Monday, June 30, 2014
Sox Strike Again
Fans Unsure Which Way #Yanks are Heading
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 30- The late June rivalry in the Bronx with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox still had some meaning. Ask the Red Sox, who took two of three from their AL east rivals with an 8-5 win Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. More importantly the Yankees had an opportunity to narrow the gap with first place Toronto and that awaits another day.
And that can happen over the next three games, narrowing their two game gap, or taking first place as this stretch of 15-straight with divisional opponents concludes with last place Tampa Bay. Yes it is still early, with Monday night the halfway point for the Yankees however winning series against teams in the division are just as vital.
“We don’t want to go out here and lose games,” Carlos Beltran said. “Feels right now these last two games we haven’t been able to do that.” Beltran did his part with a 3-for-4-night, including his 366th career home run in the fourth inning, tying Lance Berkman for fourth place on baseball’s all-time home run list among switch hitters.
His eighth home run in the fourth inning, a solo shot to right at the time narrowed the Boston lead to 4-3. Mark Teixeira led off the inning with his team leading 15th home run. Both long balls coming off John Lackey (9-5) who earned the win, allowing five run on six hits.
Lackey did not produce a quality start of 6.0 innings or more, three-runs or less, for the third time in his last 13 outings. And in the position the Red Sox are in, also at the halfway point of their schedule, they need Lackey to produce.
This is a year of the mediocre AL east. The Yankees know, with any type of winning streak that they can take control, even though they are not the Yankees that battled the Red Sox over the years when the division belonged to the two rivals.
“Anytime you win a series on the road, particularly against a team that's ahead of us, these are key,” Boston manager John Farrell said. There is plenty of time to overcome a six-game deficit in the division and the defending world champions with all of their first half problems are realizing the same thing:
Winning a series against the Yankees in the Bronx was important. The Red Sox, a team in transition, are also reaching into their minor league system for that extra help. Mookie Betts, their 21-year-old outfield prospect made his Major League debut and got his first single in the fourth inning.
“It was great,” he said. And it came with no extra pressure, if that can be understood, because it came during a game in what has been described as the biggest rivalry in sports. Derek Jeter can echo those sentiments and remember the first time he took part in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as a rookie.
Except, Jeter, did not get the first of many hits against Boston. He had many significant and big hits over the years when the Yankees and Red Sox battled down to the wire for a spot in the post season.
And then there is David Ortiz. He has made the Yankees miserable over the years in this rivalry, and that continued Sunday night. Ortiz has hit 40 home runs against the Yankees since putting on the Boston uniform in 2003, and he launched one off Chase Whitley in the third inning. It was the 450th of his career and good for 37th on the all-time list.
Whitley said he was frustrated about the pitch to Ortiz. The Yankees have got more than expected from the rookie right-hander, but this was his second straight loss of four innings and five earned runs. And it comes at a time when the Yankees want to make some significant inroads in the division.
Whitley can’t always be a difference maker as the Yankees wait for CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda to return from the disabled list. When these teams meet in September for six more games, pitching could be the decisive factor as to where they are headed in October.
"We are all going through are issues, there is no doubt about it, in the division," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "As I said, it is probably going to come down to the end and it is going to be who handles the injuries the best. Obviously, we need to play better. I'm sure every club in our division says that."
This time the Red Sox were the better team, next time it could be the Yankees and that is what makes this rivalry so special.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
One Slip Sinks Tanaka
Jon Lester Tops Masahiro Tanaka in Impressive Pitcher’s Duel at Yankee Stadium
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 29- On Saturday night, a sold-out house of 48,433 at Yankee Stadium, the third largest crowd of the season, was attracted to another contest between the biggest rivals in baseball, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The two courageous and talented starting pitchers, Jon Lester of Boston and Masahiro Tanaka of New York hooked up in an outstandingly performed and fast moving pitcher’s duel.
Lester, 30, was starting his 237th game in the majors. The number of starts would be even higher, but Lester missed large parts of his first two seasons with Boston, 2006 and 2007, after being diagnosed with lymphoma in the summer of 2006. Tanaka, 25, was making his 16th start of his first season in MLB.
Lester pitched no-hit ball for the first five frames. The first hit he yielded was a single up the middle by Brett Gardner, leading off the sixth. After Gardner was thrown out trying to stretch his single to a double, the next two batters, Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury, each singled, but were left on base when the inning ended.
The only run given up by Lester was scored without a hit. Brian Roberts was safe on an error to begin the Yankee third. The next batter, Yangervis Solarte, was hit by a pitch. Gardner pushed them each up one base with a sacrifice bunt. The unearned run was scored on an infield groundout by Jeter.
Lester’s superlative performance of pitching eight innings without allowing an earned run, while only yielding five hits, was last equaled by a Red Sox pitcher in the Bronx when it was accomplished by Lester on July 3, 2008 in the original Yankee Stadium’s final season.
When asked to describe Lester’s outing, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi remarked, “He does what he always does. He cuts it; he sinks it; he locates. He pitched extremely well tonight.”
The leading Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Tanaka, pitched his third complete game of the season. He walked one batter and surrendered seven hits, but only two pitches were responsible for his loss.
Catcher David Ross took a 1-0 pitch into the stands for a solo home run with one out in the third.
The winning run came with two out in the ninth on the 112th pitch thrown by the Yankee starter. With the count 1-2 on Mike Napoli, who had two hits and homered off Tanaka in their previous encounter on April22, Tanka threw a fast ball over the plate that Napoli sent into the right field stands.
Through his translator, Tanaka explained what happened, “The sign was for a breaking ball, but I wanted to go hard outside. That’s why I shook him [catcher Brian McCann] off twice. He asked for a splitter and a slider. I wanted to set up for a breaking ball on the next pitch, but I missed my spot.”
After the game, Girardi was asked why he didn’t remove Tanaka in the ninth. He responded with the following statement, “He’d been excellent all night. His stuff was really outstanding. I liked how he’d been throwing the baseball.”
Neither deserved to lose such a well-pitched game yet one did. Both deserved to win such a well-pitched game yet only one did. That’s baseball, a game of inches.
Posted by Bronx News at 10:39 PM
Monday, June 23, 2014
Friday, June 20, 2014
Bronx News Sports: Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?: Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top? Fans Think So By Rich Mancuso BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- A three-game sweep over Toronto has ...
Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?
Fans Think So
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- A three-game sweep over Toronto has the New York Yankees feeling confident. And it should carry towards more momentum Friday night when the Baltimore Orioles come to Yankee Stadium for three more But the Blue Jays are a team the Yankees have to chase in the AL east and Thursday night they got closer to the first place Jays.
David Phelps continued to be a momentum builder on the mound, and the Yankees once again scored first and tacked on runs. The bullpen took over as the Yankees won their third straight, 4-2.
A week ago, the Yankees had that continued issue of situational hitting missing from the lineup. The captain, Derek Jeter, struggled and Carlos Beltran, one of their key off- season free agent acquisitions, was coming off the disabled list. The past three nights in the Bronx, and against a powerful Toronto lineup, the Yankees looked like a first place team.
They are now tied in the loss column with Toronto, 1/1-2 games from first place. Does a chase for first place in mid-June have anything to do with this resurgence, or is this just the part of a long baseball season?
“There is a lot of meaning to these games,” manager Joe Girardi commented. His team has won seven of their past nine games. “We all understand that, and we know they understand that. When you face each other 19 times, you look to try to catch people, put some distance between some people and win series."
The Yankees swept a series for the fourth time this season. This one, though, had significance with a stretch of 15 consecutive games against divisional opponents. The Orioles will present a challenge and Tampa Bay, in the cellar, always does. These were the first place Blue Jays who have gone 3-9 over their last 12 games, and been on top since the 22nd of May.
"Hey, if you're going to play in prime time, you've got to perform on the big stage and we didn't do it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We're fully capable of doing it. We just didn't do it. It'll be definitely good to move on.”
The Blue Jays move on. They will have time to figure out a way to break a 16-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. Their next stint in the Bronx is scheduled at the end of next month.
The Yankees are looking at the positive side of things. The past three games everything came together, something they projected themselves to do with their off-season spending spree that surpassed $450 million in free agents. Brian McCann, the catcher, who had a go ahead home run the night before, realized the significance of winning three against the front runners.
“We were able to score some runs,” he commented. “Swinging the bat better…It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. We’re putting together better consistent at bats. It’s big to win games. Obviously when you play teams in your division, you want to win.”
McCann is swinging the bat better. “We’re playing better baseball than we were the past couple of weeks,” he said. Jeter has been getting on base, a .405 clip in his last nine games and Brett Gardner, 1-for-3, Thursday night is batting .366, 15-for-41 over his last ten games.
"Big series for us," Adam Warren said. The reliever earned his second save of the season after retiring two Blue Jays’ in the ninth. The closer David Robertson needed a night off after pitching the first two games of the series.
"It's nice to kind of see our team click a little bit and play some good baseball,” said Warren
These are words being said by a Yankees team that was looking for answers last week. That included the final two games out in Oakland that did not go their way. And, yes, everything is clicking, even with this contingency of a starting rotation because three quarters of the regulars are on the disabled list.
Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, and his 11-1 record, the manager is elated what he is getting from Chase Whitley and Vidal Nuno. Then there is David Phelps, (3-4) who tossed seven-innings and gave up two runs with a good back door cutter and curve, but allowed a home run to Melky Cabrera in the third inning.
“Refreshing to see guys like Chase (Whitley), one of the biggest things that motivated me,” Phelps commented. The sweep, it’s huge. We gotta win games against them.”
And winning games during this divisional stretch is what the Yankees did. Time will tell if this division will continue to be bunched with teams in September, and that also includes the Red Sox who may not be ready to give up their World Series crown.
We do know this though: Three games have sent a message that the Yankees intend to be a part of this equation by September.
Yanks Sweep Blue Jays
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- The Yanks 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium gave them a sweep of the three-game series. The win cut the Toronto lead over the second place Yankees to 1.5 games in the American League East. The win was also the 16th straight for the Yankees over the Blue Jays in the Bronx.
As in the previous two starts against the Blue Jays, a combination of effective pitching and timely hitting led to the Yankee victory. Carlos Beltrán, who contributed to the win with two runs driven in, described the three games against Toronto thusly, “We got great outings from our starting pitchers and we scored runs.”
David Phelps, who starts or relieves as the need arises, pitched seven innings on Thursday, which tied for his high for the season. His performance was outstanding as he only yielded six hits and two walks during his stint on the mound.
Only two of the six hits did damage. With two out in the third, Jose Reyes singled. The next batter, Melky Cabrera, delivered. The former Yankee homered to right to drive in two runs. The home run was his second hit of the game and extended his hitting streak against his former team to 19 games, the longest active hitting streak by a player against any team. Cabrera has reached base safely in all his 21 games against the Yankees.
Phelps has not had much difficulty in his four career starts against Toronto, all played in the Bronx. He raised his won/loss mark to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.67. The 27 year-old said, “I expected to be on a longer leash” since relievers Dellin Betances and David Robertson were not available to pitch.
New York, without the luxury of any home runs, used effective at bats to score its six runs. The rare use of “small ball’ was responsible for the Yankee win.
Sacrifice flies by Jacoby Ellsbury in the first, Kelly Johnson in the second and Carlos Beltrán in the third gave the Yankees its first three scored.
Beltrán’s double in the fifth drove in the fourth run for New York. A ground out to short by Derek Jeter in the sixth and a bases loaded walk in the seventh scored the final two runs for the Yankees.
The Baltimore Orioles will be visiting for the three game weekend series. On Saturday a plaque to honor Tino Martinez will be placed in Monument Park. Goose Gossage will be honored with a plaque on Sunday. Also, the annual Old Timers’ Day festivities will take place on Sunday.
Posted by Bronx News at 8:17 AM
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Chasing Success for #Yank Pitcher
Whitley get another quality start and timely hits in win over first place Jays
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 19- Chase Whitley has become valuable to the New York Yankees pitching rotation and there is no telling how more valuable he will become. Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, in his seventh start, Whitley gave manager Joe Girardi another five good innings. A revived Yankees offense got the early lead and tacked on runs.
All is going good again in the Bronx, even the bullpen did their job in a 7-3 win over the first place Toronto Blue Jays.
For the second straight night the Yankees handed the first place Blue Jays a loss, the 25th straight home win over Toronto dating back to September 19, of 2012. But the important point for the Yankees was another win with good pitching, and the timely hit. All of a sudden first place is getting close and that seemed to be slipping away as of a week ago when they lost two of three games out in Oakland.
If they sweep the three-game series Thursday night, well first place will be a game-and-a half away. The Yankees would also be even in the loss column with Toronto.
There are two aspects to consider with the Yankees during this current string of games with opponents from the AL East. One is how the first place Jays suddenly, are not as invincible as they were a week ago. The other is, the Yankees are 6-2 in their last eight games and are doing things that have not been evident much.
And, the unexpected quality starts are contributing to a revival in the Bronx. Whitley allowed two earned runs and improved to 3-0 after starting his season with four straight no decisions.
“Did not know what to expect when he came up,” Girardi said. “We have never seen him as a starter. So our expectations have changed a lot.
The right-hander threw 95 pitches and has been a pleasant addition to the rotation. Whitley made his Major League debut against the cross-town Mets on May 15th after being summoned from Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees needed a starter in the rotation due to their rash of injuries.
He could be here longer, because, Girardi and the Yankees now know what to expect. Whitley has made a claim to stay in the Bronx. Eventually he will increase his length of time on the mound, and he could be a part of a rotation when the inflamed right knee of CC Sabathia heels and that may require more time.
Though he has not been in the Bronx that long, Whitley has adjusted and was talking like a veteran. He said, the command was not his best. He also gave credit to his catcher, Brian McCann who tied a career high with five runs batted in. The big hit was McCann’s two-run homer in the fourth inning that put New York ahead, 3-2.
There is also a difference in the Yankees clubhouse, and winning will do that.
“We’re relaxed and having fun,” Whitley commented. “It comes with winning, that’s contagious.”
He has learned quickly what it takes to be a winning pitcher, and of course the big hit and night from McCann helped the cause.
"It was about time I chipped it in, and tonight was a good night to do that," McCann said. "It was just nice to contribute… on the offensive side for a change." He also had a bases loaded triple, and this is the type of offense the Yankees have been expecting from their catcher who has been struggling to get the big hit at home.
McCann was hitting .174 in June. It was the type of game he needed and it came off the Jays’ best starter, Mark Buehrie, (10-4) who remained winless in his last 13 starts against the Yankees.
Girardi said, “We really believe in him as an offensive force and he showed it tonight. A couple tough lefties he's facing and he drives in five. He's done a great job behind home plate. He's never taken it behind home plate."
He added, “This is the team we are chasing. These games are extremely important playing teams within your own division.”
Two straight wins over Toronto. These are the games the Yankees need to win and they may be doing it at the right time with more than half a season of games left to play. There is no telling where this new feel of winning will take them. For now though, the Yankees are enjoying it and look for the sweep Thursday night.
Posted by Bronx News at 10:20 AM
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Tanaka Terminates Toronto
Raises Mark to 11-1 as Yanks Top Blue Jays
(Photos by Gary Quintal)
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 18- Masahiro Tanaka continued his sensational pitching as he earned his 11th win of the year.
The 3-2 win of the Yanks over the Toronto Blue Jays was the 14th consecutive victory of the Yanks over their Canadian rivals in games played in the Bronx. The victory cut the deficit for the second place Yankees to 3.5 games behind the American League East leading Blue Jays.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi commented, “You want to close as much ground as you can.”
As has happened in each of Tanaka’s 14 games this season, the major story of the game is his performance on the mound. The 25 year-old has thrown a “quality start” in each of his 14 appearances in the majors. He is only the second pitcher to pitch at least six innings and give up three runs or less in each of his first 14 major league starts in more than a century. Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos achieved that feat in 1973.
Former Met shortstop Jose Reyes hit the first pitch of the game into the stands in right for a home run. After the game Tanaka, recalled, “I think it was the first time in my career that I gave up a first pitch home run. It threw me off my rhythm.” After two batters were retired, two Blue Jays batters hit singles in the inning.
Girardi described the first pitch in the following manner, “He [Tanaka] just threw a pitch right down the middle and Reyes knows this park very well.”
Although Tanaka expressed disappointment with his performance after the game, he only yielded two additional hits in the five other innings he pitched. He walked two, yielded five hits and fanned 10, double figures for the fifth time this year. His 113 strikeouts in his first 14 starts in the big leagues is third in history. His season ERA dropped after the contest to a minuscule 1.99.
Most importantly for the Yankees, the Japanese native did not yield a run after his first pitch. He was removed after six because of his pitch count of 104.
Girardi was profuse in his praise of Tanaka throughout the season, “His stuff is pretty good and he knows how to use it and make adjustments. It’s hard not to say that his start is as good as anyone I know. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from anyone. It’s just remarkable.”
Another experienced eye, that of the Yankees veteran captain, Derek Jeter, saw very similar to what the Yankee manager did in watching Tanaka, “He’s pretty much done that every time out. His ability to make adjustments from hitter to hitter is probably the most impressive thing. He makes adjustments throughout the game.”
The self-critical rookie disagreed with the assessments of Jeter and Girardi, “I don’t feel I was making adjustments tonight. I was just trying to keep the ball down.”
However he performed as he has done this season, it should be noted that Tanaka leads the American League in wins, winning percentage and ERA.
The Yankee relievers, Dellin Betances in two innings and David Robertson in the ninth, did not give up a run.
Rookie Chase Whitley and veteran Mark Buehrle will be the starting pitchers in the second game of the three game set on Wednesday night.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Bronx News Sports: Bronx Science Loses PSAL Championship: Bronx Science Loses PSAL Championship By Howard Goldin BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 13 - Two very unlikely public high school baseball te...
Posted by Bronx News at 8:54 AM
Bronx Science Loses PSAL Championship
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 13- Two very unlikely public high school baseball teams met in the PSAL “B” Baseball Championship on Thursday afternoon. Bronx Science (17-4) is one of this nation’s most prestigious academic high schools. It is far more known for winning scholastic awards than sports contests.
Beach Channel (19-2) was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Its students and their families suffered in many ways by the devastating storm. Unbelievably, its baseball team carried a roster of only 12 players this season.
Despite expectations, each team won its conference and defeated each of its opponents in the playoffs to reach the championship encounter. Strangely, each team’s last loss occurred on May 17 and to a similarly named opponent. The Bronx Science Wolverines were defeated by American Studies, 3-2, and the Beach Channel Dolphins lost to the Academy of American Studies, 6-1.
Yankee Stadium, the venue for the championship, was extremely appropriate as it is the site that has flown the most World Series flags in MLB history.
The game was interesting and competitive but was played somewhat sloppily. Although 12 runs were scored in the game, there were only 12 hits. More than three dozen batters ended their at bats without hitting the ball in fair territory, 23 batters struck out, 14 walked and one was hit by a pitch. There were also a number of errors, wild pitches and passed balls.
A run was not scored in the first three frames, and David Polanco, the right fielder of the Dolphins, had the only hit.
Both teams pushed runs across the plate in the fourth. Science hurler Glenn Price created his own problem by walking the first five batters of the inning. Catcher josph Colandra and centerfielder Antonio Moccia received RBIs for their bases loaded walks. The final two runs were driven in on a single by pitcher Kelly Aponte.
The Wolverines cut the lead in half with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Consecutive single by Benjamin Kravitz, Daniel Bomfiglia and Glenn Price aided by two Beach Channel errors led to the runs.
Each team scored a single run in the sixth to keep the Dolphins advantage at two, 5-3.
In the seventh, three Science hits and two walks tied the score and filled the bases with one out. A fly to Moccia in center was caught and Moccia’s throw nailed Kravitz at the plate for an inning ending double play. The coach of the Dolphins, John Mangieri, described the play as “a big league play and a big league throw.”
Moccia tried to deflect the praise to Colandra, the catcher by saying, “You couldn’t ask for a better catcher.”
A diverse but effective ninth inning for the Dolphins, error, hit batsman, walk and two singles produced two runs and a 7-5 victory and a first city championship for Beach Channel.
Mangieri saluted his entire team, “I’m proud of my boys and what we’ve overcome. They’ve been fearless from the beginning. I used everyone [all 12 players]. I tried to do the right thing. They were excited [to be at Yankee Stadium] but pretty relaxed during the game.”
Posted by Bronx News at 8:53 AM
Friday, June 6, 2014
Bronx News Sports: Tanaka is Only Bright Spot for Yanks: Tanaka is Only Bright Spot for Yanks By Howard Goldin BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 6- The Yankees ended their most recent homestand on Thu...
Tanaka is Only Bright Spot for Yanks
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 6- The Yankees ended their most recent homestand on Thursday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees have achieved a victory in 10 of the 12 games Masahiro Tanaka has started. The win ended a four-game losing streak for the club.
Tanaka is continuing in the month of June what he accomplished during May. Tanaka excelled during his six starts in May. He compiled a record of 5-1 with a miniscule ERA of 1.88. The 25 year-old kept his pinpoint control throughout the previous month by averaging one walk per appearance yet fanning one per inning. His achievements on the mound earned him the award as Pitcher of the Month in the American League. He is the first Yankee rookie hurler to achieve that distinction.
With one out in the first inning on Thursday, Oakland’s catcher John Jaso took the first pitch from Tanaka into the rightfield stands. The home run was the first yielded by the right-hander in more than one month (May 3).
The four bagger did not disturb the Japanese native as he retired the next 10 batters he faced.
With two out in the fourth, he gave up successive singles, but retired the last batter with a strikeout. The first Oakland batter in the next frame singled. With two out, Tanaka walked his only batter of the game. The inning ended with a pop out. In the sixth, Tanaka’s final inning, one batter singled but never reached second.
Tanaka was removed after six. Yankee manager Joe Girardi explained the reasoning, “I think he threw 50 pitches in the last two innings. We felt fatigue had set in and it was time to take him out.”
Although it was his shortest performance in number of innings, Girardi expressed great admiration for how well he pitched, “He never let up and got the big outs he needed. It was a gritty performance on his part. [it was] maybe his biggest performance for us.”
Although Girardi did not want to call Tanaka the ace of the staff, he did so in other words, “He stepped up and kind of assumed that role. He’s going to give you distance, shut down the other team and give you a chance to win.”
Catcher Brian McCann took no credit for the starter’s excellence, “Stuffwise it was all there. He pitched great.”
An example of how Tanaka impressed the opposing batters follows. Rightfielder Stephen Voigt commented, “He stays on the corners. He keeps us off balance. His stuff is so good. “ [Despite Tanaka’s talent] I thought we had good at bats all day.”
Tanka admitted the team he faced for the first time was very difficult, “It was a tough game. They [Athletics] were resilient. They don’t give in.”
The rookie pitcher remained with Steve Rogers of the Montreal Expos as the only two pitchers in more than a century to pitch at least six innings and give up three or fewer runs in their first 12 major league starts.
All Yankees fans eagerly await Tanaka’s next start.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Ellsbury Can’t Save Yanks
Yankees Home Woes Continue; Lose Fourth Straight
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 5- The Yankees continue to falter at their home ballpark. The 7-4 loss to Oakland on Wednesday night was their fourth straight defeat at home. They have lost 12 of their last 16 games in the Bronx. The combination of poor hitting, especially in the clutch, and lack of dependability from the relief corps has resulted in many recent defeats.
A base on balls to Ichiro Suzuki and three consecutive hits, a single by Brett Gardner, an infield single by Derek Jeter, and a three-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury provided the Yanks with a four-run inning and a 4-0 lead at the end of three innings.
Unfortunately for the home team, the third was the only inning in which the Yankees scored. During their final five frames, the Yankees only managed two singles. To make matters worse for them, the Athletics scored seven unanswered runs to achieve a victory.
The versatility of Oakland is shown by the variety of ways their runs on Wednesday were driven in. Three were scored on solo home runs. Cuban native Yoenis Cespedes blasted his 11th of the season in the fourth and his 12th two innings later. Third sacker Josh Donaldson lifted his 16th into the stands in the seventh.
Three other runs did not need base hits to move an Oakland runner across the plate. Sacrifice flies by Jed Lowrie in the third, Alberto Callaspo in the sixth and Kyle Blanks in the ninth were as meaningful as the four baggers.
Another strange manner of scoring occurred in the ninth as Brandon Moss was hit by a pitch of Wade LeBlanc in his first game as a Yankee.
Yankee starter Vidal Nuño gave up two runs in 4.2 innings, but the relievers gave up five in 4.1. Matt Daley gave up two, Leblanc surrendered two, and in his major league debut, Jose Ramirez yielded a home run to Donaldson in the seventh, which earned him the loss.
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said, “It’s a product of not having your bullpen set up the way you want it.”
The passing of Don Zimmer was of far more importance than the loss of a single ballgame. The feisty, colorful, knowledgeable and fun loving individual was a fixture in MLB for 66 years. He was remembered with much emotion by those who knew him well for his time as a Yankee coach.
After the game, Girardi recalled, “I was with him in 10 of my first 11 years. Wherever he went, I went. He was a close friend. I’m going to miss him. Our relationship was always close. He gave me my first opportunity. It’s going to be really strange not to see him.”
Another scene of the evening at Yankee Stadium that had greater meaning than the final score was the thoughtful treatment received by 12-year-old Matthew Miller of Queens and his family by CC Sabathia. Miller was severely injured and his 7 year-old brother Chris killed in a house fire at the start of 2014. Sabathia tried to provide some happy memories for the family who came as his guests for on-the-field activities.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
We Miss Mo!
Bullpen Continues to Cost Yanks a Win
as Pitchers Sputter from Loss of Mariano Rivera
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 4- Close games are costing the New York Yankees this season and no longer having the reliable Mariano Rivera could be a reason. The Yankees were prepared for the inevitable day when closing a game would not be routine when Rivera retired. In two of the last three games they realized more how much Rivera meant.
The bullpen implosion led to the Yankees third straight loss, 5-2, on a long Tuesday night in the Bronx in a game that was delayed over an hour by rain. And there are two more games with Oakland to close the home stand before another long road trip.
It was the Twins on Sunday when the Yankees pen imploded. Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, in the Oakland Athletics 10th inning, there was another implosion. Oakland scored three-runs off Adam Warren, and what was left of the 41,677 in attendance realized again the Yankees without Rivera are very beatable.
The Yankees are no longer a power threat and lacking a run producing lineup, so much different when Rivera was closing another win. Close games in the late innings are not a guaranteed win, evident by the extra inning loss and the second home run of the night by Brandon Moss, in the 10th off Warren that broke a 2-2 tie.
To say there is panic or that the Yankees are in deep trouble, it is still early with a third of the season complete. However, if close games are continually lost by the bullpen implosion, as has been the case as of late, then there is reason to panic.
“They are not going to be perfect they have been a big part of wins this year and not going to always be perfect,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi commented. The reference was to the reliable Dellin Betances who has been unstoppable, but finally had an implosion
The closer, David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth but gave away the lead Sunday. Betances had not walked a batter in his previous 10 appearances but, with two outs in the eighth inning Albert Callaspo got one. Pinch hitter Stephen Vogt followed and on a full count hit a tying double into the right center field gap.
And, as good as Betances has been, you can’t pitch like that to the A’s who happen to have the best run producing offense in baseball.
"I felt good,” Betances explained in a quiet Yankees clubhouse. “I just think the two-out walk hurt. I had him in my head and I just did not put him away I think from there I just fell behind on Vogt and just threw him a good pitch to hit. I think Callaspo, that at-bat was more frustrating."
Frustrating is the word Girardi used as his Yankees at 29-28, are in danger of falling to the .500 mark if they lose the second game of the three-game series tonight. It is not only the pen, but an anemic offense that showed some hope with a solo home run from Mark Teixeira in the sixth, his team leading 10th that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead off A’s starter Scott Kazmir.
Teixeira got clearance to start after missing the last two games with a sore right wrist. He has driven in 21 runs in his last 25 games, but when the wrist that is still heeling from surgery becomes bothersome, Teixeira, who appears to be the lone home run threat in this lineup, will have to sit down.
But it is the bullpen implosion that has the Yankees concerned. And without that late Hall of Fame closer no longer around, the Yankees have realized how different the late innings have become.