DotF: Domingo Acevedo dominates in Staten Island’s win

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Rochester) one more win or one more Rochester loss clinches the division title

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-3, 1 BB
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 BB, 3 K — no contact game in his first Triple-A start
  • DH Slade Heathcott: 1-3, 2 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1 Balk, 8/3 GB/FB — 47 of 81 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 13 of 24 pitches were strikes (54%) … Triple-A debut for the 27-year-old three-time Tommy John surgery survivor

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Yankees hang on for 13-8 win over Red Sox in series finale

That was a good end to the road trip. The Yankees overcame the late afternoon #shadows to clobber the Red Sox on Wednesday, winning the series finale 13-8. They won five of six games on the road trip.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Over Early
I know no game is ever truly out of reach at Fenway Park — Joe Girardi sure doesn’t think so — but the Yankees put this game to bed early with an eight-run second inning against BoSox lefty Henry Owens and the pitcher formerly known as ace reliever Ryan Cook. A whole lot happened that inning, so let’s recap with an annotated play-by-play.

Yankees Red Sox play by play1

(1) The last few days have not been kind to Greg Bird, who’s been thrust into a starting role thanks to Mark Teixeira‘s injury. His two-run home run off Owens was only his second extra-base hit since this two-homer game and it looked like a no-doubter off the bat, but it only landed a row or two deep in right field. Usually I get surprised and the ball carries further than I expect. This was the opposite. It didn’t carry as much. Either way, Bird put a great swing on a very hittable fastball and gave his team a 2-1 lead.

(2) Is Stephen Drew the 2015 version of 2012 Raul Ibanez? That would be cool as hell. I doubt he’ll come up with as many enormously clutch homers as Raul — how could he? Ibanez was unreal that year — but his bat has started to come around after lagging most of the season. Drew’s second inning double was very hard hit over the right fielder’s head. He’s now 9-for-12 (.750) with two doubles, two homers, two walks, and one strikeout in his last four games.

(3) The Brett Gardner at-bat was the one that convinced me they were going to do a lot of damage against Owens. The young southpaw had nothing to put Gardner away. Brett flicked his wrists, fouled off a bunch of pitches, then took the walk to load the bases when nothing hittable came his way. The second time through the order, the Yankees were on everything against Owens.

(4) I don’t want to complain too much about an eight-run inning, but the Yankees did run themselves into an out on Chris Young‘s base hit off the Green Monster. It wasn’t a booming hit, it was more of a high fly ball that looked catchable at first, which is why Drew didn’t get a good read and only advanced to third. Gardner was running the whole way and got caught between second and third when he finally noticed Drew was standing on the bag. They’re both at fault — Drew got a bad read and Gardner failed to realize the runner ahead of him didn’t advance. Joe Espada as well. The third base coach has been involved. Oh well. Didn’t cost them much, thankfully.

(5) The Carlos Beltran homer was the icing on the cake. Alex Rodriguez picked up Drew and Gardner with a two-run single — it should have been a double, it kicked off the sidewall at a weird angle and away from the left fielder, but Alex isn’t running well these days — that ended Owens’ afternoon. In came Cook, and Beltran turned around his first pitch for an opposite field two-run homer over the Green Monster. Officially a laugher.

(6) The second inning was New York’s fifth inning with at least eight runs innings this season, the most in baseball. The Marlins (!) have three and no one else has more than two. The Yankees scored at least eight runs in an inning just once in both 2013 and 2014. They came into this game with 633 runs on the season. They scored 633 runs all of last season. I know they had been struggling the last few weeks, but hooray offense.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Cruise Control
The afternoon did not start too well for Masahiro Tanaka. Mookie Betts started the game with a double high off the Green Monster — it looked like it had a chance to get out, but it fell no more than ten feet short — and David Ortiz later drove him in with a ground rule double to right. Both doubles came on mistake pitches out over the plate, the kind of pitches that should get crushed. That gave the Red Sox a quick 1-0 lead.

After the Yankees scored their eight runs in the second inning, Tanaka settled in and cruised the rest of the afternoon. He allowed two garbage time runs — the first on a Blake Swihart double and two fly balls, the other on a Xander Bogaerts solo homer — and was in the dugout when an inherited runner scored, uglifying his line. Tanaka finished the afternoon with four runs allowed on six hits and one walk in 6.1 innings. He struck out five and threw 66 of his 92 pitches for strikes. He looked better than four runs in 6.1 innings.

Considering Tanaka was starting on normal rest for only the third time this season, I was surprised Girardi sent him back out for the seventh at 82 pitches. Especially with the big lead and all the call-ups in the bullpen. They’ve gone to great lengths to keep Tanaka healthy this season, so I figured Girardi would get him out after six. No big deal, Tanaka threw ten more pitches and was done.


Panic Time
Welcome back to the big leagues, Andrew Bailey. He replaced Tanaka with the Yankees up 12-3, walked two batters, allowed a sacrifice fly, and then a single, then was yanked. Bailey threw 22 pitches and PitchFX says he averaged 93.2 mph with his heater, down from 94.9 mph back in 2013, his last stint in the show. That’s not surprising after major shoulder surgery. Bailey looked amped up more than anything. His issue was command, not stuff. Good to get it out of his system now. Justin Wilson replaced Bailey and got the final out.

In the top of the eighth, the Yankees tacked on an insurance run when Jose Pirela beat out an infield single. Gardner doubled to start the inning and made his way to third on A-Rod‘s double play ball following Young’s walk. Rico Noel, who replaced Beltran in right field in the seventh, was literally in the batter’s box for his first big league at-bat when Girardi called him back for Pirela. Brutal. Seven-run lead against a last place team? When can the kid hit if not then?

Anyway, Bryan Mitchell came on for the eighth inning and was terrible, allowing five of six batters to reach base. That includes four singles and a walk. Girardi, who was in full blown panic mode, brought in Dellin Betances (!) with the Yankees up six runs. He got the next two outs with ease to end the inning. I’m worried Dellin’s arm is going to be mush soon. He’s on pace for 85 innings this year after throwing 90 last year.

Caleb Cotham started the ninth inning while Andrew Miller warmed up in the bullpen. The Yankees had a six-run lead and Miller was warming before Cotham even threw a pitch. Why not just use Miller to start the inning in that case? There’s obviously no trust in Cotham. Cotham allowed back-to-back doubles, in came Miller, and he closed the door for a panicky 13-8 win. The game was never close after the second inning.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

After the eight-run second inning, the Yankees scored three more runs in the third (Drew three-run homer), one more in the fifth (Gregorius solo homer), and another in the eighth (Pirela infield single). Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit and the 6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, three homers, two walks, and one strikeout. All told, the Yankees scored their 13 runs thanks to 15 hits and five walks.

The non-Betances/Miller portion of the bullpen was awful. Bailey, Wilson, Mitchell, and Cotham combined to allow four runs on seven hits and two walks in 1.2 innings. They struck out no one. Of course, Wilson was the only one of those guys in the Circle of Trust™, and he faced one batter. Two kids and a reclamation project did the damage. Whatever.

And finally, congrats to Girardi for his 800th career managerial win. He is 722-544 (.570) all-time with the Yankees and ranks fifth on franchise wins list. It’ll be a long time before he climbs a spot — Miller Huggins is fourth with 1,076 wins.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game as well as the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Bullpen Workload page is kinda crowded now thanks to September call-ups. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The six-game road trip is over. The Yankees have an off-day Thursday and will open a ten-game homestand Friday night, with the first of three against the Rays. Luis Severino and Jake Odorizzi is the scheduled pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any games on the homestand live at Yankee Stadium.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

That mid-week 4pm ET start time was weird, no? Baseball is all about routines, including for fans who follow daily, and that start time today threw everything out of whack. Anyway, make sure you check out this Andrew Keh article on the extravagant bat flips in Korea, which are common in KBO but are frowned upon in MLB. The “unwritten rules” seem to be much different on the other side of the world.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing and ESPN will show the Cardinals and Nationals a little later. The Nats, man. What a monumental disappointment they’ve been this year. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Game 132: End of the Road Trip

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

The Yankees have won four of the first five games on this six-game road trip — doesn’t seem like it, does it? — so it’s already a good trip. This afternoon is a chance to make it a great trip. A win this afternoon not only clinches a 5-1 road trip, it also clinches a sixth consecutive series win at Fenway Park. The Yankees say they haven’t done that since the 1950s. Wowza.

Believe it or not, the Yankees will not spent more than three consecutive days on the road the rest of the season. They do have a nine-game road trip in two weeks, but the middle three games are against the Mets in Citi Field. The players will get to sleep in their own beds and everything. The travel gets a lot easier from here on out. Gotta take advantage. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Another lovely weather day in a series full of them. It is nice and sunny in Boston with temperatures in the upper-80s. I’m guessing we’re going to hear a bunch of #shadows talk during the game thanks to the weird start time. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending where you live. Enjoy the game.

Brett Gardner is starting to come out of slump just in time for the Teixeira-less Yankees


Thanks to the Braves, the Yankees averaged a healthy 4.71 runs per game in August, right in line with the 4.88 runs per game they averaged from April through July. We all know the offense wasn’t quite that good last month though. The Yankees scored 38 runs in three games against Atlanta over the weekend and only 94 runs in the other 25 games, or 3.76 per game.

The team-wide offensive malaise last month was not the result of any one thing. It was a combination of things. Lots of players slumped, perhaps none moreso than Brett Gardner. The first time All-Star hit a weak .208/.304/.257 (61 wRC+) in August, easily his worst month of the season. Easily. His second worst month was the .252/.322/.421 (105 wRC+) batting line he put up in May.

Gardner has always been a better first half player, but not to this extreme. He’s a career .283/.360/.421 (116 wRC+) hitter in the first half and .240/.330/.356 (90 wRC+) in the second half. That 26 wRC+ point difference is pretty huge. Brett’s a first half player, no doubt. This year though? This year he hit .302/.377/.484 (139 wRC+) in the first half and is at .212/.318/.291 (74 wRC+) in the second half. That’s a 65 wRC+ point gap.

Anecdotally, it seems as though Gardner has been striking out more in the second half, but that’s not really the case. He had a 19.8% strikeout rate in the first half and has a 22.5% strikeout rate in the second half. Basically three extra strikeouts per 100 plate appearances. No big deal. His 23.3% strikeout rate in August wasn’t much worse either. So yes, he is striking out more, but not that much more.

Gardner’s plate discipline was fine in August, at least in the sense that it didn’t deviate from his season averages a whole lot. He swung at 20.7% of pitches out of the zone last month. His season rate is 21.4%. Gardner didn’t start hitting more grounders (39.8%) or pop-ups (6.9%) in August either. His season averages are 45.4% and 6.0%, respectively. Too pull happy? Not enough hard contact?

Brett Gardner batted ball data

Eh. Not too much of a difference there. The 6.7 percentage point drop in hard contact from the first half to the second half is disconcerting, but most of it shifted over to medium contact, not weak contact. Is that enough to explain Gardner’s .274 BABIP in August, by far his lowest month of the season? Maybe! The admittedly imperfect data suggests he was not hitting the ball as hard in August as he had earlier this season.

The more important question is why. Why isn’t Gardner hitting the ball as hard as he did earlier this season? It’s impossible to answer. It could be as simple as scorer bias — Baseball Info Solutions uses human stringers for their contact data, so one scorer’s hard hit ball could be another’s medium hit ball — or sample size issues. Maybe he’s playing hurt again. Remember, Gardner played through an abdominal strain in the second half last year, which was severe enough that he needed offseason surgery. Maybe his swing is a mess. There could be a million reasons.

Regardless of what exactly is causing Gardner’s slump, Gardner’s slump has hurt the offense overall these last few weeks. The good news is he is starting to come out it. Brett went deep last night and is 6-for-22 (.273) on the road trip, which is a heck of a lot better than what he did the rest of August. You have to squint your eyes, but the signs are there. Gardner’s hit the ball with some more authority of late, even his outs, which suggests he’s getting better swings.

Unless Gardner is playing hurt and we don’t know about it, I expect him to climb out of his slump soon enough. I have a hard time believing Brett is simply a bad hitter now. Great in the first half to zero in the second half? Not impossible, just unlikely. The Yankees will be without Mark Teixeira for the foreseeable future, so getting Gardner back on track as the No. 2 hitter is imperative. Runs are harder to come by these days, even moreso with Brett struggling.

Mark Teixeira’s injury will be a significant obstacle down the stretch

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Prior to last night’s win, the Yankees got some bad news about their 2015 MVP, or maybe I should say bad news that could have been a lot worse. Mark Teixeira, who left the team Monday and returned to New York to have tests on his shin, does not have any kind of fracture. His bone bruise, however, has not gotten better and he will be on crutches for at least a few days. Brian Cashman said it’ll be at least two weeks until Teixeira returns.

“It just hasn’t been healing in any way, shape or form, and they’ve ruled out any other complications. It’s a timing mechanism and it’s taking a hell of a lot longer than we would have expected,” said Cashman to Wally Matthews. “The biggest concern was a stress fracture, but that’s been ruled out. You would have expected to see some sort of improvement on the bone contusion healing process, and that has not happened. Now he’ll probably be two weeks [before] we’ll get him going.”

Teixeira suffered the injury on a fluke play. All he did was foul a pitch into his shin, which is the kind of thing that happens countless times each season. This one just happened to catch Teixeira in the right spot — or wrong spot, I guess — and he’s been out more than two weeks. The Yankees never did place him on the DL because they thought it would be a day-to-day issue. Obviously that has not been the case. (Rosters are expanded now, so there’s no sense in placing him on the DL at this point.)

If nothing else, at least Tuesday’s news gives us a bit of a reprieve from the daily updates and wondering whether today will be the day Teixeira returns to the lineup. He’s at least two weeks away now. There is never a good time for an injury like this, but right now is an especially bad time given the AL East and wildcard races, and the fact the season ends in the month. There’s a non-zero chance this bone bruise ends Teixeira’s season.

Teixeira is the Yankees’ most irreplaceable player because he’s elite on both sides of the ball. Even with his early-August slump, he is still hitting .255/.357/.548 (145 wRC+) with 31 home runs overall, including a 155 wRC+ against righties and a 118 wRC+ against lefties. Teixeira’s a switch-hitter who has an impact from both sides of the plate. He also plays a mean first base, and you never truly appreciate great first base defense until you don’t get it. The only thing Teixeira doesn’t do well is run. He’s been great at everything else this year.

The Yankees don’t have that guy anymore. Teixeira’s two-way impact is gone. Greg Bird has gotten a chance to sink or swim at first base since Teixeira went gone down, and while playing the kids is exciting, Bird has been a substantial downgrade. He hasn’t hit a whole lot (90 wRC+) and the drop off on defense is painfully obvious. I like Bird and have been especially impressed by his approach. He has a good chance to be the first baseman of the future. It’s also okay to acknowledge he has been a detriment since being pressed into everyday duty.

So now, with Teixeira out, it’s up the other veterans to pick up the slack. To me that means basically everyone in the lineup other than Bird and Didi Gregorius, though Didi has picked up the pace of late. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner need to be gangbusters atop the lineup. Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann need to continue to produce and Chase Headley has to sustain his second half surgery. Alex Rodriguez? The longer his slump goes on the less likely it is the Yankees win the division. Pretty simple.

No one player makes a team, not even someone as good as Mike Trout, but Teixeira’s injury is a significant blow to the Yankees. They rely on him heavily both defensively and offensively, in the middle of the lineup against both righties and lefties. Katie explained yesterday just how huge Teixeira has been in high-leverage spots this year. That clutch bat is gone now. Not having Teixeira is a major obstacle the Yankees will have to overcome these next few weeks to return to the postseason.

Pineda’s pitching and Drew’s clutch hit lead the Yankees to a 3-1 win in Fenway

(Source: Getty)

It feels like that could gone much worse. Despite the lineup being dominated by Rick Porcello for eight innings, New York came up victorious at 3-1 on Tuesday. Michael Pineda pitched his best game in almost two months, Stephen Drew came up clutch to drive in the go-ahead run, and Brett Gardner extended the lead. And, of course, a little luck didn’t hurt either (talking about the instant replay situation in the bottom eighth). This was a type of the game that probably infuriated Red Sox fans more than it pleased Yankee fans.

Cy Porcello

For first awhile, the Yankee lineup made Rick Porcello look like a Cy Young candidate. Porcello struck out five out of the six first Yankee batters to begin the game and ended up punching out 13 overall in eight frames. That was … not good. Porcello came into tonight’s game with a whopping 5.47 ERA in 121.2 IP, which is terrible. He also came in with inflated home run rate (1.48 HR/9 this season), which can happen to a pitcher moving from Comerica Park to Fenway Park, but the bottom line is I would not have expected such dominance from Porcello tonight.

If there was any sign that he was going to pitch brilliantly tonight, it’s that he changed his approach after being shelved for almost a month, then had a solid outing in his first start back against the White Sox. But, well, okay, it’s really hard to say a pitcher improved totally based on one start. Porcello did, however, looked really good  and was able to locate some spillover fastballs and sinkers on both sides of the plate tonight. Maybe he figured things out or maybe it was his lucky game. We’ll see.

(Source: Getty)

Pineda brings the pain

Pineda had been in a bit of a funk. His last quality start prior to tonight was the July 10 game against the Red Sox (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 6 K). He had only made three starts (and a DL stint) since, allowing 14 earned runs in 16 innings pitched. No bueno.

With the calendar turned to September and the Yankees finding themselves 1.5 games behind Toronto for the AL East title, it was been crucial for Big Mike to show that he could pitch like his ace self from earlier in the season. And, boy he did.

The Red Sox drew the first blood in the third though. With one out, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a double off the Green Monster and Pablo Sandoval drove him in with a two-out RBI single. Timing-wise, it seemed like Gardner might have had a chance for a play at home but he misplayed the ball and JBJ scored easily. 1-0 Red Sox. That was just about all the damage Pineda allowed.

Besides that? Big Mike was just simply dominant. Pineda pitched six full innings, allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out seven while not walking anyone. His fastball seemed to ooze nasty cut for swing-and-misses while his command of the slider was present on both sides of plates. New York could use several more starts like that for the rest of the season and beyond.

Clutch (Source: Getty)

Just like how they Drew it up

Yankees had their first real threat going on in the fifth inning. A-Rod hit a (massive) single to lead off. Both McCann and Greg Bird struck out to leave him there but Didi Gregorius hit a tricky grounder that hopped past Travis Shaw’s glove to put two runners in the scoring position. With two outs, runners second and third, former Red Sox Stephen Drew came up and delivered a two-RBI double. 2-1 Yankees.

One-handed release (Source: Getty)

In the eighth, holding onto a 2-1 lead, Yankees got another run with a Brett Gardner solo home run off Porcello. Gardner had been in a .180/.275/.246 rut in 16 games since August 15 so any sign of life with bat is pretty encouraging. Having Jacoby Ellsbury and Gardner both clicking at the same time would be a massive plus for the offense, especially with Mark Teixeira being down for at least two weeks (sigh).

The Instant Replay

If you’ve been a Yankee fan for years, you are quite familiar with Yankee-Red Sox late inning dramas. As I stated earlier, things could have gone much worse for New York tonight.

With Dellin Betances pitching, Mookie Betts lined a single to start off the bottom of eighth. Sandoval flew out but Xander Bogaerts hit another single to put two runners on base with one out for Boston. Coming up? David Ortiz – that’s a pretty high-stress situation for any pitcher.

On the 1-2 count, both Betts and Bogaerts attempted to move up a base. McCann didn’t miss a beat and threw to third to get Betts out. It seemed like Betts slid in ahead of the throw but to the third base ump’s eyes, he slid off the bag and was ruled out. Betts started to protest, stating that Chase Headley pushed his feet off the bag during the tag. According to instant replay shown on TV, it was really hard to tell what really happened – it did certainly seem like Betts had his foot on the bag at least for most of it and, if it came off, Headley certainly may well have pushed it off. With many expecting the call to be overturned, the umpires stood by the call and Betts was declared out, again.

That changed the situation from potentially being one out with two runners in scoring position to two outs with a runner on second. That’s a steep gap, if you ask me. Betances ended up punching out Ortiz easily and Andrew Miller closed out the ninth to preserve a 3-1 Yankee victory.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees will play in Fenway again tomorrow at 4:05 PM EST. Masahiro Tanaka will face the rookie lefty Henry Owens to go for the series win.