Monday, May 19, 2014
Yanks-Pirates Split Doubleheader
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 19- For the first time in a decade, a single-admission doubleheader was played in the Bronx. The last time Yankee fans in the Bronx could see two games in one day for the price of one was on September 29, 2004. A very large crowd of 46,858 took advantage of the fine weather to flock to Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Yanks continued their domination over the Pirates in the Bronx with a 4-3 win in game one of the twin-bill. The victory raised the Yankee mark to 8-0 in their inter league games played in the Bronx.
A first inning solo homer by Pirate second sacker Neil Walker was answered by three Yankee runs in the bottom of the inning. The first five Yankee batters reached base successfully. Brett Gardner walked. Derek Jeter followed with a single. Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases. Mark Teixeira drove in two runs with a single, which increased his hitting streak to eight straight games. The third run was knocked in by Brian McCann who singled.
In the second, a single by Kelly Johnson, augmented by a stolen base and a throwing error by the Pirate catcher brought him to third. He was driven across the plate by Gardner’s double.
After the contest, Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda explained the benefit of the early scoring of his teammates, “They gave me an early lead in the game [and] I was more aggressive.”
Fortunately for the Yanks, the four runs were sufficient for the win as the team’s sole offense after the second inning was a single by Zoilo Almonte in the fourth. He was the only one of the last 20 Yankee batters to reach base and he was picked off first.
Kuroda earned his first winning decision since April 14. He yielded three runs, five hits and two walks in his six innings on the mound.
Yankee relievers, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and David Robertson blanked Pittsburgh in the final three innings. Robertson earned his eighth save of the year by retiring the last four Pirate batters, three by strikeout.
The two day, three-game visit to the Bronx was a home coming for Pedro Alvarez, the Pirate third baseman. Alvarez, a native of the Dominican Republic, lived in the area as a teenager and attended an academically prestigious school in the Bronx, Horace Mann, before enrolling at Vanderbilt University. In the stands supporting the Pirate clean-up batter in his first MLB games at Yankee Stadium were his parents, sister and other relatives and friends.
Alvarez’s single in the fourth gave him a hit in 18 of his last 20 interleague games.
Thirty minutes after the first game concluded, the second began.
The rare opportunity to be in a ballpark for seven hours may be more difficult for some than they would have realized. The length of time affected both the crowd in the stands and the players on the field.
The vast majority of the crowd left the park early. The starting lineup for each team in each game was quite different. The sloppiness was more apparent than usual. Each team committed two errors in the second inning, which allowed runners to score. Two base runners were thrown out trying to stretch and a runner was picked off base.
Each starter, Vidal Nuno for the Yankees and Garrit Cole for the Pirates, pitched effectively for six innings. Interestingly, Cole was originally drafted by the Yankees, but did not sign so he could attend college.
In the seventh, Yankee reliever Alfredo Aceves gave up a home run to Josh Harrison, the first batter he faced. The homer broke a 3-3 tie to give Pittsburgh the lead and eventually the win. The Pirates scored an additional run, but the Yankees did not.
The 5-3 win by the Pirates ended the Yankee Stadium winning streak over Pittsburgh in the Bronx.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Five Yankee Home Runs Produce a 7-1 Victory over the Pirates
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 18- Not since October 10, 1960, in the fifth game of that ill-fated World Series for New York have the Pittsburgh Pirates won a game at Yankee Stadium. The two teams have not again met in the World Series, but have competed against one another in interleague play.
The Yanks won all three games in the Bronx in 2005. The Pirates lost all three meetings at Yankee Stadium again in 2007. The Pirates returned to the Bronx this weekend and played at the new Stadium for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The 7-1 win by the Yankees was the seventh loss in a row by the Pirates in the Bronx.
The difference was the home run ball. All seven Yankee runs were scored via the home run and the Pirates only run also came by a four bagger. It was the first game in more than one year, April 29, 2013, that five different Yankee players hit home runs in the same game.
The Yankee offense began in the first frame as Derek Jeter singled to center with one out. The base hit was #3,350 for the Yankee captain. He now needs only 70 to pass Carl Yastrzemski for 7th place in MLB career rankings. The next batter, Mark Teixeira knocked in the first two runs of the game with his ninth homer of the season. It was the eighth in the last 17 games for the hot hitter. After the game, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi happily remarked, “It’s great having him back.”
Two innings later, Zoilo Almonte became the first of three Yankee batters to lead-off an inning with a home run. In his second game and second at bat of the year, the native of the Dominican Republic hit the first pitch he saw into the stands in right.
Brett Gardner began the Yankee sixth with his third homer of 2014. Alfonso Soriano led-off the seventh with a home run on a 1-1 pitch.
In the final go-around at the plate for the Yankees in the eighth, catcher Brian McCann hit a two-out homer with Gardner on base by a walk.
After the game, Teixeira, who started the home run attack, commented, “It’s good to see us break out today."
Girardi explained a baseball truism to reporters, so they could better understand the success of the team at home, “Our team is built for this park. You know you’re going to play 81 games here.”
The lead-off home run by Sterling Marte off reliever Dellin Betances in the sixth is the only run given up by Yankee pitchers in the last 27 innings.
With three of the Yankees five starting pitchers on the disabled list, Nova, Pineda and Sabathia, David Phelps was assigned his third start of the season, all in May. Phelps had a strange start but earned the win. In the first three innings, he didn’t surrender a hit, but walked three and hit a batsman. He gave up three hits in the fourth and two in the fifth, but no one crossed the plate.
The righty spoke about his performance. “It’s a really weird game when you throw 100 pitches in five innings and don’t give up a run. Mac [catcher Brian McCann] did a great job today keeping me in his glove.”
Girardi spoke more positively of the starter, “He made pitches when he had to. Our defense played pretty well behind him. We got him up to 100 pitches [his longest outing of the season]. We know he’ll continue to improve.”
The Yankees and Pirates will play a doubleheader on Sunday, starting at 1 pm. It is the first single admission doubleheader to be played at Yankee Stadium since September 29, 2004.
Posted by Bronx News at 8:24 AM
Friday, May 16, 2014
Rookie Shutout Mets for Second Straight Night
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 16- The final game of 2014 Subway Series was the first game in the majors for each of the starting pitchers. It is a rare game in which both starters are debuting in MLB. The most recent time it happened was on September 7, 2010 when Dillon Gee, who was scheduled to start Thursday for the Mets, faced Yunesky Maya of the Washington Nationals.
Chase Whitley, an Alabama native, 24 years of age, was given the ball for the Yankees. Whitley was drafted by the Yanks in the 15th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft while he was a student at Troy University.
Until this season his time was primarily spent in the bullpen. He started only eight of his first 144 minor league games. In 2014, the righty started in six of his seven appearances with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He compiled a record of 3-2 with an ERA of 2.39.
Jacob deGrom, 25, the starter for the Mets, was drafted by them in the 9th round of the same draft as Whitley. The Floridian was attending Stetson University when drafted. Unlike his counterpart on the Yanks, deGrom started each of his minor league games. His record with Triple A Las Vegas was 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA.
Of his rise to the majors, deGrom commented, “I was surprised when they called me. I was thinking it would be a little later, but I’m really glad it happened now.”
Both starters pitched as if they were experienced, veteran players in front of a small crowd rather than major league neophytes pitching in front of a crowd in excess of 40,000 during the Subway Series.
Whitley pitched 4.2 innings, yielding only two hits and two walks while blanking the Mets. Girardi explained he was lifted because, “We felt he started to tire.”
Other than that, both managers were extremely impressed, Girardi enthused, “His performance was spectacular. He was able to control his emotions. He continued to throw strikes.”
The opinion of Mets skipper Terry Collins was quite similar, “He executed his pitches. He was very impressive.”
Although deGrom suffered the loss his outstanding performance on the mound did not earn it for him. He hurled seven innings, giving up only four hits and two walks but also the only run of the game.
The run came in his final inning as Mark Teixeira drew a walk and scored on a double by Alfonso Soriano.”
DeGrom also earned the praise of both managers. Collins remarked, “Tremendous command of his stuff. As the game went on, he got better. [He] kept us right there.” Girardi was in agreement, “I thought his change-up was excellent. He seemed to relax a little bit. He did the little things i.e. batting, fielding, that helped.”
Interestingly, both starters got base hits. The hit by deGrom was the first for a Mets pitcher this season.
After the contest, deGrom explained his feelings, “In the first, I was nervous. It was awesome facing those guys. I watched Jeter when I was growing up. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to face. It’s a feeling I’ll never have again.”
A native New Yorker, Dellin Betances, did the most impressive pitching in the contest. In 2.1 innings of relief, Betances gave up no hits and fanned six of the seven batters he faced. Girardi opined, “He continues to grow in front of us.”
The 2014 Subway Series has now concluded.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Pitcher Shuts Down Mets,
Gives Yankees Hope
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 15- Masahiro Tanaka is now the stopper for the New York Yankees. The Mets were first hand observers and will not say anything different after the right-hander shutthem out at Citi Field Wednesday evening. And there should be no doubt about the stopper role because that is what the Yankees needed to end a four-game losing streak.
He was also what the Yankees needed to stop a six-game losing streak against the Mets dating back to last season. And with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda, three quarters of the Yankees’ starting rotation on the disabled list this is what manager Joe Girardi was looking for.
“We needed a win,” Girardi said. “After losing a couple of tough games at home he got better as the night went on. He’s been special. The young kid throws good… he has a lot of weapons and knows how to handle the baseball.”
Though Girardi did admit, Tanaka will be managed differently because of the injuries. In other words, despite getting the first complete game shutout of his Major League career, Tanaka who threw 114 pitches, will be protected from going the route. Girardi knows he does not need his best to also go down with an injury.
But, Tanaka was purchased by the Yankees to pitch like every other starter. Go deep into games and get the win, providing there was enough run support. The Mets showed a resurgence of power and run production, in two games at Yankee Stadium this week, but they came home to Citi Field and again their bats went quiet.
And it was attributed to Tanaka who became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to begin the season at 6-0. At this rate, and there is every expectation he will continue to be dominant, Tanaka is a cinch to win the AL Rookie of the year or AL CY Young Award.
However, there is a long way to go before Tanaka is considered for those prestigious post season awards. The Yankees are more inclined for Tanaka to keep pitching well, and to be the one who can keep the ship afloat as their ailing pitching staff gets back to health.
Here is how dominating Tanaka was: He threw 28 splitters where the Mets hit into eight outs and managed only one base runner. Eric Young Jr. hit a double in the sixth inning, one of their four hits and that was the only other time they had a runner reach second.
He had the Mets swinging and missing. He had them confused at the plate, just as he has done in seven previous starts against American League opponents. So, by now, not even teams in the National League can figure a way to hit that splitter.
"I knew what was coming, but I couldn't hit it," the Mets’ Daniel Murphy said. "He's commanding all his pitches to all zones. The splitter is the equalizer. You don't see it that much, someone using it in any count like that.”
Tanaka said, through his Japanese translator, "I just go up there and basically try to win every single game.” At this rate, and the way the Yankees have been scoring runs, they would love to see Tanaka on the mound every game.
The spotlight of pitching in this inter-league Subway Series game, and opposing the debut of Mets rookie pitcher Rafael Montero, did not cause a distraction. He gets on the mound and gets the job done, as has been the situation since his debut on the mound at Yankee Stadium last month.
He became another storyline in what has become an interesting three games between the Yankees and Mets….
As for the Mets, who will debut rookie Jacob deGrom in the series finale Thursday night, manager Terry Collins praised Tanaka. deGrom is one of those young promising arms getting an early season look, like Montero early in the season, and needed with Dillon Gee on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lar.
Collins also saw the difference again of long balls that went for outs at Citi Field. Six home runs hit by the Mets in two games at Yankee Stadium will make a manager see things differently.
He said, "You asked me about the home run barrage? We hit three of them tonight. They were just in the wrong park.”
The night belonged to Tanaka and the Yankees. And the Mets may have come to a decision and anointed Jennry Mejia as their closer when Kyle Farnsworth was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Though Farnsworth has a right to refuse the assignment and could be with another team.
To that, a frustrated and disappointed Farnsworth had his say in the matter. He said there was anger and disappointment in the decision to let him go. And for the Mets, who appeared to have Farnsworth in the closer role, it was another way to get the bullpen up to par. Farnsworth was not the answer, neither is Jose Valverde who could also be out the door.
But the Yankees have a different situation. They have a stopper in Masahiro Tanaka.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Mets once again made Yankee Stadium their home
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 14- The Mets bid a farewell to Yankee Stadium this season. And perhaps they would want to play in the Bronx more after another two-game series sweep over the Yankees. That’s four straight wins in the Bronx dating back to last season and now six straight over their cross-town rivals.
In all probability, the two teams won’t meet again in October, but for some reason, Yankee Stadium has a way of making a hitter look better. What looked like a dismal offense the past two weeks has become a distant memory and after their 12-7 win Tuesday night, you wonder if Manager Terry Collins would prefer the next two games to be played in the Bronx and not at Citi Field.
“A lot has to do with the ballpark,” commented Collins. “Guys get a descent pitch they know they can drive. For sure we have swung the bats better here.” His team scored a season high 12-runs Tuesday night and in the two games hit six home runs.
They don’t get that type of offense at Citi Field where the dimensions are different. Curtis Granderson knows. He spent enough time at Yankee Stadium, and hit 64 home runs when he wore pinstripes at the new Yankee Stadium. Add two more with long balls in the first two games of this home-and-home series.
But, Citi Field is different. Granderson can’t hit the home run to right, or over the fence in any of the other power alleys. Though the more viable explanation about Granderson is, he is not the same hitter that once was.
And 21- runs in two games for the Mets, well that was a rarity until they came to the Bronx. A lot may be attributed to the decimated Yankees pitching rotation that has manager Joe Girardi doing some patch work with three front line starters on the disabled list.
“We have to stay in rotation,” said Girardi. “These are the people we have.” Vidal Nuno got roughed up in 3 1/3 innings and it was not pretty. The night before, Hideki Kuroda allowed four runs in six innings. When the series shifts to Citi Field Wednesday night, the 5-0, Masahiro Tanaka gives some hope for the Yankees to get a win.
Oh, then there is the Thursday night series finale. The Yankees will have Chase Whitley on the mound making his major league debut.
There are concerns for the Yankees, but the Mets want to take this momentum to Citi Field. The Mets believe this is psychological and the same production coming in the Bronx can continue in their home ballpark.
“When you play here you know you can score,” said Granderson who hit his fifth home run with two on that put the Mets in front 4-0 in the first inning. “Now we have to take that to our place.”
But, Granderson and the Mets have been trying to figure it out for the first six weeks of this season. They have been trying to figure a solution to the power outage at the plate since their new ballpark opened five years ago and they know Citi Field is not Yankee Stadium.
One media member in the Mets clubhouse commented, “The architects got it wrong” when it came to the construction of Citi Field. Of course they did, because Citi Field is not a hitter’s park, though opposing hitters have never seemed to complain when they bang out hits and the home runs, again maybe attributed to a psychological issue with the Mets over the years.
Whatever it is, this Mets team comes home Wednesday evening with a psychological advantage over the Yankees. Quickly, the mighty Yankees are not as invincible as they once were.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Bronx News Sports: Grandy Man Breaks Yank Fans Hearts: Grandy Man Breaks Yank Fans Hearts Mets Score First Blood in Subway Series By Rich Mancuso BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 13- Last time we...
Grandy Man Breaks Yank Fans Hearts
Mets Score First Blood in Subway Series
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 13- Last time we saw these two teams playing each other, the Yankees lost a heart breaker to the Mets at Citi Field. It was mid-May, Mariano Rivera blew the save and the Mets swept the four-game home-and-home series with a walk-off win. It is the Subway Series and that is enough said.
With one-out and a runner on, in the ninth inning of a 9-7 game, Monday night at Yankee Stadium, Brian McCann ended the game with a double play. Lucas Duda got the sharp ball at first base and made the diving stop. The ensuing over-shift got the Ball to David Wright near the left side.
The throw went back to Duda. And the Mets got the first draw in this Subway Series of 2014, the first of two in the Bronx, and two more Wednesday and Thursday night at Citi Field in Flushing. For Mets fans, they feel dominant because their team has won the last five games dating back to that rare blunder by Rivera
But, there is no more Mariano to save the Yankees. And this is the last time Derek Jeter will be a part of this inter-league series, that is, unless these two teams meet in October. And with the Mets still rebuilding and with many holes to fill, and the Yankees, at a mediocre stage, chances are after Thursday night, Jeter plays his last game against the Mets.
There are those who say, this cross-town series has lost something and it is questioned about four-games on the schedule at a juncture in the season when the Yankees and Mets are still trying to find themselves. The series once the headline is now lost to playoff basketball and hockey that are part of the New York City landscape this May.
But, 46,517 fans at Yankee Stadium will tell you: This series is still meaningful and for baseball supremacy in the Big Apple.
“It was good to come back and get the victory,” said Curtis Granderson. “It’s cool not too many get to do this from the other side,” he said.
The struggling Granderson, with a .194 average, loved to hit the home run at Yankee Stadium when he played in pinstripes. He became one of five more players this season who have played on both parts of town.
Granderson used Yankee Stadium to his advantage again driving the ball to right off Hiroki Kuroada in the sixth inning. The two-run shot was the first Granderson has hit in his career off a 3-0 count and tied the game 4-4. Just like Brett Gardner who hit a grand slam home run in the second inning that gave the Yankees an early 4-1 advantage.
The Mets would hit four home runs, so Yankee Stadium is definitely a place to get the home run ball going again. Travis d’Arnaud had a solo shot off Kuroda in the third, Eric Young Jr. got the Mets closer in the seventh with a home run to right, his first, and Chris Young also hit a two-run blast to left in the eighth that ended the scoring.
That power displayed by his team prompted manager Terry Collins to say about the different dimensions of Citi Field to Yankee Stadium “Part of being here. The Chris Young ball is not high enough to get out of our place, I don’t think. This atmosphere creates intensity and it creates focus.”
As things always go in this series, the Granderson return to the Bronx drew some attention. Of course, a contingent of Mets fans from the group “The 7-Line” in a left field second deck gave their loud approval after his home run. It started a buzz again for this Sunway Series in the Bronx.
“Weird coming out the other side…. Especially for this series,” commented Granderson who got his share of boos from the Yankees fans. Recall, Granderson, when signed by the Mets in December said, “True New Yorkers are Mets fans.”
Truth is, the Yankees have owned New York. Mets fans know that and this was just another of the many storylines in this first game. The Mets probably won’t have the town back until they win another championship and the Yankees show a decline.
Ruben Tejada has been trying to prove he is the player at shortstop for the Mets. His play at shortstop in the third inning, on a ball hit to his right sent him to the dirt. His throw was strong and good enough to Get Alfonso Soriano. “Got the ball to the right, it was a long throw to first,” said Tejada who has played in these games that are intense.
“Part of the game the play, not the series,” he said emphasizing more that he wants that job at shortstop. Collins could insert Tejada back in the spot Tuesday night. The rookie, Wilmer Flores is feeling better but after a play like that, Tejada may be more experienced to handle the Yankees in the Bronx.
So what else happened Monday night in the Bronx? Both bullpens could not hold the lead, though the Mets unveiled their potential new closer. Jenrry Mejia spoke to Collins earlier in the day and went with the plan. He came out of the pen and recorded 1.1 scoreless innings, his first relief outing since September of 2012 against the Pirates.
“In this ballpark the game is never over,” said David Wright who made good contact and almost added to the Mets home run parade. “There’s no lead that is safe here.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows that he and his team is battling another injury hex. Three starters in the pitching rotation are injured, as are some position players. Mark Teixeira needed a night off and Soriano got banged up a bit Sunday in Milwaukee. Carlos Beltran left the game in what was described as an injured elbow that was sustained taking some swings in a cage in between bats, and ichiro Suzuki has a bad back.
That goes along with not knowing who will start Thursday night in the series finale at Citi Field because Girardi used Alfredo Aceves in relief. His pen is also taxed and Giardi said, “I was going to use Robertson (David) for a four-out save.”
But it never came down to Robertson, who now inherits the closer role from Mariano Rivera in this Subway Series. Collins and the Mets may have the advantage because relief is on the way. The young arms, so highly touted, begin to arrive. Rafael Montero will get the start Wednesday night at Citi Field against the 5-0 Masahiro Tanaka.
And, with Mejia as the probable new closer, though Collins would not commit, the other young arm coming from Las Vegas, Jacob deGrom arrives Tuesday night that changes the complexion of a Mets bullpen that has been less than efficient. The days may be over for Kyle Farnsworth who survived because of that game ending double-play and for Jose Valverde.
Just a part of the spotlight and intensity of a Subway series that is still interesting no matter when it is played. And as always, Jeter did his part with a three-hit game against the Mets.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso www.newyorksportsexaminer.com
Photos by Ken Carozza
Playing for Both Sides
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 13- Inter league play, although in existence since 1997, in many cases still draws large crowds. The crosstown New York City rivalry between the Mets and Yanks drew a gathering of 46,517 at Yankee Stadium on Monday night for the first of four straight nights of contests between the two clubs.
There are 121 players who have spent time in the uniforms of both teams. Some of the large group are very much in the consciousness of baseball fans.
The most famous and most beloved of the 121 is Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra. The former catcher was at Yankee Stadium on Monday night watching the first game of the 2014 Subway Series and celebrating his 89th birthday. When the Hall of Famer was shown on the giant videoboard in centerfield, he was given a prolonged ovation by the fans of both teams. Not only did Berra play for both clubs, but he led each to a pennant as manager.
All five of the players, who this year increased the number who played for both teams, participated in Monday’s game. Several accomplished noticeable deeds in the game.
Curtis Granderson, now the rightfielder of the Mets, has been struggling at the plate in his first season in the National League. He began the game with an uncharacteristic batting average of .183, but has shown much improvement as of late.
His single in the first inning increased his recent streak of reaching base safely to 16 of his last 18 games. Remembering he was in Yankee Stadium, Grandy belted a two-run homer in the sixth that tied the contest at 4. He hit 115 home runs in the past four seasons while wearing the Yankee pinstripes.
Bartolo Colon, a Yankee in 2011, was negatively noticeable by his performance as the Mets starter. The hurler, who will be 41 on May 24, had two difficult innings, the second and sixth, during which he yielded seven runs.
Karl Farnsworth, a reliever for the Yanks in 2006-8, earned his third save as a Met. He yielded a hit and a walk but blanked the Yankees in the ninth.
Although never a Met, Alfonso Soriano has not allowed the pitchers in either major league to get the better of him at the plate. He has compiled a very rare and impressive batting record in the American and National League.
Soriano’s single in the second inning was his 1,000th hit in the American League. This feat made him only the seventh player in baseball history to record at least 1,000 hits in each major league. He is the only player who has recorded 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 runs batted in, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in each league.
His numbers will continue to increase as long as he plays. He doubled in the sixth, which moved him to 1,001 hits in the A.L. Since returning to the Yankees on July 26, 2013, (93 games), Soriano has blasted 22 home runs and driven in 64 runs.
Photo by Ken Carozza
Posted by Bronx News at 5:32 AM
Monday, May 12, 2014
Lady Rams Crowned Champs Again
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 12- By coincidence, the Atlantic-10 Softball Championship was played on the home field, Bahoshy Field in the Bronx, of the #1 seed, the Fordham Rams. The home field had been a decided advantage to the Rams this year as they were winners in 14 of the 15 games they played during the regular season at Fordham.
Fordham’s Bridget Orchard, the Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, appeared to have her team primed for the tournament as the Rams were victorious in 15 of their final 17 regular season games. They lost their last two contests to Dayton after winning 15 in a row.
The Rams, the first seed in the A-10 Championship received a first round bye last Wednesday. They faced the University of Massachusetts, the victor over Dayton in the first round, at noon on Thursday.
With the bases loaded in the second, Rachel Gillen grounded into a fielder’s choice that drove in the first run of the game. UMass tied the game at one in the third, but that was the last run scored by the visitors.
Fordham catcher Gabby Luety blasted a three-run homer in the third. Two innings later, third sacker Kayla Lombardo hit a two-run home run to move Fordham ahead by a score of 6-1.
With the bases filled and two out in the bottom of the sixth, the Rams added three more runs on three singles by Paige Ortiz, Gillen and Cora Ianiro to end the game, 9-1, by the mercy rule.
A-10 Co-Pitcher of the Year Michele Daubman was the winner of her 16th game of the season.A-10 Player of the Elise Fortier failed to get a hit but scored three runs.
The winners of each contest, Fordham and #2 seed St. Louis, met at noon last Friday. Interestingly, the Atlantic-10 Co-Pitchers of the Year, Daubman for Fordham and Brianna Lore of the Billikins, were in the circle to start the contest.
To no one’s surprise, the hurlers engaged in a pitchers’ duel in which no runs were scored during the first five frames. Billikins worked Daubman for a run in the sixth with a lead-off single, a sacrifice but that pushed the runner to second and a run scoring single by Kelsey Biggs.
The Rams took the final lead in the seventh in a most exciting manner. With one out, Fortier took a 3-2 over the fence in right to tie the game at 1. The homer was her 18th of the 2014 campaign and her 44th at Fordham, one short of the school record. The next batter, Lombardo, followed with her 10th of the season to give the Rams their final lead.
Lombardo, Fordham’s third sacker, spoke about the back-to-back homers after the game, “Elise and I, the third and fourth hitters, are supposed to put the ball out of the park. In that situation, we were just doing our job.”
Daubman’s 18th win of the season was protected by Patti Maloney, who earned her A-10 record sixth save of the year.
The two teams met again on Saturday afternoon in the championship final. Lombardo, a junior, expressed her feelings about the championship encounter after the win on Friday, “We’re set to play our game and go out with the same desire and hunger that we always have. We’re just on a mission. We want to repeat so badly.”
Lombardo did not underestimate her teammates as Fordham defeated St. Louis by a score of 11-0 in the Championship final on Saturday. Freshman Sydney Canassa led off the bottom of the first with a home run to put Fordham ahead. A double by Amy Van Hooten and an rbi single by Luety scored the second run of the inning.
The Rams scored four in the second capped by a two-run homer by Fortier. The home run was her 19th of the season and her 45th as a Ram. Thus, she broke the Fordham career mark for four baggers in only three seasons as she spent her freshman year at Stony Brook.
Six hits and an error gave Fordham six runs in the third frame. Luety began the damage with a home run.
Again, the Co-Pitchers of the Year of the Atlantic-10 began the game in the circle. Lore of the Billikins had pitched two games on Friday and was obviously not up to her usual manner. She gave up 11 runs and 11 hits in 2+ innings. She was unable to retire any of the five batters she faced in the third. Daubman who pitched two hit ball in the five innings of the game, earned her third win. She was voted the MVP of the Championship. Luety, Daubman’s catcher remarked, “She [Daubman] perfected everything this year.”
The A-10 championship for the Rams was their third in the last four years. The victory automatically qualifies Fordham for the NCAA National Softball Tournament. On the evening of Sunday, the brackets of the tournament were announced. Fordham is going to Tallahassee on Friday evening to face #8 seed Florida State. The two other schools in the foursome are South Florida and South Carolina. The tourney is a double elimination so the rams will also be facing at least one of the other Southern colleges.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Fighter Stayed in the Game
Ready for Next Oppoenent
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 8- Steven Martinez knows how the boxing business works. The 24-year-old middleweight from the Bronx has been a professional since 2009. But the fights were not coming at a pace to validate his claim a fighter with potential to make noise in a competitive division. Then, as a fighter has to do, he made a change. Recently he signed a new deal with the new Dmitriy Salita, (Star of David) promotional group that also works in conjunction with the former champion, Roy Jones. Jr.
Salita, a one time a welterweight contender, had his share of difficulties with the promoters and as much as Jones had success as a champion, he also had his trials and tribulations. In other words boxing is a business. A fighter has the opportunity when it is presented, however there are obstacles.
At times a fight is scheduled and suddenly an opponent can’t make weight, or a promoter has no contingency plan to find a last minute opponent. Or there are the issues of the trainer, fighter, and promoter not being on the same page.
That has been a part of the boxing business for years. And Martinez has been on that side of it; that, is until he signed with Salita. The fights are constant and Martinez is scheduled for his second under the Salita banner next Thursday night at the Millenium Theatre in Brooklyn. The six-round fight is scheduled and the opponent, for the 14-1 Martinez, is Antonio Chaves Fernandez.
“Definitely they are promoters and coming up both were fighters so they see the ins and outs better,” commented Martinez who is in the final phases of training. His first fight with the Salita promotion was in late February, also at the Millenium, when he got the TKO in the sixth and final round over Rahman Mustafa Yusubov.
So, what has been the difference? Previously he was under the management of former NY Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and fought under the DiBella Entertainment banner.
Martinez is just a fighter. He may not know what went wrong in the past. But, he is aware, the career is on the move again and that is all he wants.
“They see the fighter's view and promoter's view,” he says about two former fighters in the promotional business. “Hopefully they treat the boxers the way they were treated. The first time around was a learning experience. I’m more grown now, seasoned. I have experience. I know how to fight. The first time I was learning the business.”
And waiting for fights, preparing and then getting cancelled off cards, Martinez certainly learned how the boxing business worked. But, as he continued to be patient and strived for the opportunity there was interest by others. Though, the loyalty to his previous promoter and management only stalled a promising career.
That, though, seems to be in the past and Martinez, with a new three-year deal, hopes to be making noise quick and soon.
As he says, “They (Salitia) were always interested in me but I was signed by someone else. They were knocking at the door. Once I was a free agent they were calling me every other week. I was out for a year… It was a big issue. Now everything is in the past. Now it’s a new chapter for me. I felt it was the time.”
His trainer, Marco Suarez has been with Martinez all the time. Training has been going well at Pop's Gym in the Norwod section of the Bronx. Martinez, married and a father devotes his time to his family. Boxing is what he always wanted to do, and there was never a moment during the hiatus about hanging up the gloves.
“This is what I love,” he says. “I’m not backing away from nobody. I train hard, work very hard. I’m still aggressive. I’ve been doing this half my life. I was still in the gym, frustrated I wasn’t fighting. It’s part of the business. I stood with my head high and positive I didn’t think it was going to last 16- months, more than a year.
Yes, Martinez moved on. And in the sport of boxing when there is a second chance the opportunity does present itself. The journey continues with his new promoters in a week and Martinez is anxious to get back in the ring.
This time though, it won’t be a long time.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Street Renamed to Honor #MarianoRivera
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 5- A very diverse crowd gathered on the northwest corner of 161 Street and River Avenue in front of Yankee Stadium in the late morning of Monday, May 5. A large number of reporters and camera operators were present to cover the event.
At approximately 11;30 am, the voice of the late Yankee Public Address announcer Bob Sheppard could be heard clearly enunciating “Now coming in #42 Mariano Rivera.” At that moment, Rivera and his wife, Clara, were exiting Yankee Stadium through Gate 6. Immediately the two were besieged by fans and photographers who surrounded them as they were walking.
When the couple were seated on the platform with the other dignitaries, the official program began. Thomas Ferrera, a self-described lifelong Yankee fan, served as emcee. Ferrera spearheaded the campaign to change the name of River Avenue on 161 Street to Rivera Avenue to honor the legendary Yankee closer.
The first speaker, Lonn Trost, the Yankees COO, used a discussion with his wife as a means of informing those in the crowd of the many accomplishments of Rivera on the baseball field and the honors deservedly accorded to him for his achievements. He said closer is the only position in baseball in which there can be no argument or debate as to who is the best, “Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball.”
Children from the Highbridge Advisory Council Headstart then led the crowd in the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Several elected officials (politicians)were present Councilmembers Arroyo and Gibson, as well as representatives of Council Speaker Viverito, Borough President Diaz and Mayor DeBlasio.
Special note should be taken of one, Congressman Jose Serrano. Not only is he a long-term member of Congress working hard for the residents of his district in the South Bronx, but he is a knowledgeable baseball, specifically Yankee fans. Serrano was wearing a Yankee jacket and his business card is in the form of a baseball card. Unlike many other pols, Serrano can be seen at Yankee Stadium for reasons other than photo ops. Of Rivera, he said, “Mariano is special. I’m sorry to see him go. Someone so special should last forever.”
The name change of the street was approved by the City Council by a vote of 47-0-2 on December 10, 2013 and signed into law one week later by mayor Bloomberg.
Cary Goodman, the executive director of the 161st Street BID (Business Improvement District) opined, “It was a long campaign but we’re here.” Goodman was an integral part of the success of the name change being approved as he is in every positive enterprise in the 161 Street neighborhood. His presence in the area is a great benefit to the businesses and the residents.
As if he were again on the baseball field, the proceedings closed after Rivera’s successful performance.
For those who are only familiar with Rivera as a ballplayer, listening to his recital of thanks one can realize his high level of decency, religious devotion and humility, “I want to thank God, above all. I want to thank my wife, who’s put up with me for the 23 years of my career. I want to thank the New York Yankees for letting me play for 19 years. I want to thank this beautiful community of the Bronx. I want to thank you guys, the fans. You were there. Without you, it would have been harder. I thank you for every effort you made. You worked harder than me. I only tried to do my job. God bless you!”
Rivera then climbed a ladder to unveil the new street sign of Rivera Avenue.
#CC Sabathia Gets Roughed Up
Sabathia Beats Up on Himself
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 5- The inability of the New York Yankees’ starting pitchers to win games has become a serious issue for the club. During the first 17 days of the 2014 campaign, April 1-17, Yankee starters recorded 10 wins, but in the next 17 days, April 18-May 4, Yankee starting pitchers only have three wins.
Their inability to go deep into games has also put undue pressure upon its overworked bullpen. After Sunday’s game, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi stated this clearly, “We have to start getting length out of our starters.”
This was certainly something that did not happen in Sunday’s game. CC Sabathia, the ace of the Yankee staff since signing with the franchise on December 18, 2008, was especially disappointing. The 3.2 innings he pitched was his shortest outing since October 2, 2009, which was also against Tampa Bay.
The lefty has been extremely effective at Yankee Stadium, compiling a record of 43-19. His only shorter start at the ballpark in the Bronx took place in his rookie season, on June 27, 2001. As a member of the Cleveland Indians, he yielded six runs in one inning to the Yankees.
The onslaught against Sabathia on Sunday began in the first frame. Logan Forsythe led off the contest with a double to right, and was driven in by an Evan Longoria double two batters later. Longoria leads all visiting players with 37 runs batted in at the new Yankee Stadium.
With one out in the third, Desmond Jennings doubled. Longoria followed by drawing a walk. The next batter, Will Myers, blasted a ball over the head of centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and sprinted around the bases for a rare standing inside-the-park home run to score three. The last player on the Rays to hit an inside-the-park homer was Ben Zobrist on September 25, 2011.
Myers’ double in the following inning drove in his fourth run in the contest and led to Sabathia’s removal from the game. The two hits extended Myers’ hitting streak at Yankee Stadium to the first 13 games he played at the iconic venue. a new record for a rookie at either park named Yankee Stadium.
The 33 year-old pitcher yielded five runs and 10 hits in his short stint. Girardi was uncharacteristically blunt in describing Sabathia’s performance, “Today, he really struggled. It was probably his hardest start this year. I didn’t think he had his good slider, his good change-up. He just didn’t have his good stuff.”
Sabathia a former Cy Young Award recipient, was unhappy with his performance on the mound, “It’s frustrating to go out and not give us a good opportunity to win.”
He was in no way critical of fans who booed him, “I would have booed myself today. I wouldn’t want to come to the ballpark and see that.”
Sabathia explained his attitude this season with that of last year when he was very negative towards his performances. He expressed in several statements, after the game, his belief that he will improve, “I’ve gotten these guys out. I know I can do it again. I can’t let a little adversity throw what I’ve done out the window. I feel that I can turn this thing around. I’ll come out of this thing and be the guy we need.”
A very positive pitching sign was the appearance of Alfredo Aceves for the first time this season. He pitched 5.1 innings in relief of Sabathia, yielding only three hits and blanking the Rays. Despite his effectiveness on Sunday, Girardi does not, at this time, desire to insert him into the starting rotation.
The next game at Yankee Stadium, Monday, May 12, will be the first game of this year’s Subway Series between the Yanks and Mets.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
#Tanaka Remains Unbeaten
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 4- On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Rays. The outcome also terminated the three-game winning streak for the Rays.
Masahiro Tanaka, the starting pitcher for the Yanks, remained undefeated after his sixth start in the majors. His credit for the win raised his win/loss mark to 4-0 this season. During his stint on Saturday, the 25 year-old yielded eight hits and three runs. He did not issue a walk for the third of his six starting assignments.
The five batters he fanned raised his total of strikeouts this season to 51, the fifth highest in the major leagues since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The win credited to Tanaka extends his two continent (Japan and North America) win streak to 32 regular season decisions. The last contest he lost occurred on August 9, 2012, when he pitched for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
On Saturday afternoon, Tanaka was not blessed with his best stuff. Both he and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi discussed the problem. Girardi commented, “I didn’t think his command with his fastball was too good at first [and] that got him into trouble.”
The young hurler admitted he had problems, “All my pitches weren’t there today. They weren’t crisp.”
As has happened on several occasions this year, Tanaka was touched for runs early in the game. Desmond Phillips, the second batter he faced, homered to right to put Tampa on the board in the first.
Three base hits led to a second Tampa run in the second.
The third and final run for the Rays was scored on a lead-off home run by Will Myers in the fourth. Myers loves the new Yankee Stadium as he has hit successfully in all 12 games he has played in the Bronx ballpark. He thus raised the mark for consecutive games hitting safely at the start of a career in either Yankee Stadium.
After the home run, Tanaka only surrendered two singles in his final four innings on the mound. This was noted by those most involved in the accomplishment.
Yankee catcher Brian McCann remarked, “After the third inning, he settled down. It’s hard to believe he’s 25; he has such poise on the mound.”
His manager added to the words of praise, “He’s good at making adjustments. [With Tanaka], you’re going to get a guy who competes, who gives you distance and who keeps you in the game.”
Tanaka responded to questions about his early game difficulties, “I really don’t know why the slow starts. I wish I could be better. I’m glad I was able to battle my way back through the game.”
Interesting batting stats-Mark Teixeira’s first pitch home run in the fourth was his fourth in the last five games and his fifth in his last eight. The three hits by James Loney, first sacker for the Rays, upped his average in 23 games against the Yanks since signing with Rays before last season to .410. Ichiro Suzuki has hit safely in 9 of his 11 starts. His two doubles on Saturday moved his batting average to a team high .375. Three hits by Jacoby Ellsbury gave him a batting average of .346.
Starting the final game of the three game series on Sunday afternoon will be CC Sabathia for the Yanks and Erik Bedard for the Rays.