Showing posts with label Yankees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yankees. Show all posts

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jeter Says Goodbye

Still a Class Act
(Photos by Gary Quintal)

Derek Jeter gives his preliminary goodbye in the Bronx

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 8- The assumption is Derek Jeter will be on the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time as an active player in three weeks because the Yankees in all probability will miss the postseason for a second straight year. So on Sunday afternoon the Yankees gave him a fitting and preliminary goodbye tribute.

You can say that the Yankees gave him an early 

goodbye retirement party in order to keep fans in the stands and to profit on Jeter commemorative patches, shirts, and anything that sells with his name. The good thing is the Yankees and their fans still have Derek Jeter for another three weeks.

And for the next 21 games, assuming Jeter plays everyday, he will still be here. As he did so many times over an illustrious 20-year career he answered every question. Jeter never turned down an interview for a daily newspaper reporter, or for that matter someone who was not seen often on the Yankees beat writing for a weekly publication.

And as much as we all want Jeter to reevaluate his decision about retiring from the game of baseball, one that that places him among the greats, it will become
more difficult to say goodbye.

Because it is always difficult saying goodbye to a New York sports icon, and Derek Jeter may have been more than that.

“Today you think about it about all the things that are being said, but today I was trying not to think about it,” Jeter said about closure from the game, and that there are still games to played with his team having an outside chance to be that second wild card team.

He added, “Fortunately there is a little more time.” The hope was always that this final season would result in the Yankees going to another postseason and to do it for the Captain.

But the Yankees from the onset of this season have
never been able to resemble a playoff team. As it was again on Jeter’s day, they failed to score runs and were shutout for a second time in three games by the central division leading Kansas City Royals.

Said Jeter about his day after he came off the playing field, “It was awesome, something I will always remember. The Yankee know how to throw big ceremonies. This is a day I will remember forever.”

He thanked the fans on the field and again when he met the media in the Yankees press conference room. Jeter has never been comfortable speaking about this farewell to baseball, but those extended family of fans made it easier.

“Anyone who is here today, anyone who is at home
watching, anyone who has ever been over the course, over the last 20 seasons, thank you very much. You guys have watched me grow up over the last 20 years. I've watched you, too. Some of you guys are getting older, too. I want to thank you for helping me feel like a kid the last 20 years.”

Jeter was surprised by a few of the dignataries that showed up for his day, including another world champion he has associated with over the years, Michael Jordan, who knows something about farewell tours, saying thank you to the hometown fans and about being a good teammate, and leader on numerous championship teams.

“I appreciate it. I did not go into any expectations,” Jeter said. This retirement tour of ballparks has been different from the one Mariano Rivera received last year. Jeter is an everyday player as Rivera continued to become baseball’s all-time closer.

Jordan offered some advice, along with Dave Winfield and another legend, Cal Ripkin Jr. who all have been a part of the Derek Jeter legacy in one way or another.

“He’s prepared for this, he chose to step away from the game,” said Jordan. “His knowledge of the game is strong, he’s going to sit down with his family and think his next step.”

Jeter wants to move on with his life beyond baseball. He will be financially secure enough that could one day keep him in the game of baseball as an owner or in another capacity. Whatever he does, regardless, it will be successful.

On the field an era is coming to an end. The Yankees “Core Four” of Jeter, Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte has come to an end and there may never be another four similar in the years to come.”

“It was very strange kind of a different situation with three weeks left, a unique situation kind of tough to explain,” Jeter said about the ceremonial day in his honor. “At the same time, I am still trying to play a game.”

And at the same time, and as the days dwindle to a precious few it will harder to say goodbye to Derek Jeter.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Friday, August 15, 2014

Yankees, Victoria’s Secret Opening in Bay Plaza

Yankees, Victoria’s Secret Opening in Bay Plaza

By Michael Horowitz

BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 15- The Bay Plaza shopping center’s new wing, which has been in the planning stage for years, opened on Thursday morning.

Portions of the new mall, including its spanking new Macy’s, were still under construction by the middle of this week. Portions of the new mall will not be completed until next year.

The new mall, when it is fully completed, will be anchored by Macy’s at one end and a pre-existing JC Penney’s department store at the other end. 

Stores in the new mall will ultimately include Victoria Secret Express, Swarovski Crystals, H&M, Michael Kors, and the Yankee Clubhouse.

Other chains that have signed leases to be at Bay Plaza include Zales Jewelers, Kay Jewelers, Matthew’s Jewelers, Cohen Optical, Bath & Body, Charlotte Rousse, Champs, Footlocker, Lid’s Hats, Joe’s Crab Shack, the Olive Garden, Red Robin, American Eagle Aeropostale, and Sprint.

The new Macy’s, which will be an anchor store for Bay Plaza’s new, enclosed mall, will comprise 160,000 square feet on its own.
The 780,000-square foot extension of Bay Plaza will mean that the shopping center, which is on the outskirts of Co-op City, will comprise close to two million square feet.

The price tag for the extension of the Bay Plaza mall is expected to approach $300 million. The new mall is expected to create 1,700 permanent jobs and to have parking for up 2,300 cars.

The extension of Bay Plaza’s new wing will be connected to the existing JC Penney store at Bay Plaza.

In recent months, those living in Co-op City and those driving by the community have seen the new wing of the shopping center rising on its southern end of the Bay Plaza shopping center. 

The shopping center’s developers and elected officials have stressed that the impending of Bay Plaza’s new wing is an exciting development for the Bronx and Westchester.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., among others, have touted the development of Bay Plaza’s new wing as a sign of progress in the Bronx and in the city as a whole. 

Bay Plaza, which first opened in the mid-1980s and spans 1.3 million square feet, is already the largest mall in the Bronx.

When the new mall is completed, it will be attached to the current shopping center. The entire mall will be enclosed, making it the first mall of this kind in the Bronx.

“We are talking to all the major chains about coming to Bay Plaza,” Sam Shalem, CEO of Prestige Properties (the shopping center’s developer), has stressed. “This is just the kind of suburban mall this area needs.”

Shalem has said that he is confident that the enlarged mall will have major appeal to the more than four million people who live in close proximity to Co-op City.

Shalem has stated that he expects the new shopping center to attract those living in Westchester and southern Connecticut, as well as those living in neighborhoods through the Bronx.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


One Slip Sinks Tanaka

Jon Lester Tops Masahiro Tanaka in Impressive Pitcher’s Duel at Yankee Stadium

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 29- On Saturday night, a sold-out house of 48,433 at Yankee Stadium, the third largest crowd of the season, was attracted to another contest between the biggest rivals in baseball, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

The two courageous and talented starting pitchers, Jon Lester of Boston and Masahiro Tanaka of New York hooked up in an outstandingly performed and fast moving pitcher’s duel.

Lester, 30, was starting his 237th game in the majors. The number of starts would be even higher, but Lester missed large parts of his first two seasons with Boston, 2006 and 2007, after being diagnosed with lymphoma in the summer of 2006. Tanaka, 25, was making his 16th start of his first season in MLB.

Lester pitched no-hit ball for the first five frames. The first hit he yielded was a single up the middle by Brett Gardner, leading off the sixth. After Gardner was thrown out trying to stretch his single to a double, the next two batters, Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury, each singled, but were left on base when the inning ended.

The only run given up by Lester was scored without a hit. Brian Roberts was safe on an error to begin the Yankee third. The next batter, Yangervis Solarte, was hit by a pitch. Gardner pushed them each up one base with a sacrifice bunt. The unearned run was scored on an infield groundout by Jeter.

Lester’s superlative performance of pitching eight innings without allowing an earned run, while only yielding five hits, was last equaled by a Red Sox pitcher in the Bronx when it was accomplished by Lester on July 3, 2008 in the original Yankee Stadium’s final season.

When asked to describe Lester’s outing, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi remarked, “He does what he always does. He cuts it; he sinks it; he locates. He pitched extremely well tonight.”
The leading Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Tanaka, pitched his third complete game of the season. He walked one batter and surrendered seven hits, but only two pitches were responsible for his loss.

Catcher David Ross took a 1-0 pitch into the stands for a solo home run with one out in the third.

The winning run came with two out in the ninth on the 112th pitch thrown by the Yankee starter. With the count 1-2 on Mike Napoli, who had two hits and homered off Tanaka in their previous encounter on April22, Tanka threw a fast ball over the plate that Napoli sent into the right field stands.

Through his translator, Tanaka explained what happened, “The sign was for a breaking ball, but I wanted to go hard outside. That’s why I shook him [catcher Brian McCann] off twice. He asked for a splitter and a slider. I wanted to set up for a breaking ball on the next pitch, but I missed my spot.”

After the game, Girardi was asked why he didn’t remove Tanaka in the ninth. He responded with the following statement, “He’d been excellent all night. His stuff was really outstanding. I liked how he’d been throwing the baseball.” 

Neither deserved to lose such a well-pitched game yet one did. Both deserved to win such a well-pitched game yet only one did. That’s baseball, a game of inches.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?

Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?
Fans Think So

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- A three-game sweep over Toronto has the New York Yankees feeling confident. And it should carry towards more momentum Friday night when the Baltimore Orioles come to Yankee Stadium for three more But the Blue Jays are a team the Yankees have to chase in the AL east and Thursday night they got closer to the first place Jays.

David Phelps continued to be a momentum builder on the mound, and the Yankees once again scored first and tacked on runs. The bullpen took over as the Yankees won their third straight, 4-2.

A week ago, the Yankees had that continued issue of situational hitting missing from the lineup. The captain, Derek Jeter, struggled and Carlos Beltran, one of their key off- season free agent acquisitions, was coming off the disabled list. The past three nights in the Bronx, and against a powerful Toronto lineup, the Yankees looked like a first place team.

They are now tied in the loss column with Toronto, 1/1-2 games from first place. Does a chase for first place in mid-June have anything to do with this resurgence, or is this just the part of a long baseball season?

 “There is a lot of meaning to these games,” manager Joe Girardi commented. His team has won seven of their past nine games. “We all understand that, and we know they understand that. When you face each other 19 times, you look to try to catch people, put some distance between some people and win series."

The Yankees swept a series for the fourth time this season. This one, though, had significance with a stretch of 15 consecutive games against divisional opponents. The Orioles will present a challenge and Tampa Bay, in the cellar, always does. These were the first place Blue Jays who have gone 3-9 over their last 12 games, and been on top since the 22nd of May.

"Hey, if you're going to play in prime time, you've got to perform on the big stage and we didn't do it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We're fully capable of doing it. We just didn't do it. It'll be definitely good to move on.”

The Blue Jays move on. They will have time to figure out a way to break a 16-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. Their next stint in the Bronx is scheduled at the end of next month.

The Yankees are looking at the positive side of things. The past three games everything came together, something they projected themselves to do with their off-season spending spree that surpassed $450 million in free agents. Brian McCann, the catcher, who had a go ahead home run the night before, realized the significance of winning three against the front runners.   

“We were able to score some runs,” he commented. “Swinging the bat better…It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. We’re putting together better consistent at bats. It’s big to win games. Obviously when you play teams in your division, you want to win.”

McCann is swinging the bat better. “We’re playing better baseball than we were the past couple of weeks,” he said. Jeter has been getting on base, a .405 clip in his last nine games and Brett Gardner, 1-for-3, Thursday night is batting .366, 15-for-41 over his last ten games.

"Big series for us," Adam Warren said. The reliever earned his second save of the season after retiring two Blue Jays’ in the ninth. The closer David Robertson needed a night off after pitching the first two games of the series.

 "It's nice to kind of see our team click a little bit and play some good baseball,” said Warren

These are words being said by a Yankees team that was looking for answers last week. That included the final two games out in Oakland that did not go their way. And, yes, everything is clicking, even with this contingency of a starting rotation because three quarters of the regulars are on the disabled list.

Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, and his 11-1 record, the manager is elated what he is getting from Chase Whitley and Vidal Nuno. Then there is David Phelps, (3-4) who tossed seven-innings and gave up two runs with a good back door cutter and curve, but allowed a home run to Melky Cabrera in the third inning.

“Refreshing to see guys like Chase (Whitley), one of the biggest things that motivated me,” Phelps commented. The sweep, it’s huge. We gotta win games against them.”

And winning games during this divisional stretch is what the Yankees did. Time will tell if this division will continue to be bunched with teams in September, and that also includes the Red Sox who may not be ready to give up their World Series crown.

We do know this though: Three games have sent a message that the Yankees intend to be a part of this equation by September.  

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Monday, June 2, 2014

Carlos Beltrán

Latino Sports Honors Carlos Beltrán
(Photo courtesy of NY Yankees)

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 2- A festive luncheon was held at Yankee Stadium last Friday afternoon, several hours before the first game of a seven-day home stand to welcome Carlos Beltrán to the Bronx and to the New York Yankees. 

Latino Sports has previously honored Beltrán with a Latino MVP Award as Rookie of the Year in the first year of the organization’s existence, 1989. After Beltrán’s final game with the Mets, several journalists approached the baseball great to shake hands and extend well wishes for his future. 

At that time, Julio Pabón, the founder and president of Latino Sports, told Beltrán that he would receive a proper greeting upon his return to New York. The baseball great returned to New York this season and the meaningful welcome was in place on Friday.

Pabón took the occasion to briefly explain the 25-year history of Latino Sports and the reason for its founding and the need for its continued existence. He also educated his audience on the history of the relationship of the New York Yankees and the residents of the surrounding community. 
He introduced two specials guests, NYY General Manager Brian Cashman and Senior Vice President Corporate/Community Relations Brian Smith. The two Brians spoke in agreement with Pabón’s thoughts that relations between the organization and the community have improved. 

Beltrán, a soft spoken and humble man with great talent as an athlete, graciously accepted the gifts he was presented with. His words exhibited his intelligence and maturity. His concern and gratitude to those present, especially the children, was also apparent by his manner and thoughtfulness.

Several of those in attendance, perhaps including Beltrán himself, were thinking this luncheon and Beltrán’s signing with the Yankees should have taken place a decade earlier.

At the age of 18, the native of Manatí, Puerto Rico was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. In his first full season with the Royals, 1999, his fine performance led to his selection as American League Rookie of the Year.  

Although he drove in at least 100 runs in four of his five full seasons with Royals, the outfielder was traded to Houston in June of 2004. 
On January 11, 2005, he signed with the Mets as a free agent. It was that winter that he was also in contact with the Yankees, with whom he hoped to sign. At a press conference after his free agent signing in December of 2013, Beltrán spoke of that missed opportunity by the Yankees, “I grew up being a Yankee fan, a Bernie Williams fan. I used to look up to this organization. They always did what it takes to put good teams out there and in championships. Eight-nine years ago, hey couldn’t commit to the years I wanted. They were having problems with the salary cap. They got Randy Johnson and I signed with the Mets.” 

What the Yankees passed up by not signing Beltrán can be understood by his being chosen as a National League All-Star in five of his seven seasons with the Mets.

After two All-Star seasons with the Cardinals, the eight-time All-Star is finally a Yankee. His personal background makes him very comfortable and very pleased to be playing in the Bronx, “I’m proud that on this side of town we have a lot of Puerto Ricans. I have a double responsibility, representing the Yankees and representing my country.” His loyalty and pride in his homeland was also exhibited by his membership on Puerto Rico’s national team in all three sessions of the World Baseball Classic (WBC)-2006, 2009 and 2013.

Using different words than he spoke in December, the meaning of Beltrán’s words were the same, “I am proud to be a Latino. I like to walk in the barrio because that’s where I come from.”

He also spoke of his love and respect for his parents, “I come from a humble family. God gave me the ability to play baseball [but I am] more proud of my parents for giving me values.” 

Beltrán has not only conducted himself as a gentleman, but is a socially conscious individual. He has been involved in numerous positive endeavors during his career, especially those that are beneficial to children. He realizes his position as a renowned major league baseball star comes with responsibility, “My opportunity as a baseball player is to give back. I want to do something for the Latino community. Every day I live I try to impact other people’s lives. I believe we can change lives. We are going to work on a project to benefit the people.”

His efforts and accomplishments have been recognized with his being the recipient of the Thurman Munson Award in 2009, the Joan Payson Award in 2010 and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2013. 

Although Beltrán is currently on the disabled list with a bone spur on his right elbow, he is working hard to prevent the need for surgery and an absence of 10-12 weeks. 

His record on the field and his character off the field have merited him consideration of one day being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  If he successfully completes his contract with the Yankees, one day there may be a luncheon in Beltrán’s honor to celebrate his election to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. 

The ceremony brought good feelings to all present, regardless of age or personal background. The food was delicious and plentiful, and more importantly, the atmosphere was joyful and very positive. The guest of honor was very deserving of so meaningful a display of affection and respect.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Five Yankee Home Runs Produce a 7-1 Victory over the Pirates

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 18- Not since October 10, 1960, in the fifth game of that ill-fated World Series for New York have the Pittsburgh Pirates won a game at Yankee Stadium. The two teams have not again met in the World Series, but have competed against one another in interleague play.

The Yanks won all three games in the Bronx in 2005. The Pirates lost all three meetings at Yankee Stadium again in 2007. The Pirates returned to the Bronx this weekend and played at the new Stadium for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The 7-1 win by the Yankees was the seventh loss in a row by the Pirates in the Bronx.

The difference was the home run ball. All seven Yankee runs were scored via the home run and the Pirates only run also came by a four bagger. It was the first game in more than one year, April 29, 2013, that five different Yankee players hit home runs in the same game.
The Yankee offense began in the first frame as Derek Jeter singled to center with one out. The base hit was #3,350 for the Yankee captain. He now needs only 70 to pass Carl Yastrzemski for 7th place in MLB career rankings. The next batter, Mark Teixeira knocked in the first two runs of the game with his ninth homer of the season. It was the eighth in the last 17 games for the hot hitter. After the game, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi happily remarked, “It’s great having him back.”

Two innings later, Zoilo Almonte became the first of three Yankee batters to lead-off an inning with a home run. In his second game and second at bat of the year, the native of the Dominican Republic hit the first pitch he saw into the stands in right.

Brett Gardner began the Yankee sixth with his third homer of 2014. Alfonso Soriano led-off the seventh with a home run on a 1-1 pitch.

In the final go-around at the plate for the Yankees in the eighth, catcher Brian McCann hit a two-out homer with Gardner on base by a walk.

After the game, Teixeira, who started the home run attack, commented, “It’s good to see us break out today."

Girardi explained a baseball truism to reporters, so they could better understand the success of the team at home, “Our team is built for this park. You know you’re going to play 81 games here.”

The lead-off home run by Sterling Marte off reliever Dellin Betances in the sixth is the only run given up by Yankee pitchers in the last 27 innings.

With three of the Yankees five starting pitchers on the disabled list, Nova, Pineda and Sabathia, David Phelps was assigned his third start of the season, all in May. Phelps had a strange start but earned the win. In the first three innings, he didn’t surrender a hit, but walked three and hit a batsman. He gave up three hits in the fourth and two in the fifth, but no one crossed the plate.

The righty spoke about his performance. “It’s a really weird game when you throw 100 pitches in five innings and don’t give up a run. Mac [catcher Brian McCann] did a great job today keeping me in his glove.”

Girardi spoke more positively of the starter, “He made pitches when he had to. Our defense played pretty well behind him. We got him up to 100 pitches [his longest outing of the season]. We know he’ll continue to improve.”

The Yankees and Pirates will play a doubleheader on Sunday, starting at 1 pm. It is the first single admission doubleheader to be played at Yankee Stadium since September 29, 2004.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chase Whitley

Pitching Phenom
Rookie Shutout Mets for Second Straight Night

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 16- The final game of 2014 Subway Series was the first game in the majors for each of the starting pitchers. It is a rare game in which both starters are debuting in MLB. The most recent time it happened was on September 7, 2010 when Dillon Gee, who was scheduled to start Thursday for the Mets, faced Yunesky Maya of the Washington Nationals.

Chase Whitley, an Alabama native, 24 years of age, was given the ball for the Yankees. Whitley was drafted by the Yanks in the 15th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft while he was a student at Troy University.​

Until this season his time was primarily spent in the bullpen. He started only eight of his first 144 minor league games. In 2014, the righty started in six of his seven appearances with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He compiled a record of 3-2 with an ERA of 2.39.

Jacob deGrom, 25, the starter for the Mets, was drafted by them in the 9th round of the same draft as Whitley. The Floridian was attending Stetson University when drafted. Unlike his counterpart on the Yanks, deGrom started each of his minor league games. His record with Triple A Las Vegas was 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA.

Of his rise to the majors, deGrom commented, “I was surprised when they called me. I was thinking it would be a little later, but I’m really glad it happened now.”

Both starters pitched as if they were experienced, veteran players in front of a small crowd rather than major league neophytes pitching in front of a crowd in excess of 40,000 during the Subway Series.

Whitley pitched 4.2 innings, yielding only two hits and two walks while blanking the Mets. Girardi explained he was lifted because, “We felt he started to tire.”

Other than that, both managers were extremely impressed, Girardi enthused, “His performance was spectacular. He was able to control his emotions. He continued to throw strikes.”

The opinion of Mets skipper Terry Collins was quite similar, “He executed his pitches. He was very impressive.”

Although deGrom suffered the loss his outstanding performance on the mound did not earn it for him. He hurled seven innings, giving up only four hits and two walks but also the only run of the game.

The run came in his final inning as Mark Teixeira drew a walk and scored on a double by Alfonso Soriano.”

DeGrom also earned the praise of both managers. Collins remarked, “Tremendous command of his stuff. As the game went on, he got better. [He] kept us right there.” Girardi was in agreement, “I thought his change-up was excellent. He seemed to relax a little bit. He did the little things i.e. batting, fielding, that helped.”

Interestingly, both starters got base hits. The hit by deGrom was the first for a Mets pitcher this season.

After the contest, deGrom explained his feelings, “In the first, I was nervous. It was awesome facing those guys. I watched Jeter when I was growing up. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to face. It’s a feeling I’ll never have again.”

A native New Yorker, Dellin Betances, did the most impressive pitching in the contest. In 2.1 innings of relief, Betances gave up no hits and fanned six of the seven batters he faced. Girardi opined, “He continues to grow in front of us.”
The 2014 Subway Series has now concluded.

Monday, May 5, 2014

#CC Sabathia Gets Roughed Up

#CC Sabathia Gets Roughed Up
Sabathia Beats Up on Himself

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 5- The inability of the New York Yankees’ starting pitchers to win games has become a serious issue for the club. During the first 17 days of the 2014 campaign, April 1-17, Yankee starters recorded 10 wins, but in the next 17 days, April 18-May 4, Yankee starting pitchers only have three wins. 

Their inability to go deep into games has also put undue pressure upon its overworked bullpen. After Sunday’s game, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi stated this clearly, “We have to start getting length out of our starters.”

This was certainly something that did not happen in Sunday’s game. CC Sabathia, the ace of the Yankee staff since signing with the franchise on December 18, 2008, was especially disappointing. The 3.2 innings he pitched was his shortest outing since October 2, 2009, which was also against Tampa Bay. 

The lefty has been extremely effective at Yankee Stadium, compiling a record of 43-19. His only shorter start at the ballpark in the Bronx took place in his rookie season, on June 27, 2001. As a member of the Cleveland Indians, he yielded six runs in one inning to the Yankees.
The onslaught against Sabathia on Sunday began in the first frame. Logan Forsythe led off the contest with a double to right, and was driven in by an Evan Longoria double two batters later. Longoria leads all visiting players with 37 runs batted in at the new Yankee Stadium.

With one out in the third, Desmond Jennings doubled. Longoria followed by drawing a walk. The next batter, Will Myers, blasted a ball over the head of centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and sprinted around the bases for a rare standing inside-the-park home run to score three. The last player on the Rays to hit an inside-the-park homer was Ben Zobrist on September 25, 2011.

Myers’ double in the following inning drove in his fourth run in the contest and led to Sabathia’s removal from the game. The two hits extended Myers’ hitting streak at Yankee Stadium to the first 13 games he played at the iconic venue. a new record for a rookie at either park named Yankee Stadium.

The 33 year-old pitcher yielded five runs and 10 hits in his short stint. Girardi was uncharacteristically blunt in describing Sabathia’s performance, “Today, he really struggled. It was probably his hardest start this year. I didn’t think he had his good slider, his good change-up. He just didn’t have his good stuff.”
Sabathia a former Cy Young Award recipient, was unhappy with his performance on the mound, “It’s frustrating to go out and not give us a good opportunity to win.”

He was in no way critical of fans who booed him, “I would have booed myself today. I wouldn’t want to come to the ballpark and see that.”

Sabathia explained his attitude this season with that of last year when he was very negative towards his performances. He expressed in several statements, after the game, his belief that he will improve, “I’ve gotten these guys out. I know I can do it again. I can’t let a little adversity throw what I’ve done out the window. I feel that I can turn this thing around. I’ll come out of this thing and be the guy we need.”

A very positive pitching sign was the appearance of Alfredo Aceves for the first time this season. He pitched 5.1 innings in relief of Sabathia, yielding only three hits and blanking the Rays. Despite his effectiveness on Sunday, Girardi does not, at this time, desire to insert him into the starting rotation. 

The next game at Yankee Stadium, Monday, May 12, will be the first game of this year’s Subway Series between the Yanks and Mets.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Yanks Shut Down

Yanks Shut Down

Rookie pitcher from Cuba leads Mariners to sweep over Yankees

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 2- Roenis Elias was not supposed to get the start for the Seattle Mariners in their three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx. Felix Hernandez was supposed to close the three-game series the night before, but rain forced a postponement. The 25-year old left-hander got his opportunity Thursday night.

Perhaps, the Yankees would have preferred Hernandez because Elias, a defector from Cuba, in his sixth professional start gave the Yankees more than they were looking for as the Mariners swept the abbreviated two-game series, 4-2. After giving up a first inning home run to Jacoby Ellsbury, the first for the Yankees center fielder, he used a curve and fastball that were impressive.

He tossed seven-innings, struck out a career-high 10, allowing two runs and six hits. And only one run was earned due to a Mariners error in the third inning. Elias was impressive and the spotlight of pitching at Yankee Stadium added no added pressure. Of the 110 pitches he threw, 73 went for strikes.

The Mariners won their fourth straight at Yankee Stadium going back to last season. But the story was Elias who made an impression on Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees could not deal with the fastball and curve. After the sixth inning, they did not get a hit until pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki got a two-out single in the ninth off closer Fernando Rodney.

"He was hitting his spots. He was getting ahead. He pitched a good game. He's got a good arm,” said the Yankees Derek Jeter about the rookie pitcher. "Sometimes pitchers are going to be better than you. He threw really well. He's not a typical lefty who tries to trick you. He gets it up there pretty good.”

Said Girardi: “He used his fastball and curve effectively…pretty good stuff.” After the Ellsbury home run, Elias, who spent last year pitching for Double- A Jackson with 14 of 22 quality starts, limited the Yankees to five hits.

“The adrenaline comes from the spotlight," Elias said through a translator. "I've never been to the stadium so it was good to come here and beat the Yankees. I've seen it on TV but never been here." Elias became the third rookie pitcher at Yankee Stadium to strike out 10 or more batters at Yankee Stadium.

The manager, Lloyd McClendon had Elias slated to pitch this weekend. The rain-out moved Hernandez to another day and Elias got his chance. He got the call Wednesday night from pitching Coach Rick Waits Wednesday night that he would get the ball.

“The young man threw a tremendous game,” commented McClendon. “We thought he'd be OK in this environment. The young man is tough."

Facing Derek Jeter and the Yankees, especially for the first time is a challenge. The fastball was clocked over 90 and the curve had the Yankees hitters fooled. Throw in the fact that the Yankees are having issues getting the timely hit and again they had to come from behind. Elias made sure to keep his composure.

All of the first 28 batters he faced saw strikes.

“You have to get ready mentally,” said Elias who uses the fastball as his number one pitch. “After a couple of innings I felt more comfortable and took control.

Girardi did not seem concerned that his offense went cold. “It’s early in the season,” he said. “Obviously consistency is important. It will come.” He has to be more concerned about the state of his starting pitching. Hiroki Kuroda (2-3) gave up four runs, three earned on seven hits in six innings. In his previous start, Friday night against the Angels, he gave up a career- high eight runs in 4.21 innings, in a Yankees 13-1 loss.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Girardi said. "A lot of nights that's going to be good enough to win.”

But it was not good enough for the Yankees who welcome division rival Tampa Bay to the Bronx for the next three games. The rotation is struggling also with Ivan Nova disabled for the season and Michael Pineda serving a suspension and headed to the disabled list.

As for Robinson Cano, his return to the Bronx was met with boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd. And in two games, he went 2-for-9 with three runs batted in. His double and two RBI were the difference Thursday night.

“Both days felt good because both days we won, so it has to feel good," Cano said. "There weren't any expectations from the crowd today. I just wanted to go out and take care of business. You have to understand the fans, but it is not going to be a distraction for me."

But Cano and the Yankees were not the story this night. A kid from Cuba, named Elias, may have turned himself into a pitching sensation at Yankee Stadium.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Sunday, April 27, 2014

John Ryan Murphy, Yankees

Newbies Save the Day for Yankees

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 27- A win or a loss in an individual baseball game is never the product of one player’s performance. While writers and fans find it simplistic and thus easy to point to one player or one play as the cause for either the victory or defeat, the resaons are usually more complex.

On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees defeated the Angels, 4-3. The pitch count was 286, there were 67 official at bats, five batters drew walks, two pitchers balked. Some happenings were more crucial than others in determining the final outcome.

This article will focus on the performances of three lesser known and more recent players to join the team, who played critical roles in the Yankee victory. The Yankees starter Vidal Nuno, 26 years old, appeared in five games for the Yanks in 2013 and was making his fifth appearance and second start this year on Saturday. With Ivan Nova currently on the disabled list and Michael Pineda on suspension, other Yankees are being called upon for extra duty.

Nuno gave up a home run to the second batter in the game. To put that fact in truer perspective the batter was Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball. The homer was Trout’s sixth in 2014 and the run batted in his 15th. Later in the game, off different pitchers, Trout drew two walks, singled and stole a base. His batting average is .313.

The California native of Mexican descent yielded two runs in the fourth after retiring all six batters he faced in the second and third innings. The fourth began with the second straight single hit by future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Of course, Pujols has little problem with any Yankee hurler. In limited at bats, he is 17 for 47. The next batter, Howie Kendrick, who holds the highest batting average against the Yanks-.357, walked. Both scored before the inning ended.

The score was tied when Nuno was removed after 4.1 innings, giving up three runs and five hits. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said Nuno was not as impressive as in his last start (zero runs in five frames) on April 20, but “he gave us a chance to win. He’ll be out there in six days.”

The four relievers for each club did not allow a run to score. Dellin Betances, who followed Nuno earned the win. Betances, 26 years of age, pitched in only two games in 2011 and six last year for the Yanks. Saturday’s relief effort was his ninth appearance this season.

Betances gave up a single and a walk in two innings of work. Girardi commented very favorably on the native New Yorker, “He got a lot of big outs for us today. This was the toughest challenge we’ve given him. He’s had to change roles and had to fight to get here.”

The 6-8 hurler spoke of the effort he makes, “I’m just trying to go out there and make my pitches. I want to do the best I can to help.”

Thanks to a lead-off first pitch home run in the fifth by catcher John Ryan Murphy, Betances obtained his first major league win. Betances commented, “It was good to get the first win, especially from the bullpen. I feel the win goes for myself and everybody who got in the game.”

He had special words of commendation for Murphy, “I’m so happy for him. He did the job today. I’ve gotten to know him in the last few years.”

While the home run was the game winning run batted in, Murphy also got the other two runs batted in for the Yanks. He drove in two runs in the second. The third run in that inning scored on a balk by Hector Santiago.  

Girardi said of Murphy, 22, who was in 16 games for the Yanks last year, “He’ll never forget it. Huge day. Great job behind home plate. It means even more because we won the game by one run and he did it.”

Murphy received the game ball after hitting his first homer in the majors. Of the ball, he explained, “[I’ll] probably give it to my mother and let her decide what to do with it.”

The starting pitchers in the rubber game of the three game set which will begin late on Sunday night are two undefeated pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka for New York and Garrett Richards for Los Angeles.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yanks Play Like They Were Cursed

Yanks Play Like They Were Cursed
 Kuroda Bombs, Angels Clobber Yanks, 13-1

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 26- Returning from a road trip which found starter Ivan Nova injured, needing surgery, and out for the rest of the 2014 season and starter Michael Pineda suspended for 10 games, starter Hiroki Kuroda began the homestand on Friday night with his worst performance of the young season.

Kuroda was removed from the game by Yanks skipper Joe Girardi after 4.2 innings after surrendering 10 hits and 8 runs, 6 earned. In his previous 26 starts, since May 28, 2013, Kuroda had pitched a minimum of five innings. The current holder of the highest streak of games of at least five innings pitched is Kuroda’s countryman, Yu Darvish with 56.

Kuroda spoke critically off his performance, “Right now, some pitches are inconsistent. I need to improve my breaking ball. I need to make an adjustment.”

Two veterans, Albert Pujols and Raúl Ibañez, beagn the hit parade for the Angels with singles in the first inning. The first three batters in the second inning, Ian Stewart, Erick Aybar and Hank Conger, hit safely and later in the inning scored.

With two out in the third, second sacker Howie Kendrick singled and was driven in on a two-run homer by Stewart.

Pujols, leading off the fifth, drilled a 1-1 pitch into the leftfield stands for his ninth home run of the year and the 501st of his career in the majors. He became the 26th player to reach 500 four baggers three days earlier. Now in his 14th season, Pujols, off to an excellent start, had only once, 2006, reached his ninth homer in the season sooner than game #22. The nine homer in April tied an Angels mark set by Brian Downing in 2006.

Pujols is the first righty to hit a home run off Kuroda in 10 starts. The last was Edwin Encarnación on August 28, 2013. The last righthand batter to homer off him in Yankee Stadium was Jose Iglesias on June 2, 2013.

Although the outcome was already decided when Kuroda left the field, the Angels left nothing to chance by scoring five runs off Yankee relievers. Four were driven in by homers in the seventh. Aybar blasted a three run home run and, two batters later, Colin Cowgill hit a solo homer.

The Yankee offense was halted by Los Angeles starter CJ Wilson. In six innings, he yielded only four hits and one run to earn his third win of the season.

The second game of the series will be plated on Saturday afternoon with Vidal Nuno starting for the Yanks and Hector Santiago for the Angels.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yankees Honor Mandela, Jackie Robinson

Yankees Honor Mandela, Jackie Robinson 

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 17- On April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of the first game played by Jack Roosevelt Robinson in the major leagues, Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig announced the retirement of Robinson’s #42 from Major League Baseball. On that date in every year since 1997, all players in a scheduled game wear the #42 to honor Robinson’s accomplishment of breaking the color barrier. With the retirement of Mariano Rivera at the close of the 2013 season, there are no longer any active p[layers wearing #42.
Inclement weather in the Bronx forced the delay of the April 15 game between the Yankees and Cubs, the ceremony and the press conference for the one day, but did not in any way lessen the meaning of the day of remembrance.
This year’s special Robinson ceremony took place at Yankee Stadium to honor not only Robinson but former South African President Nelson Mandela. The New York Yankees added a plaque honoring Mandela in Monument Park. Many remember Mandela’s appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1990, shortly after his 27 year imprisonment in South Africa ended. On that day, wearing a Yankee jacket and cap, Mandela remarked to the crowd, ‘’You know who I am. I am a Yankee.’’
That day and Mandela’s subsequent accomplishments as South Africa’s president were recalled in a press conference that featured many prominent speakers who paid tribute to his deeds.
Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of the world leader who died at the age of 95 in December 2013, expressed his gratitude to the Yankees, and referred to himself as ‘’just a custodian of his [Mandela’s] legacy.”
Also present were South Africa’s Consul General, George Monyemangene, and Sello Hatang, Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO. The latter asked the Yankees to honor Mandela on July 18, Nelson Mandela Day. 
Others who spoke in honor of Mandela included former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the Reverands Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, Harry Belafonte, New York Yankees President Randy Levine and Robinson’s daughter, Sharon.
Yankee Managing Partner Hal Steinbrenner presented a matted copy of Mandela’s plaque to Mandela’s grandson and wife. The plaque will join those of Robinson, Yankees immortals and world leaders such as Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in Monument Park. 
The centerpiece of the annual ceremony was, as always, a recognition of Robinson’s deed. His widow, Rachel, and daughter, Sharon, were present to enhance the remembrance of their loved one. 
To put the achievement of Jackie Robinson in historical perspective, we should recognize that he integrated MLB before it was accomplished in the NFL or NBA, seven years before the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 16 years before the memorable March on Washington and 17 years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Acts during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. 
In his introductory words at the informative, inspirational and educational press conference, New York Yankees Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations Jason Zilo linked the legacies of the two honorees, “Bringing people of all backgrounds and demographics together.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Yankees Sock it to Boston

Yankees Sock it to Boston

Yanks Put to Rest Some Questions with Dominance of Red Sox, Ejection of Manager John Farrell

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 14- The rivalry changed a bit when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox met for the first time in the Bronx the past three days. The Yankees, a team with questions will take what they accomplished after their 3-2 win Sunday night taking three of four games from their rivals.

This early in the season, and with questions about a Yankees bullpen that is being tested, they conquered. Matt Thornton, David Phelps and Shawn Kelley closed the door with David Robertson on the disabled list. It was intense baseball in the Bronx and from the looks of these first four of 19-games that will be played between these division rivals, there will be more intensity.

And count on a little of everything, including spectacular defense that came from the Yankees outfield. With a decimated infield, plagued by injuries, Carlos Beltran was shifted from right-field to first base in the top of the fifth because of an injury to Francisco Cervelli.

Cervelli, will likely go on the disabled list. Sunday night, Beltran went 3-for-4 including a home run, single and a double He has been everything the Yankees wanted in their lineup, perhaps something they did not have last year when the Red Sox dominated New York.

"I didn't have a whole lot of choices tonight," said manager Joe Girardi about putting Beltran in at first for the injured Cervelli. "Just tells you the type of player he is. Willing to do anything you ask him to do.”

He added, “Very, very unselfish."

Beltran is that type of player. He was one of the four players the Yankees purchased for over $450 million to get them back to October. But, with the Yankees decimated with injuries in the infield, Beltran was pressed into service and was put in the infield for the first time in his career.

It was another dimension to this rivalry, a new one that has developed. The Red Sox don’t resemble the team that went on to win a World Series last October. And the Yankees, without Derek Jeter this night ,were pressed to do something and Beltran did not say no.

"Thank God nobody hit the baseball to me," said Beltran. He made three putouts and without Mark Teixeira, on the disabled list with a right hamstring pull, Girardi may not hesitate to put Beltran at first again.

“We have to do what it takes," Beltran said. I hope I don't have to do it again." The Yankees are doing what they have to do, 13-games into a young season. He has homered in consecutive games since May 28-29 of last season against Kansas City when he was with the Cardinals.

The Yankees scored their third run in the fourth inning. The new instant replay rule went to their benefit and caused the ejection of Boston Manager John Farrell. Cervelli was ruled safe on a bang-bang play at first. Girardi challenged.

Farrell contested the change of a call that enabled the Yankees to get what was a decisive run in what could have been an inning ending double-play. Under the new rule a play overturned is not supposed to be argued by a manager, hence the ejection. More, so the Yankees got the benefit and the rivalry got more intense.

So much of what transpired renewed a rivalry that seemed to disappear last season. Ichiro Suzuki, replacing Beltran in right, crashed into the outfield wall and made a spectacular catch that took an extra base hit away from David Ortiz in the eighth inning.

And by the eighth inning, with Mike Napoli on second, after a double to left that the Yankees’ Brett Gardner did his best to get, the Yankee Stadium crowd could be heard again, as it was when this rivalry was so intense.

Phelps, part of the mix and match late combination out of the Yankees pen walked Daniel Nava on a pitch that was low. A.J. Pierzynski got hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Mike Carp off the bench after going behind 2-0 on the count went after a breaking ball and swung at strike three.

Then Kelley, in a role as one of the closers, sent the Red Sox packing in the ninth. It is only April, but these games are so important in a division that will be contested also with Tampa Bay.

“You know the division and wild card come down to one run,” said Girardi who always said these games are important now. However, if the Yankees want to be there in late September, they need to stay healthy. And they need good pitching as Ivan Nova got his second win in 7.1 innings. He struck out four on eight-hits and one of the Boston runs off Napoli’s third home run in the sixth.

“I thought he had a better command of his curveball tonight and that was a difference,” commented Girardi. In his last outing, Nova gave up seven runs and 10-hits in 3-2/3 innings to Baltimore.

The type of game on Sunday night that revived a rivalry in the Bronx and the Yankees, with an off Monday have a day to recuperate before welcoming the Chicago Cubs for a two-game interleague series.