Getting the third out


When the Yankees lost on Saturday to the Red Sox, they did so in rather dubious fashion. The 14 runs allowed wasn’t pretty, but what made the game worse were the 13 two-out runs the team allowed. If only someone could have gotten the third out, the Yanks would have had a chance.

For the Bombers’ pitchers, though, this two-out phenomenon was nothing new and would constitute a weekend theme. Yesterday, CC Sabathia allowed all four of the Red Sox’s runs to score with two outs, and on Friday, 11 of 11 Boston runs would cross the plate with but one out left in the inning.

Beyond Boston, the Yanks’ recent road trip was marred by two-out follies. In Seattle last weekend, Joba Chamberlain and the bullpen lost 10-3 to the Mariners with all ten Seattle runs coming with two outs. In total, the Yanks had a very successful 7-3 road trip, but 41 of the 51 runs they allowed — or 80 percent — came with two outs. While the Yanks escaped unscathed this time around, all of these two-out runs are good for no one’s heart.

On the season, the Yankees have been unable to slam the door on innings. The team has allowed 589 runs, and 248 of those have come with two outs. That’s 42 percent of all runs. Comparatively, the Yanks have allowed 143 runs with no one out and 198 runs with one man out. Across all three situations, the team’s OPS against ranges from .741 with no one out to .749 with two men out, and the team’s walk rate increases from one walk every 12.4 plate appearances with no one out to one walk every 11.7 plate appearance with one out to one walk every 9.1 plate appearances with two outs.

While these variations seem relatively minor, by comparing the Yanks’ two out numbers to the league’s, we can start to see why the team is struggling. With two outs, the team’s sOPS+, a measure of the team’s OPS as compared to the league average for that split, is 104. For both no outs and one out, the team’s sOPS+ is 95. In other words, the Yanks are better than league average with zero and one outs but worse with two outs. Overall in the AL, just 36.8 percent of runs have scored with two outs.

Individually, A.J. Burnett is one of the worst offenders, as we saw on Saturday. He has allowed 37 runs with two outs. That’s just a hair under 50 percent of his total runs allowed. He has walked 33 batters with two outs but just 22 each with no outs or one out. Pettitte, too, has been much worse with two outs than he is earlier in innings.

It’s tough to draw many conclusions from here. We’re looking at a rather selective sample that isn’t really indicative of anything other than past frustration. Will A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte always struggle with two outs? Probably not.

We can, however, confirm what we have long suspected: The Yankees have been worse at getting the third out than they are at getting to two outs. We saw it in Seattle; we saw it in Boston. Even when the team won, we saw those two-out rallies, two-out hits and two-out errors lead to more runs. It goes without saying that the Yankee hurlers need to get that third out. Hopefully, it won’t remain as elusive for some as it has been so far.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Dela G says:

    i wanted to jump a cliff on saturday as AJ burnett suffered from sergio mitre disease, unable to get the damn third out after getting through the first 2 outs.

    Sabathia was able to limit them after the 2nd inning yesterday, and did a great job limiting damage.

  2. Salty Buggah says:

    It’s ALL Jorge’s fault!

  3. SEK says:

    Does this have to do with tiring during the inning…I wonder what the numbers would be after 12 to 15 pitches and after 18+ pitches per inning.

  4. Danny says:

    Jorge loves to catch, so he always calls pitches down the middle when there are 2 outs, how selfish of him!!

  5. Drew says:

    I’d say it’s part coincidence, part regular flow of the inning.

    I’d guess you’re more likely to have a man in scoring position with two outs than with no outs.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:


    • Klemy says:

      This was my thought on it as I read. Later in an inning, you’re more likely to have people who have gotten on base. They had 2 outs to work people on. So, chances are probably better with 2 outs that someone scores on a hit.

      I guess, while this weekend was certainly frustrating and there may be something to mental toughness with 2 outs, the chances would probably be higher to give up runs with 2 outs. No?

  6. Joba or Hughes-To-the-pen says:

    All of our starters are good but not great.I mean CC ain’t pitching like last year because he was in the NL.He’s strikeout rate is very low.CC looks a little differant.

    Same thing of Joba.He is very solid but he only throws 92-93mph like Hughes as a starter.Joba with he’s 1.46 WHIP and 109 strikeouts is just good but Joba hasn’t lived up to the hype.

    As long as the bullpen is dominate the rotation needs just to be solid.

    • Dela G says:

      CC had 8ks last night… I guess you missed that part too, right?

    • CC Sabathia in August: 5-0, 2.65 ERA, 39 K, 5 BB, 37.1 IP.

      Some people demand the universe when they get the world.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I believe that ESPN’s Cy Young generator gives CC the best chance to win the Cy Young, although tit doesn’t take ERA into account.

      CC’s strikeout rate has been improving dramtically.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      “As long as the bullpen is dominate the rotation needs just to be solid.”

      I’d prefer it if was the other way around.

      And CC has a 9+ K/9 in the 2nd half so far.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Call me crazy but I’d rather have a rotation consisting of Johan, Halladay, Sabathia, Tim Lincecum and King Felix with a mediocre bullpen than Tim Wakefield, Andy Pettitte, David Price, Rick Porcello and Brad Penny with a bullpen of Mo, Joe Nathan, Papelbon, Wagner, Heath Bell and K-Rod.

  7. Hobbes says:

    One would expect more runs with two outs, no? Other than a home run, it takes a few hits to score a run, and the odds say a team will throw in a few outs along the way.

    • I’d say one would expect fewer runs with two outs. With no outs or one out, the team at bat can score on an out. With two outs, teams can’t score on outs.

      • Klemy says:

        Yes, but the chances of someone being on base 2 outs later would be higher. So any hit given up would seemingly do more damage? I don’t know the statsics, but off the cuff I’d tend to agree with Hobbes.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        Benjamin Kabak says:
        August 24th, 2009 at 4:22 pm
        [Read Comment]

        I’d say one would expect fewer runs with two outs. With no outs or one out, the team at bat can score on an out. With two outs, teams can’t score on outs.

        and when, exactly, can the team not at bat score?

        (cue tjsc)

      • Former RAB Lurker says:

        Does a sac fly with one out and a man on third count as a run with one out, or with two?

  8. Januz says:

    I believe the likely Cy Young Award winner may very well be Justin Verlander (13-7 3.29 ERA, 204 Strikeouts). However, a VERY strong case could be made for Mariano Rivera, who has been robbed from Cy Young Awards before. I would love to see Mariano win.

  9. Jamal G. says:

    Am I misremembering, or was the allowance of two-out runs a very common occurrence in the 2007 ALDS by the Yankees, against the Indians?

  10. Tank Foster says:

    Hasn’t fangraphs or some similar site tracked data like this for all teams?

    I might be wrong, but here’s what I’m thinking…

    EVERY team should give up more runs with 2 outs than any other situation. Zero outs? Well, to do that, you need either a lead off homer, or a string of hits/walks without making any outs first. Since the overall rate of reaching base safely is well under .500, stringing even 2 consecutive “safes” is hard. To continue to string them together and get lots of zero-out runs is going to be very hard.

    Similarly, you should score more runs with 2 outs than one, since with each successive batter, the likelihood of making an out is greater than getting a hit.

    As for this particular weekend, it’s probably just variance.

    Another way of looking at this is that the Yankees have great pitching. Teams can’t score on them easily, they need to use up 2 outs before they can plate anyone.

  11. James says:

    with a 7-3 road trip…i don’t care if the opposing teams scored 1000 runs with 2 outs. Sometimes you just got to tip your cap.

    it would be intresting to know how many times the yankees score runs after an inning they gave up a 2 out run.

  12. RZG says:

    “…by comparing the Yanks’ two out numbers to the league’s, we can start to see why the team is struggling”

    And which team is struggling, the team with the best winning record in baseball?

    Ahh, off days – a chance for people to complain about the picture frame on the MONA LISA

  13. [...] New Yankee Stadium has quickly developed a reputation as a hitter’s park, but it may not be any more of a bandbox than the park a few hundred miles northeast. Besides, the Rangers may not need to mash homers to keep themselves in the series. So what’s the secret to scoring on the Yankees? Get two outs. [...]

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.