quietly after that on a fly to right by Starlin Castro and a strikeout of Chase Headley.

If it seems as though I am spending too much time in the ninth inning, well, there was not much else going on for the Yankee offensively over the first eight. Estrada (3-2) scattered four hits and three walks with six strikeouts and faced only two at-bats with runners in scoring position, both futile. And this followed a game at St. Petersburg the day before where the Yankees had only one hit in nine innings yet somehow came away with a victory.

Sunday’s 2-1 comeback over the Rays on Castro’s two-run homer in the seventh marked the second time in Yankees history that they won a game with only one hit, and the first time in a game of at least nine innings. They also won a 1-0, six-inning game July 10, 1914 in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees have been held to one-or-zero hits in a game of at least nine innings 58 times. They had lost the first 57 games before Sunday. And yet, this has happened three times this year in the majors. The other two games involved the Mariners at Safeco Field. Seattle won, 1-0, April 29 against the Royals and lost, 3-2, April 4 to the Rangers.

The Yankees were going to need more than one hit Monday night in they were going to win because Toronto had four runs, the equivalent of a grand slam, by the fifth inning against Ivan Nova (3-3), who again lost to Estrada. Nova did not have his best sinker and paid for it as five of the Blue Jays’ eight hits off him went for extra bases.

Ryan Goins, the Jays’ 9-hole hitter, touched up Nova for a double and a home run. This is saying something. Goins had entered the game with a .244 slugging percentage. Not batting average, slugging percentage. He was in a 9-for-91 stretch, which works out to a .099 batting average.

More conventionally for Toronto, at the top of the order Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson each scored a run with Edwin Encarnacion driving both of them in.

Nova did pitch into the seventh inning, which is a plus. Yankees starters have completed at least six innings in 11 of their past 12 starts and are 8-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. Richard Bleier, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre last week, made his major league debut and retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning on ground balls.

Meanwhile, the Yankees kept running to first base and turning right when they were not striking out. The numbers are pretty ugly. Brett Gardner is hitless in his past 20 at-bats and was pinch-hit for by rookie Rob Refsnyder in the ninth inning. Alex Rodriguez, who was on the bench but likely will start Tuesday night against lefthander J.A. Happ, has one hit, a home run, in 16 at-bats (.063) with nine strikeouts since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list five days ago.

Dustin Ackley found himself on the DL because of a jammed right shoulder, which is why Refsnyder was recalled from SWB. The Triple A affiliate was the landing spot for struggling pitcher Luis Severino, who came off the DL Monday. Manager Joe Girardi made it clear that the righthander will have to work out his problems in the minor leagues.

The Yankees are 24-20 on Memorial Day since 1971 (when the holiday was first celebrated on the last Monday in May following the National Holiday Act of 1971). They did not play on Memorial Day in 1973, 2004 or 2005 and are 9-6 on Memorial Day since 2000. The Yanks played on the road on Memorial Day for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.