The Yankees are playing the Oakland Athletics, who have the worst record in the American League (19-33), at O.co Coliseum in the fourth game of their series. They are trying to even the series at two after winning Saturday’s game 5-3. In Saturday’s win, Carlos Beltran drove in three of the five runs and now has one or more hits in 16 of his last 17 games. Beltran’s has really improved offensively in May as his average was .181 on May 1 and it is now .245 after his two hits on Saturday.
The Yankees (26-24) are now miraculously a game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East. The AL East is the most mediocre division in baseball as it is the only division with only one team above .500. The second place Rays are 25-25 and have lost seven of their last 10 games, the third place Baltimore Orioles are 23-25 and the last place Boston Red Sox are six games under .500 and only four games out of first place.
Winning this final game of the series is important so that they can go into their series in Seattle against the Mariners with some momentum. Adam Warren, who has dominated in his last two starts, is the starter for the Yankees. Brian McCann and Stephen Drew both have the game off. This is the lineup for Sunday’s game.
Brett Gardner CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran RF
Ramon Flores LF
John Ryan Murphy C
Didi Gregorius SS
Jose Pirela 2B
The Yankees lost two out of three games to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend at Tropicana Field. However, after their 3-2 win on Sunday led by Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Ivan Nova, they are now once again 3.5 games behind the second Wild-Card spot. The Oakland Athletics lost to the Baltimore Orioles causing the Yankees to move up in the standings.
Last night’s win was a big one because the Yankees can’t afford to lose three games in a row for the rest of the season. It was even more important since they were able to gain ground after Oakland’s loss and their extra-inning win.
The Yankees won in dramatic fashion as Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Alfonso Soriano in the top of the eleventh, and Mariano Rivera retired the side in order in the bottom of the eleventh for his final save at Tropicana Field. Soriano truly did all he could to score the run that put the Yankees ahead as he doubled and then recorded a clutch steal of third. If the Yankees end up getting a Wild-Card, Soriano’s steal of third could be a key play that pushed the Yankees over the hump.
Granderson made an outstanding catch to end the game in foul territory to allow Rivera to record his 38th save of the season and his 646th save of his Hall of Fame career.
Ivan Nova gave the Yankees a much needed solid start. He only allowed two runs in 6.2 innings, which is much better than his last start where he allowed four runs in 6.1 innings. The one negative is that he walked a season-high six batters (one intentional) in the start against the Rays, which is a number he obviously wants to avoid the rest of the season, but he showed the ability to get out of jams as he has many times previously. Overall, Nova has been the team’s second best starter this season after Hiroki Kuroda.
Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a much needed offensive lift during the afternoon game inside The Trop. Cano was 3-5 with a homer that went just over the wall in left and an RBI double. He drove in two of the team’s three runs and leads the team in homers and RBI. In his last seven games, Cano has recorded two homers and eight RBI.
Another positive offensively was that Soriano had two hits in five at-bats. He had only had two hits in his previous 27 at-bats, which makes it important that his two-hit game is the start of an offensive hot streak. It is hard to really take away from Soriano because he was on fire before this cold streak, but the Yankees surely need Soriano to be an offensive catalyst against the Blue Jays and Orioles in the coming week. (This is not all that surprising because Soriano has been a hot and cold hitter throughout a career, but one who really has the power to carry a team for prolonged stretches.)
The Yankees are 12-1 against the Blue Jays so far this season. It is important that they continue that dominance by sweeping the last place Blue Jays so that they can go into the Orioles series with momentum and make up ground on Oakland.
A positive sign for the Yankees is that their captain, Derek Jeter, will make his return to the team for the third time. Hopefully after playing three games for the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders he will be back for good. Eduardo Nunez, who has shown some flashes this season, will now go back to his more suitable back-up srole.
The schedule will allow the Yankees to have an opportunity to make up the 3.5 games because they have 15 games against last place teams (Toronto, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros) and the rest of their games are against teams that are ahead of them in the division.
In the series finale against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees lost 3-2 in 18 innings. Oakland swept the Yankees in the three-game set, as their offense continues to struggle. The Yankees have not scored more than four runs since their 6-1 win over the Mariners. They have gone 2-4 since then.
The Yankees had many opportunities to win the game as they left 11 runners on base from the 10th until the 14th inning. In the 11th, they had the bases loaded and were unable to score, and in the 13th, the Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs and failed to get a clutch hit.
The only runs of the game for the Yankees would be when Robinson Cano hit a homer that scored Brett Gardner in the first. Then, the Yankees would combine for the equivalent of two games of scoreless baseball.
Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis, who were the four, five and six hitters, respectively, combined to go 0-20 with nine strikeouts. Those three, who should be relied upon to drive in runs, also combined to leave 17 batters on base. They will have to start to hit in the series against the Angels.
It is alarming that they have lost their last three games against the Athletics because they are now 14-19 against teams that currently have a winning record. It is a positive sign that they are able to beat teams under .500, but the Yankees have to be able to swing the bats in order to make the playoffs. They are currently in a half-a-game behind behind the Orioles and Rangers for the Wild-Card and 3.0 games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Hiroki Kuroda had yet another dominating performance as he allowed only two runs and two hits in eight innings, but the offense needs to give the starter more run support.
Adam Warren’s performance out of the bullpen, where he threw six masterful shutout innings after the ninth inning, was wasted as a result of the previously stated incompetence by the offense.
This game lasted a startling five hours and thirty-five minutes, had 510 pitches, 14 pitchers combined and it the first time that the Yankees played a game of at least 18 innings since Sept. 11, 1988.
These are the starters that the Yankees and Athletics (16-13) will send out during the three-game weekend series. These will be the final three games of the 10-game home stand that the Yankee have had. They have so far gone 6-1.
Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Ace of the staff CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.35 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (2-2, 4.65 ERA)
Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
The resurgent Phil Hughes (0-2, 4.67 ERA) vs. the ageless former Yankee, Bartolo Colon (3-0, 3.38 ERA)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Andy Pettitte (3-2, 3.86 ERA), who is coming off his first sub-par start of the season will be opposed by Dan Straily (1-0, 6.35 ERA)
In more disabled list news, Joba Chamberlain was put on the 15-day DL as a result of a strained oblique. Relief pitcher Preston Claiborne was called up from AAA Scranton to replace him on the roster. He can add more depth in the bullpen.
However, he will not be able to be relied upon like Joba Chamberlain was. Claiborne deserved to be called up because he had 10 strikeouts and only one walk in 10.1 innings pitched for the RailRiders. With Robertson sidelined for this series it seems like Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan will setup Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees (17-10) have also recently called up Vidal Nuno from their AAA affiliate. With the recent injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and Chamberlain the Bronx Bombers now have a grand total of 10 players on the disabled list. They have shown the ability to overcome adversity so far this season since all of the major replacements have performed admirably. One player the Yankees can’t afford to have injured is Robinson Cano, who leads the team in average, homers, RBI and runs.
In CC Sabathia’s last start he allowed three runs in eight innings in a win against Toronto. He is the pitcher that the Yankees want pitching tonight because he should be able to limit the innings pitched from the bullpen. Griffin has struggled this season for the A’s, but in 2012 he had a 3.06 ERA, which means the Yankees could have to play small ball. For the A’s, Coco Crisp has eight steals for far, so Austin Romine and Chris Stewart will have to contain him on the base paths.
The Yankees appear to have the edge tonight and on Sunday, but Saturday’s game could go either way because their lineup has a lot of experience hitting against Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes might not be able to continue his streak of allowing two runs his past three outings.
The Yankees became the first team in Major League history to hit three grand slams in one game, as Robinson Cano hit his in the fifth, Russell Marin hit his second of two home runs in the sixth inning and Curtis Granderson connected in the eighth, which led to their 22-8 victory of the Athletics.
Granderson should be the American League Most Valuable Player, Cano has been performing like an All-Star that he was all season but Martin has been more off-and-on.
Phil Hughes had pitched very well during his last four starts, never allowing more than two runs, but on Thursday afternoon he allowed six runs in 2.2 innings. Luckily, this did not end up ruining the Yankees chances at winning the game as the offense would explode starting in the fifth inning, and every inning after.
Martin now has four multi-homer games in 101 games with the Yankees after having only one in his 667 game stint with the Dodgers. He is a catcher that can truly perform in all aspects of the game as he is reliable behind the dish, is fast for a catcher with eight steals and his 17 homers are impressive for a catcher. He is hitting much better lately, and having hits in all but one of his last nine games, with 13 RBI, has boosted his average 17 points to .243.
For the Athletics, Rich Harden allowed six runs on 10 hits in only 4.1 innings, giving up two homers. He is a pitcher who displayed dominance at times earlier in his career but has always been plagued by injuries. The Yankees were able to take advantage of Harden, during a season where he has been struggling, and continue to rake against the bullpen especially Bruce Billings who allowed seven runs in 1.1 innings.
It is unfortunate that Phil Hughes could not continue to pitch well but the Yankees needed an offensive outburst like this one after losing the first two games the fourth place Athletics. Hughes should be able to bounce back as it seemed like he was regaining his form from the first-half of last season.
Their pitching actually under-performed the whole series as the Yankees allowed six runs in each of the previous two games. They travel to Baltimore for three games, starting Friday night, and so far they are up 9-1 in the season series. However, A.J. Burnett (4.96 ERA, 14 runs in his last three starts) will be starting tonight, which is not promising.
The Orioles are coming into this three game set having swept the Twins in Minneapolis, scoring six runs or more in three of the four games and there are no guarantees that Burnett will slow down their offense. It is possible that Burnett will pitch like he is capable of since he has “dominate” stuff, but that is impossible to predict, since he can’t handle pitching with a lead and the smallest things cause him to unravel.
The Yankees should be able to sweep the last place Orioles in the Charm City, but two out of three would be acceptable since one never knows which AJ will show up. The Orioles come into the series having won four straight after a five-game losing streak.
Trevor Cahill (4.13 ERA), who is coming off an All-Star season, in 2010, limited the Yankees to two runs through six innings, and the Bronx Bombers could not score enough runs off of the Athletics bullpen to prevent losing the game, 6-4 in extra innings, one day after the earthquake.
Robinson Cano upped his hitting streak to 15 in the fourth inning with a double between the centerfielder and right fielder that went to the wall. Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Eduardo Nunez came up and hit a ball that bounced on home plate and dribbled ahead. He did not run thinking it was foul and was called out. He was mystified but the umpire was correct.
Francisco Cervelli was the next batter and he is somebody in particular who usually seizes the moment with ducks on the pond, but this time he did not convert.
However, Cervelli would make up for his blunder in the bottom of the fourth by throwing a bullet to Cano at second to get out Scott Sizemore who was trying to steal. Sizemore’s single was only the Athletics third hit of the game off of Sebathia, who rebounded well after a rocky first inning.
Over his last 12 games Jeter is hitting .521, but as a result of his wild swing at a pitch out of the zone in the fifth he failed at his attempt to finally reach .300. That is OK because he has been a totally new hitter since coming off the DL, hitting like he did in 2009 when he finished third in the MVP voting.
Jemile Weeks, younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers star Rickie Weeks, who has speed similar to Brett Gardner, led off the sixth inning with what appeared to be a triple, but Cano made a picture perfect throw to nail him at third. Curtis Granderson started the perfect relay with a strong throw to Cano.
Swisher hit what appeared to be a critical home run in the bottom of the sixth, into the Yankees bullpen, after falling feet away from being the hero last night. He is one player who did everything in his power to help the Yankees win as Cahill kept the offense off guard to that point.
Sebathia continued his stellar pitching as he retired the Athletics in order in the top of the seventh, on only six pitches.
With Hideki Matsui surprisingly playing left field and not DH, Eduardo Nunez hit a ground ball down the third base line that hit the indentation, for a double. Cervelli executed a perfect bunt for a single to set the Yankees up for a potential big inning. Cahill was then removed by A’s manager Bob Geren (and Bob Saget look-a-like), and Brian Fuentes would go on to retire the next three batters in order.
With two outs in the eighth inning, and Sizemore coming up to bat, Joe Girardi acted like he was going to bring in David Robertson but decided not to. He will probably regret that decision as Sizemore got his third hit tying the game at two.
To end the top of the eighth Matsui hit a hard line drive to Derek Jeter, who was able to double Weeks off at second. However, the damage had already been done off of the usually shutdown Robertson as he allowed a single to Crisp, which scored Sizemore.
The home run barrage over recent games would continue as Mark Teixeira smacked a very deep home run to right-center. This was the first run Grant Balfour had allowed in his last six appearances and with that mammoth shot he tied Granderson with the team lead. Posada continued his utter dominance against Balfour as he now five for six against the journeyman reliever.
Rivera would pitch a one-two-three top of the ninth and the Yankees would come to bat in the ninth with a chance at a walk-off victory and for a lucky player to receiver a pie in the face.
Soriano came in to pitch the tenth, but the inning did not start so well as Sizemore got his fourth hit to put runners on first and second. Crisp delivered a dagger off of Soriano, with two outs, which was his fifth RBI of the evening.
Nick Swisher would hit his third home run in his last two games to reduce the Athletics lead to two runs. Unfortunately, Andruw Jones would go onto strike out to end the game, meaning that the best the Yankees can do is win one out of three against the fourth place Athletics.
Sebathia has been a true work-horse for the Yankees, pitching seven innings or more in 13 out of his last 14 starts but, on this night, the relatively light hitting Crisp could not be contained. He is hitting a robust .414 against the Yankees this season, and almost single handedly defeated them. Crisp has been known for his uniquely amazing name, his 70’s style afro for a short period, as well as his speed but never really for his power.
It is not a good sign that the Yankees have already lost the series to the Athletics, who are 12 games below .500, even though they have a chance to salvage a game tomorrow. Soriano had his first truly forgettable outing since returning from the disabled list, as he had allowed only two hits and one earned run, in eight appearances since his return.
Granderson had a rare off day at the plate but was one half of the tandem that helped prevent Weeks from getting a triple. Once again, not hitting with men on base hurt the Yankees, as they had 11 hits but nine runners left on base. They also did not come through in the clutch four times with runners in scoring position and two outs, with Cervelli being the culprit twice.
It is also disappointing that the Yankees lost after a solid start from their ace while the Red Sox defeated much superior competition in the form of the Texas Rangers, behind their ace, Josh Beckett. The Yankees find themselves down by a game, needing a win during tomorrow’s matinee game against Oakland, behind Phil Hughes, who has two wins and a 3.87 ERA during his last three starts.