For this Yankees fan, home-team homers hands off - East Valley Tribune: Sports

For this Yankees fan, home-team homers hands off

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Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 5:20 pm | Updated: 11:10 pm, Sat Oct 1, 2011.

Chris Vitali saw Robinson Cano's drive headed his way. Sitting in the first row behind the auxiliary scoreboard in left field, he made sure not to reach over and interfere.

Cano's fifth-inning drive hit the top of the fence, then bounced back onto the field. Umpires needed to go insider and review the play on video before deciding Cano had a tiebreaking RBI double and not a two-run homer. It turned out not to make a big difference, with the Yankees beating the Detroit Tigers 9-3 Saturday night in their rain-interrupted AL playoff opener.

"Everyone in this row spoke about not reaching over and catching a ball. We talked about it last night before the rainout," said Vitali, a 37-year-old from New Brunswick, N.J., who was wearing a Yankees sweat shirt and cap.

Frank Orlando, a 34-year-old from the Bronx, received the tickets for Vitali and himself as a birthday present from his mother this week.

"We figured the umpires weren't going to call it a home run," Orlando said. "When it hit, it hit off the top of the wall, but where the padding is, so, technically, it probably would still be in play. But if somebody managed to grab it, probably it would've been called a home run."

Cano hit a grand slam in the sixth — his fourth in less than two months — and had another RBI double in the eighth.

___

HOLLIDAY OFF: Matt Holliday's big bat will be used in a pinch.

The Cardinals' left fielder wasn't in the starting lineup for Game 1 against the Phillies because of a hand injury.

"In Matt's case, at the very least we think he can take an important at-bat," manager Tony La Russa said. "As he keeps working it, we'll see if more is possible. I wouldn't even think about tomorrow's lineup, which he could play in, but if not, if he never plays, I think he could be a significant weapon off the bench."

Holliday struck out as a pinch-hitter for the final out of the Cardinals' 11-6 loss Saturday. Lance Berkman started in left field and Allen Craig was in right. Berkman hit a three-run homer in the first inning.

Holliday missed nine games down the stretch with a tendon injury on his right middle finger. He returned to the lineup last Tuesday and left that game after one at-bat with more discomfort in his hand.

Holliday was MVP of the 2007 NLCS with Colorado. The five-time All-Star batted .296 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs this season.

"Matt Holliday is one of the top hitters in the National League," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think any time he's not in the lineup, they might be losing a little offense, but at the same time, when I look down their lineup and you look at almost every guy in their order is hitting from .280 to .300 and they've got a tremendous offense."

While Holliday sat out, shortstop Rafael Furcal was in the lineup and batting first. Furcal had been bothered by a hamstring injury recently.

___

MORE MOORE?: When Tampa Bay needed a rested starter for Game 1 of the AL division series opener, manager Joe Maddon had no qualms about going with Matt Moore even though the 22-year-old rookie left-hander had made only one previous start in the majors.

So will Moore start again in the playoffs for the Rays after throwing two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers, the best-hitting team in the majors?

"Well, of course we'd like to utilize him at some point if necessary. ... We will see how it all plays out as we move forward," Maddon said. "The other point about it is when you have a young man with this kind of ability, you don't take unnecessary risks or chances with him as you move forward."

Maddon said all that would be considered in deciding if or when Moore pitches again this postseason.

The Rays have already indicated that Game 2 starter James Shields will start Game 5 if the AL division series stretches that long.

___

WHO'S NEXT? While Detroit manager Jim Leyland was clear following Friday night's rain suspension that Max Scherzer would move up to start Game 2 and Justin Verlander would return for Game 3 in Detroit, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi was less definite on his choice.

CC Sabathia threw 27 pitches over six outs before the rain (Verlander threw 25), and Sabathia appears likely for the third game. But it's not definite.

"I'll check with CC as I said, each day to see how he feels. It's very possible CC would pitch on Monday. But I still want to check with him," Girardi said.

Rick Porcello will start Game 4, if it's needed for the Tigers. Girardi again hedged.

"It could be A.J. (Burnett), it could be (Phil) Hughes," he said.

___

STAY HOME: Tampa Bay has a voluntary workout scheduled Sunday, and manager Joe Maddon's preference would be that none of his players show up.

"I would rather them stay at home, get some good sleep, go to have a good dinner and show up and play the game the next day," Maddon said. "The regular 25 right now, I would prefer they just rest."

The Rays had to play a month full of tense games to overcome a nine-game deficit just to earn the AL wild-card berth — in their final at-bat on the last day of the regular season late Wednesday night. They then had to go to Texas for the playoffs.

"Right now, this part of the year, this is when you need to be fresh mentally and physically," Maddon said. "They know how to swing a bat, pick up a groundball, I believe, by now."

___

RANGERS ROTATION: Colby Lewis will get his first postseason start on the road for the Texas Rangers.

Lewis was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his four starts in last year's playoffs, all at Rangers Ballpark.

Manager Ron Washington said Lewis will start Game 3 at Tampa Bay on Monday, with Matt Harrison set to go in a Game 4. Washington hadn't revealed the order until Saturday.

"Colby's turn, they're in order," Washington said. "Harry threw the last game in Anaheim, Colby threw the one before that. ... I do like his experience, but I think more than anything else, he's had enough time between starts that he's ready to go."

In a turn from last season, Lewis has been distinctly better on the road this year.

Lewis is 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 17 games away from Rangers Ballpark. At home the right-hander is 5-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 15 starts. Of the AL-high 35 home runs he has given up this year, 22 have come at home.

"Maybe some balls that might have been hit on the road may not leave, and they leave here," Washington said. "I really don't know."

___

OLD-SCHOOL CLIFF: Cliff Lee doesn't think pitching on three days' rest is that big a deal. Chris Carpenter will do it for the Cardinals against Lee and the Phillies in Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday night.

"I think we all should be able to do it," Lee said. "Every pitcher back in the day did it all the time. They used to have four-man rotations, so it's definitely possible."

Carpenter, the Cards' ace, tossed a shutout against Houston on Wednesday night, and St. Louis got into the postseason as a wild-card later that night when the Phillies eliminated Atlanta. He's pitching on short rest so he can be available to start Game 5, if the series goes that far.

"I'm excited about tomorrow," said Carpenter, who has never pitched on three days' rest. "My body is healthy, I feel good, and I'm strong. So, I'm excited about it."

___

FOR STARTERS: The first game of the division series, Tampa Bay's 9-0 rout of Texas on Friday, drew a 1.9 rating on TBS, up 19 percent from last year's opener between the teams, and 2.87 million viewers, a 28 percent increase.

Last year's game started at 1:37 p.m. EDT on a Wednesday. This year's game began at 5:07 p.m. EDT on a Friday.

___

GREINKE GETS READY: Short rest or long, Milwaukee Brewers starter Zack Greinke just wants the ball.

Greinke takes the mound Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the NL division series with three days off since earning his 16th victory in the final game of the regular season.

It's just the second time this season he has pitched on short rest compared to the usual four or five days off between his starts.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with Greinke before deciding he'd go with the lanky right-hander.

"It doesn't matter when they pitch me, but I said I would be ready, for sure," Greinke said. "We talked about it even before my last start, but I feel better going on a short day than eight days in between starts."

Greinke threw 74 pitches in six crisp innings of a 7-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

"It was also kind of part of the plan if it wasn't talked about before, I'm sure I would have thrown more than 70 pitches my last outing," he said. "We kind of shortened that out in thinking that if I was able to pitch, I would pitch on Sunday, I guess."

Greinke finished 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 28 starts. He downplayed the significance of his first career playoff start even if it's at Miller Park where he went 11-0 in 15 starts with a 3.13 ERA.

"It's still just getting ready for a game," he said.

The 27-year-old Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt were acquired in an offseason trade with the Kansas City Royals for shortstop Alcides Escobar and three Brewers prospects.

___

THE MIGHTY MAX: Because the division series opener between the Tigers and Yankees was suspended by rain Friday night, Max Scherzer is now scheduled to start Game 2 for Detroit instead of Game 3.

That means he will be pitching on the road at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium rather than at home in spacious Comerica Park. Scherzer had a 3.80 ERA at home this season and a 5.23 mark on the road. He gave up 11 homers in 18 starts at Comerica Park and 18 long balls in 15 starts elsewhere.

"I just think that's a coincidence," Scherzer said. "For me, it really doesn't matter. Every start is a new start. For my challenge here to go out in Game 2 and pitch, it's just like any other start. I prepare for it whether it was home or road. You take the ballpark completely out of it. I'm more worried about their lineup."

Scherzer, slated to face soft-tosser Freddy Garcia, went 2-0 in two starts against the Yankees early this season. He was roughed up for four homers and nine hits in five innings on April 3 at Yankee Stadium, then threw eight innings of four-hit ball with nine strikeouts to beat New York 4-0 on May 4 in Detroit.

The right-hander was acquired from Arizona in December 2009 as part of the three-team trade that sent Curtis Granderson from the Tigers to the Yankees and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees to the Diamondbacks. Austin Jackson, Edwin Jackson, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth also were involved in the deal.

"I just remember the only way I could find out I was getting traded was to read about it online," Scherzer said. "It wasn't like I was talking to anybody."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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