Kuroda, bullpen protect the early lead in 5-3 win over Blue Jays

DotF: Big days for Sanchez, Cave, Bird, Judge, and Severino
Thoughts on Thursday's off-day

The four-game losing streak is over. The Yankees salvaged the final game of this three-game set up in Toronto, beating the Blue Jays 5-3 on Wednesday night to take the series finale.


The Big Inning
The Yankees’ four-run third inning was confusing because the hitters were not stopping at first base after getting hits. I didn’t know that was allowed. One double and one homer contributed to the rally, plus another two-out double was wasted. Three extra-base hits in an inning? That’s a miracle. The Yankees only had three extra-base hits in an entire game seven times in 22 games this month coming into Wednesday.

The rally all started with a leadoff five-pitch walk by Kelly Johnson. Frankie Cervelli doubled him home with a right-center field wall-banger — that ball just kept carrying and carrying, I thought it was a routine-ish fly ball off the bat — but Brett Gardner (pop up) and Derek Jeter (strikeout) followed with two quick outs. It looked like another one-run-and-done rally. This team has been allergic to big innings of late.

Then, thankfully, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center to score Cervelli, and Mark Teixeira clubbed a two-run homer to right. Apparently they put some netting over the bullpens at Rogers Centre, so the ball hit the netting and hopped back onto the field. I thought it was a double off the wall at first. Am I going crazy? The netting over the bullpens is new, right? Anyway, Carlos Beltran laced a ground-rule double that was ultimately wasted, but the Yankees managed to score four runs in the inning, three with two outs.


For the second time in a week, Jose Reyes ambushed a first pitch fastball for a solo homer to leadoff the game. That’s getting annoying. Hiroki Kuroda shook the dinger off and worked through the next four innings without allowing a run, giving up four singles. One was an infield single. The Blue Jays did push across two runs in the fifth thanks to a walk (Munenori Kawasaki), a ground-rule double (Reyes), and two-out single (Melky Cabrera), but that was it.

Because the bullpen was a little short — Dellin Betances was unavailable after throwing two laborious innings on Tuesday — Joe Girardi pushed Kuroda into the seventh inning and got one base-runner and one out from him. It would have been two outs if the Yankees were able to turn a double play in something other than slow motion. Kuroda exited with a man on first and one out in the seventh, allowing just the three runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four. Kuroda has been much better over the last month or so, but this one was a grind.


Late Innings
Despite their best efforts, the Yankees did manage to score an insurance run in the seventh inning. Two walks (Gardner and Ellsbury) and a hit-by-pitch (Jeter) loaded the bases with no outs (!), then Teixeira brought home Gardner with a sacrifice fly. Beltran struck out, Ichiro Suzuki drew another walk, and Brian Roberts flew out to end the inning. Four base-runners, none put the ball in play. The extra run is always appreciated.

Once Kuroda was out of the game, Girardi went to Shawn Kelley (one single, one fly out) and Matt Thornton (tapper back to himself) to finish off the seventh. Anthony Gose and Reyes pulled off a double steal on Thornton, so the tying run was in scoring position when he broke Adam Lind’s bat for the final out. Adam Warren started the eighth, got a quick ground out from Edwin Encarnacion and allowed a single to Dioner Navarro, and that was that. David Robertson came in for the five-out save. Think Girardi was desperate to win this one?

Robertson, who had not pitched in a week, struck out Juan Francisco and Colby Rasmus on nine total pitches to end the eighth inning. Then he struck out Kawasaki and got ground balls from Gose and Reyes in the ninth inning to close things out. Five outs on 22 pitches. How about that? By the way, Robertson (16.06 K/9 and 44.3 K%) had zoomed by Betances (14.7 K/9 and 43.9 K%) in strikeout rate. He now has 40 strikeouts in his last 18.1 innings (19.64 K/9 and 51.9 K%). Helluva contract push.


The Yankees made two base-running funnies in the seventh inning that ultimately did not matter. Gardner and Jeter were on first and second, respectively, when lefty Rob Rasmussen uncorked a wild pitch. Gardner did not advance even though the ball bounced plenty far away from Navarro. Rasmussen threw another wild pitch later in the at-bat, this one even further away, and Gardner advanced but Jeter did not. Ellsbury ended up drawing a walk, so it didn’t matter. It was just weird.

I’m going to pretend Jeter intentionally dropped Navarro’s line drive in the fourth inning. There was a runner on first, Jeter had to jump to catch it, but the ball hopped out of his glove and hit the turf. Jeter picked it up, stepped on second for one out and fired to first for the double play. Both Navarro and Encarnacion (the runner at first) froze because they thought the line drive was caught. Two innings earlier Jeter fielded a Kawasaki chopper and never bothered to throw to first even though replays made it appear he had a play. Whatever.

Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with a walk and his only out was a line drive right at Reyes at short. He was thrown out trying to steal for only the third time this year, but replays did show he might have been safe. Girardi did not challenge the play. Gardner, Beltran, and Johnson also had a hit and a walk each. Jeter singled, Ichiro walked, and Cervelli doubled. Roberts was the only player in the starting lineup who failed to reach base. The Yankees did go 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but who cares at this point. A win’s a win.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has the nerdier stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees were 4.5 games back of first place at the start of this nine-game stretch stretch against the Blue Jays and Orioles and are 2.5 games back at the end of it. Progress!

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This quick little three-game road trip it over. The Yankees are off on Thursday, then they will welcome the Red Sox to the Bronx for a three-game series. That series is going to get hyped up way, way too much given the present state of the two clubs. Vidal Nuno and Brandon Workman will start the opener on Friday night. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any game on the upcoming six-game homestand live. It’s the last homestand before the All-Star break, you know.

DotF: Big days for Sanchez, Cave, Bird, Judge, and Severino
Thoughts on Thursday's off-day
  • Mark

    “Despite their best efforts, the Yankees did manage to score an insurance run in the seventh inning.”

    Love this line Mike.

  • Dr. Martin van Nostrand

    Vidal Nuno and Brandon Workman will start the opener on Friday night.

    God, there’s just no way, right? Gotta bump Nuno and go with #TANAK on regular rest in that game.

  • TWTR

    McCann and Beltran have sucked to this point, but Ellsbury has been indispensable.

  • Deddard Jeter

    Frankie was the difference in the ballgame. We haven’t had production like that out of the catcher position since Jorgie retired. They really need to play Frankie more. I would platoon McCann and Frankie for now and use McCann as a trade chip. McCann is an $85 million Chris Stewart.

    4-2 vs the Jays, overall pretty good. And now they can beat up against the Sox the last two games because Vidal Nuno is an automatic loss on Friday. I would just skip his turn in the rotation as often as possible.

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      I know it’s Eddard but I’ve heard the trade McCann thing a couple times now so…

      Entertaining the completely impossible scenario in which they trade him, what exactly do you think they’d get back for an $85 million catcher who’s severely underperforming? Chris Stewart himself?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Save Tanak for the stretch. Extra day off will keep him fresh.

    I hate to say it, but we would be a much better team if we had another hitter worthy of moving jeter out of the 2 spot. Still serviceable, but not a 2 hitter on playoff team. Not saying we are one yet, am saying he’d be one of the worst 2 hitters in the playoffs.

  • TWTR

    Thorton has sucked a lot less over the last month.

    • nycsportzfan

      He has started playing like the back of his baseball card. Thank goodness, because Adam Warren has been a bit worrisome as of late.

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      Think it’s because they have used him differently as part of it. He seems to be getting the inning that has several lefties, instead of trying to get the “dellin betances bases loaded no outs fireman” role.

    • forensic

      Yeah, it’s still a waste of a roster spot. Not necessarily Thornton, in particular, but more just the idea of a LOOGY at this point. He’s thrown 7 innings in the last 5 weeks.

      The replacement starters are wearing out the relievers, but Thornton’s presence is also contributing to it.

      • TWTR

        All managers do it, but it is also less than great that one of their two best relievers, Roberson, doesn’t pitch for a week because they don’t have a lead.

        • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

          I agree. I know this is the traditional mindset but I don’t like it. Why keep your best guy on the bench waiting for a lead that might never come?

          Obviously I’m not saying bring your closer in with 2 outs in the 7th down 1, but tied in extras? I say extend the game with your best arm. If the bats can’t score and the scrub you bring in in the 14th blows it, oh well so it goes. At least you didn’t have a superb reliever warming the bench watching.

  • Not an ace

    Skip Nuno he’s almost an automatic loss.

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    Was a much needed win. Not the desired result, but they swept Toronto in NY, and managed to snag one of the games in Canada.

    • nycsportzfan

      And showed some impressive comeback ability in the 2nd game despite the loss.

      I was just saying this last night. If we win tonight, we’d be 4-2 over Toronto in our last 6, which isn’t to bad if you ask me.

  • nycsportzfan

    Kuroda has gotten better every month so far.

    5.28ERA in 29Inn in April..

    4.00ERA in 36Inn in May..

    3.33ERA in 24.1Inn in June(not including tonights start which prob dropped his ERA ever so slightly).

    • forensic

      3.52ERA in June now.

      • nycsportzfan


        So 3.52ERA in 30.2Inn in June..

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    They need to get Beltran/McCann going, and was nice to see beltran get another good game. The biggest problem has been the offense, if you get those 2 going that is way better improvement than any trade, and would take the rotation with that kind of lineup.

    • forensic

      Normally, I really hate when Girardi sits a struggling hitter after he has a good game (such as Roberts back in late April when he absurdly said he ran the bases too much).

      But, in this case, I can make my peace with it. McCann has been a nightmare vs. righties and against Hutchison in his career he is 0-4 with 4 K’s (and 3 BB’s). Hopefully sitting him will really let him come back fresh on Friday, still sort of remembering the good game he had Tuesday, and have a good series against the Red Sox. For what it’s worth too, he has good small sample numbers against both Lester and Lackey.

      We’ve been burned time and time again by him thinking he was finally going to get going, but once again I guess we have to hope that was the game and this is the series to really have him take off.

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    It is officially Derek’s Birthday. They obviously scheduled that.

  • Dr. Martin van Nostrand

    Earlier today, I had someone try and drag me into an argument about the Dodgers. The premise of this person’s argument? That the Dodgers are underachieving so far this season.

    LA is on a 89-90 win track right now. Yeah, it’s fair to argue they’re falling a tad bit short of expectations. Fine. Whatever. I expect them to do better in the second half.

    So what’s my problem then? I heard these two things:

    1) With LA’s roster, they should already be 25 games over .500.

    Well then. We’re halfway through the season and apparently LA is supposed to win 106 games this season. Ok. Because that’s a completely rational prediction. This leads me to point #2

    2) The Dodgers have the best roster in baseball in the past several seasons.

    What is “several”? Dunno, didn’t ask specifically, but apparently the 2009 Yankees were a laughed-off comparison (likely due to this person’s completely forgetting of who was on that roster) and, just to try and gain some specifics, I was in the middle of my usual riff about there having been so few teams to post .600+ win percentages/win 100+ games since 2005, so let’s generously define “several” as being “since 2006”.

    Now, I picked the Dodgers to win the World Series at the beginning of the season (over Detroit). I would pull up my projections but, alas, they were on a computer system that died about 10 days ago and I, being the forgetful person I am, never backed up the data and never posted it online. Brilliant planning. The general point being that I’m not really in the business of trashing this Dodgers team, and I happen to think very highly of their capabilities this season. That said, give me a damn break. I’m not convinced in any way, shape, or form that we’re looking at some fantastic collection of baseball talent (certainly not a ~106 win team; I’m being literal but the basic point of a comfortably-over-100-win declaration still strikes me as absurd) that no one else in baseball has any chance of getting past in a best-of-5/7 series.

    I dunno, this is off-topic from the Yankees, but I have shockingly little tolerance for ignorance. I guess I just want some opinions on this, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with me.

    • whozat

      It’s tough to pick any team to win that many games when they play in a division with another really good team, like the Dodgers do with the Giants. That’s 19 tough games. That said…the rest of the division is horrendous, and if you saw that going in…maybe? It still seems like a foolish gambit to pick a team to win 100+ games in a season, ever. You have to be the best in your division by a good bit, stay healthy all year, and be a little lucky, too.

    • trr

      Well, Doc, I guess these days your team is judged by their payroll as much as anything else. The Dodgers (like the Yanks) have high expectations because they major market teams with the highest payrolls in MLB. When they fail, the finger pointing and critiques quickly become acrimomious. Personally, I’d rather wait until the season’s over before performing the final autopsy. IMO?
      Dodgers are a 90+ win team that should do well in the playoffs.

    • Jonathan

      I just spent watching them the last 3 days in KC and they’re kind of like the Yankees in regards to having “if we only had the year XXXX version of him”. AJ Ellis is an atrocious defensive catcher and only has one skill, to get on base. Adrian Gonzalez is not the player he was with San Diego and doesn’t hit for as much power or average. Crawford used to be one of the best players in the game, ditto Kemp who should have been the MVP if the Braun fiasco didn’t happen and they’re shells of their former selves, one more than the other. Puig is the real deal and Hanley is tough to figure out but the talent is undeniable. Ethier has always been over-hyped and is pretty much a bad RF who’s not even hammering his side of the platoon advantage anymore and they somehow stuck him in CF. Van Slyke and Justin Turner have been valuable backups so far. The rotation is as good as advertised but they have this odd bullpen filled with former closers in Perez/League/Wilson that’s not the best around. With the parity in the game today they’re obviously more talented than average but it would take a lot of those big names turning back the clock to make them the best roster in nearly that time period. They have big names almost everywhere but very few of those names are living up to their former billing. At least I got Lasorda/Mattingly/McGwire to all sign on the sweetspot and saw some great pitching in Greinke/Kershaw/Shields/Duffy/Haren/Holland/Jansen/Davis etc.

      That 2009 Yankees team could have even been better too without Wang blowing out his shoulder and them having no clue what to do with Joba, despite him actually pitching fairly well or if Melky gave a shit. And that’s the best infield I’ve seen in a very long time. Lots of big names that hadn’t fallen off yet and a few taking steps forward like Cano and Robertson.

  • Dr. Martin van Nostrand

    I’ve done pre-season projections for a few seasons now, not entirely sure how many, but in any case, I think the only time I’ve ever pegged a team to win 100+ games were the Yankees in 2010, who I had sitting on exactly 100. This wasn’t entirely irrational either; they were the defending champions and many projection systems had them winning ~98 games, which is unnaturally high given that projection systems run thousands of simulations and take the median output in all of that.

    I think the real problem here was my friend being hung up on the fact that LA had that 50-13 stretch last season; a .793 stretch of play which would project out to 129 wins over a 162 game schedule, obviously an impossible standard to measure up to even if you put a team together of the best player from every position in the history of the sport.

    Even with that said, it was point #2 that really stuck out at me. A couple years ago during the Ichiro trade situation, I coined the phrase “name value” for my own purposes; certainly it is not a phrase I am the first to ever use, and Mike A. also used that phrase quite a bit during this time (I’m scared that Mike and I often arrive at the same conclusions through independent means, because it seems to happen alot [#confirmationbias]). When you look at the Dodgers roster, sure, you see a lot of “big names”, players who have made AS teams in the past, MVP’s, the like. But here’s the thing:

    What good does Matt Kemp’s 2012 MVP award do when he sustained a shoulder injury season that he later needed surgery on and STILL hasn’t come near the level he showed that season?

    What good does Adrian Gonzalez’s seasons in San Diego and Boston do when he’s a .779 OPS bat? I understand that we’re in an age of offensive depression, so I guess .779 isn’t as bad as it would look, oh, 5-10 years ago or whatever, but I know I don’t like the idea of my favorite team’s very-well-paid first baseman hitting below .800 in the OPS department. (I’ve been very lazy about going to FG lately, thus the OPS cop-outs. Apologies.)

    Andre Ethier? Good grief, can’t hit LHP, can’t field, and he signed a huge extension a couple years ago. He’s the highest-paid 4th OF in baseball.

    Carl Crawford’s a sub-.700 OPS bat in his own right. I could more than defend his sub-.800 totals for his purported price tags when he was stealing 30-40+ bags a season, but dipping below .700 is below average.

    LA’s starting pitching has been superb, maybe even better than expected with Beckett’s apparent return to form; I’ll need to do an FG analysis to see the sustainability of it but, regardless, he’s a 2.28 ERA in a rotation with the entirely solid trio of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, with Daniel Haren being an entirely suitable #5 starter. This is their strong suit and, yes, coming into tonight they were 9th overall in MLB in runs scored, which caught me a bit off-guard, but I feel like I’m drifting at this point. Ultimately, what I see is a really, really veteran-heavy team that, from an offensive stand point, is saved by Yasiel Puig’s superstar hitting abilities. Would I still pick them to come out of the NL? Well, yeah. The NL East is once again uninspiring because the Nats have had their heads up their asses ever since they decided it was worth it to shutdown their best starter in the best (full) season the franchise has ever had, and, I dunno, am I really sold on the Brewers? I thought they’d have fallen back to the pack a bit by now, but that hasn’t happened. Even if they do, they look like a very safe pick to procure a WC spot at best, but I think they’re going to win the Central at this point, perhaps comfortably. San Francisco is a mystery wrapped in a riddle to me, but they’re like the team-opposite version of Josh Beckett these days; it’s an even-numbered year, and we know what happened the last two times we had one of those darned things (no, not the Yankees losing in the ALCS on a damned syndicated programming network, but that’s also true). Gun to my head, I’m still taking LA to win the NL at this rate.

    But do I see that roster as being some divine roster, even in the last eight seasons when this wave of parity has risen higher and higher? I really can’t. I think the two best teams post-2005 are the 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees, and I’d take both rosters in a flash over the 2014 Dodgers. I don’t really see this as irrational, certainly not as irrational as the opposite claim that helped inspire both that lengthy off-topic parent post, and this grotesquely longer post here that, for some reason, I deemed a good idea to write at 3:43 ET in the damn morning.

    • Dr. Martin van Nostrand

      (n.p. – my browser crashed mid-post, and somehow when I re-opened it, all the content was still there. Lucky break. But I didn’t check to make sure I put it as a reply, so consider this a reply fail, and it is intended as a response to whozat.)

      • Kosmo

        The Dodgers have major issues in the bullpen and staying healthy. I would think the Dodgers are going to be seeking RP help come the trade deadline. IMO because of the Dodgers great SP they could very easily overtake the Giants. It looks like Kemp is hitting again and I suspect A-Gon will turn it up a notch. If they can stay healthy I see the 2014 Dodgers as a 93+ win team.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Only 25 comments and a “War and Peace”-like epic on the LA Dodgers: the Yankees must have won.

    • n0exit

      All the action has been DotF lately. Yesterday it was Dave Cameron vs Gary Sanchez vs top 25 prospect lists. The day before was all about 40 man rosters and DFAs, today we move onto the NBA draft…

    • New Guy

      For real man. What was that?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Oh, I’m not dissing him for writing it. It was just longer than every other comment in the thread combined.

    • trr

      LOL, spot on!

  • MB923

    I don’t understand why Girardi did not challenge the Ellsbury steal. That could have meant a huge run in the game. Thankfully D-Rob retired every man he faced (I think), but still. The difference between a 3 run lead and a 2 run lead with 1 inning left is very large.

    Maybe Ellsbury got off the bag too early or something that I did not see?

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      He definitely looked safe on the replay from what I saw, but I think Ells thought he was out for whatever reason. He immediately got up, turned and walked to the bench without protesting the call.

  • fred robbins

    Frankie adds fire to the team and I would love to see him and KJ in the lineup more often. I like the more hard nose player types, the ones the Rays and Oakland like to run out.
    Just a question–based on a few of Mike’s Jeter comments… He does seem to be losing ground in being able to be a capable ss.. if the Yankees were to make the playoffs and have a decent first round opponent where the pitching lines up favorably, do you sit Jeter and let him DH only or pinch hit? These kinds of defensive lapses can’t be made up for in a 5 game series.- or 7