Results tagged ‘ Ryan Hanigan ’

Yankees knuckle under to Red Sox

Alex Rodriguez was back in the starting lineup Friday night for the first time in six games since July 5. A-Rod had made some noise recently by saying he would take another shot at playing first base in case Mark Teixeira should be sidelined again by a cartilage tear in his right knee.

Playing the position was a disaster last year for Rodriguez, but he is willing to give it another try, particularly if it means getting him additional playing time. Carlos Beltran, back in right field after nursing a tender right hamstring the past 10 day, had cost A-Rod at-bats as the Yankees’ designated hitter.

As the Yanks hope to turn things around after the All-Star break, the sight of knuckleballer Steven Wright on the mound for the Red Sox was hardly welcomed. Wright has been a late-blooming cog in Boston’s rotation this season and earned All-Star recognition, although he did not get into Tuesday night’s game at San Diego.

Wright confounded the Yankees enough to be working on a perfect game two outs into the fifth inning. Ironically, it was Rodriguez who ended the righthander’s bid for a perfecto with a slow-roller to the left of the mound that Wright tried to field with his bare right hand, which was the only chance he had for an out, that became a single and finally gave the Yankees a base runner.

You know it is not much of a night for your team when a squib hit is among the game’s highlights.

That was the case for the Yankees until the sixth inning when Wright, working with a 5-0 lead, suddenly lost the plate. Starlin Castro led off with a more conventional hit, a line single to center. Wright then hit Chase Headley with a pitch, putting a runner in scoring position for the Yanks for the first time in the game.

After Brett Gardner flied out to center, Jacoby Ellsbury walked on a full count to load the bases. Beltran, fresh from his All-Star appearance, whacked a single down the right field line to score two runs to raise his career RBI total to 1,501. He became the 46th player in major league history to drive in more than 1,500 runs.

The Yankees cut the deficit to 5-3 when Brian McCann grounded into a force play as Ellsbury crossed the plate. That would be as close as the Yanks would get as they fell under .500 once again at 44-45.

Michael Pineda had another of his head-scratching performances, a combination of swing-and-miss pitching (six strikeouts) and swing-and-hit pitching (three home runs) in five-plus innings.

Ryan Hanigan, Wright’s catcher, started the assault with two out in the third on a solo home run to left, his first of the season. After a leadoff walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth, Travis Shaw drove a 3-1 fastball into the right-center field bleachers. Zander Bogaerts made the score 5-0 in the sixth by following a leadoff single by Dustin Pedroia with his 11th home run, which ended Pineda’s night.

Nathan Eovaldi, who will return to the rotation and start Tuesday night against the Orioles, had another strong outing in relief. He allowed two hit and no walks with a strikeout in 1 1/3 innings. The righthander has pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings as a reliever and earned a chance to get back into a starter’s role.

The sellout crowd of 47,439 at Yankee Stadium was treated to another overpowering inning of relief by Aroldis Chapman, who rang up two fastballs of 103 miles per hour in the a-bat against Dustin Pedroia, one of the lefthander’s two strikeout victims in a perfect ninth inning.

Rally-killing out at the plate sinks Yankees

The worst rule change in baseball went against the Yankees in the fifth inning Monday night and cost them the chance to tie the game against the Rays. At issue was blocking the plate, which Tampa Bay catcher Ryan Hanigan clearly appeared to do as Stephen Drew attempted to score on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Yet after a video review, plate umpire Vic Carapazza upheld his original call. The new rule has become so nebulous it is difficult to interpret. The catcher is now supposed to give a runner trying to score a lane, but he also has to try to catch the ball, which in this case was directly on target.

Major League Baseball issued a memorandum Tuesday clarifying plays in which the ball clearly beats the runner to the plate, which in truth was the case against Drew. Under previous rules, Drew would have no recoil but to collide with Hanigan and try to pry the ball loose.

That is not allowed any more, although Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes a runner in that situation has no alternative. “He had no place to go,” Girardi said of Drew. “I’m not sure whether to instruct my runners to knock the catcher over. I know the sprit of the rule, but maybe we should just go back to normal and suspend a player if someone gets hurt.”

I have seen enough of these plays at the plate this year to equate this rule with that in basketball in the 1970s when the dunk was outlawed in college and high school. Really dumb. Take a fan-pleasing aspect of the game and throw it out.

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the slide home on a close call. At least it used to be before the powers that be decided to turn it into a dance routine. Is this ball or ballet? The inning was still alive, but Derek Jeter hit a bullet to second baseman Ben Zobrist, who flipped to second to double-up Chris Young.

The play at the plate obscured the fact that it was a rare bad send by third base coach Rob Thompson. Another rule of thumb is not to make the first out at the plate. Had Thompson held Drew at third base, the Yankees would have a run in and the bases loaded with none out and the middle of the order coming up.

The Yankees were marching back from a 4-0 deficit against Chris Archer, who is always been tough against them (5-0 career mark). The righthander was perfect for three innings before Ellsbury homered leading off the fourth. Archer began the next inning by hitting Chase Headley with a pitch and then proceeded to give up four straight singles, including a two-run knock by Young, the Mets’ free-agent bust, following Drew’s RBI hit. Two guys who have had miserable years accounted for the Yankees’ three runs that inning.

Young was playing left field because regular Brett Gardner is still bothered by an abdominal strain. Could he have aggravated it last week when he had that temper tantrum at the plate that got him booted from the game? Just asking. Also out with continuing hamstring soreness was Martin Prado, which is why Drew was in the starting lineup at second base.

Hiroki Kuroda, who had won his three previous decisions, was not sharp and failed to get through the fourth inning. James Loney hit a second-deck home run off Kuroda in the second inning and drove in one of the two Tampa Bay runs in the third with a single. Kuroda was replaced after yielding an RBI single to Zobrist in the fourth.

Seven Yankees relievers combined to shut the Rays down on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts for 5 2/3 innings, but the Yankees had only one hit after the fifth and could not prevent a 4-3 loss that further damaged their already perilous situation in the standings.

“It leaves us in a big hole,” Girardi said. “Basically, we have to win every day.”

Pretty tall order.

Yanks barely over .500 at halfway point

There was a point Monday night when it seemed like Joe Girardi was managing as if this was Game 7 of the World Series instead of a game in late June.

The score was 2-2 in the eighth inning. Dellin Betances, the third of six Yankees pitchers in the game, had just walked two batters after two were out. Girardi hopped out of the dugout and made the call to David Robertson. Using his closer in the eighth inning of a tie game was certainly an indication that Girardi wanted to win this game badly.

Robertson and Betances have been the Yankees’ best relievers, but on this night neither got the job done. Robertson gave up a single to Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.

You cannot fault Girardi. After losing two of three games to American League East rivals in each of their previous three series, the skipper wanted very much to get a victory at the start of this series, the fifth straight against division foes.

Brian Roberts gave the Yankees that opportunity with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot to right with one out in the ninth off Joel Peralta, whose blown save cost Yankee killer Chris Archer a winning decision.

Archer gave the Yankees his usual hard time, although he did blow a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Matt Joyce and Kevin Kiermaier by giving up two runs in the bottom of the third. Archer asked for trouble by hitting Ichiro Suzuki with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning. He came around to score on a triple to right by Brett Gardner. The Rays conceded a run by playing the infield back against Derek Jeter, who obliged with one of his four ground balls to second base in the game that scored Gardner.

And there it stood until the eighth when the Rays scratched that run off Betances and Robertson. David Phelps had started for the Yankees and gave up the two long balls but otherwise was solid. Roberts’ homer hung a no-decision on Archer, who is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA against the Yankees in his career, including 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Yankee Stadium.

Whatever lift Roberts’ shot gave the Yankees was short-lived. The Rays scored a run with two out in the 12th to send the Yankees to their third straight loss and put their record at 41-40 at the halfway mark of the season.

“It has been up and down,” Girardi said. “We have had our share of issues in the first half, but we’re still in the thick of it.”

Rookie Jose Ramirez walked Brandon Guyer with two out in the 12th. Guyer’s steal of second base was crucial, putting him in position to score on a single to center by Logan Forsythe. Rays reliever Brad Boxberger retired the Yankees in order in both the 11th and the 12th and was the winning pitcher.

Tampa Bay has been hit hardest in the division by injuries but still presented a problem for the Yankees Monday night.

Yankees bashed again; Nova hurt

A couple of regular Yankee killers had plenty of help from their teammates in killing the Yankees Saturday night. Evan Longoria and Chris Archer had their usual success against the Yankees, but so did a whole bunch of other Tampa Bay Rays.

Clearly, the Rays have awaken from their early-season offensive malaise the past two nights against the Yankees. Tampa Bay followed Friday night’s 11-5 bashing with a 16-1 slaughterhouse Saturday night. By the seventh inning, the many changes in both team’s lineups made the game resemble a spring training exhibition.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been so depleted through these two games that manager Joe Girardi used utility infielder Dean Anna on the mound in the eighth inning. Anna, who started the game at shortstop for resting Derek Jeter, gave up two runs and three hits in his first major-league pitching assignment.

Even worse news for the Yanks was that losing pitcher Ivan Nova was removed from the game in the fifth inning because of right elbow soreness. That could explain why he was so ineffective. The righthander was lit up for eight earned runs and eight hits, including four home runs, in four-plus innings as his ERA soared to 8.27.

The Rays had five home runs in all — two apiece by Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan and one by Longoria. Hanigan drove in six runs and Myers and Longoria four each as part of the 16-hit attack.

Longoria’s home run was career No. 164 to set a Tampa Bay franchise record, passing the previous record holder, Carlos Pena. It was also Longoria’s 26th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any player since 2008, the third baseman’s American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award season. The next closest over that stretch is the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista with 19.

Over about the same amount of plate appearances against the Yankees as Longoria, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has 15 home runs, which indicates how powerful Longoria has been. Longoria is a .314 career hitter with 19 doubles and 71 RBI in 338 at-bats against the Yankees.

Archer continued his winning ways against the Yankees. The righthander gave up one run and three hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings to improve his career mark against them to 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. Last year, Archer became the first rookie pitcher to beat the Yankees three times in a season since Kevin Brown did it for the Rangers in 1989. Brown later pitched for the Yankees.

It was a quiet night for the Yankees’ offense. They managed only three hits with a two-out double by Kelly Johnson in the fifth inning driving in their only run. Rays pitching retired the Yankees’ last 13 hitters in a row.

Yanks’ offense reaching exasperation level

Even after the grimmest of losses, Joe Girardi can put on a good face and handle questions from the press adroitly. Sunday was different, however. There is no doubt that the Yankees’ manager has become exasperated at what is going on with his hitters these days.

The Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Reds could have easily been blamed on CC Sabathia, who blew a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning by allowing three runs on solo home runs by a couple of guys named Ryan, Ludwick and Hanigan, and a sudden loss of control that resulted in three straight walks, the last of which forced in what proved the winning run. Sabathia showed rare displeasure with a plate umpire by gesturing at Tony Randazzo after the inning ended, but none of the replays I saw indicated that CC was being squeezed.

Three earned runs in seven innings from a starting pitcher are plenty acceptable any day. Sabathia was working on a three-hit shutout before the seventh and did not get a lead until the sixth when Raul Ibanez, who has become the steadiest productive player in the Yankees’ lineup, slammed a two-run home run in the right field second deck.

Yes, it is important for a pitcher to shut down the opposition the inning following that of his team taking the lead, so CC must share some of the guilt for his seventh-inning turnaround. But the glum expression on Girardi’s face and his dour response to inquiries were not due to what Sabathia did as much as what his lineup did not.

“We didn’t score a lot of runs again,” Girardi said.

The Yankees totaled 11 runs in the three games against the Reds and lost the rubber game in a series in which the pitching staff struck out 35 Cincinnati batters. That the Yankees won only one of those games was due to an offense that continues to struggle with runners in scoring opportunities. They were 3-for-18 (.167) in the series stranding 19 runners and are in a 6-for-59 (.102) funk in the clutch. For the season, the Yankees are batting .231 in those situations.

Almost as loud as the ovation the Bat Day crowd of 45,622 at Yankee Stadium accorded Ibanez for his homer were the shouts throughout the stands when Alex Rodriguez hit a towering drive to left field in the eighth with a runner on that had the look of two-run homer when it came off the bat that would have regained the lead for the Yankees.

The strong wind blowing in from left field on this sunny, breezy afternoon may have had a part in A-Rod’s blast dying on the warning track.

“We thought that ball was gone big time, and he probably thought that ball was gone, too,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “But the elements were with us on that particular play.”

“I thought it was going out when he hit,” Girardi concurred. “I thought we’d get the lead.”

Perhaps it did not matter. The Reds scored two more runs in the ninth on a two-out double by Ludwick off Rafael Soriano. Mark Teixeira, who did not start a game in the series because of his bronchial condition, reached base with one out in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch hitter, but two other pinch hitters, Russell Martin and Andruw Jones, couldn’t handle the 98-mph gas from Aroldis Chapman, who earned his first save of the season.

The Yankees’ first taste of inter-league play this year was bitter. Sabathia was paired with the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, who improved to 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in winning the top-shelf pitchers’ duel. Games like this often prompt players and managers to say that occasionally you have to tip your cap to the opposing pitchers.

Girardi wore an expression that told everyone in the room that he is getting tired of doing that.