Category: Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner was named the American League Player of the Week

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner, who is in his eighth year with the Yankees, was the AL Player of the Week for the week of June 22-28. He had an outstanding .500 (13/26)/.581/.885 slash line with two homers, four doubles, six RBIs and nine runs scored during the previous week. In the last six games, his average has improved from .279 to .300. The Yankees went 3-3 in those six games.

He has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. Ellbury, who completed one final running test before the game on Sunday in front of Joe Girardi and Yankees personnel, was to begin a minor league rehab assignment today. He had a .324 average with a homer, six RBIs and 14 steals in 37 games as of May 19 when he went on the disabled list due to right knee sprain.

Gardner will likely go back to hitting second in the lineup when Ellsbury finishes his minor league rehab at the end of the week. When Ellsbury is healthy, the Yankees will have two players capable of wreaking havoc at the top of the order who can steal bases, get on base at a high rate and score a lot of runs.

Gardner, who went to the College of Charleston and is from South Carolina, has been hitting very well for all of June and especially the previous 10 games. Gardner has an outstanding seven multi-hit games in his his previous 10 games, and in the month of June he has a higher than normal .343 (35-102) average with two homers, nine doubles, 18 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

He has only missed six out of the 76 games this season, which proves how durable he has been. Besides Sunday’s game when he let a ball drop between him and Garrett Jones, he has played outstanding defense the whole season. He is locked in at the plate right now and his 19 doubles are tied for fifth in the American League, his 58 runs scored are tied for first in the AL, his .373 on-base percentage is 12th in the AL and his 15 steals are tied for second in the league.

He will be batting leadoff once again tonight in the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. During their series in Houston against the Astros the Yankees (41-35) won two games and lost two games. Jose Pirela will play second with Stephen Drew getting the night off and John Ryan Murphy will be behind the plate with Brian McCann getting the game off due to a lefty pitching.

The Yankees lost to the Red Sox on Tuesday as Shane Greene had his worst start of his season

Brett Gardner spiked his helmet on Tuesday.

Brett Gardner spiked his helmet on Tuesday.

The Yankees lost a deflating 9-4 game to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. This was the first game of their nine-game home stand. They didn’t play well overall as they made base-running mistakes, didn’t get a good start from Shane Greene and didn’t get hits with runners on base once again. 

Shane Greene, who had a 3.09 ERA in nine starts coming into the game, had by far his worst start of his rookie season. He allowed six runs, which included a three-run homer to Daniel Nava and a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts, in only 2.2 innings. That was only Nava’s third homer of the season and his last one came on April 15. “I just didn’t think his location was very good today. He just had a tough start tonight,” Joe Girardi said. “Greeny has thrown the ball well for us all along and he just had a tough start tonight.” 

Greene also allowed two runs in the first off of a RBI double to deep left by Yoenis Cespedes and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli that scored David Ortiz. Greene was flat out not able to locate his pitches like he had in his previous starts.

Esmil Rogers pitched 1.1 innings after Greene was taken out with two outs in the third, but Rogers gave up a homer to Mookie Betts for Boston’s seventh run. The Red Sox would have won the game on only the homers they hit because the three that they slugged accounted for five runs and the Yankees only scored four.

The Yankees scored four runs, which is more than they scored on Saturday and Sunday combined, but they had chances to add on many more runs. The Yankees left six runners on base, were only 2-7 with runners in scoring position with Jacoby Ellsbury going 0-3 and they grounded into two double plays.

In the fifth inning, with the Yankees losing 7-1 after Martin Prado’s homer in the third inning, Prado made a base running mistake after hitting a single to deep left since he thought Carlos Beltran would have scored on the play with Brian McCann advancing to third. He was not paying attention and was out at second, which caused there to be runners on second and third with one out instead of bases loaded with no outs. Chase Headley would walk to load the bases and Joe Kelly walked Francisco Cervelli on a 3-1 pitch to score the Yankees’ second run.

Ellsbury could have put the Yankees back in the game with a double, but he lined out to the shortstop with the bases loaded. Derek Jeter got an infield single to score the third run after the original out call was reversed. The Yankees didn’t come through with runners in scoring position once again when Brett Gardner struck out looking to end the 5th inning. The pitch was clearly about a foot outside and Gardner ended up being thrown out of the game because he spiked his helmet.   

“We all know Gardy knowns the strike zone. He got frustrated with him and I think most people would have,” Girardi said. This is regarding Gardner getting kicked out of the game. Girardi thought the pitch should have been called a ball and definitely trusts Gardner’s knowledge of the strike zone. “I saw the replay of it, obviously it was outside, about where I thought it was. My emotions just got the best of me,” Gardner said. He was obviously frustrated because he struck out at a crucial point of the game and it was also the home plate umpire’s second missed call with him at the plate. 

The Red Sox are currently in last by 5.5 games, and if they end up finishing the season in last place in the AL East they will only be the second team to finish in last place after winning the World Series the previous season. 

In the sixth-inning, McCann hit into a double play to end the inning. This would happen again in the seventh-inning as Cervelli hit into a double play with Chase Headley on first and Prado on second. Prado advanced to third on the double play, but Ellsbury flied out to right for another unsuccessful at-bat with a runner in scoring position. 

McCann hit a home run to right in the ninth off of Koji Uehara, but it was meaningless as a result of Greene having his worst start of the season at the wrong time and the offense not producing for yet another game. It also didn’t help that they combined to strikeout a combined nine times. 

The Yankees are now 33-32 at Yankee Stadium this season and they only average 3.6 runs at home. “This series is extremely important and this is not how your want to start out the series,” Girardi said. 

The Yankees will have to rebound from yesterday’s loss without Prado’s offense. He has a mild left hamstring strain and is hoping to return to the lineup in a day or two. The Yankees and Cleveland Indians are now both five games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot.

Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game will be started by the veteran Hiroki Kuroda who will be looking to get the team back in the win column. He is coming off of a start where he only allowed two runs in seven innings.  

The offense was only 1-8 with runners in scoring position in the loss to the Astros

Michael Pineda

Michael Pineda

The Yankees lost to the Houston Astros, 5-2, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. It was their second consecutive loss to the Astros and they are now 1-3 against Houston, who have a 54-73 record.

The Yankees are now 2-7 in their last nine games and a major reason for that is that they have not scored more than four runs in any of their last nine games. In fact, they have scored four runs twice in those nine games and have scored two or fewer runs four times.

In Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees actually out hit the Astros 10-9, but the Yankees only went 1-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Mark Teixeira was 0-4 and 0-2 with runners in scoring position. Martin Prado and Brian McCann were also 0-4.

There were plenty of opportunities for the home team to score runs. Teixeria had a 3-0 count with runners on first and second in the first inning but ended up striking out. McCann popped out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the first. Brett Gardner grounded out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the second.

In the fifth inning, Derek Jeter grounded out to third with Ichiro Suzuki on second with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury’s bunt single that scored Ichiro was the only hit that the Yankees had with runners in scoring position. The Yankees continued to be unsuccessful with runners in scoring position and two outs as Ellsbury struck out with runners on second and third to end the seventh inning.

I don’t see them doing anything different than they are in their other at-bats, we are just not getting it done,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes it is a little bit foul, sometimes they just miss out, we are just not getting it done. These guys get better every day and it is just not happening.” 

Michael Pineda had his second consecutive impressive start since coming off of the disabled list. In his first start, he allowed one run in five innings, and on Wednesday, he allowed two runs in six innings and deserved to get the win. He had three strikeouts and only gave up four hits in six innings. He was taken out of the game after throwing only 89 pitches, and Joe Girardi could have left him in longer since Dellin Betances and David Robertson were both not available. 

Pineda said that coming out of the game after allowing a walk to Jason Castro in the seventh was out of his control. “I am feeling good, I had good energy, but I don’t have control for this situation,” Pineda said. “Today it was a pretty good slider.”

After David Huff gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez, Esmil Rogers allowed three runs on four consecutive singles, including a two-run single to Robbie Grossman. Only two of those runs were charged to him as a result of Pineda’s walk and single that Huff allowed. The results in the seventh might have been different if Pineda was still pitching or if Shawn Kelley or Betances were pitching. 

With their last two losses, the Yankees are now five games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card. After Thursday’s series finale, the Yankees will play three games at home against the Chicago White Sox, who are 59-68 and in fourth place in the AL Central. The Yankees need to win the last four games of the homestand in order to make up ground and have a chance of playing meaningful games down the stretch. 

Thursday’s game will be a matinee at 1:05 p.m. Brandon McCarthy will look to allow two runs or fewer for his seventh time in eight starts with the team, but it is just as important that the offense finally score more than four runs. 

Hiroki Kuroda and Brett Gardner led the Yankees to a win over the Tampa Bay Rays

Hiroki Kuroda pitching.

Hiroki Kuroda pitching.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Sunday afternoon to give them their second consecutive win and a much needed series win at Tropicana Field. Hiroki Kuroda only allowed four hits and two runs in 6.2 innings, and Kuroda, who threw 97 pitches, impressively did not pitch much worse after he threw 80 pitches like he had in previous starts. 

Kuroda won his eighth game of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.97. He was impressively able to retire 17 consecutive batters between the first inning and the seventh inning. Evan Longoria drove in the first run off of Kuroda in the first inning and he drove in the second run in the seventh on a single that scored Matt Joyce. Kuroda credited his extra rest with his improved performance. 

“I think so,” Kuroda said. “The two extra days, I was able to physically get refreshed as well as mentally. For me, I think my slider, especially against the right handed hitters, was pretty decent.”

The offense supported Kuroda on Sunday, which has not happened in many other games that he has pitched for the Yankees. The first three runs that the Yankees scored were off of singles. In the fifth inning, Brett Gardner hit a single to center that scored Stephen Drew and Martin Prado and then Jacoby Ellsbury broke his 17 at-bat hitless streak with a single between the shortstop and third baseman that sent Gardner home to make the score 3-1. Jeremy Hellickson, who pitched five innings, allowed the three runs in the fifth with two outs. 

In the eighth inning, to give the Yankees an insurance run, Mark Teixeira hit a 403-foot homer to right-center. That homer was his 20th homer of the season, which means that Teixeira now has 11 20-homer seasons. He is the 14th player in Major League history to hit 20 homers in at least 11 of his first 12 seasons. His 361st career home run tied legendary Yankee Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on the all-time list.   

We hadn’t played well the first few games of the road trip, so it is really good bouncing back the way we did the last few games,” Teixeira said. “Hellickson was really good. He was mixing up his pitches. Give the guys credit, that two-out rally really gave us a shot in the arm. Other than that, he was really impressive. Anytime you get men on base and have a chance to score runs when your team’s not scoring runs, you’ve got to try to take advantage of it. And we did.” 

The bullpen came through for Kuroda as well and was better than in previous games behind him since they had lost five games for him this season. Kuroda left with a 3-2 lead, and Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined to allow only one hit in 2.1 innings. Kelley struck out the only batter he faced and then Betances’s two strikeouts in the eighth increased his season total to an impressive 109. Robertson recorded his 33rd save in 35 chances in his first season replacing Mariano Rivera as closer.

After previously struggling mightily with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are now an improved .364 with RISP over their last two games. They still only scored four and three runs in their last two games, respectively, but they will have to continue hitting well with runners in scoring position to continue winning games. 

As a result of their last two wins, the Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. After an off-day on Monday, they will play three games against the Houston Astros and then three against the Chicago White Sox.

The Astros and White Sox have a .416 and .476 winning percentage, respectively, which makes winning those two series very important because the Yankees have the hardest remaining schedule of all 19 remaining playoff contenders, according to Jeff Passan. Of their final 30 games, 27 are against teams in the American League East. 

Brett Gardner and Stephen Drew helped the Yankees edge the Red Sox in the series finale

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner

The Yankees edged the Boston Red Sox 8-7 on Sunday Night Baseball. They won the second and third games of the series after losing the first against their rivals at Fenway Park, and ended their road trip to Arlington and Boston with a 3-3 record.

David Phelps got the start for the Yankees and was not able to give the Yankees the quality innings that he had in his previous starts. Phelps had a 3.29 ERA in his last nine starts, but he allowed five runs in two innings Sunday night. The Yankees were able to get their second win in a row because of a great offensive output, but Phelps might have to miss his next start because of right elbow inflammation.

“We will see how he is tomorrow,” Girardi said. “He was pitching well. He had an MRI (a few weeks ago) and the tests came back negative. I think he will pitch again, but it might not be his next start.” The inflammation is a little worse now, but Girardi didn’t seem too concerned.

Going back to the win against the Rangers on July 29, the Yankees have scored a combined 26 runs in their last three wins and 14 runs in their last two wins. Brett Gardner and Stephen Drew, who was acquired just before the trade deadline from the Red Sox, drove in a combined seven of the eight runs. Gardner drove in three including his homer off of Craig Breslow, and Drew had four RBIs from a fielder’s choice, a double and a single.

Gardner was only a triple away from the cycle. He hit .478 with five homers on the six-game road trip. His homer in the sixth, which ended up being the game winner, was his 15th of the season after hitting a career-high of eight in the 2013 season. Gardner’s double to deep right scored Carlos Beltran and Drew to tie the score at three. He has been an offensive catalyst and has given the team many more homers than Girardi expected.

“Hopefully we can take this game home with us, get on a roll against the Tigers and maybe get a little winning streak going,” Gardner said.

Drew has made a seamless transition to second base after not playing the position in his previous eight seasons in the majors. To end the second inning, Drew made an outstanding play where he caught a grounder near second base and was able to throw across his body to Mark Teixeira at first for the out. His single in the fifth that scored Brian McCann and Chase Headley tied the score at seven.

Girardi thought Drew would be able to play second and he has not disappointed. “It looks like he has done it before,” Girardi said. “We thought he would be able to do it, and it looks like he can.”

Drew has a .272 average in his three games with the Yankees, and in 16 games since 7/11 he has hit .268, which is a great improvement from his first 25 games. Drew has a career average of .261 and a .183 average right now, which proves that he should continue hitting the way he has recently and not how he hit earlier in the season.

Headley drove in the run that wasn’t one of the seven credited to Gardner or Drew. Headley’s double to left in the fifth sent Beltran home for his second run scored of the game. After Headley’s hit on Sunday, he has one hit or more in 10 of his 12 games since coming to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres. Headley and Drew have both proven to be quality additions by Cashman since they have performed so far and are upgrades at their respective positions.

After Chase Whitley allowed two runs in relief of Phelps, Esmil Rogers, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined to throw five hitless innings. Rogers was acquired off of waivers from the Blue Jays on July 31, and he was able to win his first game with the Yankees after not allowing a hit in three innings and striking out three. Rogers had a 6.97 ERA before being sent to the minors by the Blue Jays on May 21, but he pitched very well in AAA and could replace Phelps if his inflammation keeps him out.

Betances, after hitting triple digits on Saturday, had two strikeouts and picked up his 17th hold of the season, and Robertson recorded his 29th save in 31 chances. Robertson was helped by Brock Holt lining into a double play as a result of Mookie Betts attempting to steal.

Pineda threw 94 MPH 3.1 innings on Sunday for the AAA Scranton RailRiders. He allowed three hits and no runs in his 58 pitches. This is an encouraging sign and could mean that he will only need one more rehab start. If Phelps only misses one start, Pineda would likely replace Chris Capuano.

The Yankees are now 47-2 when leading after eight innings. This was their eighth straight comeback win.

The Bronx Bombers will start a seven-game homestand with a four-game series against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers on Monday. It will be Brandon McCarthy, who has a 2.55 ERA in four starts with the Yankees, against Max Scherzer, who is 13-3 and won the Cy Young last season. The Yankees are five games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first in the AL East and only 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild-Card.

The Yankees’ struggling offense led to the Rangers winning their first series since the end of June

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night, and in turn ended up losing the series to the last place Rangers. The Rangers had lost their last seven consecutive series, going back to the end of June, before winning two out of three at Globe Life Park against the Yankees. Derek Jeter, who had a pre-game ceremony with George Bush, Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young before going 0-4, received a standing ovation before his final at-bat.

The theme of the game was once again offensive ineptitude by the Yankees. Brett Gardner hit a solo homer to leadoff the game to deep right near the Right Field Grill. This was his fourth homer of the series in which he hit .571. The Yankees would load the bases with two outs, but Francisco Cervelli grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit his ninth homer of the season to right center in the third inning. That would be the last run that the Yankees would score since they only had two hits besides those two homers. Carlos Beltran had two hits, but they were both singles. Cervelli had his 10-game hitting streak end and the Yankees ended the game with 19 consecutive outs after Ellsbury’s homer. They also had six strikeouts and only two walks.

“I thought we hit some balls pretty good and just didn’t have much to show for it,” Joe Girardi said. “We need consistency in our offense. We just didn’t score enough runs.” Not scoring enough runs was a huge understatement. Colby Lewis, the journeyman starting pitcher, had a 6.23 ERA coming into the game, and the Yankees were only able to score two runs in seven innings off of him. Not including Tuesday’s game in which the Yankees won 12-11, they only scored four runs combined against the worst team in baseball.

Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs in the first inning, as Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Leonis Martin drove in runs, but he rebounded to not allow any runs in the next six innings. He pitched well enough to get the win, but the offense was once again not able to help him. He has pitched the most quality starts while getting a loss of any pitcher in baseball since his career began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

Kuroda was helped by a successful wheel play in the fourth inning by Chase Headley to get J.P. Arencibia out at third, and by getting Rougned Odor to strike out and Shin-Soo Choo to ground out with runners on first and second in the sixth.

The Yankees are 5-29 when they score two runs or less, which proves that the Yankees have scored two runs or less many times, and that Brian Cashman needs to acquire an outfielder who will be an improvement over Ichiro Suzuki in right before the 4:00 p.m. July 31 trade deadline.

The Yankees began their 16-game stretch after the All-Star break with a 7-1 record, but they have gone 1-4 since then. That includes losing the last two games to the Toronto Blue Jays and two out of three to the Rangers. It was important that the Yankees score a lot of runs off of Lewis, but with the loss, the Yankees now have scored four runs or fewer in nine of their past 11 games.

July 31 will bring an off day, and then the Yankees will start a three-game weekend series against the rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. They need to win two or three games in order to keep pace and/or make up ground in the wild card and division standings.

The Yankees won a rain-shortened game on Wednesday for their fifth win in six games

David Phelps throwing a pitch against the Blue Jays

David Phelps throwing a pitch against the Blue Jays

The Yankees won a rain-shortened 2-1 4.5 inning game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. The game was official because the Rangers had finished batting in the fifth inning. It was the fifth win in six games for the Yankees since the All-Star break ended. The Yankees have now won two dramatic games in a row as Chase Headley hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning on Tuesday.

The rain delay started at 8:46 and the game was not called until 10:35. The grounds crew had trouble getting the tarp on the field because the severe storm came on all of a sudden, which caused the infield to not be playable when the rain stopped. After allowing one run and three strikeouts in five innings, David Phelps has now impressively allowed two runs or less in each of his last five starts.

(I felt) good,” Phelps said. “I thought my command was pretty good. I stayed away from the middle of the plate for the most part.” Since before his two runs or less streak began on June 24, he has lowered his ERA from a mediocre 4.35 to a much more respectable 3.77. He was able to out pitch rangers starter Yu Darvish, whose 2.92 ERA is ninth in the American League.

Darvish, who is in his third season with the Rangers since coming over from Japan, allowed both of his runs in the third inning. Francisco Cervelli, who was on third after hitting a double and being advanced to third on Brendan Ryan’s groundout, scored on a balk by Darvish. Cervelli, who went 2-2, has given the offense a boost when he has played since he has a .379 in his last nine games.

Brett Gardner scored the Yankees second run two batters after Cervelli crossed home plate for the first run. Gardner hit his 10th homer of the season, which is his career-high and already two more than he hit all of last season.

Gardner credited his increased power to working with hitting coach Kevin Long. “Just being more aggressive, working with Kevin Long and trying to stay consistent,” Gardner said.

For Phelps, the most important out that he recorded ended up being his last one. Leonys Martin was on third base, but then Phelps was able to get Chris Gimenez to foul out to Cervelli and Rougned Odor to strikeout swinging.

On July 23, 1999, 15 years ago, Derek Jeter had a walk-off hit in extra innings against the Cleveland Indians. During Tuesday’s game, Jeter added to his long list of accomplishments by  passing Lou Gehrig for sole possession of 1st place on the Yankees all-time doubles list.

Coming into the fourth game of the series, at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday, the last place Rangers have lost 26 of their past 29 games. The Yankees, who are now three games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East and half a game behind the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card, will look to win their second series in a row.

Brandon McCarthy will pitch for the Yankees and the struggling veteran righty Colby Lewis will get the start for the Rangers. McCarthy, whose season ERA is 4.63, has an outstanding 1.96 ERA in three July starts, which includes two with the Yankees.