Stewart, Martin set for reunion with Yankees
MILWAUKEE -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for several members of the Pirates as the team makes its first visit to the new Yankee Stadium and first trip to the Bronx since 2007.
Catcher Chris Stewart played for the Yankees over the past two seasons, and fellow backstop Russell Martin spent both 2011 and 2012 in pinstripes.
"I had a good time there; obviously playing for the Yankees, you really can't beat it with the history and the tradition they have," Stewart said. "Playing in Yankee Stadium, obviously everything is first class. We were pretty spoiled there."
The Pirates are 0-6 all time in visits to face the Yankees, with the other series in 2005. The team has never played in the ballpark that began operation in 2009.
Perhaps one of the new stadium's most notable features is its short porch and jetstream that creates a homer-friendly environment for left-handed batters hitting to right field. That's good news for Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, a native of Riverdale in the Bronx, who has already fared very well in his trips back home. He's gone a career 11-for-37 with two home runs and nine RBIs at Citi Field when the Pirates face off with the Mets.
"I've witnessed quite a few popups turn into home runs," Stewart said. "Every stadium kind of has their pros and cons, and that's definitely one of them for left-handers, and some right-handers like to go the other way. I've seen popups over there that have sailed out [as opposite field shots]."
Martin was named to the All-Star team as a member of the Yankees in 2011 and finished his two-year tenure in the Bronx with 39 home runs, 118 RBIs and a .224 batting average with a .723 OPS. He played 125 games for the team that reached the American League Division Series three years ago and 133 for the 2012 American League runnerup.
Counting his days with the Dodgers and last year with the Pirates, Martin has been part of a playoff team five of the past six seasons. The Pirates outbid the Yankees for Martin's services as a free agent prior to 2013.
The 2014 season has served as a farewell tour for Yankees long-tenured shortstop Derek Jeter, whose RBI single in the bottom of the 10th off Matt Capps sealed a three-game sweep with a 5-4 win June 10, 2007, the last time the two teams met there.
This year's Yankees feature electric Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, now 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his first MLB season following his shutout performance Wednesday. The Pirates won't have to face Tanaka, however, nor will they have to deal with a recent addition to the disabled list, C.C. Sabathia.