From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
BALTIMORE — Chugging into second base after logging one of the many big hits to come, Nick Swisher peeked into his dugout and let free the kind of laugh the Yankees have been waiting all too long to uncork.
After a pregame rain delay of 48 minutes, Swisher drove in four runs and Mark Teixeira knocked in another three, building an early lead and allowing CC Sabathia to coast during a 13-2 pounding of the Orioles at Camden Yards on Thursday.
“It feels like the clouds have parted a little bit and it’s breaking,” Swisher said. “It kind of feels like everything’s opening up for us. We just want to keep this roll going.”
The stress of a six-game losing streak is history as the Yankees head home to write the first chapter of this year’s Subway Series. Closing out a two-game set at Baltimore, New York won its third straight game.
The two contests in the Inner Harbor couldn’t have been more different — Wednesday presented a taut pitchers’ duel that went 15 innings, while the only lingering question about Thursday’s game concerned the margin of victory.
But they had a common denominator — terrific starting pitching. Between Bartolo Colon and Sabathia, the Yankees logged 16 scoreless innings from their starters.
“Our pitching has been really good, we’ve swung the bats pretty good for the most part and got some big hits when we’ve needed them,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It was nice to get that lead tonight and just let CC go to work.”
New York blasted Brad Bergesen for eight runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings, as the right-hander was pressed into duty after Baltimore used Thursday’s originally scheduled starter, Jeremy Guthrie, to wrap up Wednesday’s 15-inning marathon.
Swisher had the big hit in the Yankees’ five-run first inning, doubling in three runs off the glove of left fielder Felix Pie — just the tonic to bust out of a lingering slump.
“I feel like it’s been going on long enough,” Swisher said.
That big lead in his pocket, Sabathia did what he does best, attacking the strike zone and challenging hitters.
“It calms you down a little bit to go out and pound the zone,” said Sabathia, who scattered seven hits. “You try to get these guys back in to score as many runs as possible.”
Sabathia silenced the Orioles in a nine-strikeout, no-walk gem, winning for the fourth time in six starts and improving to 16-2 in 22 lifetime starts against Baltimore — one of five clubs against which he owns double-digit wins.
“That’s one of the benefits of having a guy like him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “After a 15-inning game, you just hand the ball off to him knowing you’re probably not going to have to use much of your bullpen.”
Girardi agreed, saying that a huge plus was that Sabathia’s 109-pitch effort saved Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and others from getting loose.
“Those guys have been throwing a lot of innings, and we know that’s one of the strengths of our team,” Sabathia said. “To be able to give them a night was pretty cool.”
The whole night wasn’t breezy. Both benches were warned by home-plate umpire Larry Vanover in the first inning, when Sabathia drilled Nick Markakis beneath the numbers in the small of his back.
It appeared to be in response to Robinson Cano’s hit-by-pitch in the top half of the inning, one night after backup outfielder Chris Dickerson suffered a concussion after being beaned by a Mike Gonzalez pitch.
“That’s part of the game,” Markakis said. “We hit a couple of their guys and it was bound to come, but you wear it and you move on.”
Sabathia denied any intent, claiming he’d been trying to go inside and the pitch got away, but even he understood the warning.
“The umpires are doing their jobs,” Sabathia said.
As it turned out, that brief exchange of bruises would prove to be the biggest drama of the evening.
Brett Gardner and Jeter piled on with back-to-back RBI triples in the fourth inning, ending Bergesen’s night. Teixeira blasted a two-run shot off reliever Chris Jakubauskas, his 10th homer of the season.
Swisher added an RBI single in the fifth and Jorge Posada smacked a run-scoring double in the sixth, his bat more important than his glove as he started at first base for the first time since 2008.
“When you’re not there a lot, it’s not an easy job,” Posada said, relieved that he hadn’t been hit any grounders.
Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer off Troy Patton in the eighth, and the Yankees wrapped things up with an infield that featured three catchers — Posada at first, Russell Martin at third and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate.
The mood was so light-hearted, Girardi even considered how he’d align his dream all-catcher infield, pondering adding himself and bench coach Tony Pena to the mix.
“I would have had to put Jorgie at second, because that’s where he started [in the Minors],” Girardi said. “Russell would definitely go to short, because he’s the most athletic. Tony’s the oldest, so he’d go to first. That leaves me at third.”
And this night left the Yankees with smiles all around.
“We feel pretty good right now,” Swisher said. “We’ve got a lot of talent in this room, and when it all comes together, it’s fun to watch. Tonight was one of those nights.”
|Nunez, E, 3B-2B||1||1||1||2||0||0||0||.300|
|Rodriguez, A, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.261|
|a-Jones, An, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.205|
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Russell Martin C
Jorge Posada 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner LF
C.C. Sabathia (3-3, 3.47) vs. Brad Bergesen (1-4, 4.35)
From MLB.com’s Gameday:
Sabathia appeared in control for much of his start against the Red Sox but fell apart late and allowed six runs over 6 2/3 innings to take the loss. At one point, the lefty, who struck out six and walked three, had retired 12 straight batters.
Bergesen replaces Jeremy Guthrie, who was forced to pitch in relief during Wednesday’s 15-inning loss to the Yankees.
Enjoy the game.
From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
BALTIMORE — It was after midnight ET when Hector Noesi returned to his locker at Camden Yards, accepting pats on the back all around. The lineup card rested on his chair, proof positive of an unforgettable big league debut.
Noesi had spent 16 days with the Yankees without throwing so much as a pitch, but in a wild 15-inning affair when nothing went as planned, the untested right-hander saved the day with four scoreless innings in a 4-1 victory over the Orioles.
“This is a guy that was just watching everybody pitching,” said Robinson Cano, who ripped a two-run double to put New York ahead for good in the 15th. “Your first game, tied game? It’s really tough to be in a game like that. That guy, he can pitch. I was real impressed.”
Cano’s big hit came off lefty Mike Gonzalez, a drive to right-center that chased home Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, their spikes rapping home plate with the Yankees’ first runs since the fourth inning.
It was a game that the Yankees believed to be won much earlier, as 37-year-old Bartolo Colon rolled the clock back with eight dominant, scoreless innings, only to watch the timeless Mariano Rivera cough up the lead in the ninth.
Onward they went, a bevy of runners stranded aboard on both sides, and by the end, Cano didn’t even bother to put it nicely. He was exhausted, thinking of his hotel room, and he wasn’t alone. It was Noesi who got the game that far, silencing Baltimore’s bats after the 12th inning.
“I was nervous the first inning, but that situation, you know that’s going to happen sometimes,” Noesi said. “And you’ve got to do whatever you have to do to get out.”
It didn’t all go smoothly. Noesi fulfilled a promise to his family by striking out the first batter he faced, J.J. Hardy, but he soon loaded the bases. Noesi got Nick Markakis to bounce back to the mound, nearly running the ball all the way to first base himself.
“It felt like nobody on base, you know?” Noesi said. “You’ve got to be relaxed to do what you have to do, pitch by pitch.”
Noesi would continue to pin the O’s, striking out Mark Reynolds looking to end the 13th, Adam Jones looking to end the 14th and finally pointing skyward as Hardy flied out to end a bizarre and memorable game.
“It’s one he’ll never forget, I’m sure,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s one he won’t want to forget, that’s for sure. I was impressed. He came out and threw strikes right away.”
There was also a frightening moment. Three pitches after Cano’s two-run double, Gonzalez’s 1-1 offering shattered the bill of Chris Dickerson’s helmet, dropping the outfielder to the ground — just 48 hours after he’d been called up to the Majors.
Gonzalez was immediately ejected by home-plate umpire Dan Bellino, and Brett Gardner added insurance with a sacrifice fly off Thursday’s originally scheduled starter, Jeremy Guthrie, who had been summoned into emergency relief.
“Very scary,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, your heart stops when you see anything like that. We’re definitely glad that he’s OK. Hopefully, everything is OK.”
It was impossible not to wonder how the outcome would have differed, of course, had Girardi sent Colon back out for the ninth inning.
With Colon at 87 pitches and spinning a scoreless masterpiece, Girardi went by the book and called upon Rivera for three outs.
“Of course there’s a thought to leave him in there, but I have Mariano Rivera,” Girardi said. “That’s why I made the move. I wanted someone that was fresh, and it didn’t work out. Bartolo was outstanding.”
But the legendary closer allowed one-out singles to Jones and Markakis, and with chants of “Let’s Go, Mo” spilling through the concourses of Camden Yards, Vladimir Guerrero tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
“I didn’t make my pitches,” Rivera said. “Balls found holes. It was a bad day at the office. We won the game. That’s the most important thing.”
Rivera’s third blown save deleted Colon from what would have been his first victory since April 27, but it didn’t diminish a very impressive effort.
Colon turned in his sharpest outing to date in a New York uniform, limiting Baltimore to just three hits in another vintage performance.
“This is the best game so far [this year],” Colon said through an interpreter. “Thank God we won the game. I wish I will continue to pitch that way.”
Colon had to be sharp, considering the slim support provided by the Yankees, who managed an unearned run in seven innings off promising rookie Zach Britton, scoring only in the fourth inning.
Rodriguez reached on an infield hit and advanced on a groundout before Britton whirled for a pickoff throw that sailed past second baseman Robert Andino, shooting into center field.
“If I make a good throw, I think I’ve got him out,” Britton said.
Diving headfirst back into second base, Rodriguez popped up and steamed into third base, beating the throw. Nick Swisher then lined a sacrifice fly that brought in the run.
It’d be all the Yankees would get off Britton, who scattered six hits while walking three and striking four.
“Tonight was fun,” Teixeira said. “That guy pitched great — Britton pitched amazing. We couldn’t scratch any out in extra innings against their relievers, but finally, we got to them in the 15th. That’s a fun win; that’s a terrible loss.”
Luis Ayala recorded four outs following Rivera, and Boone Logan pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th to push the game further along, helped by Teixeira, who snared a wild A-Rod throw headed for right field.
“That was one of the highlight plays for the year for me,” Rodriguez said. “He definitely saved the day.”
|Rodriguez, A, 3B||7||2||4||0||0||1||3||.266|
|2-Burnett, A, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jones, An, LF||2||0||0||0||1||1||2||.209|
|Nunez, E, SS-RF||6||0||1||0||0||1||4||.276|
|Rivera, Ma(BS, 3)||1.0||2||1||1||0||0||0||1.80|
The Yankees currently plan to keep Jorge Posada on the roster and have had “zero discussion” about releasing the switch-hitter, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. However, the Yankees are “extremely mad” at Posada for removing himself from the lineup over the weekend and will consider taking action if Posada’s numbers don’t improve by the All-Star break.
Posada, who is hitless in 24 at bats against right-handed pitching this year, is out of the lineup tonight. It’s the third consecutive time manager Joe Girardi has held him out of the lineup against southpaws and a strong indication that Posada has become a part-time DH.
According to Marchand, the Yankees want Posada on the team when Derek Jeter reaches 3,000 hits, a milestone the shortstop is 34 hits away from. Earlier today, Peter Gammons of MLB Network said he can see the Yankees releasing Posada, eating his $13MM salary and calling up top prospect Jesus Montero.
* * *
Derek Jeter DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Francisco Cervelli C
Bartolo Colon (2-2, 3.74) vs. Zach Britton (5-2, 2.42)
From MLB.com’s Gameday:
Colon took a loss against the Red Sox on May 13, allowing three runs (two earned) in six innings, but it could have easily gone the other way. His fastball maxed at an impressive 95.6 mph. He faced the Orioles out of the bullpen on April 14.
Despite pitching nine scoreless innings and not allowing a baserunner to reach second, Britton walked away from Thursday’s game against the Mariners without a decision. Britton continues to have the lowest ERA in the Baltimore starting rotation.