After ride through night, Figueroa sparks Yanks over A’s 6-2
NEW YORK (AP) Cole Figueroa was pooped.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders had just finished a 12-inning loss to Syracuse that dragged on for nearly four hours Wednesday night.
”I was just like, man, how am I going to make it through this day game tomorrow?” he recalled. ”And our trainer kind of chuckled at me.”
Then he got called into manager Wade Miley’s office. About two hours later, a car service picked up Figueroa and he headed to New York.
Figueroa doubled twice in his Yankees debut Thursday, helping spark the offense behind Masahiro Tanaka in a 6-2 win over the Oakland Athletics.
A son of Bien Figueroa, an infielder who played 12 games for St. Louis in 1992, Cole had played in 636 minor league regular-season games over seven seasons before his major league debut for Tampa Bay on May 16 last year. He hit .233 with six RBIs in 23 games for the Rays, then signed a minor league contract with the Yankees during the offseason.
Figueroa batted .317 with three homers and 36 RBIs in 77 games at Scranton, and with Chase Headley still sidelined by a sore right calf, New York manager Joe Girardi inserted the 28-year-old at third base, batting ninth.
He took over the locker stall next to the clubhouse’s entrance, which had been used by reliever Chris Martin earlier this season. Figueroa didn’t have a name plate, and his No. 40 was absent from his padded chair. He had arrived at his Manhattan hotel at 3 a.m., woke up at 7:30 and was on the field at 1 p.m., becoming the Yankees’ 45th player this season.
”I wasn’t probably as amped as I would have been if I had gotten a full night’s rest,” he said.
Figueroa grounded out in the second against Jesse Chavez (4-9), and he batted again in the fourth after Stephen Drew’s one-out walk with the score 2-2. Figueroa hooked a changeup on a hop just over the inside of first base and off the right knee of leaping umpire John Tumpane and into right field for a double.
”I couldn’t really tell from my vantage point. It was so close,” Figueroa said.
First baseman Ike Davis held out his arms, maintaining the ball was foul, and manager Bob Melvin came out to discuss the call. Because the ball landed in front of the umpire, the play was not subject to video review. When the umps conferenced, they upheld plate umpire Bill Welke’s original call.
”It just looked foul from my point of view because it hit him and he was in foul territory and he was right behind the bag,” Davis said. ”So I didn’t understand how it could be fair.”
Two pitches later, Jacoby Ellsbury pulled another changeup over the very same corner of first base for a single down the right-field line that put the Yankees ahead 4-2.
Figueroa doubled to right again in the eighth and scored when shortstop Marcus Semien made a high throw on Ellsbury’s two-out grounder for a two-run error.
Tanaka (5-3) allowed two hits over 7 2-3 innings, and Brett Gardner hit a first-inning home run. He learned midgame from the public-address announcer he had been picked for his first All-Star team.
Tanaka ended a four-start winless streak, the longest drought of his 1 1/2-year big league career. He set season highs for innings and pitches (114), striking out six and walking one. One of the runs off him was unearned.
”I think I was able to execute all of my pitches and throw them where I wanted them to go,” Tanaka said through a translator.
Oakland got all its runs in the second, when Josh Reddick reached on catcher’s interference by Brian McCann, and Billy Butler and Mark Canha hit RBI doubles. Tanaka retired his final 13 batters and 18 of his last 19, allowing Butler to reach on a wild pitch striking out in the fourth.
Tanaka had not topped 98 pitches this year, the Yankees concerned about his arm after a stint on the DL. But with the All-Star break, Girardi was willing to let Tanaka go longer.
”I like where he’s at,” Girardi said.
Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren completed the three-hitter.
One day, Figueroa hopes to be able to keep track of games on an app he is trying to design. He codes in R and Python ”because I like the statistic, analysis stuff.”
”I couldn’t really find one that was good, plausible, on an app,” he said.
For the Yankees, his hitting will do quite fine.
Mark Teixeira’s RBI single in the third gave him 62 RBIs, matching his total last season.
Yankees: Headley missed his second straight game; Girardi was hopeful Headley could play this weekend. … Infielder Brendan Ryan, on the disabled list with a strained back that has sidelined him since June 21, went 1 for 3 for Scranton on Thursday in an injury rehabilitation assignment and is to play for Double-A Trenton on Friday.
Yankees: Michael Pineda (8-5) starts Friday’s opener at Boston, which goes with Clay Buchholz (7-6).