Tanaka roughed up, bats disappear in 5-3 loss to Tribe

Game 89: Tanaka Tuesday
Sherman: Yankees have called Cubs about young shortstop surplus

Source: FanGraphs

This was a tale of two games. It was all Yankees in the first two innings and all Indians after that. Masahiro Tanaka‘s worst start of the season and an offense that completely vanished after the third inning led the Yankees to a 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday night. The little two-game winning streak is snapped and New York is back to being only one game over .500 at 45-44.

Something came up tonight (nothing bad, everything’s fine), so I wasn’t able to watch this game at all after the first inning and can’t recap in much detail. Trevor Bauer was all over the place early on though, throwing 67 pitches in the first three innings while allowing three runs and putting seven of the first 14 men on base. Then he threw 45 pitches in the next four innings and retired 13 of the final 14 men he faced. The one base-runner came on a Nick Swisher error. It was a weak grounder right through his legs.

The Yankees did not have a hit after the third inning and did not have a base-runner after the fifth inning. They worked Bauer hard early on, scoring those three runs on a string of mostly singles — the sacrifice bunt in the second inning was silly with Bauer on the ropes, but in fairness, it was Zelous Wheeler at the plate. Two walks (of course) on the night, no extra-base hits. The 2014 Yankees in a nutshell.

Tanaka, meanwhile, got smacked around pretty good. He set a new season-high in hits (ten) and runs (five allowed) for the second straight start, surrendering a pair of homers to Michael Brantley and Swisher. Brantley was 3-for-4 with two doubles and the homer. He’s really impressive. Tanaka struck out five and got another ten outs on the ground, plus Cleveland hitters swung and missed 14 times at his 99 pitches, but his mistakes were crushed. He was bound to hit a rough patch at some point. The All-Star break will do him some good.

The box score and video highlights are at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Brandon McCarthy will make his Yankees debut on Wednesday night, in the third game of this four-game series. Vidal Nuno threw seven shutout innings for the Diamondbacks tonight. Somewhere there is a Yankees fan lamenting the trade. Josh Tomlin will be on the bump for the Tribe.

Minor League Update: No time for the full update tonight, sorry. The box scores can be found right here. 2B Rob Refsnyder had two hits (single, double), OF Zoilo Almonte had three hits (triple, two singles), 1B Peter O’Brien had two hits (double, homer), RHP Luis Severino struck out eight in four innings, LHP Jacob Lindgren fanned three in two perfect innings, and fourth rounder LHP Jordan Montgomery allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning in his pro debut. That’s about it.

Game 89: Tanaka Tuesday
Sherman: Yankees have called Cubs about young shortstop surplus
  • TWTR

    Wheeler or not, I agree with Cone, who made the same point. sacrificing there made it easier for Bauer because it was a free out on one pitch, and he seemed to settle down after that. It was not smart.

    And if Roberts is really blocking Refsnyder, then sacrifice bunts are the least of their problems.

    • Chip Rodriguez

      Agreed on the sac bunt. That wasn’t a wise play – when you play for just one run, sometimes that’s all you get. Bauer was really struggling to find the zone, and that out seemed to give him a lot more momentum.

      Earl Weaver would have cringed.

    • Preston

      Roberts is a serviceable big league player, his offense is fine for a 2b. His defense at this point in his career isn’t stellar, but neither is Refsnyder’s. Cutting a serviceable big league player to rush a minor league player with 28 games at AAA under his belt is dumb. It’s a panic move. It isn’t good for your big league team and it isn’t good for your minor league player. Roberts can use the work on his defense. He could also work on cutting down on the Ks so far at AAA. I’d like to see Refsnyder turn into a legitimate big league starter as much as the next guy, and I think there is a relatively good chance that he can be that. But patience is a virtue.

      • TWTR

        Saying that he is being rushed or that it would be a panic move is completely subjective.

        According to John Harper in Tuesday’s Daily News, if Refsndyer comes up this year, it will likely be as an OF, and he will be playing some OF in the minors now in order to prepare.

        “I’m not presently looking to call him up, but he’s demanding that we pay attention,” Cashman said. “If he came up here (in the coming weeks), it would likely be in the outfield.”

        Roberts is irrelevant because he isn’t good enough to matter.

        If Refsnyder can help the team, and they apparently think he can, they shouldn’t negatively impact his development at 2B by having him play another position.

        Giving young players a chance is a virtue as well.

        • Preston

          Playing him in the OF sucks. He could be an elite offensive 2b, he profiles as an adequate corner OF. You always say the team shouldn’t sacrifice the long term by trading prospects for short term gains. Playing Refsnyder in the OF is trading his long term impact potential for half a season of projected production, and plenty of MiLB players struggle at the outset of their careers. Which means you will have traded Refsnyder’s long term value for NO short term gain. Even if the plan is to move him back to 2b, he’s lost that development time there. Which means he either has to go back down to the minors or learn at the MLB level, which sucks because prospects have enough to deal with adjusting at this level. Having to work on their defense at the same time makes the task more daunting. Giving a player a chance is useless if you aren’t trying to put them in a position to succeed.

          • Preston

            And it’s funny how you seem to be fixating on the second part of the quote and ignoring the “I’m not presently looking to call him up” part.

          • hornblower

            The Yankees need two more bats so the manager has enough players to start and give his older ones frequent days off. If there are young players who can provide hitting they should be on the club. Their starting pitching is adequate and relief solid. But they get so little from the bottom of the order.
            If Ref. and Pirela can hit let them play. Young players are not so fragile that the challenge of the big leagues is going to harm them. Many top MLB players have been up and down early in their career. That’s how they learn. Let them play for the big club. This old and boring bunch is going nowhere fast. Spare us the profiling stuff.

            • Preston

              I could care less what happens with tertiary guys like Pirela. If they want to throw more crap on the wall to see what sticks go ahead. Refsnyder is a real prospect with a real future. His readiness should dictate his timeline, not the teams needs. Let’s give him 200 ABs, if he’s still raking and shows signs of improvement on D, then we can revisit this conversation. Until then he’s fine right where he is. Chase Utley spent 238 games at AAA, it didn’t stunt his growth.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                It’s Wednesday. Scranton is full of world-bearers like Jose Pirela. The farm is a barren wasteland on Thursdays and Saturdays.

                I’m going to gon out on a limb and say that neither Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder, outfielder, are the type of difference-maker which those who cite them as being think they are.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  World-beaters as well.

                  • Looser trader droids FotD™

                    Also, egg-beaters, wife-beaters, and, umm, master-beaters.

              • scott

                This team, though it does need a consistent hitter, more than anything needs power hitters. Ref hits for a lot of average, but isn’t a HR hitter. They yanks need a 3B and a RF that can crush the ball out of the park so Joe will stop bunting.

                There is something to be said for being in scoring position while still standing at home plate.

                I’m all for seeing Ref in September, or now if Roberts is hurt, but right now, like Preston says, let him get his licks in at Scranton until he is ready or needed due to injury. The Yanks should be able to find a RF or 3B with some pop on the trade market.

        • RetroRob

          The way I view it is if they believe in him as a prospect and as a second baseman, they should let him continue to play everyday at second base in AAA. Roberts can hold down the position for a few a couple more months.

          • Chip

            The thing is, with his recent hot streak (well, before tonight anyhow), he’s gotten his line up to almost league average. Sure UZR hates his defense but DRS actually has him positive and it’s clear that he’s not a disaster out there. I’d rather have him up and doing that than have Refsnyder up here booting a ball every game while trying to adjust to MLB pitching. Defense is the one thing you actually can perfectly simulate in the minors. Let the guy continue to destroy minor league pitching and give him a call-up when the minor league season is over to let him get his feet wet

        • Tom

          I really hope Harper’s comment isn’t true.

          So they are now going to start bouncing a guy who needs work on his defense at 2nd between RF and 2nd in the minors just in case they want to call him up… for the OF?

          Why would they potentially retard his defensive development at 2nd for such a short term bandaid… if they need a RF’r call up Almonte.

          I don’t understand that at all. Unless they are going to do something truly stupid like carry an 8 man bullpen and have a short bench (2 non catchers)

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            You also can platoon a guy like Zoilo, whose development I don’t think is top priority for this franchise, with Ichiro out there, whereas you probably wouldn’t use Refsnyder in a platoon at all.

            Really, neither is ideal, as power from the outfield is pretty non-existent, but I’d actually believe in the potential of a Zoilo/Ichiro platoon (if done right) than I would in Refsnyder playing however often he’d play out there. That doesn’t even touch the stupidity of putting the kid in the OF rather than 2B.

        • nycsportzfan

          Of course he can help the team. The guys unbelievable. Mike forget to mention he also had 2bb’s to go with the 2hits tonight, one being a ex-base hit. Hes unreal.

          • Chip

            Just because he’s mashing AAA pitching doesn’t mean he’ll automatically carry that over into the bigs. Having a really rough time defensively in front of 50k fans doesn’t help either. Go look at Matt LaPorta’s stats his first go-around and you’ll see almost a carbon copy of Refsnyder and he was below-average offensively when they called him up. If the Yankees, who clearly know much more than we do, think his defense isn’t ready, then his defense isn’t ready.

            • Kosmo

              Matt LaPorta ? What hat did you pull his name out of ?

              All this seems to be directly related to how Roberts performs. I´d say Roberts is holding his own, nothing to write home about, he´s certainly slipped a notch or two or three since his best years with the Orioles.
              IMO Refsnyder will be in the Bronx if Roberts is hitting .235-.240 come August 1st.

            • Wolfgang’s Fault

              He’s already ready — as an outfielder. When they drafted him last June, they didn’t think his bat translated as a corner outfielder so they moved him to 2B. Since then, both he & hitting coach Marcus Thames adjusted his approach & it’s clearly paying dividends. His bat now projects as a corner outfield bat. Bring him up & let him play in RF (or LF) and let’s see what happens. He can always work on playing 2B over the winter in Tampa & we can all revisit the subject then. If they bring him up & he keeps hitting, he solves a major production problem they have in their outfield & gives their offense some juice heading into the back half of the schedule. This kid is young and athletic, he’ll be able to adjust to the outfield quickly, and be able to get back on track at 2B over the winter & heading into s/t 2015.

              • Kosmo

                we can talk all we want but ultimately it boils down to what the FO decides. IMO Refsnyder, Pirela and Almonte ALL belong in the Bronx.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                And he’d be an infinitely more useful player…..as a second baseman.

                Either get Ichiro a platoon partner like Zoilo or get me a RF through trade who can hit the ball over the fence. Don’t give me a minor leaguer with gap power who will still have to adjust to level and still needed a to learn the position the team really wants him to play.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            He literally does not exist. That’s how unreal he is.

  • Zeddard Wheeler

    We’re in a lot of trouble, Mike. It used to be a given that a Tanaka start would result in an automatic W but 3 out of the last 4 have resulted in L’s. I just don’t know if Tanaka is cut out to pitch every 5 days. If they had a 6th starter they could go to a 6 man rotation but they don’t even have 5. Shut him down until after the ASB.

    Kelly Johnson should be DFA’d tomorrow. .217 average and people keep saying, but he’s got power! He’s hit 5 HR’s, less than Solarte and less than Soriano and neither one of those guys is still here.

    I don’t care if Brendan Ryan is at bat you do not bunt in the 2nd inning. Play for the big inning with a wild pitcher. This isn’t the NL West.

    • Chip Rodriguez

      Absolutely, Tanaka’s incapable of pitching every 5 days without the odd bad start here or there. How DARE he give up a couple of long balls.

      This is a tragedy of Faustian proportions.

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        Yeah, but he’s right about bunting in the 2nd inning. I wouldn’t have taken the bat out of Wheeler’s hands there. Gotta let Wheeler know you’ve got confidence in him. Bauer was on the ropes there too. Had Wheeler banged into a d/p or K’d, at least he had a shot & you’d have learned something about Wheeler, whatever that would have been. Instead, we learned more here about Girardi, & it wasn’t flattering. Gotta agree w/Cone & Eddard here.

      • Cy Tanaka

        Sure would be nice though if Tanaka or Mccann would figure out how to stop getting beat with the fucking fastball. I gave him a complete pass for getting beat with it against napoli and Boston since he threw a complete game but to leave a fucking fastball over the plate to Nick I’m batting .198 Swisher is just plain stupid.

        Just keep throwing the spit and slider he won’t hit it!

        Maybe the Yankees can trade for swisher…His .198 average would fit well in our pathetic lineup.

    • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

      And you’re the pretentious gimmick who loves to avoid context such as Tanaka throwing 7/3 ER and 9/2 ER, totally acceptable stat lines, in two of those losses, losses only because he got one damn run of support in those two games.

      Quit laying those games at Tanaka’s feet. It’s a really shitty thing to do; blaming the pitcher for the offense not scoring any runs for him. You must hate Kuroda.

      • scott

        preach it Doc. It’s tough to win when you give up 2 runs and your offense doesn’t get out of the dugout.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    Disaster night for Tanaka. SOUND THE SIRENS! SIRENS!!

    Eh… shit happens.

    Seems like a tough day for a few ace pitchers around the league.

    Verlander went for 5 ER in 6 IP. Still won, because Ryu got shelled.

    Bumgarner’s given up 4 ER in 5 IP so far tonight. Teheran got torched (11 H, 5 ER in 3.1 IP!) by the Mets. The Mets!

    Let’s hope he bounces back Sunday against the O’s. We’re still 4-2 on this road trip, and hopefully this team can go 3-2 or better in the remaining games, especially as Beltran figures to be back tomorrow.

    (BTW – Nuno and Hughes have combined for 14 IP, 0 ER in their two starts. Oy.)

  • WhittakerWalt

    Things happen, YCPB, etc., but I’m a little worried about Tanak. His last two starts have been serious clunkers. Let’s hope he rights the ship next time out.

    • Preston

      It’s two starts. He still had an 8/1 K/BB ratio in those games and is keeping the ball on the ground half the time. It’s not like he looks broken. He left some balls up. He probably is a little tired. He needs to kick back enjoy the All-Star break and come back ready to dominate down the stretch.

    • RetroRob

      We’ve been spoiled. He’s pitching in the Major Leagues. He’s going to have his bad games and bad stretches. We’ll have to deal with him perhaps getting a bit fatigued, too, as the season progresses.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I’m fine with being slightly worried. I just can’t even pretend to know what diagnosis and treatment are here. It was going to happen at some point.

  • Get Phelps Up


    SWB: 6-11 loss to Charlotte

    Pirela LF: 2-5, R
    Refsnyder 2B: 2-3, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, K
    Solarte 3B: 2-5, 2 R, RBI, K
    Zoilo CF: 3-5, R, 3B, 2 RBI, K
    CoJo DH: 2-4
    Dugas RF: 2-4

    Turley: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR
    Venditte: 0.1 IP, Zeros
    Escalona: 3 IP, H, 2 K
    Moreno: 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, BB, K, HR
    Burawa: 1 IP, 2 H, R

    Trenton: 6-5 win over Reading

    Gamel CF: 2-5, 2B, RBI, K
    Sanchez C: 1-4, R, K
    O’Brien 1B: 2-4, 2 R, 2 B, HR, RBI
    Segedin 3B: 1-3, 2 R, BB, K
    Castillo SS: 1-3, R, 2B, K

    Garrison: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 K
    Long: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 K
    Webb: 1.1 IP, H, SV

    Tampa: 2-3 loss to Clearwater

    Cave CF: 2-4, R, HR, RBI
    DBJ: 1-3, R, BB, K
    Snyder DH: 1-4 2B, RBI
    Yeicok LF: 1-3, K
    Garrison C: 1-3

    Severino: 4 IP, 4 H, unER, 2 BB, 8 K
    Smith: 2 IP, 2 H, R, 3 K
    Haynes: 1 IP, H, K
    Rumbelow: 1 IP, 3 H, R, BB

    Charleston: 4-3 walkoff win over Greenville

    O’Neill RF-LF: 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB
    Wade SS: 2-4, R, 2 K, ejected in 8th inning
    Andujar 3B: 1-4, 2B, RBI, K
    Valera DH: 2-4
    Ford 1B: 1-3, BB
    Katoh 2Bl 1-3, R, BB, K

    Smith: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 unER, 2 BB, 5 K
    Lindgren: 2 IP, 3 K
    Rincon: 2 IP, Zeros

    SI: 9-2 loss to Aberdeen

    Devin Bolasky CF: 2-5, R, 2B, K
    Jose Javier SS: 1-2, R, 3 BB
    Luis Torrens: 2-5, K
    Brady Steiger 3B: 1-4, BB, K
    Dan Lopez RF: 2-4

    Jordan Cote: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 K
    Tim Giel: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, BB, K
    Andry Acevido: 1 IP, BB, 3 K

    GCL 1: 1-2 loss to GCL Pirates

    All the batters: 3-29, R, 2B, 5 BB, 2 K (Jagielo 0-2, R, BB)

    Austin DeCarr: 1.2 IP, 4 H, R, 4 K
    Simon De La Rosa: 3.2 IP, 4 H, R, 3K
    Matt Marsh: 0.2 IP, 2 H, K
    Dayton Dawe: 1.1 IP, H, 2 BB, 2K

    GCL 2 game 1: 1-17 loss to GCL Tigers in 7 innings

    Junior Valera 2B: 2-4, 2 2B, RBI
    Allen Valiero 3B: 1-3
    Jake Hernandez DH, 1-2, R, 2B, BB
    Jordan Barnes CF: 1-2, K

    Jordan Montgomery: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, BB
    Derek Callahan: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 unER, BB
    Lee Casas: 1.1 IP, 3 BB
    Mike Noteware: 2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, BB, 2 K
    Alex Polanco: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, BB, K

    GCL 2 Game 2 was suspended in 2nd inning, will be completed on 7/23.

    • Preston

      Thanks for posting. DeCarr is thowing strikes and getting Ks. That’s really all you can be looking for at this level. Hopefully he’ll be ready to fast track to Charleston next year like Clarkin was.

    • Tanuki Tanaka

      Love the work by Severino and DeCarr, not so much for Turley.

    • Chip

      Is Mateo hurt? I know they took him out early last night

    • nycsportzfan

      Katoh is red hot right now. Hes really turning it around. And give it up for Jake Cave. I got into a few debates about him over the past couple weeks, as people seem to not realize he was a overslot guy who we had to pay pretty heavily to get him outta a commitment to LSU(??) or somewhere. I mentioned he could allow us to trade Gardy for something(possibly) down the line, and a couple got on me because were all loving Gardy right now but Cave is similar and doing better at younger age(same level) then Gardy did when at Caves levels. Caves had a great start to his pro career.

      Real quick, glad to see C.Smith have a good start. Hes another in the Lail and Camarena mold, that don’t get alot of attention but could be pretty helpful down the line.

      • nycsportzfan

        Smith is a college kid though. Lail and Camarena were HS picks.

      • Chip

        The thing that always stood out about Gardner were his ridiculous plate discipline numbers and that’s really what carried him his first couple of seasons before he found a bit more power. Cave is going to have to improve his walk rate, lower his strikeout rate, increase his power or keep up Jeter level BABIPs if he’s going to be an impact player. I’m not saying he can’t do any of those things but right now he’s a guy depending on BABIP to support his line and that typically goes down the higher you get up in the minors.

        I’m also loving the Katoh turn around and I really wonder if he just needed to adjust to playing under the lights rather than all the day games the GCL plays

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        That’s a rather long way of saying “thank you” to GPU.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Nice job.

    • http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com ColoYank

      Looks like Jaron Long’s AA debut went decently.

  • RetroRob

    I’m not so sure the All-Star break will help Tanaka. He’s not going to even get a day off, pitching Sunday, the last game before the break, and then Friday, the first game back from the break. Meanwhile, he’ll be flying to the All-Star Game, partaking in all the media, etc. So no rest, with extra duties thrown in!

    • Preston

      I hope they don’t pitch him the first game back. He and Kuroda could definitely use more of a rest than that. There’s no point in getting extra starts out of them if they’re going to be worn down.

    • Yanks

      If they really wanted to, the Yanks could probably rework the rotation a little so that he gets some extra rest, but I’m not sure they want to do that.

    • Chip

      Have they said he’ll start the first game back? I would be pretty surprised if they didn’t give him a bit more time off

    • JGYank

      Who knows? Maybe he’ll come back with a new pitch or get helpful tips there.

      Honestly I don’t think his last two starts are completely from fatigue. He had to regress at some point, even just a little. Can’t see anyone finishing the year with a 2 era in YS. He’s at 2.5 right now, which is probably closer to his true talent level. He wasn’t going to keep dominating all season and the league is still figuring him out. I’m sure he’s tired and still adjusting to pitching every 5 days as well. I’m not saying he’s going to suck in the 2nd half or anything like that, but it’s likely that his first half was a hot streak and he’ll finish the year with a 2.75 or maybe a 3 era and he’s cooling off now. That’s just my opinion. I’d still take that from any pitcher in a heartbeat.

      • Chip

        Some guys just get totally locked in too. I mean he was absolutely spotting every single pitch the first 10 or so starts. He’s in a bit of a rut and missing location every now and then just like every other starter does. It would be a bit more helpful if they scored more runs for him too

  • Get Phelps Up

    Marcel Ozuna ruined Vidal’s 7 shutout innings.

    • nycsportzfan

      He was pretty brilliant for the Yanks last yr in limited inn’s and had a couple stud starts this yr as well. Once the NL starts to see him a bit, i’m sure he’ll have his 3inn 6er games more often then not. That said, he’ll mix in a gem from time to time because hes crafty.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

    Pontifications on the Oakland A’s:

    I’m really, really interested in trying to figure out how I should start classifying this Oakland A’s team. I’ve made no silence about my beliefs with regard to parity in MLB today, and I’ve also said that I only consider two teams to have been legitimately great teams since the 2006 season; the 2007 Red Sox, and the 2009 Yankees, and only three times in the Wild Card era have we seen the best teams in each league meet in the World Series (1995, 1999, 2013) and three times have we seen the best overall record win (1998, 2007, 2009).

    Now, tailing back to the A’s here for a minute; consider the following

    Best run difference in the league by a mile; they are projected to finish at a +254 run difference right now, and that would be the best in MLB since the 2001 Mariners posted a +300 (927/627)
    On pace for 102 wins; only two other teams have won 102 games or more in a season since 2005
    Obviously, they upgraded their rotation a few days ago with Samardzija and Hammel; even though I have my doubts about those two personally, it’s hard to deny that they are upgrades over Tom Milone and (hah) Brad Mills; even when Drew Pomeranz returns from the DL, it’s still an upgrade.
    These accolades have been accomplished in a division with the Angels (52-36) and Mariners (49-40) being their chief competition, and those two teams are #2 and #3 in MLB in run differential; Washington is #4 overall, ten runs worse than Seattle, and +33 better than #4 in the AL, Detroit

    Of course, why do I have my doubts? First of all, Jeff Samardzija has never started an important baseball game in his big league career. Whether you want to tout him as having been the ace of the Cubs this year or been of ace caliber for years prior to this year is up for other people to decide, but there is something to be said about jumping into a pennant race, and going from the National League to the American League. Samardzija is a good pitcher, but as of this moment I’m having some difficulty thinking that this is going to put them over the Tigers in the AL pennant race. As for Jason Hammel, well, this is a mid-rotation starter who had a strong start to the season, and the Cubs wisely cashed in on this. It’s not all that different than 2012 with Ryan Dempster or 2013 with Scott Feldman. Hammel has started two playoff games before, in 2012 against the Yankees, and he was, eh, solid I suppose could be an apt description, although the post-caveat can be applied that he was facing a Yankee team that posted some historically bad postseason hitting numbers, so take requisite caution when looking at his lines.

    The next thing about this comes from the fact that the A’s have the worst playoff reputation in baseball in this century. In 2001, they won 102 games, and lost in the ALDS. In 2002, they won 103 games, and lost in the ALDS. Even if you want to throw out the results of a decade ago as holding little relevance to today (which is fair), then there’s still explanations that need to be provided for 2012 and 2013, when they lost Game 5, at home, against Justin Verlander and the Tigers both times. Are we so sure that this team is built to exceed what the prior incarnations of this team accomplished? I’m really not sure. My philosophy has always favored top-heavy teams in small sample sizes such a best-of-5 playoff series because star power prevails in smaller doses; it’s no secret why the A’s have had better records than the Tigers in the past two seasons, because they have more balanced and deeper rosters, but they don’t have Miguel Cabrera or Max Scherzer or players who can flat out take over a baseball game by their omnipresence.

    Frankly, if I had to tender a final verdict? The 2014 A’s, to this juncture, pass the sniff test. They have proven capable of beating any team in the league, regardless of their quality. If I were judging them on their own credentials, with no regard for their previous playoff endeavours, and no regard for the postseason coming up this season (because I do not want to derail my post with my rants about Bud Selig’s horrendous treatment to the MLB playoff system), I would have to say that they have met the requirements. The AL as a collective whole is weak, but they have still managed to achieve their heights in a division with the two other best statistical teams to this point in this season. I can’t take this away from them.

    But, obviously, I still have my doubts. Can’t isolate those.

    Insert any beliefs, pro or con, that you wish, or none at all. That’s fine too.

    • Chip

      tl;dr I assume that this all says the A’s are good at baseball and stuff

    • Chip Rodriguez

      “but they don’t have Miguel Cabrera or Max Scherzer or players who can flat out take over a baseball game by their omnipresence.”

      I’d argue that Yoenis Cespedes comes close, as an incredibly dangerous hitter who can dominate a game when he’s on. Sonny Gray is an outstanding pitcher too, but I worry about whether he has the arm stamina (never pitched 200 innings in his life) to stay this effective into September and beyond.

      The other thing that sticks out with this A’s team is just how good the bullpen is, even with the Johnson signing being a bust (for now).

      But this A’s team is playing outstanding and consistent baseball. They’re a lot of fun to watch too.

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

        That’s the thing that spooks me about them when it comes to if they invariably find themselves facing Detroit in the playoffs. I’m not convinced Samardzija will be a difference maker. I really doubt Hammel will be. Sonny Gray, bless is contradictory name’s heart, is a question mark for reasons you mention. And if I’m not sold on Jesse Chavez or Scott Kazmir, well, I think there’s justification for it.

        It would take Oakland beating Detroit in the playoffs before I finally rate the A’s over the Tigers in a postseason setting. That said, that’s why I tried to remove the postseason aspect from being the focus of my post, because in this era of baseball, with the best-of-5 LDS (which I HATE), the best team doesn’t get to and/or win the World Series nearly as often as they should. There’s a ridiculous irony that the 1996 and 2000 Yankees, who posted two of the worst W-L records of the Yankees since 1996, have won World Series titles, but a trio of successive 100+ win teams between 2002-2004 didn’t win a single World Series. With all due respect, yeah, I personally rate the 2002 and 2003 Yankees above those ’96 and ’00 teams without any hesitation, because their regular season accolades and roster qualities trump what the ’96 and ’00 teams could put out there. There were a spate of excellent teams in MLB in the early ’00s and, as if the flicking of a switch, this ceased to be the case starting around 2006.

        • Chip

          Also, the A’s probably should have won a WS or 2 when they had the Zito-Hudson-Mulder rotation going but could never win a 5 game series. I would argue that team is actually quite a bit better than the current one because you had that insane pitching staff and then an infield containing Giambi, Chavez, Menechino and Tejada and then Isringhausen striking everybody in sight out

          • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

            Oakland’s record in potential series-clinching games, starting with Game 5 of the 2000 ALDS, is 1-12. Ghastly. In 2000, 2002, 2003, 2012, and 2013, they lost Game 5 on their home field. You can’t make this stuff up. They’ve proven time and time again that having that Game 5 at the Coliseum does nothing to help lift them over the top. The only year not included there, 2001, they had two chances to finish off the Yankees at home, only to fail both and then lose back in the Bronx.

    • RetroRob

      They could simply be a very good team playing at a time when parity means there are lots of mediocre teams, or worse. That doesn’t make them an all-time great team. Just the baseball version of the one-eyed king in the land of the blind.

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

        That doesn’t make them an all-time great team.

        Not really sure where I said that.

        I think the part that sticks out to me is that the three best run differentials in baseball are in that division. Baseball is being suffocated by parity right now, and I’m not even sure I rate this A’s team as better than the Tejada/Chavez/Hudson/Zito/etc. teams of about a decade ago, personally. But even if the AL sucks, it’s more impressive to have that kind of run difference in the best division in the league than if they were in, say, the AL East.

        • RetroRob

          You didn’t say they were an all-time great. I was picking up on what you wrote and throwing in/adding on some of my own thoughts as I’ve been reading more about the A’s run differential and what it means.

          • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

            Fair enough; sorry if I jumped a bit to a conclusion there.

            I was flipping back through prior seasons and I was shocked that I kept on going back further and further and not seeing a team in excess of +254 until 2001. I expect the progression to tail off (frankly, I expect Oakland to have some more struggles in the second half relative to the first half), but even in an advanced stage of MLB parity, I still have to think that winning in excess of 100 games, should Oakland do that, is something that deserves some accolades. Hopefully, assuming they don’t face the Yankees in the playoffs, they won’t crap out this time, because I’m a bit tired myself of the regular season-underachieving Tigers taking the A’s to the cleaners come playoff time.

    • Get Phelps Up

      You don’t think the 2011 Phillies were a legitimate great team? Just interested in your reasoning.

      Also just to nitpick, in 2007, the Red Sox were tied for the best overall record in the game, so if they count, their 2013 iteration should also count, as they were in the same situation. (also, my God did the NL suck in 2007. Exactly TWO teams won 90 games and one of them needed 163 games to do so.)

      • Get Phelps Up

        Also Hammell pitched for the 2009 Rockies in the playoffs too.

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Dr. Martin van Nostrand

        (internet crashed, only now got it back. Apologies; it derailed the conversation.)

        I think the 2011 Phillies were a bit light in the offensive department; they had lost Jayson Werth in the off-season and Raul Ibanez really cooled off by this point, and this was also when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley started to decline/get hurt all the time IIRC. They had that quartet of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, but as we’ve seen with a lot of teams in recent years that are tilted towards pitching, they can have stretches where the offensive production simply isn’t coming, and the nature of lower scoring games leaves things more to variance. Do recall that Philadelphia had an 8-9 game losing streak very late in that season too; they were not going into the playoffs on the strongest of notes.

        That said, 100+ wins, like I said, is a pretty strong accolade, and I think they simply ran into a bad matchup with the Cardinals. St. Louis had posted a 6-4 mark that season against the Phillies, and had Chris Carpenter who could pitch in two games in that series and leave the Cardinals only needing to win one of those other three games if things went according to plan. Of course, the Phillies helped succumb themselves to that fate by sweeping the Braves to help the Cardinals avoid even needing to play a 163rd game. I think the Phillies would’ve had a much easier go of it vs. Arizona.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      They should absolutely pass the sniff test. Trademark A’s pitching, with an actual good-hitting lineup behind them to boot. They’re legit.

      Also, no more caffiene after 7:00 PM for you.

  • 461deep

    Maybe that complete game win awhile back took something out of Tanaka.
    He throws too many HR cream me puffs. Indian hitters said they are trying to avoid getting down by 2 strikes then flailing at the low splitter. If Tanaka gets 9 W, 4 L, 2 ND in his remaining 15 or so starts that could be the playoff borderline for the team. With Beltran
    seeming to look like this will be near a lost season the offense becomes more limited. 0Good to= see Gardner show anger & really bark at a 3rd strike call.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      He’s thrown 2, would have been 3 (it was 9 innings) if the yankees didn’t go into extra innings a few starts ago.

  • Mick taylor

    If I were girardi I would not pitch tanaka Sunday and let him rest until after all star break. Or not start him till the Sunday game after break. Also they are pit chinghim too manyinnings. Girardi was stupid to let him pitch complete game earlier this season

  • trr

    I used to know a guy named Pit Chinghim.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    This outing didn’t even come close to inspiring the panic I thought it would.

    Adversity happens. Don’t bet against the ‘Naka.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Almost disappointed, if I’m being honest.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The first half-season wsa all a mirage. Cashman failed. They signed the wrong Asian/Cuban. Rothschild is ruining him, and Kevin Long is somehow involved. Fucked, fucked I say.

        • scott

          I thought it would illicit panic and people would be trolling the #cashman failed line because Nuno looked like Verlander for one night.

          Maybe the trolls didn’t watch the game.

          I am frustrated with Girardi’s game management last night. First two guys get on vs. an erratic pitcher and you have Wheeler bunt. You could argue that after Tex, Wheeler has most power potential on the team.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            They’re waiting for McCarthy to look like Darrell May.

        • Looser trader droids FotD™

          Remember Asia De Cuba?

          There was also a great Chino Latino place on lower Broadway around…3rd street? Can’t recall the name.