After each of Andrew Miller’s MLB-leading 13 saves — or, at least after most of them — Joe Girardi has been asked the same question about whether he’s willing to name Miller as his official closer.
Every time that the Yankee manager had been asked, he would dodge the question and give a reason as to why he didn’t think it was necessary. But after Friday’s 5-4 win over the Orioles — the Yankees’ 16th win in their last 21 games — Girardi finally caved.
“Is there a reason I have to?” he quipped. “He’s been closing games for us. He’s our closer. Is that better?”
Girardi then paused before asking with a laugh, “Is that going to be the headline tomorrow?”
Reporters quickly delivered the news to Miller, who downplayed the significance and then hit us with the line of the night.
“Not particularly,” Miller said when asked if it meant anything to hear that Girardi publicly called him the closer. “They’ve been very honest with us the whole time, and I think they’ve done a good job of putting us in situations to succeed. It’s worked pretty well. I was honest with them and I’ve been honest with you guys.
“For what they’re paying me, I’ll do anything.”
Ain’t that the truth.
• Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner continue to get it done at the top of the order, and they’re now hitting a combined .435 in their last 12 games with an on-base percentage around .500. That’s a pace that they clearly won’t be able to keep up, but once again, they were right in the middle of both Yankee rallies tonight. But the biggest hit of the night belonged to Carlos Beltran, who desperately needed one. He’s been slumping and is still hitting under .200, but his two-out, two-run double in the third was a laser to right-center field. With Ellsbury on third and Gardner on second, the O’s elected to walk McCann and load the bases in front of Beltran. That’s rarely happened to him in his career, and he made them pay. “It’s just the strategy of the game,” Beltran said. “Honestly, I don’t take those situations personally. I think the manager (knows) I’m not swinging the bat well lately. But at the same time, I’m seeing the ball good off of their pitchers, so that doesn’t worry me.”
• Girardi has kept running Beltran out there in spite of his struggles, and he offered some insight into his reasoning. It’s probably worth noting that Beltran is now third in the AL in doubles with nine. “We think he’s swinging the bat well,” Girardi said. “Sometimes it doesn’t always show up in the numbers, but we think he’s making more solid contact. I mentioned the other day, there are so many stats out there, and one of them is velocity off the bat. Well, his average velocity is second on our team. He doesn’t have a lot to show for it, but that means he’s centering balls and things will change.”
• I’m sure you’re wondering who is first on the team in the average velocity off of the bat category. That would be none other than Alex Rodriguez, who had a sac fly in the first inning tonight and hit his first triple since 2012 in the fifth.
• Beltran admitted that his slump has been getting to him, but he said he’s trying to stay consistent with his approach and work ethic. “I try not to think about that,” he said. “I try to focus on what I can bring to the game, but of course, I think when you go through tough stretches, confidence gets a little bit low and you have to work through that. In my case, I’ve been through situations like this before every year. This is my 17th year, so every year I go through situations like this. Sometimes, when you go through it early in the season, it’s noticeable. But when you start the season well and go through that in the middle of the season, it’s not that bad because you already have some numbers to back it up.”
• Adam Warren has yet to make it through six innings in six starts this season, and he didn’t even make it out of the fifth tonight. He said this might have been the worst stuff that he’s had so far this season and Baltimore got to him in the fifth. Starting the inning with back-to-back walks was probably the biggest killer. “I just kind of lost it there for a little bit. It’s frustrating because I didn’t have my best stuff, but I felt like I was battling,” Warren said. “I just kind of hit that fifth or sixth inning, and it’s hard to explain. Being down in the bullpen last year, you hate to be the guy that kills the bullpen.”
• Here’s Girardi’s take on Warren’s inability to give the Yankees length: “I thought tonight he was going to be able to do it, (but) in the last two innings that he was out there, he got in some long counts and some long innings and threw a lot of pitches,” he said. “That’s why I made the change. I was hoping to at least get six out of him tonight with us winning 5-0. It didn’t happen, but this is a guy that hasn’t started for awhile. He’s been in our bullpen a lot, and he’s got to learn how to get through those.”
• Getting back to the pen, Miller and Dellin Betances have still yet to allow an earned run through 33.1 innings this season. Eventually, something has to give, but it’s been a heck of a run. “It’s really hard to do, to be able to put a streak like that together with two guys,” Girardi said. “One of the big reasons why we’re winning games is because, when we’re ahead, they’re closing the door. Those are important wins. Those are tough losses when you lose those.”
• What gave Girardi the confidence to finally name Miller his closer? “He’s shown that he can do it,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to bother him, is the bottom line. He’s making his pitches. He’s aggressive, he’s attacking people, he’s getting strikeouts when he needs them, he’s holding runners – he’s doing everything he needs to do.”
• Miller’s take on the pressure of being a closer was interesting. He said that he thinks the more tense situations for a reliever often come when you’re brought in with men on to put out a fire, which is a role he was used in a lot last season with Boston and Baltimore. When you’re a closer, you usually enter the ninth with a lead and no one on base. “Ultimately, I feel like what was asked of me, specifically down the stretch of last season, is even greater than anything that’s been asked of me this season,” he said. “Honestly, I think you have a little bit more room sometimes in the ninth inning. In the ninth inning, it’s just about winning the game. In the eighth inning, no matter how big the lead is or the deficit is, you want to keep it at that. I think in the ninth inning, whether you want to or not, sometimes you do have a little bit of cushion. Honestly, I think that’s a challenge sometimes. You need to go out there focused and not worry about that kind of thing.”
• What has Miller thought of Betances? “He’s been really, really good all year, and he’s been absolutely incredible lately,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I got to see it probably 19 or 20 times last year playing in the division, but that’s a pretty impressive day today.”
• Don’t be surprised if Girardi rests both Miller and Betances tomorrow. “When I have to give them days off, I have to give them days off,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. I have to make sure that I don’t overuse them. I have to make sure that when they’re used a lot, they get a day off. Tomorrow might be the day.”
• Final word goes to Miller, who was asked if he feels more at ease now that Girardi publicly called him their closer: “You don’t want to get too comfortable,” he said. “This game will humble you pretty quick. I think we just try to get better every day and try to prepare ourselves the way that we have been. Ultimately, I think comfort is a bad thing in this game, because you’ll be uncomfortable pretty quick.”
Associated Press photos
Another day of throwing a baseball with no incident for Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t seem particularly newsworthy, expect when you consider that this is Tanaka that we’re talking about.
After throwing 50 pitches from 60 feet on Thursday, Tanaka threw 25 from 60 feet and another 25 from 90 on Friday. He spoke to the media after and said he’s “definitely going in the right direction,” and he seemed fairly unconcerned about any long-term effects from this forearm strain. He also reiterated that he doesn’t think that this relatively minor injury has anything to do with the elbow that caused problems for him last season.
“Everybody has their own opinion, but personally, I don’t think it had anything to do with it,” he said through his interpreter. “I don’t think it has anything to do with my elbow.”
Of course, there has been rampant speculation about Tanaka eventually — some might say inevitably — needing Tommy John surgery, but he isn’t buying it. He’s repeatedly said that there is no discomfort in the elbow. He said he’s “gradually” increased the intensity in these throwing sessions the last two days and feels nothing in the forearm, either.
He also denied that the injury was caused by the way that he’s throwing the splitter, or because of pitching on four days’ rest instead of the five that he was accustomed to in Japan.
The only thing that he agreed with is that the process has been somewhat frustrating.
“Just to be honest with you, I did get injured from time-to-time in Japan,” Tanaka said. “But my absolute goal is to try to not get injured throughout the season and be apart of that rotation. With that said, I’m a little disappointed.”
• While the rotation has held up well in the absence of Tanaka, the bullpen continues to be the strength of the team. Andrew Miller, who may not have the official closer title but is pitching as well as any reliever in baseball, is looking like a very smart investment. He’s up to 12 saves. “I think he’s approached it just like any other inning that he’s pitched,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s done an unbelievable job for us. He’s really kind of kept his pitch count down in most instances when we use him multiple days in a row. He’s a strikeout guy who can hold runners on when they do get on. He’s really done a great job. Every time that we saw him, we saw him good, so I’m not surprised that we’re seeing what we’re seeing.”
• Girardi has been criticized for over-managing and not trusting his gut often enough, but he’s generally praised for the way that he handles his bullpen. It has to be nice having the type of weapons that he has down there this season, and that surely makes his job easier. But he does deserve some credit for putting guys in spots where they can be successful and rarely overusing them. “I kind of have in my mind some rules that I follow, depending on how much they’ve worked – multiple innings, days in a row, three out of four, how many pitches, quick turnaround – and I’ve been consistent with those ever since I’ve been here,” he said. “I usually let them know when they’re down so that they’re not over-preparing and maybe playing more catch than they should be, that sort of thing. The goal is, for me, it’s more than a one year term. It’s a long-term thing. We want these guys to be effective for a long time, and I’ve kind of stayed true to that.”
• Many of you are probably happy to see Jose Pirela in there at second base today. He’s become popular among the fan base, in large part due to the struggles of Stephen Drew. But Girardi said this is just a day off for Drew. He’ll be back in there tomorrow. “I think his last day off was Saturday in Fenway, so it’s a day off of him,” Girardi said. “Then (Gregorio Petit) will probably play second tomorrow against the lefty and maybe we’ll give Didi(Gregorius) a day off.”
• We discussed plenty about A-Rod last night, so it wasn’t a huge focus during Girardi’s presser today. But he was asked about if he thinks the next milestone in his path — he’s 38 away from 3,000 hits — will be more acceptable in the baseball world because it’s not a power statistic. I guess the idea is that steroids are more beneficial when it comes to home runs and that sort of thing, but I can’t imagine anyone suddenly overlooking his past PED issues for his hit total and not his home run total. “Obviously, it’s a ton of hits,” Girardi said. “You have to have a lot of longevity to come up with 3,000 hits. You know, this is going to be debated for years to come, I’m sure. But my job as the manager is to get the most of the players. My job is not to decide if something is a milestone or an accomplishment – that’s for baseball people to do and historians. My hope is that he gets it fairly quickly and the hits keep coming, and the home runs keep coming.”
• Girardi followed that question up by asking how far away Rodriguez is from 3,000. When he was told 38, he said, “You can see how closely I’m following.” Yankees director of media relations Jason Zillo suggested that A-Rod get to 3,000 tonight. That would probably take about 100 innings, so for my sake, I hope not.
Associated Press photos
Jeter’s new commercial • 09.19.14
I really liked Derek Jeter’s cap-tipping “RE2PECT” commercial. How could you not?
I still like it better than his new Gatorade commercial. Yet this new one is rather appealing and well done as well.
It doesn’t sound like Jeter just made it to stuff more money in his pockets, that there was a sincere meaning behind the concept of walking down River Avenue to Yankee Stadium and mingling with the fans along the way (to the soundtrack of “My Way” after the fact).
“It was an opportunity, I felt, to thank people, which I’ve been pretty consistent with every time I’ve spoken, how much the fans have meant to me and my entire career,” Jeter said.
Here’s more on the Jeter commercial from my Yankees notebook, which also includes items on Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka.
Also, here’s my story on the beginning of Jeter’s final homestand, which included a solo homer by him in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays Thursday night.
And here’s my feature story on Chase Headley, including his thoughts on coming back here in 2015 and on the aftermath of getting hit with that 96 mph fastball on his chin last week.
Chad will join you later. Thursday night was my last scheduled game for the season. You’re welcome to join me at Twitter @bheyman99 or check out Lohud.com or The Journal News, if you live in the area. As always, thanks for reading, appreciate it.
Photo by The Associated Press
The final regular-season homestand of Derek Jeter’s career began well for the Yankees thanks in part to The Captain, in part to Shane Greene and in part to Adam Lind doing his Bill Buckner impression at first.
Jeter went 2 for 4 in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays after arriving at 1 for 30. He hit a solo homer to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the sixth, his first home homer since July of last year, snapping a 298 at-bat streak without one here and a 158 at-bat streak without one overall this season, dating to Aug. 1. So he’s up to .250 with four homers and 41 RBI.
“Obviously this year, up until this point, hasn’t turned out how I would like it to,” Jeter said. “But you’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep battling.”
The Yankees are five games back of Oakland for the second wild card with 10 to play. A rather longshot at this point. So Jeter keeps getting reminded that it’s his last homestand everywhere he turns.
“I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand,” Jeter said. “We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games. I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games.”
Greene should be back to pitch more games next season. The 25-year-old rookie has allowed three runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts, including no runs and three hits in 6 2/3 in this latest outing. Greene has a 1.06 ERA to show for his last three starts.
“This young man has four pitches he can go to and he has confidence in them, and he has the ability to throw strikes,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been impressive to me.”
The Yankees won when Chase Headley’s grounder got by Lind for a walk-off error.
“It was a tough play for Adam,” Jeter said, playing defense for him.
Stephen Drew had an RBI double, snapping a career-worst-tying 16 straight games without driving in a run. He went 2 for 3 to lift his average to .163. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be the heir to Jeter’s throne.
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on Jeter and this first game of the homestand. And here’s my feature story on Headley after speaking to him before the game about possibly returning and about the aftermath of getting hit in the chin last week.
The photo of Jeter’s home-run swing is from The Associated Press.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Brian McCann DH
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Chris Young RF
6. Brett Gardner LF
7. Chase Headley 3B
8. Stephen Drew 2B
9. Francisco Cervelli C
Shane Greene RHP
Blue Jays lineup
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Jose Bautista RF
3. Edwin Encarnacion DH
4. Adam Lind 1B
5. Danny Valencia 3B
6. Munenori Kawasaki 2B
7. Josh Thole C
8. Kevin Pillar LF
9. Anthony Gose CF
R.A. Dickey RHP
Umpires: Jeff Nelson HP, Laz Diaz 1B, Scott Barry 2B, Mark Carlson 3B
Weather: clear, comfortable, 73 degrees
TV/Radio: YES/WFAN 660, 101.9
Ellsbury on the run: Jacoby Ellsbury has stolen 15 bases in a row, giving him 39 for the season. He’s second in the AL and fifth in the majors. He’s also in a 7-for-43 slump.
Jeter watch: The Captain went 1 for 17 on the road trip and is 1 for his last 30, dropping him to .249.
Update, 7:18: Headley starts 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the first. Have a feature story coming out on him, spoke to him before the game about a possible return and the aftermath of his beaning.
Update, 7:22: Jeter beats out infield hit, now 2 for 3 after 0 for 28.
Update, 7:25: McCann strikes out and Jeter is thrown out stealing too easily on the play. Not sure what he was thinking there.
Update, 7:36: Greene puts the Jays down in order with two Ks in the second. He’s something good that has come out of this season, no matter what happens tonight.
Update, 7:42: Great diving catch by Pillar to rob Gardner and end the second.
Update, 7:51: Great diving stop by Teixeira, throws to Greene at first, and Thole is stranded in scoring position.
Update, 7:57: Cervelli singles off Dickey, now 5 for 6 against him lifetime.
Update, 7:58: Ellsbury pops to Reyes for the third out, 0-0 after three.
Update, 8:05: 1-2-3 fourth for Greene. I believe he’s at 64 pitches.
Update, 8:09: Jeter ripped a liner to left-center, but Pillar made another great diving catch.
Update, 8:11: The Yankees go down in order, no runs, two hits through four.
Update, 8:19: Shane Greene has allowed one single through his first five innings, retired the last nine.
Update, 8:26: Drew RBI double, Yankees up 1-0 after five.
Update, 8:35: Greene has his streak of 11 straight outs snapped by a Reyes single, but Bautista fouls out for the last out in the sixth.
Update, 8:41: Jeter snaps 154 at-bat homerless streak, 2-0.
Update, 8:55: Greene is done after 6 2/3, no runs, three hits, runners at first and second. Betances comes on to try to protect a 2-0 lead.
Update, 8:59: Navarro flies out to end the inning. Dickey is done. Brett Cecil is on.
Update, 9:11: Correction announced by the Yankees: Jeter’s homer snapped a 158 at-bat homerless streak. Accuracy counts.
Update, 9:12: Ellsbury strikes out to strand two. Kelley comes on to pitch.
Update, 9:21: Kelley throws 0-2, two-out pitch to Bautista that winds up in the left-field seats, 2-2.
Update, 9:30: The Yankees go quietly in the eighth. David Robertson takes the ball.
Update, 9:38: 1-2-3 ninth for Robertson.
Update, 9:51: Yankees win 3-2 on a walk-off error by Adam Lind.
Since six games back with 11 to go seems like a rather long shot for the Yankees, this homestand figures to be the last time we will ever see Derek Jeter play at Yankee Stadium outside of on Old-Timers’ Day.
“I just want to try to enjoy it,” Jeter said.
It’s a chance for the fans to say goodbye, with the home finale set for next Thursday night. Joe Girardi doesn’t expect an easy homestand for Jeter despite the love.
“I think it’s going to mean a lot, but I also think it’s going to be difficult, just because of what baseball has meant to his life and what the Yankees have meant to him and what he’s meant to this city,” Girardi said.
“I think it will be difficult for him emotionally. He’s probably not going to show a lot, but it’s hard to take this uniform off.”
It may be even harder on him come February.
“I think he’ll miss it in spring training,” Girardi said. “It becomes a reality that you’re not playing anymore, in a sense. I can’t speak for him and how he’s going to feel, but that was when it really hit me because I was used to doing something around February 15 and all of a sudden I didn’t have anything to do.”
Girardi said Carlos Beltran will be available despite the sad news that came Wednesday that he and wife Jessica had lost their unborn son, reportedly due to a miscarriage.
“My heart goes out to him, and obviously to his family,” Girardi said. “When guys go through this, I think sometimes people think we’re immune to problems because we’re professional athletes. We deal with things on an everyday basis and we go through issues, too. That’s the most difficult part. I just want to get a temperature of where he’s at when he comes in today and then we’ll go from there.”
Masahiro Tanaka threw 32 pitches in the bullpen in preparation for his return Sunday. We’re were told he had no pain.
“So far, so good,” Girardi said.
Photo by The Associated Press.
These are desperate times. The Yankees have only 21 games left to try to rally and prevent another dark October.
They’re about to start the final series of this heretofore so-so homestand that needed to be more than so-so. The Yankees are 3-3 and have been shut out in two of the past three games as they head into tonight’s series opener against Tampa Bay. Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Archer are the scheduled starters.
The Yankees had their final scheduled day off Monday, knowing they were 4 1/2 games back for the second wild card, knowing that three teams were in front of them, Seattle, Detroit and Cleveland. After the Mariners beat Houston in a late game, the deficit became five games. The Tigers are just a half game back of Seattle and the Indians are 4 1/2 back. And Toronto is in a virtual tie with the Yankees.
Do you think the Yankees have it in them to pull this off?
Derek Jeter certainly isn’t giving up in his final season.
“We’re still in a position where if we win our games, then we’ll be all right,” The Captain said.
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story about Jeter and the Yankees’ feelings about the situation they’re in right now.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Derek Jeter admitted that he was on guard over getting emotional during his pregame speech, although he did say his hand was shaking a bit. He wanted to say his thank yous. Most of all, he wanted to thank you.
“In my opinion, I’ve had the greatest job in the world,” Jeter told the crowd. “I got a chance to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees, and there’s only one of those. And I always felt as though that my job was to try to provide joy and entertainment for you guys, but it can’t compare to what you brought me. So, for that, thank you very much.
“I’ve loved what I’ve done. I love what I do. More importantly, I’ve loved doing it for you. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”
In his postgame press conference, Jeter said: “The fans are the ones that made this fun. It’s been an extremely fun 20 seasons. When you’re out there playing, you’re out there trying to do your best. You’re playing as hard as you can, and you’re doing it for the fans, because the fans, Yankees fans in particular, they pay attention. It means something to them. They push you. They push me. They’re hard. They’re tough. But I think they’ve helped shape who I am.
“So I wanted to have the opportunity to thank them. I don’t know if I can truly thank them enough.”
Chase Headley did a nice thing, coming up with the idea to let Jeter run out alone before the anthem.
“I was unaware of the fact that no one was behind me,” Jeter said.
“He deserved the moment to be out there by himself on his day,” Headley said.
Derek Jeter Day will stay with Derek Jeter.
“The Yankees know how to throw big ceremonies,” Jeter said. “To be a part of it, having all those people come out there and honor you and show their support and the fans, they way they’ve treated me, this is a day I’ll remember forever.”
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story with much more detail on Jeter’s big day.
The game was forgettable for the Yankees, four hits in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City, their second shutout loss in the series. They have been shut out five times dating to Aug. 9.
“I’ll never give up on them,” Joe Girardi said about his inconsistent hitters. “It’s not my personality. We’ve just got to continue to grind it out and try to get better every day.”
They’re running out of days.
The Yankees remained 4 1/2 back of Seattle for the second wild card with 21 to play.
Here’s my story on the game and the happenings with Brett Gardner and David Phelps.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Derek Jeter Day • 09.07.14
There are No. 2 flags waving in the breeze around the top of Yankee Stadium. There’s a No. 2 logo painted on the grass in front of each dugout. The Yankees were all greeted with a commemorative bottle of wine sitting upright on the chairs in front of their locker with the No. 2 over pinstripes on the label.
It’s Derek Jeter Day.
“I’m sure it’ll be extra special,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s probably a day in a sense that a player doesn’t want to have.”
That’s because it signifies the end is near.
“I hope he does take it in,” Girardi said of the ceremony.
He hopes the rest of the Yankees will take it in as well.
“I think it’s important they understand what he’s meant to the organization, what he’s meant to our fan base, the importance of playing the game right,” Girardi said.
Next year will be very different without Jeter. This is really the end of an era.
“The thing you get used to in this game is people come and go,” Girardi said. “… He’s going to be missed. There’s no doubt about it. But the game will go on. No individual is bigger than the game.”
Girardi didn’t have a lineup yet when he met with us. The hurting Brett Gardner was the issue. Girardi didn’t think he would be available to start. Gardner said it might be a lower abdominal strain, but he wasn’t sure. Gardner, who also had this problem earlier in the season and missed a game, sat out Saturday.
Asked about if it could possibly get worse if he played, Gardner said, “Just the way it feels like, it could.”
David Phelps threw a 31-pitch simulated game and said he felt good. He will return from his upper elbow inflammation as a reliever. But there was no word yet on when he will be activated.
“I feel like I made some good pitches,” Phelps said. “I was just nice to be out there with some adrenaline flowing. … It feels good enough to get guys out right now.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Three nights in Baltimore • 08.11.14
This is a big series coming for the Yankees, three in Baltimore against the first-place Orioles.
The Yankees still have dreams of winning the AL East, even with their sporatic offense. But they will show up tonight trailing by six games.
“We can’t afford to lose any more ground,” Mark Teixeira said. “It’s getting late for that.”
The Yankees still have 10 games left against Baltimore, including seven in September. They are at 61-56 after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Cleveland that capped a 4-3 homestand. They scored just one run in their final 20 innings in the series. (Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on the Yankees’ lack of offense the past two days and Hiroki Kuroda’s struggle Sunday.)
The Orioles lost to St. Louis 8-3 on Sunday, but they are still 17 over .500, at 67-50. The Yankees are 14-9 since the All-Star break, including 6-4 in August. Baltimore is 15-8, including 7-3 in August. The Orioles won 12-2 and 10-3 in the first two games against the Cardinals.
“This is the team we’re chasing,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s very important that we win a series at the least. We have to play extremely well because they’re playing well. … They’ve been hot lately and they’ve been scoring runs, so we’re going to have to hold them down.”
Chris Capuano, Shane Greene and Esmil Rogers or Michael Pineda will start for the Yankees, who are also 2 1/2 behind the Royals for the second wild card.
So do you think the Yankees can catch Baltimore?
Nick Markakis photo by The Associated Press.