New York Yankees: Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 9, Red Sox 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
BOSTON -- Derek Jeter's farewell to baseball was brief, effective and relatively satisfying: An impressive pregame ceremony, a good first-inning at-bat, an RBI single of a uniquely Jeterian variety in the third, and a graceful exit from the stage.

Unfortunately, there was still two-plus hours of meaningless baseball to be played after that, and the Yankees held on to win a classically sloppy Fenway Park game, 9-5, just so no one could say Jeter's team let him down on his final day.

But the day, or at least the portion that he was a part of, belonged to Jeter, as Fenway was transformed into Yankee Stadium north. Jeter's day was less than hour long -- the first pitch was at 1:39 p.m. and his final exit came at 2:26 p.m. -- but in its own way, perfect for its lack of fuss. In five years, we'll catch up with him in Cooperstown.

G'night everybody! Jeter's playing career ended at 2:26 p.m., and in a most appropriate fashion, on a high bouncer to third base that he beat out for an infield single, the 3,465th hit of his fabulous career in the third inning. For the record, it came on a 1-2 pitch, a 93-mph two-seam fastball from Clay Buchholz. Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini fielded the ball with his bare hand, but the ball squirted out of his hand before he could get off a throw. Official scorer Mike Shalin wisely scored it a hit. The single scored Ichiro (who had a two-run triple) from third and gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead. But in more pressing news, Jeter was replaced at first by pinch-runner Brian McCann, loser of a pregame outfield footrace to Mark Teixeira. The game stopped for a couple of minutes as Jeter shook hands with McCann and Buchholz, waved his helmet to every section of the park and then hugged everyone of his teammates in a receiving line in front of the Yankees' dugout.

The final numbers: Jeter's final season ended with a .256 batting average, his lowest for a full season, with four home runs and 50 RBIs. Jeter appeared in 145 games (130 at shortstop), and had 149 hits this season, also a career low for a full season. He ends his career with a .3095 batting average, which rounds up to .310. Jeter also wound up playing more games (153) at Fenway Park than any other Yankee in history, surpassing Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, whose career also ended here in 1968.

Really? On Jeter Day? Jemile Weeks became one of the few Red Sox players to get booed in Fenway Park for robbing a Yankee when his leaping catch in the first inning took away a Jeter single.

No pine in Pineda: In his first appearance at Fenway since the infamous Pine Tar Game on April 23, which was followed by a 10-day suspension and more than three months on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, Michael Pineda was overpowering Sunday, holding the Red Sox to three hits over 6 1/3 innings, walked none and struck out 10. His performance may get overlooked in the aftermath of Jeter's retirement, but there's no disputing the success of his return to action, pine tar suspension notwithstanding. Pineda finished up 5-5 but with a 1.89 ERA and an incredible strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 8.5-to-1, having struck out 59 and walked only seven all season.

Seventh-inning stretched: There was an extended break between halves of the seventh inning, first due to Ronan Tynan's -- remember him? -- overlong rendition of "God Bless America," and then by a tasteful, fingerpicked version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," performed on acoustic guitar by none other than Yankees legend Bernie Williams.

Heroes not named Jeter: Ichiro Suzuki (two-run triple), Jose Pirela (two-run double), John Ryan Murphy (RBI single), Brett Gardner (RBI double), Chase Headley (RBI single), Austin Romine (RBI double).

Welcome to Secondary Market Park: A lot of Red Sox fans must have made a fortune selling their tickets for this one, because Fenway was packed with Yankees fans for Jeter's last game. So much so that a chant of "Let's Go Yankees" thundered through the place when the Yankees got runners to second and third in the third inning, with little to no resistance from the handful of Red Sox fans who bothered to show up. And as soon as Jeter left the game in the third inning, so did much of the crowd.

Tomorrow: No game. (No kidding). Yankees manager Joe Girardi will give his farewell state of the Yankees address at noon, and then the A-Rod watch begins. See you all throughout the winter, and thanks for reading.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 10, Yankees 4

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
BOSTON -- Don't worry, Yankees fans, your suffering is almost over. One more game, and we can close the book on this disappointing 2014 season, in which the Yankees will wind up winning fewer games than the 2013 Yankees did, which is quite an indictment in itself.

Whether they will be one game or two games worse than the Vernon Wells/Travis Hafner/Lyle Overbay Yankees rides on the outcome of Sunday's season finale. Saturday's 10-4 loss, which was essentially over before the second inning was complete, insures they will finish with no more than 84 victories at best -- which, with a payroll of over $197 million, translates to roughly $2,347,983 per victory. And no postseason. Not very good value for the money, was it?

Anti-Hiro: The Yankees were hoping this game would set their minds at ease regarding the health of Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, they got another dose of worry when Tanaka turned in by far his worst outing of the season, failing to get out of the second inning before the Red Sox had scored seven times (five earned) on seven hits, all of them hit hard and many of them on Tanaka's money pitch, his splitter. That pitch had very little bite to it Saturday, and when Tanaka was forced to go to his 92-mph fastball, the Red Sox teed off on that, too. We'll have to wait until the postgame media session to find out if this was just a clunker, or whether Tanaka's right elbow is troubling him again.

Captain Cameo: Derek Jeter returned to the lineup, hitting second as the designated hitter, much to the delight of the Fenway Park crowd. But he was out of the game by the fifth inning, much to the crowd's displeasure, which vented at Francisco Cervelli, who was sent up to hit for Jeter with one on and one out. Jeter struck out in his first at-bat, and legged out an infield hit in his second. What did Cervelli do? He grounded into an inning-ending double play (which some might say was fitting). No word on why Jeter was removed so early, but he did appear to be moving with some difficulty as he returned to the dugout after beating out that third-inning hit.

Eury-ka!: In his second start in center field, Eury Perez made an egregious second-inning error, actually running past a fly ball that glanced off his glove -- an out that would have ended the inning. Instead it became a two-base error, allowed two unearned runs to score, and led to two more unearned Red Sox runs before the inning finally ended with the Yankees trailing 9-0. Perez also overthrew a cutoff man for a throwing error in the seventh inning on the play that gave Boston its 10th run of the game. Perez did make a fine running catch on Daniel Nava's eighth-inning drive, crashing into the wall as he caught the ball in dead center.

Late rally: The Yankees got their first run of the day on a sacrifice fly by Brendan Ryan in the seventh, when they were down 10-0, and added three more runs in the eighth on a Chris Young RBI single and a two-run double by Stephen Drew.

What's next: The Yankees' disappointing 2014 season comes to a merciful end Sunday afternoon, with Michael Pineda (4-5, 1.93) facing fellow righty Clay Buchholz (8-10, 5.31) in a 1:35 p.m. start. The game will be notable only for being the final game in the momentous career of Jeter, who is expected to be the DH again. Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira are expected to return to the lineup for the season finale as well. And just think: Only 146 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
BOSTON -- It was a game that felt more like a hangover the morning after a particularly good, and exhausting, party.

No Derek Jeter, no Brett Gardner, no Mark Teixeira, no Brian McCann. Very few players, in fact, who resembled genuine New York Yankees. And the game bore absolutely no resemblance to the vaunted New York-Boston rivalry of recent years gone by.

Still, the quasi-Yanks had just enough to squeak by the pseudo-Red Sox, 3-2, Friday at Fenway Park in a game that featured just two earned runs all night.

Back in the saddle: One night after blowing a save -- and setting up Jeter's dramatic, walk-off single -- David Robertson was sent out to preserve the Yankees' 1-0 lead and did, but not without another anxious moment. Robertson gave up a leadoff single to Xander Bogaerts, who reached second when second baseman Jose Pirela had the ball pop out of his glove when it appeared John Ryan Murphy had him thrown out trying to steal. But Robertson struck out Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig and got Garin Cecchini to fly out.

Irregular lineup: The Yankees lineup resembled that of a spring training game more than one against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, evidence of the fate that has befallen both teams this season -- and perhaps the cooling of a once-great rivalry. The only semiregular in the lineup was Francisco Cervelli, and he was playing out of position at first base. In fact, the Yankees had three catchers in the lineup, but only one of them, Murphy, was behind the plate. Austin Romine, the fourth-string catcher on the expanded roster, was tonight's designated hitter.

Fenway first: Despite having pitched here 12 previous times, including for the first half of this season as a member of the home team, Chris Capuano had never won at Fenway Park until tonight, when he worked a tidy 6⅔ innings, allowing just four hits and one unearned run. It was Capuano's second win as a Yankee against four losses.

Meet the new bats: Same as the old bats. The lineup of Yankees irregulars managed four hits, all singles, off knuckleballer Steven Wright in his five innings of work but took a 2-1 lead on an RBI single by Cervelli and a groundout by Murphy, both in the third inning. Both runs were unearned.

Passed out: The Yankees' first run was the result of two passed balls, one of which put Eury Perez on first despite the fact it was a called strike three, and the second of which advanced him to second, from which he scored on Cervelli's fly ball single off the Green Monster.

Hitting spree: After Wright left the game, the Yankees scored a more conventional run off reliever Matt Barnes. Romine singled home Murphy, who had doubled to right to lead off the sixth.

Wheels in the outfield: Making his first Yankees start, Perez got into the action right at the start by making a terrific diving catch on Mookie Betts' sinking liner to center leading off the Boston first. And in the fifth, right fielder Antoan Richardson ran down a drive by BoSox left fielder Bryce Brentz in the triangle in right-center.

Horse has left the barn: Shawn Kelley, who had taken to wearing a horse's head mask during warm-ups as a good-luck charm, has looked ready for the glue factory recently, and after he came in to relieve Capuano in the seventh, saw his first pitch hit over the Green Monster by Rusney Castillo to cut the Yankees' lead to 3-2. Since Aug. 5, Kelley's ERA has soared from 3.22 to 4.53.

Saturday: One last look at Masahiro Tanaka (13-4, 2.47 ERA), who gets the start in Game 2 of this three-game series against right-hander Joe Kelly (3-2, 4.00), first pitch at 1:05 p.m. Jeter is also expected to return to the lineup as the DH, and it's possible Jacoby Ellsbury will return, too, after a week-long absence with a hamstring strain.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Orioles 5

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's final season as a New York Yankee might have ended in disappointment, but his final game at Yankee Stadium ended the way he likes it -- with a victory.

And, better yet, with a victory that resulted directly from a classic Jeter moment -- an inside-out swing on a first pitch that was laced into right field, scoring pinch runner Antoan Richardson from second with the game winner. Hollywood could not have written a more satisfying script.

In his last game in pinstripes -- the Yankees will wear their road grays in Boston this weekend -- Jeter gave the crowd an early thrill with an RBI double off the wall and one last look at his flair for the dramatic when his routine grounder to short turned into two runs that gave the Yankees the lead.

But it was his walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth after David Robertson had blown a three-run lead by allowing two ninth-inning home runs that caused Yankee Stadium to explode the way it had when Jeter and Yankees teams from a previous era were winning championships seemingly every year.

Jeter was mobbed on the field after the game by current teammates as well as former ones, including Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and former manager Joe Torre.

The only place where Jeter lost tonight was in a battle with his emotions. As the crowd chanted his name and gave him a thunderous, spontaneous standing ovation in the eighth inning -- prompting him to tip his cap around the ballpark -- the normally stoic Jeter was clearly struggling to maintain his composure.

But, of course, there was one more moment of drama for Jeter to endure -- Robertson's ninth-inning flameout that began with a gopher ball to Adam Jones that made it a one-run game with Nelson Cruz, the major league home run leader with 40, at the plate. Robertson got Cruz to chase a slider in the dirt for the second out but then surrendered a game-tying home run to ex-Yankee Steve Pearce to send the game into the bottom of the ninth.

Good things happen …: To great players. Jeter's second-to-last Yankee Stadium at-bat was all set up for a dramatic moment -- tie game, bases loaded, one out in the seventh. And even though Jeter did not hit the ball well -- topping a bouncer to shortstop -- J.J. Hardy rushed his throw and fired it into right field, allowing two unearned runs to score. The entire inning was no offensive explosion. They loaded the bases on a strikeout/wild pitch that allowed Stephen Drew to reach first, a walk to Ichiro Suzuki and a sacrifice bunt attempt by Jose Pirela that was thrown away by catcher Caleb Joseph and went into the scorebook as a base hit. Brett Gardner grounded into a force out at home before Jeter's grounder, and the Yankees' fifth run, also unearned, scored on Brian McCann's sacrifice fly to left.

Rising to the occasion: In his first at-bat, Jeter just missed a game-tying, two-run homer, lining a 3-1 pitch high off the left-field fence in front of the Orioles bullpen to score Gardner (leadoff single) from first. Jeter then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run when ex-Yankee Kelly Johnson, stationed in short right, mishandled a hot grounder by McCann.

Fine farewell: If this was Hiroki Kuroda's last game as a Yankee -- he is a free agent after the season and no one in the organization seems to know if he, at 40 years old, will return next year -- it was one to remember. After allowing home runs to the first two batters he faced, Kuroda settled down to limit the dangerous Orioles to just one single over his final six innings, retiring the final 16 batters he faced. Kuroda went eight innings, allowed just three hits and two runs, walked none and struck out nine.

Roll call ruined: The crowd was in the process of performing its final pregame roll call for Jeter when leadoff hitter Nick Markakis teed off on a 1-2 pitch from Kuroda and deposited it deep into the right-field seats to give the O's a 1-0 lead.

Not again!: Four pitches later, it was Alejandro De Aza crushing a 1-2 pitch from Kuroda, this time to right-center, to make it a 2-0 game. It was the first time the Orioles had started a game with back-to-back home runs in more than a decade. And also, against the Yankees.

Derek Jitters: Jeter might have been a little nervous on his first chance in the field, picking Johnson's second-inning grounder cleanly but throwing wide of first and pulling Mark Teixeira off the bag for an error. But no harm was done when Kuroda retired the next two hitters, one of them a grounder to short that Jeter fielded flawlessly.

Tomorrow: The final three games of Jeter's wonderful career, and this woeful season, get underway in Boston. Chris Capuano (2-4, 4.67 ERA) pitches against right-hander Steven Wright (0-0, 3.38), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 9, Yankees 5

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
NEW YORK -- Now that the playoff chase is over, let the celebration begin. The celebration of Jeter, of course.

The Yankees were eliminated, once and for all, with today's 9-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, a game in which they blew a 3-0 lead and then rallied late to make something of a game of it. But they couldn't pull it off, meaning for the second straight year, there will be no October baseball in the Bronx.

But there will be one more game at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter's final game in pinstripes -- remember, they wear solid gray on the road -- and now, fans can come and enjoy their last looks at the Captain without having to bother looking at the scoreboard.

The forecast is for heavy rain, but you can bet the Yankees, and Major League Baseball, will do everything possible to get this game in, no matter how long it takes. So bring your slicker and bring your dinner because it could be a long night.

The Captain's last swing?: The weather forecast is pretty dire for tomorrow, so there's an outside chance that Jeter's at-bat in the eighth inning, a bouncer to first, was his final Yankee Stadium at-bat. If nothign else, it kept many of the crowd of 46,056 in their seats long after the game was decided, on their feet and chanting his name and hoping for a curtain call. Jeter, who went hitless in four at-bats, did not oblige but rather sat quietly on the bench to watch the rest of the game.

Turning Greene: After retiring the first seven Orioles he faced and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the third, Shane Greene unraveled in the fourth, allowing six runs on six hits, including a bases-loaded double by Ryan Flaherty that just missed being a grand slam. Greene also allowed a two-run single to Nick Markakis, an RBI triple by David Lough and an infield single to Adam Jones that scored a run before Joe Girardi came out to collect him with two outs in the inning. It was Greene's second-worst outing of the year. On Sept. 2, he also allowed six runs, but in just 2-2/3 innings, to the Red Sox.

Leaving his mark: It had been two weeks between RBIs for Mark Teixeira, but he got off that schneid with a double into the right-field corner in the first inning that scored Chase Headley (two-out single) to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Stephen B Leavin': Stephen Drew hit an 0-2 pitch from Norris over the right-field fence leading off the second inning to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It was Drew's seventh homer of the season and third as a Yankee.

Chase that! Norris struck out five straight Yankees after Drew's second-inning homer, but when he momentarily misplaced the strike zone, Headley made him pay by lining a 2-0 pitch into the right-field seats with two outs in the third to make it 3-0 Yankees. It was home run No. 6 as a Yankee and 13th overall.

Up next: Farewell to the Captain day, Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium, matches Hiroki Kuroda (11-9, 3.77) and RHP Kevin Gausman (7-7. 3.57), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The forecast is for heavy rain, so pack a slicker and dinner, because it could be a long night.

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Yankees 4

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
NEW YORK -- In Derek Jeter's third to last home game, the New York Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles, though Jeter picked up an infield single to extend his hitting streak to seven games. With two outs in the ninth inning, Jeter came to the plate with the tying run at first. Against lefty Zach Britton, Jeter struck out on three pitches.

Jeter meter: In the seventh, Jeter extended his hitting streak to seven games with a soft bouncer to third that allowed him to beat the throw. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored on the night and now is 10-for-25 on his final homestand.

Jeter flew out in the first and the third. He struck out looking in the fifth on an Ubaldo Jimenez 1-2 fastball.

Elimination number: It is now down to one, meaning either a a Yankees loss or a Kansas City Royals win will end the Yankees' chances of making the playoffs. Here are the latest wild-card standings.

Homer: In the seventh, Brian McCann brought Jeter in with his 23rd homer of the season. McCann has hit 19 at home. McCann cut the Orioles' lead to 5-4.

The Big Mac question: Brandon McCarthy, in his final start of the season, had nothing. McCarthy gave up five runs on 11 hits in 5⅓ innings. He also allowed three home runs.

In the second, Kelly Johnson, who began the year with the Yankees, went yard for the Orioles in the second. In the fourth, Nick Markakis hit a two-run long ball. In the fifth, Nelson Cruz nailed his league-leading 40th homer.

McCarthy will be an interesting free agent this offseason. The Yankees will likely want him back, but the price may not be right.

K Kings: The Yankees have struck out 1,319 batters this year, which bests the 2012 franchise record.

What's next: The Yankees have a day game on Wednesday because of Rosh Hashanah at sundown. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m., with Shane Greene (5-3, 3.24) facing Bud Norris (14-8, 3.62).

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Orioles 0

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter had a two-run double and three RBIs, while Michael Pineda threw 7⅓ scoreless innings as the New York Yankees kept their playoff hopes alive. Pineda gave up just one hit and walked one, while striking out eight.

Jeter meter: Jeter is now 9-for-20 during his final homestand. Jeter was 1-for-3 on the night.

In the fifth, Jeter smashed a two-run double to make it 4-0 Yankees. Against lefty Wei-Yin Chen, Jeter fell behind 0-2 before working the count full and pulling a line drive to the left-field wall.

In the first, Jeter hit the first pitch he saw to the warning track in right for an out. In the third, the captain grounded out to short, but picked up an RBI to make it 2-0 Yankees. In the seventh, with a man on third, Jeter walked on a close 3-2 pitch from Evan Meek.

If you would like to read more on Jeter, Johnette Howard has a very good column on him.

Perfect Pineda: Pineda was perfect for the first 4⅓ innings. It is the second time that Pineda has taken a perfect game into the fifth against the O's. Forgetting the injury and the pine tar incident, Pineda has been pretty incredible this season. In 12 starts, his ERA is 1.93. He is scheduled to start the season finale in Boston on Sunday.

Jose, Jose, Jose: In the third, rookie Jose Pirela nailed an RBI triple in his first major league at-bat. On the long drive to left center, Pirela fired out of the box, sprinting like a man trying to impress. In the fifth, Pirela had a two-out single.

Pirela, a 24-year-old infielder, hit .305 at Triple-A Scranton and made the International League All-Star team, but the Yankees have not considered him a big prospect. Pirela batted ninth and was the DH on Monday.

Head Knocker: In the eighth, Chase Headley hit a solo homer.

Record-breaker: With Pirela playing, the Yankees have used 57 men this year, which is a new franchise record for a season.

Do you believe in miracles? Here are the latest wild-card standings.

Attendance: 35,614. Not exactly the "Farewell Jeter" number you might have expected.

On Deck: Jeter has just three more home games remaining in his career. On Tuesday, Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 4.90) will face Brandon McCarthy (7-4, 2.54).

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 2

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
NEW YORK -- A good day for the Yankees' future, but not so good for the present. Masahiro Tanaka pitched effectively and more important, apparently pain-free, for 5 1/3 innings, and the Yankees hit well -- home runs from Brian McCann (2) and Brett Gardner, and two more hits from Derek Jeter -- to beat the Blue Jays 5-2 and take three of four.

But Kansas City was leading the Tigers as this game ended, and if they hold on, it means the Yankees' elimination number is down to four with seven games to play. If not, it holds at five. Either way, still not a great chance of seeing baseball in the Bronx this October.

But a decent chance of seeing a healthy Tanaka next season, and that is something to look forward to, isn't it?

Hiro-ic return: Tanaka's first start in nearly three months went as well as the Yankees could have hoped, assuming he comes out of it healthy, something we probably won't know until Monday morning. Tanaka went 5 1/3 innings, allowed five hits and one run, and showed both velocity on his fastball (92 mph) and good downward action on his splitter. The Jays started off well, with singles by Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista to start the game, and scored a run when Edwin Encarnacion hit into a double play, but Tanaka took control after that. When he left the game, the Yankees led 2-1, putting him in position to win his 13th game of the season and first since July 3. Tanaka got a standing ovation from the Yankees crowd as he left the mound, and in an uncharacteristic display, gave a semi cap-tip to the crowd on his way to the dugout.

On fire: Before the game, Joe Girardi said Jeter was likely to play in all of the Yankees' remaining eight games, and the Captain justified that with two more hits, including an RBI double roped into the left-field corner in the seventh that made it a 3-1 game. In the four games against Toronto, Jeter went 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles, a HR and three RBIs. He even stole third, without a throw, in the seventh inning, just after the crowd had erupted with chants of "Thank you, Derek!"

Big Mac Attack: McCann leapfrogged Mark Teixeira for the team lead in home runs (22) with a pair in today's game: a solo shot in the first that tied the game at 1, and a two-run shot in the seventh that busted it open from 3-1 to 5-1.

Gardy party: Gardner's 17th homer of the season, and first since Aug. 30, gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Gardy belted a 3-2, 94 mph fastball from Drew Hutchison just inside the right-field foul pole leading off the inning. It was only his third hit in 15 at-bats on this homestand. Gardner added to his day with a double into the right-field corner leading off the seventh and scored on Jeter's double to left to make it 3-1.

For what it's worth, Gardner's home run was also homer No. 15,000 in Yankees history.

Arrest Warren: A rejuvenated Adam Warren stopped the Jays in their tracks coming in to relieve Tanaka with two on and one out in the sixth. Warren struck out Dioner Navarro and Dan Johnson to end the inning, and then followed with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Questionable stop: In the second inning, third base coach Rob Thomson put up a late stop sign for Francisco Cervelli after Ichiro doubled to right, causing Cervelli to put the brakes on in a hurry, and nearly causing two Yankees to be standing on third base. In a tie game with the weak-hitting Brendan Ryan coming up, it might have been wiser to send him, but Thomson might be a little gun-shy after his controversial send of Stephen Drew last week led to a crucial out in a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tomorrow: To close out the final homestand of the season, the Yankees play four games against the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, starting with a matchup of Michael Pineda (3-2, 2.15) and LHP Wei-Yin Chen (16-4, 3.58) on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
NEW YORK -- The are few things that guarantee a Yankees victory quite like the sight of Mark Buehrle on the mound for their opponent. He hasn't beaten the Yankees since April 10, 2004, and in the 10 years and five months that have passed since that win, he had lost 11 consecutive decisions.

Now, make that an even dozen. The Yankees got three RBIs out of Jacoby Ellsbury -- who they then lost to a hamstring strain apparently suffered in the fourth inning -- another strong starting performance out of Hiroki Kuroda, and some clutch pitching out of the bullpen to win their third straight and breathe another day of life into their rather remote chance of playing in October.

Steadying influence: Before the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called Kuroda "the one constant" in his rotation for the past three seasons, and "a true professional"; Kuroda was both of those once again tonight, weathering a two-run, 23-pitch first inning to last into the seventh, allowing seven hits and three runs (two earned), striking out seven and walking none. At 40, Kuroda has been the only consistently reliable starter the Yankees have had for the entire season. He has now started five times against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, and won all five.

Ells-buried: A long two-run homer into the right-field bleachers by Ellsbury gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the third. Ellsbury hit a 1-1 Buehrle fastball that loitered in at 84 mph with Ichiro Suzuki on base for his 16th home run of the season and team-leading 69th RBI.

Ouch-bury: Ellsbury added his 70th RBI on a fourth-inning fielder's choice grounder that scored two runs when Jose Reyes threw the relay past first baseman Adam Lind, but apparently injured himself on the play, because he did not return to center field for the top of the fifth. Chris Young went in to play left and Brett Gardner moved to center. Late in the game, the Yankees announced Ellsbury had suffered a right hamstring strain and would undergo an MRI.

Wasn't a shutout: Edwin Encarnacion got the Jays on the board in the first with a two-run homer that rang the pipe that serves as the left-field foul pole on a 2-0 slider from Kuroda. It was Encarnacion's 33rd home run of the season and the fourth he has hit off Kuroda in 24 career at-bats.

Capt. Cool: With help from an absentminded Reyes, Derek Jeter made a heads-up play that erased a Toronto runner from second base in the first inning. Reyes had led off the game by lining Kuroda's second pitch into the right-field corner for a double, and when Jose Bautista smoked a one-hopper that Jeter snagged at short, it appeared Reyes would hold up. But he began to break for third before Jeter released the throw to first, and the Captain alertly held the ball and fired to Chase Headley, who tagged Reyes out between second and third after a brief rundown. What looked like a big break for the Yankees, however, went for naught when Encarnacion followed with his two-run homer.

First dud: The first three Yankees to face Buehrle got hits -- a leadoff double by Ellsbury, a line single by Jeter and an RBI single by Brian McCann -- but the rally stalled there when Mark Teixeira tapped back to the mound for a 1-4-3 double play and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.

Jolly Rogers: Esmil Rogers got arguably the biggest out of the game when, after walking Bautista to load the bases following a single by Anthony Gose and a ground-rule double by Reyes, he got the dangerous Encarnacion to bounce into a forceout to end the seventh inning and preserve the 5-3 lead. Adam Warren also pitched in with two big strikeouts to end the eighth, and threw a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.

The first days of Pompey: Rays left fielder Dalton Pompey, a September call-up, collected his first big-league hit, a line drive to right-center just over a leaping Stephen Drew's glove, with one out in the second.

Tomorrow: Game 3 of this four-game series matches Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.55) and RHP Marcus Stroman (10-6, 3.80), first pitch at 4:05 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
NEW YORK -- It was a walk-off that never should have been, necessitated by a blown eight-inning lead and facilitated by an error in the bottom of the ninth inning. But a win is a win, and the Yankees simply cannot afford any more losses if they are to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

Chase Headley's hot grounder scootered through the glove of Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, scoring pinch-runner Antoan Richardson from third, and the Yankees salvaged a 3-2 win over Toronto, their eighth walk-off win of the season.

But the Gatorade bath was tempered by the knowledge that once again, the Yankees wasted an excellent start, and a rare home run by Derek Jeter, which would have made a nice story to kick off the final homestand of his career.

Second-guesses galore in this one, but none more important than why Joe Girardi wasted his most reliable reliever to get only one out in the seventh, and turn the game over to one of his least reliable relievers in the eighth?

Bats off to Joey: Just four outs from victory, the Yankees blew their 2-0 lead when Jose Bautista crushed Shawn Kelley's 0-2 fastball into the left-field seats with Jose Reyes (two-out single) aboard. Joey Bats' 33rd aboard silenced an already quiet ballpark, which began rapidly emptying from an already inflated announced attendance of 34,279.

A crying Shane: Another outstanding start by Shane Greene, who went two outs into the seventh inning, giving up only three hits (one an infield hit) and a walk, and struck out six. A high pitch count (105) caused Girardi to come get him with two runners on in the seventh, but he escaped damage when Dellin Betances got pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro, noted Yankee killer, to fly out harmlessly to right. Still, his effort went unrewarded when Bautista homered to tie the score in the eighth, prompting the question of why Girardi wasted Betances for one out and only four pitches?

Capt. Cru2h: Jeter had only one hit in his previous 32 at-bats, just three hits in 19 career at-bats off R.A. Dickey, and no home runs since Aug. 1, when he jumped all over a rare Dickey fastball, clocked at 82 mph, and lined it into the left-field seats in the sixth to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It had been 158 at-bats between homers for Jeter.

Drew first blood: The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a two-out walk to Headley and a double into the right-field corner by Stephen Drew, only his fourth hit in his last 43 at-bats, and first RBI since Aug. 25. Drew also had a single in the seventh, his first two-hit game since Aug. 3.

Diving for gold: Mark Teixeira saved a run in the third inning, when he made a diving stop on Reyes' one-hopper headed for right field, which would have easily scored Anthony Gose from second. But Tex made the pick, rolled over and just nailed the speedy Reyes at first for the final out.

He's no umpire: Jeter was the second out of an embarrassing first-inning double play when he broke for second on a 3-2 pitch to Brian McCann, and slowed up halfway down the baseline when he believed Dickey's pitch to be ball four. Obviously, he was easily thrown out -- without a slide -- after McCann was called out on strikes, and appeared to be discussing the call, somewhat sheepishly, with second base umpire Scott Barry.

Pillar of salt: Jays LF Kevin Pillar spoiled Jeter's party by making a diving catch on Jeter's sinking liner to left leading off the fourth inning, which probably would have gone for a double.

Tomorrow: Game 2 of this four-game series matches Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.81) and LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.40), who has not beaten the Yankees in more than 10 years. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Rays 2

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Yankees avoided being swept, Derek Jeter got a hit and there was no carryover from Thursday's heated words.

No Fireworks: After making Joe Girardi lose his cool, the Yankees and Rays played nice on Wednesday. Leading off the fifth, Alex Cobb hit Chris Young in the behind. The pitch was 80 mph. Obviously, it wasn't on purpose. Besides that, there was nothing.

Jeter Meter: Leading off the sixth, Jeter broke his 0-for-28 slump with a sharp single up the middle. He is hitting .249 on the season.

Move over, Mo: With his two-strikeout scoreless eighth, Dellin Betances now has 132 on the season, which breaks the Yankees' reliever single-season record set by Mariano Rivera in 1996. Rivera had 130 in 107 2/3 innings. Betances has picked up his number in 87 2/3. Pretty amazing.

Mc Hammer: Brandon McCarthy was excellent once again, allowing just two runs on four hits in his seven innings. He struck out four and walked one. In his final inning, the seventh, he needed nine pitches to record three strikeouts.

D-Rob: David Robertson picked up his 37th save.

Bases Loaded, No Outs: That is the situation the Yanks created for themselves to begin the sixth. How many runs do you think they scored? Nope, not zero. But, just one.

Brett Gardner nearly hit a grand slam. Wil Myers leaped to make an excellent catch at the wall. The ball wouldn't have gone over the yellow line, but it was above the blue wall. In any event, it did bring home Jeter.

Head Games: The man in the news, Chase Headley, nailed an RBI double in the fifth to tie the game. He scored on a Brendan Ryan double to give the Yankees a lead.

Earlier, Headley made a couple of nice defensive plays at third. In the second, he reached over a blue barrier and into the stands to make a catch on a foul popup. In the third, he dove to the line to stab a hard grounder.

Long Gone: Evan Longoria put the Rays up 1-0 with a solo shot in the fourth. It was his 22nd on the season. Longoria also had the Rays' second RBI with a sixth-inning groundout.

On Deck: Jeter will play in the final homestand of his career. The Yankees have seven games, four against the Blue Jays and three vs. the Orioles. His final home game will be next Thursday, Sept. 25. The other important day of the homestand is Sunday, when Masahiro Tanaka returns to the mound for 70-75 pitches.

Rapid Reaction: Rays 6, Yankees 1

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- During another embarrassing loss for the New York Yankees, the benches cleared, and Joe Girardi, Tony Pena and David Phelps were ejected as this game ended oddly.

Girardi tossed: In the eighth, Derek Jeter was hit by an 0-2 pitch from Steven Geltz. With the score 6-1 and Jeter practically sainted this year, it is hard to believe it was intentional. Anyway, plate ump Rob Drake warned both benches. Girardi went a little nutty, coming onto the field.

It appeared, though, the Yankees manager was most upset with Geltz. We'll see what Girardi says about the incident postgame.

Benches Clear: In the bottom of the eighth, Phelps threw a pitch well inside to Kevin Kiermaier, but missed him on the inside pitch. Both benches cleared. The bullpens emptied, including Dellin Betances from the Yankee side. Francisco Cervelli for the Yankees and Sean Rodriguez from the Rays appeared most ready to go, but no one actually threw a punch.

Both Phelps and Pena were ejected.

Two-run sac fly: During the Rays' four-run seventh, Wil Myers nailed a bases-loaded shot into the right center. On a night filled with terrible Yankees defense, Jacoby Ellsbury made an incredible diving catch as he landed on the warning track. One run easily scored and James Loney, from second, tagged up and slid before a relay to the plate.

Girardi came out to argue, claiming that Loney left early. Tag-up plays are not reviewable and the call stood. It looked as though Loney might have left early, but it wouldn't matter because the Yankees can't score anyways. This might have led to Girardi going nuts.

Jeter meter: Jeter went 0-for-2 and his slump is up to 0-for-26. The Rays did put on a nice tribute for him.

Standing O: Jeter had a sac bunt in the third, which earned him a standing ovation.

Pine Time: Michael Pineda pitched pretty well once again, going 5⅓ and allowing two runs (one earned). The Rays didn't hit many balls hard as they scored two soft runs.

In the fifth, a throwing error by second baseman Brendan Ryan allowed a runner to reach with one out. After a walk -- Pineda's first in 119 batters -- Ben Zobrist hit a grounder to first. There, Brian McCann tried to flip to Pineda, who couldn't handle the relay. The error was on Pineda and a run scored.

In the sixth, a one-out Nick Franklin double preceded a weird walk/wild pitch/replay reversal sequence that put Franklin at third. Franklin, it was eventually ruled, beat Cervelli's throw to third on the wild pitch. He was originally called out.

Franklin would score when Yunel Escobar chopped a bunt on a squeeze. Cervelli left home to retrieve the ball, which left no one home and Franklin ran crossed with the go-ahead run.

Young and old: The Yankees put the first run on the board behind the combo of Chris Young and Ichiro Suzuki. Young, the ex-Met, scorched a two-out, second-inning double and scored on the 40-year-old Ichiro's single.

Missed chances: The Yankees went back to their normal ways after the one run. In the third, they were unable to score a run despite having two men on with no outs. After a Jeter sac bunt, Brett Gardner popped out and McCann struck out against Jake Odorizzi. In the fifth, they had two men on and no outs again, but Ellsbury, Jeter and Gardner failed to come through.

The standings: Here are the up to the moment wild-card standings.

On deck: The Yankees finish off this three-game series with Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 2.54 ERA) facing Alex Cobb (9-7, 2.75) on Wednesday. Then they return home for the final games of Jeter's career in the Bronx. It is also scheduled to feature the return of Masahiro Tanaka.

Rapid Reaction: Rays 1, Yankees 0

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- What did Yogi say? De ja vu, all over again?

The New York Yankees' pathetic offense could do nothing all night. They barely even had chances (0-for-4 with RISP), so another fine pitching performance was wasted. In the ninth, Ben Zobrist ended it with a sharp single off Shawn Kelley with the bases loaded and two outs to conclude a long and entirely unmemorable game.

Good night: Against Kelley in the ninth, Logan Forsythe knocked a one-out single. Next, James Loney blooped another single in front of Jacoby Ellsbury. Pinch-hitting, David DeJesus struck out swinging. After Matt Joyce walked to load the bases, Zobrist ended it.

Time of game: Three hours, 28 minutes for a 1-0 affair.

Tip your cap: Granted, like the Yankees, the Rays can't hit. But scoreless innings are scoreless innings. Chris Capuano threw six shutout innings. It was a fine performance that deserved better than a no-decision.

The returns: Chase Headley and Carlos Beltran started for the first time in awhile. Headley (after being hit in the chin) played after missing four games, while Beltran hadn't started in nearly a week.

Headley departs: In the seventh, Headley was ejected after arguing the first strike call of his at-bat. In the second, Headley, with two men on, had been called out on strikes by home plate ump Marty Foster. It was the third time Headley had been ejected in his career.

No, No. 2: Derek Jeter, in an 0-for-24 slump, was given the night off.

The chants: When Headley was ejected, the fans started a chant for Jeter to replace him. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, not playing to the crowd, went with Stephen Drew.

Attendance: Only 16,058 showed up.

Wild-card standings: Here are the latest.

On deck: On Tuesday, it will be Michael Pineda (3-4, 2.20 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (10-12, 4.08). Wednesday, Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 2.54) vs. Alex Cobb (9-7, 2.75).

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Orioles 2

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
The New York Yankees accomplished something they had done only once before this season, beating the Orioles at Camden Yards, by scraping a 3-2 victory Saturday afternoon.

Rookie Shane Greene pitched in and out of trouble throughout his 5⅓ innings of work, allowing two runs on seven hits on an RBI single by All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce's 17th home run of the season.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez allowed three runs on three hits, all in the second inning, but that was just enough for the Yanks to secure their 24th victory in one-run games (24-21).

Baltimore is Greener: Greene has earned the only two Yankees wins this season at Camden Yards, including a 3-0 shutout July 12. It was also the 22nd win this season by a Yankees rookie pitcher, the most ever in a single season in franchise history.

McCann can: Brian McCann hit his 19th homer of the season in the second inning off Gonzalez. It was the first run allowed by the right-hander in his past two starts. Yankees have now hit 14,994 home runs in franchise history since their inception in 1903 and need six home runs to reach 15,000.

It’s raining runs: After a delayed start at 1:40 p.m., Yankees scored more runs in the second inning of Saturday’s rainy affair than in 20 innings of the doubleheader the day before (one).

One for Antoan: Yankees took a 2-0 lead after rookie Antoan Richardson got his first career RBI with a liner to right field.

Seeing double: The Yankees executed a double steal in the second inning for their third run of the game, with Richardson stealing second and Chris Young stealing home. Young has now hit safely in each of his past six games, batting .416 (10-for-24) with six runs, four doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.

Speedy Gonzalez: Gonzalez threw 41 pitches over the first two innings and allowed three earned runs for the first time since Aug. 2 versus Seattle. The 31-year-old right-hander retired 11 straight Yankees after Richardson’s RBI single in the third.

Hold your horses: Shawn Kelley gave up a single to Adam Jones, and after Cruz just missed the center-field field fence for a two-run shot, he managed to retire Pearce and Hardy to end the eighth inning.

Tense moment: After Jimmy Paredes started the ninth with a hit off David Robertson, a perfect sac bunt by Ryan Flaherty put a runner on second with just one out. D-Rob then got Delmon Young and Nick Markakis to ground out and end the game with the tying run at third. Robertson has saved 36 out of 39.

Some real fireworks: The Blue Angels took to the skies for a spectacular air show as part of the Star-Spangled Spectacular, celebrating the 200th birthday of the national anthem, which will include a fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor. The high-speed jets could be seen and heard all throughout the game, drawing huge cheers from the crowd.

Attendance: 44,231 (second sellout of the series).

Sunday: The fourth and final game of the series matches right-handers Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.91) and Chris Tillman (12-5, 3.36), with the first pitch of "Sunday Night Baseball" slated for 8:05 p.m. The Orioles will honor the soon-to-be retired Captain Derek Jeter before his last regular-season game at Camden Yards.

Rapid Reaction: O's 2, Yanks 1 (11 innings)

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
BALTIMORE -- A beautiful day for baseball ended ugly -- at least the first half of it -- for the Yankees when a first-pitch, bases-loaded double by pinch-hitter Jimmy Paredes off Adam Warren in the 11th inning gave the Orioles a 2-1 walk-off victory in a game the Yankees seemed to have won moments earlier in equally dramatic fashion.

But Warren, who walked two batters and hit another to load the bases, couldn't nail down the victory. Once again, the Yankees wasted some outstanding pitching. Once again, their offense came up essentially non-existent, and to make things worse, both set-up man Dellin Betances and closer David Robertson worked more than an inning, leaving the availability of both for the nightcap very much in doubt.

Yankees get young: Chris Young, that is. For the second straight game, the outfielder who couldn't hit enough to stay a Met has hit plenty as a Yankee. His 11th-inning solo home run off Orioles reliever Brad Brach gave the Yankees the lead, and what looked like a badly-needed 1-0 victory to keep their improbable playoff dreams alive. After hitting just .205 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 88 games for the Mets, Young is now 8-for-17 with three home runs and three doubles in seven games as a Yankee.

Close call: The Yankees narrowly escaped defeat in the ninth inning when the Orioles loaded the bases, all on walks (one by Betances, two by Robertson) before Robertson, on his 21st pitch of the inning and ninth of the at-bat, caught Jonathan Schoop looking at a fastball at the knees. Two pitches earlier, John Ryan Murphy, getting a rare start behind the plate, saved Robertson and the Yankees by making a diving block on a curveball in the dirt that could have scored the game-winner from third.

Big Mac: Brandon McCarthy turned in one of his best performances as a Yankee, working into the eighth inning and holding the powerful Orioles scoreless on four hits, three of them singles, until Kelly Johnson led off the eighth with a ground-rule double, prompting Girardi to go to his pen. McCarthy struck out the side in the fourth and had retired 13 in a row before Johnson's hit. And for his efforts, McCarthy came away with a no decision.

Speed zone: In one of the key moments of the game, Dellin Betances changed speeds so radically on Adam Jones -- going from 99 mph on a 1-1 pitch to 83 mph on a 1-2 curve -- that he made the Orioles' best all-around hitter look foolish, striking out to leave the bases loaded in the eighth. But that wasn't the only reason the Yankees escaped unscathed after Johnson's leadoff double chased McCarthy, followed by a throwing error by Mark Teixeira on a sac bunt that gave the O's runners at the corners with none out. After Betances struck out Jonathan Schoop, Nick Markakis' grounder to Stephen Drew with the infield in resulted in Johnson being caught off third when Drew fired alertly to Martin Prado. Betances then walked the bases loaded before fanning Jones to end the inning.

Young and unstoppable: Chris Young, the hero of Thursday night's game, doubled in the sixth inning, his fifth extra-base hit in three games with the Yankees. By contrast, Mark Teixeira has five extra-base hits in the past 3 1/2 weeks (since August 19), according to our old buddy Katie Sharp.

Missed opportunities: The theme of this season reared its ugly head twice in the first six innings. The Yankees got runners to first and second with two out in the fifth but got nothing when Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right, and loaded the bases in the sixth on a single by Prado, Young's double and a walk to Stephen Drew. John Ryan Murphy made a bid for a grand slam, but his high fly to left was caught by Alejandro De Aza in foul territory just in front of the left-field fence.

Caught napping: Given a rare opportunity to start, call-up Antoan Richardson responded with two hits. But he also got himself picked off first to end the seventh inning, the second time in his brief (four games) Yankees tenure he has committed a base-running gaffe; on Sept. 4, he neglected to peek at the ball while running on the pitch and was easily doubled up when Ichiro Suzuki lined out to right.

Tomorrow: Game 3 of this four-game series matches Shane Greene (4-3, 3.57) and RHP Miguel Gonzalez (9-7, 3.22), first pitch at 1:05 p.m.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146