Yankees Chase Headley Finally Breaks Torrid Drought, Credits Reggie Jackson

New York Yankees’ third-baseman Chase Headley hasn’t been consistent at the plate, but he has consistently been showered with boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd who have grown tired of his ineptitude at the plate. Inept may be a bit too kind; Headley has been downright putrid this season.

Prior to finally breaking out of a terrible slump on Thursday, Headley’s last home-run occurred on Sept. 12, 2015 and lasted a span of 170-at bats. That type of drought makes any baseball fan cringe. It was not only Headley’s first homer of the season but also his first extra-base hit.

“It’s a good feeling,” Headley said. “It’s been a long time. It felt like it’s been a really long time. To get the first one out of the way was good. Good start, but I got to keep it going.”

Asking Headley when he last went yard was met with an interesting, yet honest, response.

“I don’t even want to know,” he said. “I know it was a long time ago.”

“It’s been pretty crummy all year, to be honest,” he said. Through it all Headley has maintained confidence that the hits, and homeruns, will return. It just took an awful longtime for them to return to his plate production.

“My swing works,” he said. “I’ve seen it work and I know that it works. I just haven’t had it for a while.”

“There was never a question in my mind that I was going to come out of it – and that I will come out of it,” Headley added.

But the celebration needs to be capped because Headley is still, despite this being a positive story, downright terrible. Headley is batting .194 (ouch) with a OBP of .283 (double ouch) and although he is serviceable in the field, if he doesn’t start producing at the plate the Yankees may be forced to turn the page.

“I’m very confident in who I am as a player,” he said. “But you have to produce. When you’re playing here and the team’s not playing well, you know you have to get it going. The confidence in the short term wasn’t as high as it usually is, so it was frustrating. But never have I thought, ‘I’m not going to hit anymore.’”

In the midst of a 4-year deal worth around $13 million annually, Yankee fans have grown tired of his play, and for good reason, but Headley was hard on himself throughout his drought. He is well liked in the clubhouse and has a good demeanor, even when the going gets really tough.

“The times that were toughest for me was when I came up in a situation where the game was on the line or I had a chance to come through with a big hit and wasn’t able to do it,” he said. “Move a runner, drive somebody in from third with less than two outs; those hurt as much as anything. When the team’s not winning and not scoring runs, those for me are probably the most frustrating.”

Headley stated that throughout this entire ordeal his teammates have been supportive and were elated when he finally broke out.

“I’ve seen that a number of times here,” Headley said. “I think they’ve been as supportive and helpful in getting through a tough time as they possibly can be. It’s not an easy place to play when you’re not playing well. These guys have been tremendous and I’m very appreciative for them.”

Headley also credit Reggie Jackson, aka “Mr. October”, for helping him with his swing.

“I was hitting so many ground balls to second base; I was trying to fight to stay inside of it,” he said. “When you’re doing that, you’re not really taking aggressive swings. I was finally able to find something to help me clear my hands, get my hands out in front of me. When you do that, you don’t have to think about where the ball is going or where you’re trying to hit it. You just let it go.”

For now, Headley has wiped the slate clean and has a positive foundation to build upon. But if things go awry again, you can’t help but assume that the Yankees will look for other options and rightfully so, they cannot afford to take this journey with Headley again.

Royals and Tigers and Bradley, Oh My!

The Royals’ Salvador Perez had 10 hits and 3 HRs last week, 1.273 OPS.

(All Photos are Courtesy: Rich Johnson)

Five teams entered this past weekend undefeated, but only the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals from the American League Central were able to manage the perfect week.

Detroit Tigers (6-0)
The Tigers swept the Indians in Cleveland. Leadoff man Anthony Gose has been a spark plug in the early going for Detroit. He’s yielded a couple starts to Rajai Davis when a lefty is on the hill, but the former Blue Jay is 9 for 20 with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run and a stolen base.

The Tigers pounded out 18 hits in Friday’s 8-4 win. 13 of the hits were allowed by Indians’ starter Zach McAllister over just four innings. Miguel Cabrera had three of the hits and stole 3rd base when nobody was paying attention.

Saturday, Gose led off the game with a home run against Corey Kluber. It was one of two runs that Kluber would allow over 6.1 IP. He struck out ten Tigers, but the game was tied at five in the ninth. Usually reliable Indians’ closer Cody Allen was then taken out behind the woodshed and beaten in a 4 run inning that saw him give up three hits and three walks. The Tigers won 9-6. Ian Kinsler had four hits and scored thrice. To make matters worse for the Indians, they lost catcher Yan Gomes for the next 6-8 weeks after he suffered what’s being called a moderate right MCL sprain. The injury occurred on a home plate slide involving Rajai Davis. Gomes will be missed as he silver slugged his way to 21 home runs while hitting at a .278 clip.

Miguel Cabrera concluded the weekend on Sunday with his second consecutive four-hit game, which included his first two home runs of the season. J.D. Martinez added three more hits and his third home run. The Tigers jumped on T.J. House for three in the first and three in the second on their way to an 8-5 win.

The Tigers have outscored the opposition 47-16. That’s 7.8 to 2.7 per game. 8-3 games may not be the norm for the Tigers, but it’s fun to play with early season numbers. Jose Iglesias, Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Gose and Ian Kinsler are the top four hitters in the AL with averages ranging from .526 to .440.

Kansas City Royals (6-0)
Former Angels’ 1B/DH Kendrys Morales hit his first home run of the season on Friday night in the Royals 4-2 win against Hector Santiago and the Angels. Former Angel Jason Vargas allowed two runs over six innings to earn the win.

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Angels chat with Mike Moustakas during a replay delay. Moose was safe on steal.

Saturday night I got out to the Big A with my wife for the first time to see those pesky Royals. Kole Calhoun started the party for the Angels with a leadoff home run to center field against Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie. Jered Weaver was on the bump for the Halos and everything was fine until a bumpy fourth inning. Mike Moustakas led off the fourth with a home run to center field. Lorenzo Cain singled, but was caught stealing. Eric Hosmer followed with a walk, Kendry Morales doubled and following an Alex Gordon strikeout the Royals got two large two out hits. Alex Rios singled home two runs and Salvador Perez capped the five run inning with a two-run homer to left.

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Lorenzo Cain is one of five Royals with 9+ hits in the team’s first six games.

Morales drove in another run with a single in the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, when it was time to go get helmet nachos, Kole Calhoun doubled home a couple runs followed by a Mike Trout single scoring Calhoun. The Royals held on to win 6-4 because Greg Holland and the rest of the Royals bullpen is pretty good. The Royals offense wasn’t highly publicized or highly productive in 2014, but these guys are hitting in the early going. Nobody needed to lay down a bunt to scratch across a run.

Sunday afternoon Albert Pujols got the Angels’ on the board with a first inning solo home run against Yordano Ventura. Pujols is now in sole possession of 18th place on the career home run list with 522. Jimmy Foxx is next at 534.

Photo Courtesy: Rich Johnson

Angels’ Owner Arte Moreno before the game on 4/11/15.

Angels’ player-rep and social media star C.J. Wilson, who spent some of his week responding to owner Arte Moreno’s comments about Josh Hamilton’s status, saw his 0.00 ERA from 8 scoreless innings on Tuesday evaporate in the second inning. The highlight of the four-run inning was a two-run double by Alcides Escobar. Alex Rios doubled home two more runs in the fifth. Wilson allowed six earned runs over 5.2 IP.

The Royals’ Paul Orlando tripled in the sixth and seventh to become the first player (dating back to 1900) to have the first three hits of his career be triples. Salvador Perez hit his third home run of the season in the seventh off Fernando Salas and just like the 2014 ALDS, the Royals notched a 3-game sweep of the Angels with a 9-2 win. Ventura had to leave the game due to a calf cramps for the second start in a row. He earned the win with seven strikeouts over 5.2 IP.

Mets vs Braves
The Atlanta Braves finally fell to defeat on Sunday against the Mets in a 4-3 loss. It was the most runs allowed by the Braves this season. They still lead the way in the National League with a surprising 5-1 mark. The Mets’ Jeurys Famila saved the Bartolo Colon win because Jenrry Mejia is hurt and complicated matters further on Saturday by getting suspended for 80 games following a positive test for the steroid Stanozolol. Colon, who served a 50 game suspension for a positive testosterone test in 2012, has two wins this season and helped his cause with an RBI single ending an 0-37 slump. It’s must see TV.

Dodgers vs Diamondbacks
Saturday night, Clayton Kershaw faced Diamondbacks top pitching prospect Archie Bradley, who was making his major league debut. The game didn’t exactly go according to Hoyle. 6-0 Diamondbacks? Kershaw got hit around for ten hits and five earned runs over 6. 1 IP, while the 22-year-old Bradley tossed six scoreless innings in his debut, striking out six, walking four, but only allowing a double to Howie Kendrick. Welcome to The Show.

Twins vs White Sox
Chris Sale returned to the mound Sunday after having an injured foot. The White Sox Hawk Harrelson got to amp up his “He Gone!” strikeout call. Six innings, one run, eight strikeouts for Sale who fired 72 of 98 pitches for strikes in a 6-2 win over the Twins. The Sox have won two straight after losing their first four. The Twins are now 1-5 as are the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins.

Notable 1st Home Runs
Saturday, the Rays’ Tim Beckham hit his first career home run against the Marlins’ Mike Dunn. He also stole his first base. Beckham was the Rays’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He’s now 25 and had only three career hits entering this season.

Sunday, the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson hit a solo home run in the 6th  and Alex Guerrero hit a 2-run homer in the 9th , It was the first career home run for both of them.

Red Sox vs Yankees
Oh yeah, the Yankees and Red Sox met over the weekend.

Friday – The Red Sox Edward Mujica complicated matters by allowing a game tying homer to Chase Headley in the bottom of the ninth. David Ortiz and birthday boy Mark Teixeira hit homers in the 16th and they played on. In the 18th, Pablo Sandoval drove home a run, but so did Carlos Beltran. Mookie Betts lifted a sacrifice fly to center scoring Xander Bogaerts. Steven Wright, in his fifth inning of work, held the Yankees down in the bottom of the 19th to seal the Red Sox 6-5 win.

Saturday – The Yankees made three errors and lost 8-4.

Sunday – It was blast off against the Red Sox Clay Buchholz. A touchdown and extra point in the first inning was the highlight to a 14-4 trashing of Boston. A-Rod delivered a 3-run double and a bases loaded walk. Mike Napoli finally got a hit for Boston snapping his 0-18 start to the season.

Hitless Wonders
The Astros’ Evan Gattis finishes the week 0-20 with 12 Ks and a walk.
The Cubs’ Arismendy Alcantara (0 for 12, 5 walks) is the only other qualified batter* to be hitless this season.

*3.1 plate appearances per team game.

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