Results tagged ‘ Rob Refsnyder ’

Sanchez does it again as Yanks end 5-game skid

For the first time in nearly a week, the Yankees gained ground in the American League Wild Card race. After spending four games in Boston giving up leads in getting swept by the Red Sox, the Yankees did the opposite Tuesday night by overcoming a 2-0 deficit and beat the Rays, 5-3, to end a five-game losing streak.

It would have been a tough no-decision if that Tampa Bay lead held up for Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who struck out 11 batters and walked only one in 5 1/3 innings. But the two-out jinx struck him again when he gave up a two-rub triple to Brad Miller in the third. Pineda now has 195 strikeouts, the most for a Yanks righthander since A.J. Burnett had the same total in 2009.

Mark Teixeira got a run back the next inning with his 13th home run, off Rays starter Drew Smyly, the only run the lefthander gave up in six innings. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Rays are like every team in the major leagues these days who cannot wait to take out a starting pitcher in the middle innings. Tampa Bay went with Brad Boxberger in the seventh, and the Yanks clocked him for four runs and four hits.

The big blow came from — who else? — Gary Sanchez. One out after Brett Gardner singled to tie the score, Sanchez crushed a first-pitch changeup for a three-run home run. It came right after Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey came to the mound to discuss the situation with Boxberger. First base was open so surely the message was not to give Sanchez anything near the plate, a message that obviously went unheeded.

It was the 17th home run of the season for the Yankees’ rookie catcher and came in his 44th game. The only other rookie in big-league history to do that was Wally Berger of the Boston Braves in 1930. Sanchez has six home runs in his past 11 games after a 10-game homerless drought. Of his 53 career hits, 28 have been for extra bases (11 doubles, 17 homers), including eight of his past 13 hits (two doubles, six homers).

The winning decision went to Luis Severino (3-8), who kept up his quality pitching in relief with 1 1/3 hitless innings. Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth on a triple by Logan Forsythe and a wild pitch.

Dellin Betances, who had not pitched since Thursday night after sustaining two straight losses, hopped back on the bicycle and fashioned a clean ninth inning for his 12th save.

With the victory, the Yankees picked up a game on the Orioles, who lost at home to the Red Sox, and trail Baltimore by 3 1/2 games for the second Wild Card berth. The Yanks also still trail the Tigers, Astros and Mariners, however.

There was good news for another Yankees rookie. Through fan voting, Rob Refsnyder was selected as the AL East winner for the 2016 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award presented annually by the Major League Players Association for community involvement.

Refsnyder partnered with Athletes Brand to design a T-shirt that benefits A Kid’s Place, a Tampa-based organization that works to provide stability and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. His name will appear on the 2016 Players Choice Award ballots for league-wide voting to determine this season’s award winner.

Two former Yankees players were among the other division winners, relief pitcher David Robertson of the White Sox (AL Central) and Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson (National League East). Also voted onto the final ballot were Astros pitcher Lance McCullers (AL West), Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (NL Central) and Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (NL West).

Yankees roll seven, shoot for sweep

Something old, something new.

It is this combination that has sustained the Yankees in their winning streak that reached seven games Saturday with a 5-1 victory over the Rays. Remember about two weeks ago I wrote that the Yankees needed to do more than just win series, taking two of three games here and two of three there. They need to go on a run the way the Royals worked themselves into contention with a nine-game winning streak.

Well, here it is, Yankees fans. This is the Yanks’ longest winning streak since a seven-gamer May 1-9 of last year. They are a season-best 11 games over .500, have won 13 of their past 14 games, 20 of their past 29 and are 24-13 since the non-waiver trading deadline of Aug. 1.

The Yankees got a strong start from Masahiro Tanaka (13-4, 3.04 ERA), who gave up one run and five hits with 10 strikeouts, and a combination of old (Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury) and new (Gary Sanchez and Rob Refsnyder) to remain on the heels of the Orioles and the Tigers in the race for the second Wild Card slot in the playoffs. With Baltimore and Detroit opposing each other Saturday night, the Yanks were guaranteed to be no more than one game behind.

But that is not all. With the Red Sox losing to the Blue Jays, the Yankees are only three games out of first place. Who could have imagined this happening back in that last weekend in July when the Yankees were stuck at .500 (52-52) after getting swept in a three-game series at Tropicana Field.

Sunday the Yankees have a chance to sweep those same Rays, this time in a four-game set. They have swept two others four-game series this year, against the Angels and the Athletics, and have already won their past eight four-game series.

Tanaka gave the Yankees something they have lacked from a starter lately — length. Manager Joe Girardi had used 35 pitchers over the previous six games in the winning streak, an average of nearly six pitchers per game. This is less taxing on the staff at this time of year when rosters have expanded. Girardi used to beef about September games with uneven roster numbers, but you do not hear him complaining now as his team is trying to pull off an epic comeback.

After giving up a home run to Bobby Wilson and hitting a batter in the eighth, Tanaka came out for Adam Warren, who also plunked a batter before getting a huge double-play grounder from Evan Longoria.

Rays starter Chris Archer, who has been tough on the Yankees (5-2 entering play), fell to 8-18 essentially because of the first three hitters in the lineup. Gardner singled leading off the sixth of what was then a scoreless game.

Ellsbury wears out Archer and did so again with his eighth home run of the season. Sanchez followed with another bomb, his 13th. The trio was at it again in the eighth, this time against lefthander Enny Romero. Gardner singled, Ellsbury doubled and Sanchez was able to reach the first pitch of what was supposed to be the start of an intentional walk for a sacrifice fly to the warning track. Didi Gregorius added another sac fly.

Refsnyder was 0-for-3 but made an important defensive play, a lunging catch in right field to keep the game scoreless in the sixth.

The something old-something new formula had worked in Friday night’s marathon with Sanchez hitting his 12th homer and Mark Teixeira crushing his 11th career grand slam.

Tanaka has won each of his past six decisions over a seven-start stretch since Aug. 7. He is 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings seven starts against the Rays, with the Yankees winning each of those starts.

Sanchez is one of five players in major league history with 13 home runs in his first 35 games (also Wally Joyner, Mike Jacobs, Kevin Maas and Wally Berger). Ellsbury is a career .559 hitter against Archer in 34 at-bats. Gardner has multiple hits in each of his past three games with an at-bat (6-for-12). The Yankees are 11-1 when Gardner and Ellsbury each collect at least two hits in the same game.

Buyers? Sellers? How about winners?

Take heart, Yankees fans, your club may just get in this race for a post-season berth after all. All this debate about whether they Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline could rage for another two weeks.

For the second straight night, the Yanks showed Baltimore they are not ready to be buried in the standings. A 7-1 victory pushed the Yanks’ record above .500 at 47-46 and within 6 1/2 games of the Orioles in the American League East standings. That is not an insurmountable deficit with 10 weeks remaining on the schedule.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, if the Yankees were going to be taken seriously as a contender they had to start playing better within their division. Three straight victories over AL East clubs on this homestand is a nice start.

The Yanks’ keystone combination of second baseman Starlin Castro and shortstop Didi Gregorius were the chief architects of this victory. Each had two hits and scored two runs with Castro driving in four runs.

Gregorius had a premium at-bat with two out in the second inning against Orioles starter Vance Worley. After falling behind 0-2, Gregorius worked the count full and won a 10-pitch duel with a walk. Castro then crushed a 3-1 pitch to left field for his 11th home run. The Yankees pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fifth on an RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury, but he was thrown out at third base later in the inning trying to advance all the way to third base from first base on a ball that eluded catcher Caleb Joseph.

An extra run would have come in handy in the sixth when the wheels fell off for Nathan Eovaldi, who had been banished to the bullpen two weeks ago but worked his way back into the rotation with 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Eovaldi was pretty effective for the most part Tuesday night. He got 12 outs in a row before he walked Ryan Flaherty with one down in the sixth.

A single up the middle by Adam Jones and a well-struck double to left by Joey Rickard produced a run and spelled major trouble for Eovaldi, who then walked Manny Machado to load the bases for major-league home run leader Mark Trumbo.

Anthony Swarzak came on and got two foul pop-ups to get the Yankees out of the jam. First baseman Rob Refsnyder made a dazzling catch down the right field line of Trumbo’s towering fly. Gregorius ran down Jonathan Schoop’s floater down the left field line.

“He made quality pitches,” manager Joe Girardi said of Swarzak. “He went right after hitters.”

Gregorius and Castro were at it again in the bottom of the sixth as the Yankees added two more runs. One out after a leadoff walk to Brian McCann by Orioles reliever Odrisamer Despaigne, Gregorius lined a single to left. Castro followed with a smoking liner to right-center for a two-run double.

Chase Headley put on the finishing touch with a two-run home run in the eighth off Mychal Givens.

The Yankees clearly won the bullpen game in this one and did so without having to use Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. While the Orioles’ pen allowed four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, the Yankees’ Swarzak and Nick Goody combined for 3 2/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts.

Who’s on 1st? Ref, not A-Rod, while Tex is hurt

Any plans Alex Rodriguez may have had taking grounders at first base before Monday night’s scheduled game at Yankee Stadium were washed away as batting practice had to be canceled due to severe thunderstorm activity.

Then again, it might have been just a waste of time for A-Rod, who has stated a desire to play the position if it will get him into the lineup more often. Another injury to Mark Teixeira has opened up first base again, but manager Joe Girardi clearly prefers to use rookie Rob Refsnyder there if Tex is not available.

Teixeira, who has missed time this season because of right knee and neck issues, was out of the starting lineup Monday night for the second straight game. He fouled a ball off the area above his left ankle Saturday. A CT scan after the game was negative, but the area is very swollen. Girardi said he did not anticipate being able to use Teixeira Monday or Tuesday nights.

Rodriguez was in the lineup as the designated hitter against the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman and did what will keep him in the lineup, which was to hit a home run. His blow into the left field bleachers off a 2-0 meatball from Gausman in the second inning was A-Rod’s ninth home run of the season and career No. 696.

Before the thunderstorms hit, Rodriguez was able to hit into a BP session and banged several balls into the seats, so he was able to take that into the game.

A-Rod lost playing time at DH against right-handed pitching when Girardi used Carlos Beltran while he was recovering from a hamstring strain. Beltran was back in right field Monday night.

The Orioles tied the score in the third on a solo homer by Jonathan Schoop off Ivan Nova. Beltran helped build the run in the bottom of that inning that turned out to be the decider for the Yanks. Beltran went against the shift with a single to left field that pushed Brett Gardner to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by Brian McCann.

Nova got the Yankees to the seventh inning when Girardi began the merry-go-round of Dellin Betances in the seventh, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth for three more scoreless innings that ran the bullpen’s current shutout string to 22. Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd of 31,102 buzzing while pitching to J.J. Hardy when one pitch zoomed in at 105 miles per hour, the fastest pitch thrown ib the major leagues this season.

Rodriguez did not take well to playing first base last year when the Yankees asked him to work out at the position early in the season. He played poorly there and seemed content to be a permanent DH rather than have to wear a glove again, which he did with distinction as a Gold Glove winner at shortstop and third base.

But that was two hip surgeries ago for Rodriguez, who will turn 41 later this month. His .216 batting average is 79 points below his career mark. He is 2-for-13 (.154) on the homestand.

Refsnyder, who was an outfielder in college and an infielder in the minor leagues, has done a decent job at first base and has given the Yankees consistent if unspectacular offense. He is batting .269 with eight doubles and 10 RBI in 93 at-bats.

“He has just had the one day of work, so I’m not ready to commit to that yet,” Girardi said. “Right now I’m going with Ref there. Alex is DHing tonight so I’m going with Ref there. It’s something that we’ll continue to talk about but we’ll stick for Ref for now.”

The Yankees need to win games and not be giving auditions for an important position at this stage of the season. A-Rod had his chance to be a factor at first base and did not work hard enough when the Yankees needed him. Now that playing time as the DH is threatened, he picks up a first base glove. Girardi is making the right call here.

Gregorius sparks Yankees’ comeback victory

The Yankees showed signs of life Thursday night in a 5-4 victory over the Indians in the first game of a four-game series leading into the All-Star break. It represented a change on the trip in that the Yanks lost the series openers in both San Diego and Chicago to clubs inferior to Cleveland, which has a comfortable lead in the American League Central.

The Yankees went on to lose each series to the Padres and White Sox and would like nothing better than to reverse that against the Tribe and their formidable rotation. Former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who was named as a replacement pitcher on the AL All-Star squad, was to start Friday night against Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Chad Green, who pitched so well last Sunday in a 6-3 victory at San Diego that he replaced Nathan Eovaldi in the Yankees’ rotation.

The Yankees overcame a 2-0 deficit by striking in the middle innings with two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth against Trevor Bauer (7-3). Ivan Nova, who improved to 6-5, gave up solo home runs to Jason Kipnis and rookie Tyler Naquin in the third.

Didi Gregorius, who has been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter the past two months, began the comeback in the fifth with his 10th home run. Chase Headley and Rob Refsnyder followed with singles, and a two-out knock by Brett Gardner tied the score.

The same group chased Bauer in the sixth. One-out singles by Starlin Castro, Gregorius and Headley put the Yankees in front. A sacrifice fly by Rob Refsnyder and a two-out single by Jacoby Ellsbury increased the Yanks’ lead to 5-2.

The Indians were not finished at that point, however. It took the No Rums DMC unit of the bullpen to calm matter after the Tribe’s Carlos Santana and Kipnis laced doubles off Nova, who let in the second run of the inning with a wild pitch.

Dellin Betances finished that inning with two groundouts and withstood a two-out single and stolen base by Naquin in the seventh before Andrew Miller supplied a 1-2-3 eighth and Aroldis Chapman collected his 17th save by helping himself with a stretch at first base to take a throw from Castro for the final out. Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the umpire’s call, but it was upheld after a video review.

The Yankees are doing quite well in that element of the game. They successfully overturned both of their manager’s challenges Thursday night and have overturned two calls in three of their past six games, going 2-for-3 Wednesday at Chicago and 2-for-2 last Saturday at San Diego. Before to this stretch, the Yankees had lobbied twice in the same game on only one occasion since the review system was implemented for the 2014 season and were 1-for-2 April 14, 2014 at Toronto. The Yanks had not won two challenges in a game until this stretch.

Since June 28, the Yankees have overturned eight of their past nine replay challenges and 13-of-20 (65.0%) this season (three stands, four confirmed). From 2014-15, the Yankees had a major-league best 77.6% success rate on replay challenges (58 challenges, 45 overturned), leading the majors in success rate in both seasons.

With his 10th homer, Gregorius established a career high. His previous best was nine last year in 155 games, 70 more than the Yanks have played in ’16. Gregorius has homered in four of his past eight games. He has multiple hits in five of 10 games since June 27 and is hitting .381 with nine runs, three doubles, four homers, seven RBI and two stolen bases in 42 at-bats. Since June 14, Gregorius has produced a slash line of .369/.384/.655 with 18 runs, four doubles, one triple, six home runs, 18 RBI and three steals in 21 games and 84 at-bats to raise his season average 30 points to .296, its highest level since April 12 when he was hitting .333.

Gregorius is the fourth Yankees shortstop to hit at least 10HR before the All-Star break (since 1933, when the All-Star Game was first played). The others were Derek Jeter, who did it six times (1998-99, 2002, ‘04-05, ‘09), Roy Smalley (1983) and Frankie Crosetti (1936).

Gregorius is also one of five major-league shortstops hitting .290 or better with 10 home runs. The other four were all picked for the All-Star Game: the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and the Giants’ Aledmys Diaz.

Mac, Didi pay back Rangers in 6-run ninth inning

Just before the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night, Rangers public relations director John Blake, one of the best in the business, passed in front of me in the press box to tell the Texas beat writers that “21 victories would be a club record for one month.”

At the time, it seemed the Rangers were a cinch for that record. Texas had a 7-3 lead and appeared on the verge to run its June mark to 21-6. Not so fast, cowpokes. As it turned out, the Yanks still had plenty left in their holsters.

Did they ever.

Two nights after the most grueling defeat of the season when the Rangers followed a 3 1/2-hour rain delay to score four runs in the ninth and overcome a one-run deficit, the Yankees exploded for six runs to pay Texas back with a 9-7 victory.

Brian McCann, who had homered with the bases empty in the eighth, came up again with two on in the ninth and tied the score with a three-run homer. Yankees fans had barely stopped cheering when Didi Gregorius followed a walk to Starlin Castro with a first-pitch drive to right field for the game-winning blow. His seventh home run of the season was the first walk-off hit of his career.

Both homers came off Rangers closer Sam Dyson, who was summoned after Matt Bush gave up a leadoff single to Rob Refsnyder and walked Jacoby Ellsbury.

Brett Gardner singled to left-center off Dyson, and when center fielder Ian Desmond bobbled the ball Refsnyder came home. Alex Rodriguez hit the ball hard as well, but his liner was gloved by second baseman Rougned Odor. That would be the only out recorded by Dyson, who got the save Monday night but this time suffered his first blown save of the season in 17 tries.

It was pretty dull going for the Yankees until the ninth. Masahiro Tanaka was roughed up for six earned run and eight hits in six innings and left with the score 6-1 Texas. In what at the time was essentially a mop-up role, Luis Cessa allowed only a solo homer to Adrian Beltre in three innings as the Yanks tried to stay close on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley in the sixth and Mac’s first homer in the eighth.

Nevertheless, the Yankees were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position before the ninth. They went 2-for-3 in those situations in the final frame to produce one of the most exhilarating victories of the season merely two nights after the most debilitating loss.

‘No Runs DMC’ lives up to its billing

Much has happened to the Yankees this season that was not foreseen. There has been the struggle to get their record above .500, the rash of injuries to first basemen, the long stretches of offensive futility, the inconsistency of the starting pitchers, etc.

Yet there has been one aspect of the 2016 Yankees that has been precisely as advertised — the shutdown work of the three power arms at the back end of the bullpen. A formula of Dellin Betances in the seventh inning, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth has been damn near perfection. The trio was at its best again Friday night in the Yankees’ 5-3 victory over the Twins in front of a Mickey Mantle Bobblehead crowd of 44,808 at Yankee Stadium.

When starter Masahiro Tanaka got the final out of the sixth inning with the Yanks leading, 4-3, there was a strong sense of anticipation in the crowd that this one could be put in the books with the club getting back to par at 36-36.

The inspiration behind the “No Runs DMC” t-shirts on sale at the Stadium were at their most dominant with three more perfect innings, following a similar performance in the Yankees’ prior victory Wednesday. Betances and Miller each pitched a shutout inning with one strikeout. Chapman outdid himself in the ninth for his 14th save by striking out the side with fastballs regularly going into three figures, including a high of 103 miles per hour.

The self-destructing Twins aided the Yankees with three errors that resulted in Minnesota failing to hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2. A bobble of a grounder by Austin Romine by shortstop Eduardo Escobar started the Yankees’ two-run third that overcame their first deficit against Twins starter Tommy Milone. Consecutive two-out hits by Carlos Beltran (double) and Alex Rodriguez (single) plated the runs that made the score 2-2.

After the Twins went ahead by a run in the fourth, the Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning and filled the bases with none out without a ball leaving the infield on a walk to Chase Headley, a bunt single by Didi Gregorius and an error by Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer, who failed to globe a sharp grounder by Aaron Hicks. Romine’s fly ball to the warning track in left field tied the score. A two-out single by Rob Refsnyder put the Yankees in front for the first time in the game and for good.

Tanaka (5-2), who was not particularly sharp, held the Twins down for the next two innings to set the table for the most intimidating bullpen in the majors since the Reds’ notorious “Nasty Boys” of the 1990 World Series champion Reds.

Hicks, who came to the Yankees from the Twins in an off-season trade for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy, now in the minors, stung his former teammates with an opposite-field home run to left for an insurance run in the eighth that was as welcome as it was, as it turned out, unnecessary.

The Yankees are 11-0 when all three DMC pitchers appear in a game. They have combined for eight consecutive 1-2-3 innings over the past three games in which all have worked together and have not allowed a ball out of the infield in the past two games. Yankees relievers overall have 40 straight strikeouts since their last walk June 15 at Denver and have retired 23 batters in a row.

Yanks’ trip smoothing out after ‘rocky’ start

After the disappointment of getting swept in a two-game series at Denver, the Yankees are on the verge of trumping that with a four-game sweep at Minneapolis. They are three-quarters of the way there with very impressive victories over the Twins heading into a Father’s Day finale Sunday with Nathan Eovaldi opposing Minnesota’s Ervin Santana.

Friday night, the Yankees struck early with four first-inning runs on the way to an 8-2 victory behind Masahiro Tanaka (4-2), who was sharp as a tack (one run, seven hits, no walks, five strikeouts) over eight innings. Carlos Beltran, who missed both games against the Rockies, whacked a two-run home run in that first inning to stop a 0-for-12 slump.

Beltran added another two-run homer at a more clutch moment Saturday. The opposite-field blow to left off righthander Kevin Jepsen tied the score with one down in the eighth inning. The Yankees continued their comeback against the Twins’ ragged bullpen with three runs in the ninth, then had to hold their breath somewhat when Aroldis Chapman gave up back-to-back homers to Eduardo Escobar and pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki to survive, 7-6.

Give Suzuki credit. He fouled off four consecutive 102-mph fastballs from Chapman before connecting on yet another 102-mph heater. But most of the credit Saturday went to the Yankees, who had fallen into a 4-0 hole against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, who had a four-hit shutout working through six innings.

Leading off the seventh, Beltran got one of his rare leg hits these days with a dribbler to the left side on which Eduardo Nunez could not make a bare-handed play. Alex Rodriguez, who had a three-homer game at Target Field in late July last year, followed with a drive to right off a 1-2 fastball for his eighth home run of the season and career No. 695.

The Yankees got two more hits that inning but pushed across no more runs. With one out in the eighth, another infield single, this time by Brett Gardner, preceded a home run, Beltran’s 18th of the season. Gardner had been hitless in his previous 14 at-bats and was 1-for-15 on the trip.

Lefthander Fernando Abad, who was having a fine season out of the bullpen until the Yankees came to town, got the last out of the eighth, which turned out to be the only one he would get in the game. He began the ninth with a walk to Chase Headley. You could always hear the uh-oh coming out of Twins manager Paul Molitor’s mouth in the dugout.

Didi Gregorius, who has broken a 1-1 score with a three-run home run off a first-pitch fastball from Abad Thursday night, dropped down a beauty of a bunt for a single. After a Juan Centeno passed ball advanced the runners, Rob Refsnyder was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Righthander Ryan Pressly came on and struck out pinch hitter Starlin Castro but fell into a full count with Jacoby Ellsbury and had to come in with a fastball which Ellsbury knocked into right-center for a two-run single. A wild pitch by Pressly moved crucial as it turned out. It moved Refsnyder to third from where he scored on a fly ball by Gardner. That run proved vital when Chapman gave up the two homers after he had struck out the first two batters.

So it was a shaky 13th save for Chapman that preserved the winning decision for Andrew Miller (4-0), who had shut down Minnesota with two strikeouts in the eighth. Anthony Swarzak also played a big part in the game with a 1 2/3 hitless innings of two-strikeout relief.

The Yankees’ late rallies took Michael Pineda off the hook. The righthander had another of his weird games where he was overpowering (nine strikeouts) but unable to pick up key third outs of innings. Three of the Twins’ four runs off Pineda in 5 1/3 innings were scored after two were out on an RBI single by Escobar in the second and a two-run homer by Korean slugger Byung Ho Park in the fourth. An error by Pineda in the sixth led to a run on a sacrifice fly by Park.

With 55 hits, including a dozen Saturday, the Yankees are averaging 11 hits per game on the trip. Beltran and Gregorius had three hits apiece Saturday. Beltran has homered in six of his past 13 games, eight of 19 and 13 of 36. Gregorius has had a huge trip with 10-for-20 (.500), two homers, six runs and nine RBI. The bunt single off Abad increased Didi’s batting average against left-handed pitching to .383 in 60 at-bats. He is hitting .287 overall.

Headley, who could not get off the Interstate for the first two months, has his average up to .260 while batting .471 in 17 at-bats on the trip and .417 in his seven-game hitting streak. Now if only the Yankees could get Brian McCann re-started. The catcher took an 0-for-4 collar Saturday, is hitless in his past 12 at-bats and in a 4-for-32 (.125) rut that has shrunken his season average to .207.

Beltran scratched with swollen left knee

With no designated hitter allowed in Denver, a National League city, it was no surprise that Alex Rodriguez was not in the Yankees’ starting lineup Tuesday night. But no Carlos Beltran? Now that was a surprise.

Beltran was scratched because of a swollen left knee, which raised some caution flags for the Yankees. Beltran has a long history of problems with his right knee, but this was the first time his left knee was an issue. The Yankees spent their open date Monday in Denver after flying there Sunday night. Beltran said he had dinner five blocks away from the hotel that night and did not experience any difficulty until he awoke Tuesday morning and felt stiffness due to swelling.

Aaron Hicks started in right field in place of Beltran, and second baseman Starlin Castro was moved into the third spot in the batting order. The loss of Beltran, no pun intended, hurts. He has been the Yanks’ most productive hitter with club-high totals in home runs (16) and RBI (44) that has put him in place as a possible choice for the American League All-Star team.

In addition, Denver’s Coors Field has been one of Beltran’s favorite stops dating back to his NL days with the Astros, Mets, Giants and Cardinals. He has a .526 career slugging percentage there and had his only career three-homer game at Coors Field May 12, 2011 with the Mets when he was 3-for-5 with three runs and six RBI. Beltran held out the possibility that he might be able to come off the bench as a pinch hitter and perhaps return to the lineup for Wednesday’s afternoon game.

With Mark Teixeira on the 15-day disabled list because of torn cartilage in his right knee, the Yankees signed former Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who was released from the Rangers’ Triple A affiliate and will be in a platoon with Rob Refsnyder, who started Tuesday night against lefthander Jorge De La Rosa. Davis is a second-generation Yankee. His father, relief pitcher Ron Davis, spent the first four of his 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees from 1978-81.

Long ball brings Tanaka up short

Just the same, Masahiro Tanaka would have preferred another no-decision. He has had eight of them in his 13 starts this year. An ND is not as good as a victory, but it beats a loss.

Tanaka was hung with an ‘L’ Saturday night as the Yankees fell back to .500 (31-31) and had a five-game winning streak end with a 6-1 setback to the Tigers. Tanaka had not given up a home run in his previous four starts and yielded just six in 12 prior starts, but the long ball did him in this time.

Nick Castellanos led off the second inning with a home run to right-center. The Yankees very nearly matched that in the bottom of the inning, but Chase Headley’s drive into the left field corner that struck the fence at the base of the foul pole and caromed off it like a Spaulding off a stoop was not ruled a homer, even though it appeared to have struck the pole. The call was not overruled after a review, so Headley had to settle for a triple. He scored moments later when Rob Refsnyder broke out of a 0-for-12 slump with a single to center field.

Tanaka got help from his defense in the fourth. With J.D. Martinez on first base after a one-out single, Castellanos hit a long drive that Brett Gardner caught on the warning track after a long run. Martinez had rounded second base and tried to scamper back, but shortstop Didi Gregorius’ relay to first base doubled him off to end the inning.

Tanaka had no such luck in the fifth. He was touched for singles by Justin Upton and Jose Iglesias before Ian Kinsler slammed a first-pitch fastball to left for a three-run home run. Jacoby Ellsbury came to Tanaka’s aid in the sixth inning with a dazzling, running catch against the wall in left-center to rob Victor Martinez of an extra-base hit.

Kinsler did more damage in the seventh. After Tanaka departed after giving up a one-out single to James McCann, Kirby Yates allowed an infield single to Iglesias and a two-run double to Kinsler.

Unlike Tanaka, Tigers starter Justin Verlander was not victimized by the long ball, not even by Alex Rodriguez, who had homered off the former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner five times in his career and in each of his previous four regular-season games against him. That included A-Rod’s 3,000th career hit June 19 last year. Rodriguez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Verlander Saturday night.