DotF: Gleyber’s huge game helps Trenton to a win

A couple roster notes before we get to a fun night in the farm system:

  • OF Jake Cave has been activated off the Triple-A Scranton disabled list and sent down to Double-A Trenton, according to Shane Hennigan. He had arthroscopic knee surgery over the winter. Cave hit .261/.323/.401 (106 wRC+) with the RailRiders last year, but there’s simply no room for him at that level right now.
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen was activated off the disabled list and RHP Colten Brewer was added to the Double-A Trenton roster, according to Matt Kardos. Feyereisen missed two weeks with a shoulder issue. Brewer was sent from High-A Tampa to Extended Spring Training yesterday, which seemed weird. Turns out it was only a paper move.
  • The Yankees have released LHP Evan Rutckyj and RHP Kyle Haynes, reports Kardos. These moves clear roster spots for Feyereisen and Brewer. I’m sure Rutckyj will hook on somewhere else quickly seeing how he’s left-handed and breathing. Haynes came over from the Pirates in the Chris Stewart trade a few years back.
  • RHP Ronald Herrera will be activated off the Double-A disabled list tomorrow, according to Kardos. He’s been out since Spring Training with a shoulder issue. Also, in addition to 3B Miguel Andujar working out at first base, SS Thairo Estrada will see time in the outfield, Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell told Kardos.

Triple-A Scranton (8-5 loss to Indianapolis) prevented the system sweep … lame!

  • 3B Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SS — Shane Hennigan says Wade made a great diving stop … this is his first game of the season at the hot corner … he only had two games and 7.2 career innings at the position prior to today
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — 15-for-44 (.341) with five walks and seven strikeouts in his last eleven games, so he’s shaken off the slow start nicely
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 7 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 9/8 GB/FB — 67 of 95 pitches were strikes (71%) … has a 5.10 ERA in 151.2 career innings at Triple-A and a 3.00 ERA in 354.1 career innings at all other levels

[Read more…]

Gardner, Judge, Romine power Yankees to 12-4 win over O’s

For the first time since August 22nd, 2015 — 616 days ago — the Yankees are in sole possession of first place in the AL East. At least one of my ten bold predictions will come true. The Yankees followed Friday night’s stunning come-from-behind win with a 12-4 depantsing of the Orioles on Saturday. They’ve now won four straight and 14 of their last 17 games. And because the Mets beat the Nationals, the Yankees now have baseball’s best record at 15-7. Their +46 run differential is tops in the game too. They play today, they win today. Das it.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Gardner Plants Two
The Yankees started Saturday’s game with back-to-back home runs, kinda. After Matt Holliday ended Friday’s game with a walk-off home run, Brett Gardner led off this game with home run into the right field second deck for a quick 1-0 lead. I’m making the executive decision to count those as back-to-back home runs. They came in consecutive at-bats, right? Right. Back-to-back dingers it is.

Gardner has not had a good start to the season overall and the home run was his first in 303 plate appearances and 69 games dating back to July 30th of last season. He didn’t have to wait long to go deep again. Just one inning. In the second Gardner homered again, this time hitting a three-run shot into the home bullpen to give his club a 5-0 lead. Ubaldo Jimenez cured whatever ailed him, I guess. The Yankees have been scoring plenty early on this year. Getting Gardner going would make them even more dangerous.

That second inning four-run rally started with a Didi Gregorius single to right center. It continued with back-to-back walks by Aaron Judge — based on how carefully they pitched him Saturday, the O’s are terrified of Judge (as they should be!) — and Greg Bird. Ubaldo gonna Ubaldo. That loaded the bases for Austin Romine, who lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to get the run home. That made it 2-0 good guys before Gardner homered for the 5-0 lead.

Big Mike‘s Big Grind
Two runs in 5.1 innings is a good start overall, though it didn’t come easily for Michael Pineda. He had just one 1-2-3 inning, the fourth, and his defense saved him at least one run and possibly two in the third inning. The Orioles had men on first and second with one out when Chase Headley made a spectacular diving catch to rob Manny Machado of extra bases. The ball was ticketed for the left field corner. The best part? Headley’s reaction. He was fired up:

chase-headley-catch

Thanks to that play, Pineda got through the first five innings scoreless, though he allowed some baserunners along the way and needed 93 pitches to do it. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the O’s broke through — the Yankees had a healthy 7-0 lead at the time — thanks to a Machado double (he’s so good I hate it) and a Headley error. Headley made another great diving stop, but he pulled Bird off the bag with the throw, allowing Machado to score.

All told Pineda was charged with two runs (both unearned thanks to Headley’s error) on five hits and one walk in 5.1 innings. He threw 104 pitches total and had eight strike ’em outs. There were just a lot of long at-bats. Nine of the 23 batters Pineda faced saw at least five pitches. Machado alone saw 20 pitches in his three at-bats against Pineda, including a 12-pitch battle in the first inning. Not the crispest outing for Big Mike, but he worked through it. This was the kind of start that could have gotten out of hand in previous years.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Keep Adding On
One thing these 2017 Yankees do that the 2013, 2014, and 2016 Yankees did not do often enough is tack on insurance runs. Those teams would build a one or two-run lead and try to protect it the rest of the way. This team keeps adding on. That’s why they have six wins by at least five runs and only four by two runs or fewer so far.

The first four of Saturday’s insurance runs came courtesy of Romine. He drove in two runs with a single back up the middle in the fourth inning and another two runs with a homer in the sixth inning. Romine drove in five runs on the afternoon and became the first No. 9 hitter to drive in five runs for the Yankees since … Joe Girardi! Girardi drove in seven runs as the No. 9 hitter during a game against the Rangers in August 1999. Love it. Here’s that box score.

That fourth inning rally was set up by a Judge single and a Bird walk. Judge stole third with one out (!) and Bird took second on the throw. The homers get all the attention, but Judge is a well rounded player. Offense, defense, baserunning, the whole nine. Of course he then homered too, because that’s what he does. Judge’s seventh inning two-run shot the other way into the right field bleachers (lol) stretched the lead to 12-2. Look at this:

aaron-judge

How does a 6-foot-7 guy get his hands like that and inside-out a ball into the damn bleachers? Who does that? Judge joins Graig Nettles (11 in 1974) and Alex Rodriguez (14 in 2007) as the only Yankees with double-digit home runs in April. He should have eleven too if not for that stupid triple. Judge went 2-for-2 with two walks, a homer, four runs scored, and a steal of third base on the afternoon. He’s hitting .301/.393/.767 (217 wRC+) overall. My large adult baseball son is all grown up.

Leftovers
Adam Warren replaced Pineda in the sixth inning and looked a bit shaky at first. He allowed a single to Hyun-Soo Kim, hit Jonathan Schoop with a pitch to load the bases — Schoop left the game an inning later, by the way — then uncorked a wild pitch to give the O’s a run. Warren escaped the jam when Caleb Joseph swung through a hanging slider. He then settled down and retired six of seven batters faced in the seventh and eighth innings.

The 6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 6-for-10 with a double, two homers, and five walks. They drove in eight of the team’s 12 runs. The Yankees rarely got production like that from the bottom of the lineup the past few years. Now it seems to happen every other day. Add Gardner to the mix and the wrap-around 6-7-8-9-1 portion of the lineup went 8-for-14 (.571) with a double, four homers, and five walks. Goodness.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Tommy Layne, who had thrown 14 pitches total the previous 16 days, finished the game with a messy ninth inning. His inning went single (Ryan Flaherty), homer (Joseph), single (Craig Gentry), strikeout (Joey Rickard), walk (Machado), strikeout (Mark Trumbo), fly out (Trey Mancini). I know Layne hasn’t pitched a whole lot, but he’s been pretty bad so far. The Yankees need him to straight it out sooner rather than later since he’s the only non-Aroldis Chapman lefty in the bullpen.

And finally, Judge has tied the MLB rookie record with ten home runs in April. Trevor Story did it last year and Jose Abreu did it in 2014. Judge has one more April game remaining to break that record.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. For the video highlights, go to MLB.com. For our Bullpen Workload page, go to RAB. Here’s the lopsided win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will go for the sweep when they wrap up this three-game series with the Orioles on Sunday. That’s another 1pm ET start. Rookie lefty Jordan Montgomery and veteran lefty Wade Miley are the scheduled starting pitchers. There are four games remaining on the homestand and RAB Tickets can get you in the door for all four of them.

Saturday Open Thread

I can’t get the video to embed for some reason, but you should definitely check out this Law & Order: Aaron Judge Unit video. The Law & Order theme song would make great walk-off music for Judge, no? Anyway, MLB is probably going to have that video taken down soon, so watch it while you can.

Here’s an open thread for the rest of the day. Fox Sports 1 will have games now (Red Sox vs. Cubs) and at 7pm ET (Angels at Rangers), and MLB Network will have a late West Coast regional game. There’s also some NHL and NBA playoff games — the (hockey) Rangers are playing right now on NBC — and I do believe the NFL Draft is still going on as well. Talk about that stuff, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here. Just not religion or politics please. Those conversations never end well.

Game 22: Follow-Up

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

The best and worst thing about baseball is that they play every single day. The Yankees mounted a huge comeback for a fun and memorable win last night, and roughly 14 hours later, they’re back at it this afternoon with another game. Baseball never lets you enjoy the highs long, eh?

Anyway, the Yankees have a chance to do something today they haven’t done since August 22, 2015: have sole possession of first place in the AL East. The Yankees and Orioles are both 14-7 right now — the Yankees have a huge edge in run differential, for what it’s worth (+38 to +6) — so a win today means first place. That’d be cool. Just keep winning series though. Win series and everything will work out. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Aaron Judge
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Michael Pineda

We had some pretty serious thunderstorms overnight here in New York, but it’s cleared up and the weather is fine for the game. Hot, humid, and a little cloudy. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET. YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Gary Sanchez (biceps) threw to the bases for the first time today and everything went well. He’s on track to start his rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Scranton.

Yankees 14, Orioles 11: Judge, Castro, Holliday help Yankees come back from 9-1 deficit

This team. THIS TEAM. I love them. Even when things are going bad, they’re worth watching. They have Fighting Spirit. The Yankees were down 9-1 — 9-1! — after the top of the sixth inning Friday night. They outscored the Orioles 13-2 the rest of the way to earn a 14-11 walk-off win in ten innings. Love this team, you guys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

You Can’t Make A Huge Comeback Without Bad Pitching
You know, the game started out so well for CC Sabathia. Seven up, six down on 16 total pitches in the first two innings. Sabathia got two quick outs to start the third inning, then Joey Rickard reached on a dinky well-placed infield single. Fine. Whatever. Get out of it. Sabathia couldn’t. He walked the generally un-walked-able Adam Jones, then served up a rocket double to Manny Machado. Machado’s double was the first hard hit ball of the game for the O’s, and it came at the wrong time.

A two-run third inning shouldn’t be the end of the world. The Orioles didn’t stop there though. Sabathia plunked Chis Davis in the shoulder in an 0-2 count to start the fourth inning — 0-2 hit batsmen are so annoying — before Welington Castillo lifted a two-run home run into the short porch in right field. Eight quick outs to start the game, then four runs allowed in the span of the next six batters. Sigh. Machado made it 5-0 Orioles in the fifth with this moonshoot of a home run:

Unless I’m forgetting one, and I doubt I am, Machado is the first player to clear the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar entirely and hit a ball into the seats above. Well, the camera row, not the seats, but you know what I mean. Aaron Judge hits balls over the bar and into the concessions area in batting practice all the time, but during the game? Never happened before. Machado is the first to hit it up there during a game. Can’t even be made about that. I’m amazed.

The end result was seven runs on nine hits, two walks, and one hit batsman in 5.2 innings for Sabathia. He was yanked with men on the corners and two outs in the fifth — Joe Girardi wasn’t about to let him face Machado a fourth time — and replaced by Bryan Mitchell, who promptly walked Machado and gave up a grand slam to Mark Trumbo to make it 9-1 O’s. Womp womp. The Yankees came into the game with a team 2.90 ERA, best in MLB. The correction was never going to be pretty.

I suppose the good news is Sabathia’s velocity came back. He averaged 88.2 mph with his cutter against the Pirates last weekend and did not look good at all. On Friday night it was back up 91.0 mph. Yay? Late career Sabathia is going to have dud starts like this one, with or without the 90-something mile an hour velocity. The Yankees were due for a disaster start and they got it out of the way in this one. Thankfully, the offense picked them up.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sentenced To Two Home Runs
Even when the 2017 Yankees are getting blown out, they’re still fun to watch. Judge, who has alternated homer games and no-homer games for a week now, clobbered two home runs Friday night. It was his first career multi-homer game. The first was a solo shot with the Yankees down 5-0, a line drive into the visitor’s bullpen. The second was a two-run shot — the Yankees were down 9-2 at this point — on a line into Monument Park. ON A LINE.

That ball left Judge’s bat at 119.4 mph. It is the hardest hit home run since Statcast launched on Opening Day 2015. (Giancarlo Stanton had the previous record at 119.2 mph.) The two-run shot brought the Yankees to within 9-4. Judge is only the seventh player in Yankees history to hit nine homers in April. The last? Alex Rodriguez. He hit 14 during that hilariously incredible April in 2007. Judge has two games left to join A-Rod and Graig Nettles (eleven in 1974) as the only Yankees with double-digit homers in April.

Fighting Spirit
The two Judge home runs gave the Yankees some life. Mitchell tried to snuff it out quickly. He went back out for the seventh inning and retired only one of the six batters he faced. Jonathan Holder had to come bail him out, but by then the Orioles had tacked on two more runs to build an 11-4 lead. That was deflating. 9-4? Eh, that’s kinda within reach. 11-4? That feels less so. Not for these Yankees though!

The comeback started in earnest in the bottom of the seventh inning. An infield single (Austin Romine), a double (Chase Headley), and a walk (Matt Holliday) loaded the bases with one out. Cleanup hitter Jacoby Ellsbury did a cleanup hitter thing and smashed a grand slam into the right field bleachers. How about that? It was his 100th career homer and first career grand slam. Suddenly the Yankees were within 11-8.

Cleanup Hitter. (Presswire)
Cleanup Hitter. (Presswire)

Following a scoreless eighth inning, O’s closer du jour Brad Brach — Zach Britton is on the disabled list with a forearm issue — got the game-tying rally started for the Yankees with a leadoff walk to Headley. Holliday followed with a very long single off the wall in right-center field. It was one of those “he hit it too hard and he runs too slow” singles. For a normal hitter, it’s a double. Either way, the Yankees had men on the corners with no outs. They were in business.

Ellsbury got Headley in from third with a fielder’s choice to second base that maybe could have been a double play. The defender bobbled the ball slightly but was able to recover to tag Holliday as he approached the second base bag. Ellsbury reached first and Headley crossed the plate to cut Baltimore’s lead to 11-9. Then Starlin Castro, who I’m starting to think might actually be good now, crushed a game-tying two run home run. To the very necessary video:

The best part of the game-tying home run? Other than the fact it tied the game? The follow through:

starlin-castro1

Castro dropped to one knee, Adrian Beltre style. He did that following his ninth inning run-scoring single against the Red Sox on Thursday night too. I can get on board with this becoming a thing. The Yankees tied the game and man, Yankee Stadium was alive. I haven’t heard this ballpark this loud during a random regular season game in a long time. The Wild Card game in 2015? Sure. The various farewell games (A-Rod, Derek Jeter, etc.)? Yep. It was loud then too. This was an otherwise nondescript regular season game on April 28th, and the place was lit.

Starlin’s game-tying home run was just that though: game-tying. The Yankees still needed to score again to win. They did that in the tenth inning thanks to O’s reliever Jayson Aquino. He walked Aaron Hicks to start the inning then walked Kyle Higashioka — Hicks hit for Austin Romine earlier in the game — who was trying to bunt. Higashioka was giving Aquino an out and he couldn’t throw a damn strike. That, by the way, was the first time Higgy has reached base as a big leaguer. He’s come a long, long way to get here.

Runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the tenth inning of a tie game seems like a good time for a terrible strikeout, and Headley obliged. Aquino got him to fish for soft stuff out of the zone. Blah. Headley’s been awesome this season, but that was a yucky at-bat. Thankfully, Holliday picked him up one pitch later. Do the damn thing, Matty H.:

Holy crap. What an incredible ending to an incredible game that probably half of New York turned off after the fifth inning. This team, man. They’ve got something special going right now. The kids are contributing, the veterans are coming up big … it’s all coming together.

(Presswire)
My favorite photo of the season so far, easily. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Welcome back, Didi Gregorius. Sir Didi celebrated his return to the lineup by going 2-for-5 with a double and a run-scoring ground out. He also made several sparkling plays in the field. Ronald Torreyes is awesome — his celebration of the walk-off homer was amazing — but it sure is nice to have Gregorius back, isn’t it? He made an impact right away, on both sides of the ball.

Shout to the bullpen. Well, the bullpen sans Mitchell. He was crummy tonight. Holder, Tyler Clippard, and Aroldis Chapman combined to retire ten of the eleven batters they faced to give the offense a chance to get back in the game. Couldn’t have done it without those guys. (Chapman took a chopper to his pitching hand but remained in the game. Didn’t seem to be much of an issue.)

Fun fact: the Yankees hit for the home run cycle in this game. They had a solo homer (Judge), a two-run homer (Judge and Castro), a three-run homer (Holliday), and a grand slam (Ellsbury). I wish I could look up the last time the Yankees did that or the last time any team did that. Seems like kind of a rare thing, no? Maybe Katie can dig that up somehow.

The Yankees had 14 hits total and the middle of the lineup, the 3-4-5-6-7 portion, went a combined 11-for-20 (.550) with two doubles and five home runs. They drove in all 14 runs. Goodness. Headley had a double and two walks as the second place hitter as well. What a job by the offense. In years past, they had no chance of coming back in a game like this.

And finally, Judge has nine home runs through 21 team games. I bring this up because the Yankees rookie record is 29 home runs by Joe DiMaggio in 1936. I’m not say Judge is going to do it. But gosh, he sure does have a nice head start, huh?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, then back to ESPN for the updated standings. Also make sure you check out our ultra-useful Bullpen Workload page too. Ultra-useful isn’t hyperbole, is it? Nah. Here’s the amazingly awesome probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

At one point in the seventh inning the Orioles had a 99.5% chance to win the game. The Yankees had a 1-in-200 chance to win the game. This was the one.

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday afternoon for the middle game of this three-game series. That’s a 1pm ET start, thankfully. Been getting kinda sick of those weird Saturday start times. Michael Pineda and Ubaldo Jimenez are the scheduled starters. Good luck predicting the outcome of that one. Anyway, RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game. Weather’s supposed to be great.

DotF: Torres returns in Trenton’s loss

A few quick notes to pass along:

  • Welcome back, SS Gleyber Torres. Torres, the Yankees’ top prospect, was activated off the Double-A Trenton disabled list today. He missed nine days with mild right rotator cuff tendinitis. Torres hit .237/.341/.342 (100 wRC+) in ten games before the injury.
  • IF Donovan Solano was placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list with a calf injury yesterday and it’s not minor. Solano has a second degree strain and will miss “a while,” manager Al Pedrique told Shane Hennigan. With Solano hurt and Pete Kozma in DFA limbo, the Yankees lost some infield depth this week.
  • RHP Erik Swanson has been activated off the disabled list and assigned to High-A Tampa. Not sure what was wrong with him, but it couldn’t have been too bad if he’s back already. Swanson was part of the Carlos Beltran trade. RHP Colten Brewer was sent to Extended Spring Training to clear a roster spot, which kinda surprises me. The minor league Rule 5 Draft pick has been dealing out of the bullpen so far this year.
  • Ben Badler (subs. req’d) has some notes from a recent Double-A Trenton game. It’s behind the paywall, so I can’t give away too much. Most notable info: 3B Miguel Andujar could play some first base later this year, and Torres will DH this weekend before he starts throwing again Monday.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Indianapolis)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • DH Dustin Fowler: 2-2, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 CS — second triple of the season after leading the minors with 15 last year
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 K — 11-for-34 (.324) during his nine-game hitting streak
  • 3B Ruben Tejada: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — hitting .383/.466/.638 with nine walks and four strikeouts
  • LHP Daniel Camarena: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 5/5 GB/FB — 60 of 86 pitches were strikes (70%) … 18/2 K/BB in 22.1 innings so far
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 29 pitches were strikes (66%) … 16/5 K/BB in ten innings
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — eleven of 17 pitches were strikes (65%)

[Read more…]

Game 21: Didi’s Return

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are getting closer to being whole. Didi Gregorius, who has not played at all this season thanks to a shoulder strain suffered during the World Baseball Classic, returns tonight and is in the starting lineup. Hooray. I’ve missed Didi. Let’s not forget Ronald Torreyes though. Dude stepped in and hit .308/.308/.431 (106 wRC+) as the starting shortstop while Gregorius was out. He was pretty rad.

Anyway, the Yankees are back home for a quick little six-game homestand, and this weekend they’ll play the Orioles, the team they’re chasing for first place in the AL East. Hey, it’s never too early to start thinking about the division title, right? The Yankees have won 12 of their last 15 games. If you’re not going to look at their current situation in terms of the postseason race, when will you? Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Aaron Judge
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP CC Sabathia

Perfect baseball weather in New York today. Not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the 80s pretty much all afternoon. It’ll be a little cooler tonight though. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: As expected, Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Gregorius. That leaves the Yankees with an open 40-man roster spot, which will likely go to Tyler Austin whenever he’s activated off the 60-day disabled list.