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Jan 16, 2013 12:14am
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MINNEAPOLIS - Andy Pettitte shrugged off another ageless performance by claiming
hes still not as sharp as he wants to be. Red Patrick Willis Jersey . The New York
Yankees are plenty pleased by the way hes been pitching. Pettitte threw six
scoreless innings and the Yankees hit four home runs Monday to beat the
Minnesota Twins 6-3 and extend their AL East lead. “Im happy to get through it,
happy to give us a good start,” Pettitte said, adding: “Its just theres
definitely some room for me to improve. The Yankees took a 1 1/2-game edge over
Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since
after play on Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game. According to
STATS research, the 21-day stretch during which the Yankees and Orioles were
separated by one game or less was the second-longest September streak in Major
League Baseball history, the most days since 1897. “Right now I feel like
everything is kind of rolling for us. Its real calm in here. Its relaxed. Guys
are having a ton of fun,” said Nick Swisher, who was the first to take
Liam Hendriks (1-8) deep. After playing three tense, one-run games against
Oakland during the weekend, including their startling comeback for a 14-inning
win on Saturday, the Yankees enjoyed an easy one for a change. This was New
Yorks 10th victory in 12 games. Pettitte (5-3) hasnt given up a run in 11
innings since rejoining the rotation last week. The 40-year-old threw five
scoreless innings against Toronto to mark his comeback from a broken lower left
leg that kept him out for almost three months. His successful unretirement,
after supposedly ending his remarkable career in 2010, has been a big help for
the banged-up Yankees even though this was only his 11th start of the season.
Swishers two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Liam Hendriks (1-8)
sailed into the seats above right-centre field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Curtis Grandersons solo shot in the fourth went even higher and farther, landing
in the second deck. Granderson became the fourth player in the majors to hit 40
homers this season. In the bottom of that inning, Granderson made a
post-season-worthy throw from centre field after fielding a two-out single as
Ryan Doumit raced from second base to home. The ball arrived just in time, and
catcher Russell Martin made a quick sweep tag that grazed Doumits shoulder a
spilt-second before his hand touched the plate. Then in the seventh, Raul Ibanez
—who is 7 for 12 with three homers in his last three games—went deep with a
drive that reached the standing room space near the gate beyond right field.
Eric Chavez added one more home run against Hendriks, an opposite-field liner
with one out that barely reached the flower bed in left. “Its a good lineup.
Theres no breaks in it. Theres no breathers,” said Hendriks, who recorded his
first major league win last week at Cleveland after 17 starts without one. He
gave up eight hits, six runs and one walk, striking out four over 6 1-3 innings.
Those career statistics for Hendriks are a stark contrast to Pettitte, who
stretched his unbeaten streak against the Twins to 12 straight starts. That
dates to May 2001 and includes division series victories in 2009 and 2010. The
Yankees have had him on a pitch count in his return to help him regain strength
in his legs, but he threw 88 times without any trouble. Pettitte gave up seven
hits and one walk. He struck out three. “I love this guy. Theres nothing that
fazes him,” Swisher said, adding: “You can only just look at that and be like,
Man, I want to be like that.” The Yankees, whove been alone in or tied for first
place since June 11, started a favourable final stretch of the season, with
Minnesota, Toronto and Boston left on the schedule, owners of three of the four
worst records in the league. The Orioles also finish with the Blue Jays and Red
Sox but must wrap up with a three-game series at Tampa Bay. The Rays still have
an outside chance in the wild card chase. So now the Yankees have what seems
like a large 1 1/2-game cushion, considering how close the race has been. “I
wouldnt say that,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Any time you can make it bigger
than its been, its nice.” NOTES: The longest September streak of teams separated
by one game or less was in the NL between the Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta
Braves) and the Baltimore Orioles (now defunct) from Sept. 1-23, 1897. ...
Derek Jeter extended his season-high hitting to streak to 18 straight games with
a ninth-inning single for the Yankees against Matt Capps, the former closer who
pitched for the first time since July 16 due to a shoulder problem. ... Yankees
RH reliever David Aardsma, whose recovery from Tommy John elbow ligament
replacement surgery last July is complete, joined the team at Target Field and
took injured RH Michael Pinedas uniform No. 35. Aardsma could be activated from
the DL this series, but Girardi said hed have to “pick some spots” since the
30-year-old hasnt pitched in the majors in two years. ... Girardi said 1B
Mark Teixeira, out with a strained left calf for all but one game since Aug. 27,
ran the bases and took ground balls and batting practice at the teams minor
league complex in Tampa, Fla., and fared well. Girardi stopped short of
confirming Teixeira would return this week at Toronto, however. “The concern is
that you rush him and then he has that one play and then you know that hes
probably done for the season. So youve got to be sure,” the manager said. ...
Twins LF Josh Willingham left the game with a strained left shoulder, trying to
catch Chavezs homer. ... Pedro Florimon hit his first career home run for the
Twins in the eighth against Cory Wade. Kendall Hunter Jersey . The ace left-hander
was set to come off the disabled list Tuesday night to pitch against Toronto,
his first start since June 24. Jerry Rice Jersey . Madrid is seven points
clear of its top rival with three games to play, so even a Barcelona loss
earlier in the day will award the Spanish leader its record 32nd domestic crown.
Madrids record achievement—Barcelona is next closest with 21 trophies—
comes with the team building on its record 112 goals scored in a season,
Cristiano Ronaldo looking to establish a record scoring total in a season and
coach Jose Mourinho set to become the first coach to win league titles in four
different countries. http://www.shopthenfl49ersgear.com/frank-gore-jersey/
. The Baltimore Orioles second baseman will have season-ending surgery to repair
a torn labrum in his right hip. Limited Frank Gore Jersey . —Jay Don Blake
watched his putt lip out and figured his best shot at winning was over. Authentic Colin Kaepernick Jersey . The tweak
to the post-season format that will start in 2014 was made Monday during a
meeting of conference commissioners and university presidents. In September, a
proposal was put forth to add a seventh game to the format that would match the
best team from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and
Mid-American Conference against a team from the Pac-12 or Big 12. BARCELONA,
Spain—Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid striker Radamel
Falcao were unstoppable Sunday on a memorable night when both stars again
demonstrated why their teams fill the top two spots in the Spanish league. Messi
broke a 40-year record for most goals in a year by scoring his 85th and 86th
goals of 2012 to lead Barcelona to a 2-1 win at Real Betis, while Falcao struck
five times as Atletico thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 6-0. Messi struck in the
16th and 25th minutes to break German great Gerd Muellers 1972 record of 85
goals and give his team a 2-0 lead in Seville. Barcelona then struggled to hold
on for its eighth win in as many away games after Ruben Castro halved the
advantage for Betis before halftime, with both sides hitting the goal-frame
various times in a wild second half. “The record is nice, but the important
thing is the win that keeps us on the patch we want to continue on,” Messi said.
Barcelona extended is league-record start to remain six points ahead of Atletico
and 11 in front of defending champion Real Madrid. Falcaos outstanding
performance was the first time a player had scored five goals in one game in the
Spanish league since Fernando Morientes for Real Madrid against Las Palmas in
the 2001-02 season. He also became the first to achieve the feat for Atletico in
its 109-year history. “Its amazing to enter into history,” said Falcao. “It was
an unforgettable night.” On Wednesday night, Messi feared the worst when he was
carried off the pitch with a leg injury in Barcelonas Champions League draw with
Benfica. But the Argentina forward showed absolutely no signs of being slowed by
his bruised knee, slicing through the hosts defence to once more write his name
in the history books. His first goal came when he received Andres Iniestas pass,
dribbled around two defenders and shifted gears to dribble into the box before
ripping a shot into the far corner of the net. Iniesta combined with Messi for
him to get his 12th brace of the season. The Spain midfielder flicked Messis
pass back to him for the Argentina forward to score with another left-footed
effort. “We are very happy for Messi. It seems impossible that a player could
score so many goals,” said Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova. Anthony Davis Jersey. “But he has three games
left (in 2012) and we hope to help him set the mark as high as he can.” Betis,
which beat Madrid in its last home game, was stunned until substitute Alberto
Vadillo set up Castro inside the area to coolly shoot beyond goalkeeper Victor
Valdes in the 39th and ignite the packed Benito Villamarin stadium. The goal
invigorated Betis, and Valdes almost gifted Castro an equalizer when he spilled
Salva Sevillas lob off the crossbar and barely recovered in time to pull it in
with Castro lurking. Betis almost equalized twice more. Barcelona midfielder
Javier Mascheranos poor clearance hit the post, before Alejandro Pozuelo rattled
the crossbar with the visitors uncharacteristically losing control of the ball.
Messi almost had a third goal late on after spinning and shooting, only for
goalkeeper Adrian San Miguel to deflect the ball onto the upright. Barcelona
defender Jordi Alba hit the crossbar from the rebound. “It was very tough to
beat Betis,” said Messi. “We earned an important victory.” Falcao helped
Atletico bounce back from its loss to Madrid last round with a commanding
victory over last-place Deportivo that kept it perfect after eight home games
this season. After Diego Costa found the net for Atletico in the 23rd, Falcao
scored his first by rifling a low shot under goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia in the
28th. He then curled a vicious shot in from the edge of the area three minutes
from halftime. Even with the result beyond doubt, the Colombia international was
far from done. He earned and converted a penalty in the 64th, launched himself
airborne to head home a rebound of Arda Turans attempt in the 68th, and capped
the demolition in the 71st by losing two defenders and slotting a shot inside
the near post. “I had never scored as many goals before,” said Falcao. “I have a
great team that is supporting me and helping me develop as a player.” Falcao has
16 goals in the league to trail only Messi, who has 23. Also Sunday, Levante
beat Mallorca 4-0 to move into sixth place, while Athletic Bilbao downed Celta
Vigo 1-0. ’ ’ ’ 

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