Yanks only need Burnett, Rivera to best Phils

Leave a comment

So, now we know just how the Yankees have decided to address that middle-relief problem; they’re going to bypass it completely.
A.J. Burnett struck out nine over seven innings and Mariano Rivera pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings Thursday as the Yankees won 3-1 to send the World Series to Philadelphia deadlocked at one game apiece.
The game was tied at 1 until the bottom of the sixth, when Hideki Matsui took a Pedro Martinez curveball and golfed it over the short porch in right field for a solo homer. Martinez finished the inning from there, and common sense suggested that his night was over after 99 pitches.
Charlie Manuel had other ideas, though. Martinez went back out to start the seventh against Jerry Hairston Jr. Hairston, who started over the benched Nick Swisher because he was 10-for-27 against Martinez, managed to dunk one over Ryan Howard’s head into short right. He was immediately removed for Brett Gardner. Melky Cabrera followed by showing bunt on the first pitch. Martinez responded by throwing a high fastball — a pitch that’s very difficult to bunt — on the second pitch, only to see Melky line it into right for another clean single, putting runners on the corners.
That knocked out Pedro. Jorge Posada singled off Chan Ho Park to make it a 3-1 game, and a couple of oddities followed to keep it at that score. After failing in his first two bunt attempts, Derek Jeter tried one more time and fouled the pitch off, resulting in a strikeout. Johnny Damon then hit a little liner towards Ryan Howard, who was credited with a catch and a double play, even though he short-hopped the ball in truth.
Martinez clearly deserved better for what was a pretty stellar outing. He struck out eight, and while Mark Teixeira’s homer in the fourth was legit, Matsui’s was a Yankee Stadium shot. Pedro shouldn’t have been sent back out for the seventh, yet he was unfortunate that things turned out as badly as they did then. Hairston got only a small piece for the ball he hit for a single, and he simply guessed wrong during Melky’s at-bat.
In his first World Series start, Burnett was the big star for the Yankees. He struck out nine, and one of his two walks was intentional. Rivera gave up two hits and a walk in his two innings, but the Phillies couldn’t come up with the hits when they needed them.
The Yankees got their win even though Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for the second straight game. Damon was also dreadful, and given that he’s unexceptional against lefties anyway, it’d make more sense to sit him than Nick Swisher if the Yankees want Hairston in the lineup again for Game 3 versus Cole Hamels.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
2 Comments

Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.