Sabathia stops the bleeding; Yanks snap six-game losing streak with 7-0 win over O’s

Now that’s more like it. The Yankees snapped their six-game losing streak Wednesday night with what was maybe their most complete win of the season. They had some extended rallies, they played solid defense, and the pitching was on point. The final score was 7-0 Yankees.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Stopper
It has been a long time since CC Sabathia last pitched like a true ace. For at least one night, the ace version of Sabathia returned, and he showed up at exactly the right time for the Yankees. Sabathia played the role of stopper Wednesday night and put an end to the losing streak with seven scoreless innings against the Orioles. He allowed six hits and two walks while fanning six.

Was it easy? Of course not. Sabathia’s only 1-2-3 inning was his final inning. He held the O’s to 1-for-8 with three strikeouts and one double play with runners in scoring position, and, obviously, the one hit did not even score a run. Sabathia can thank Aaron Hicks for that. Jonathan Schoop didn’t even try to score from second on Ryan Flaherty’s fifth inning single to right because Hicks has a rocket arm. Sabathia got two other double plays as well.

The changeup was Sabathia’s best pitch by far Wednesday night. He was consistently burying the change down and away to righties — he threw 28 changeups, they swung 14 times, and missed eight times — and it allowed all those fastballs he threw in on the hands to play up. Sabathia also threw some nice backdoor sliders too. This was a vintage performance from the big man. CC is still a boss.

The Offense Breaks Out
Jacoby Ellsbury started the game with a double to right field. As per 2016 Yankees tradition, he was stranded. (Actually, he got thrown out at home on the contact play.) Fifteen of the next 17 Yankees made outs against righty Tyler Wilson, and the two base-runners were walks that were quickly erased. The Yanks did not record their second hit until Ellsbury singled with one out in the sixth. For the first five innings and change, it was more of the same from the Yankees. The offense was lifeless.

Things changed in the sixth. Ellsbury pulled the single to right, stole second, moved to third on Brett Gardner‘s single to center, then scored on Carlos Beltran‘s sacrifice fly. The fly ball wasn’t terribly deep and it looked like Adam Jones had a chance for a play at the plate, but he fumbled the transfer a bit and Ellsbury scored without a throw. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead and it was like pulling teeth, I swear.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The floodgates opened after that. Mark Teixeira walked and Brian McCann drove in Gardner with a single to right. Starlin Castro hit a tapper back to the mound that looked like it would end the inning, but Wilson spiked the throw to first and it scooted on by Chris Davis for a run-scoring error. The Yankees needed something like that. They haven’t been playing well, and when you don’t play well, it seems like your opponent makes every play in the field. It was nice to see the Yankees get a break for once.

The three runs felt like 300 runs given how the Yankees have been struggling to score this season. They didn’t stop there though. Two innings later, they put up a four spot thanks mostly to McCann’s two-run double to right. Didi Gregorius also drove in a run with a single, and Gardner got an RBI the hard way: he took a pitch to the right elbow with the bases loaded. Brett took one for the team and added a (sixth) insurance run.

In the first five innings the Yankees went 1-for-15 (.067) with two walks. In the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings they went a combined 8-for-17 (.471) with six singles, two doubles, three walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a sacrifice fly. They batted around for the first time in about a month in that eighth inning. In fact, it was the first time they batted around since scoring six runs in the first inning against Collin McHugh and the Astros in the second game of the season. Crazy, right? Crazy.

Never Easy
The Yankees never do things easily these days, so of course Kirby Yates walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and forced Dellin Betances into action. I don’t have a problem with using Dellin there at all. He hadn’t pitched since Sunday and the team is struggling like hell to win. Davis was at the plate and he is very capable of turning a 7-0 game into a 7-4 game with one swing.

Anyway, Betances came in, struck out Davis with three straight curveballs — he definitely got a favorable call for strike three, but that’s cool with me — and got Mark Trumbo to pop up weakly in foul territory to end the threat. I officially declare What’s Wrong With Dellin Week™ over. Yates has actually been pretty good as a low-leverage middle innings guy so far, but he needed a hand Wednesday, and Betances came through.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
The top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, five walks, a hit-by-pitch, and two strikeouts. Teixeira had three of those walks and is now hitting .224/.365/.341 (109 wRC+) on the season. Feel free to mix in an extra base hit, Mark. Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with two walks to raise his season batting line from .247/.293/.366 (83 wRC+) to .271/.327/.396 (104 wRC+).

Castro took an 0-for-5 and Hicks, who is in the lineup due to Alex Rodriguez‘s injury, went 0-for-4. It sure sounds like he’s going to play a lot while A-Rod is on the shelf, so hopefully getting to relax and play every day gets his bat going. His defense is an asset either way. Hicks stopped a runner from scoring from second without even making a throw.

Gardner was lifted in the ninth and x-rays on his elbow were negative. Dustin Ackley took over in right and Hicks slid over to left, which is completely backwards based on their arms. That said, I think Joe Girardi put Hicks in left because the O’s were sending up a bunch of right-handed hitters. Didn’t matter either way. Whatevs.

And finally, Chasen Shreve came out of the bullpen to record the final three outs without incident. A nice and easy 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Feels good. Love this team, you guys.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN again for the updated standings. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This three-game series comes to end with the rubber game Thursday night. It’ll be right-handers Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman on the mound. After that, the Yankees will head home for a ten-game homestand. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to boo the team in person instead of from your couch.

X-rays negative after Brett Gardner takes pitch to elbow

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Following tonight’s win, Joe Girardi announced x-rays on Brett Gardner‘s right elbow were negative after he was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Here’s the play. Gardner did remain in the game at first, but was eventually replaced in the outfield in the ninth inning.

Girardi did admit to being concerned because Gardner is pretty sore. The Yankees are already without Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) and they can’t afford to lose another one of their top hitters. That said, the Yankees do have plenty of outfield depth, with Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley in MLB and Slade Heathcott, Ben Gamel, and Aaron Judge in Triple-A.

Hopefully this is nothing more than a nasty bruise and Gardner and return to the lineup in a day or two, if not tomorrow. The Yankees currently have a three-man bench and an eight-man bullpen, so if Gardner does need to miss more than a few days, the team will have no choice but to call up another position player.

DotF: Judge, Sanchez, and Refsnyder continue hot streaks in Scranton’s win

Some notes:

  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A, reports Shane Hennigan. He’s from the Scranton area, so that’s cool. Wotherspoon has emerged as a sleeper because he’s throwing 94 mph with both a curveball and a slider. So far this season he has a 1.06 ERA (1.85 FIP) with a 33.3% strikeout rate in 17 innings with Trenton. RHP Vinnie Pestano was placed on the DL to clear a roster spot. I’m not sure what the actual injury is.
  • Also going to Triple-A is RHP Mark Montgomery, so says Matt Kardos. LHP Dan Camarena has been sent down to Double-A in a corresponding move. Montgomery has a 2.25 ERA (2.56 FIP) in eight innings with Trenton this year. He’s struck out eleven and walked six. Montgomery has split the last three seasons between Double-A and Triple-A.
  • To replace Wotherspoon in Trenton, the Yankees signed RHP David Kubiak out of an independent league and assigned him to Double-A, per Kardos. Kubiak, 26, threw 25.1 innings in rookie ball with the Rays in 2011. He’s been bouncing around indy leagues since. Kubiak allowed four runs with 20 strikeouts and two walks in 11.1 innings with Bridgeport Bluefish this year.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 8-for-23 (.348) with three doubles, two homers, four walks, and three strikeouts in his last six games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 3-5, 1 SB — 15-for-45 (.333) with six doubles and a homer in his last eleven games
  • LF Slade Heathcott: 2-4, 1 R
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 3-5, 2 RBI, 1 SB — 14-for-36 (.389) during his nine-game hitting streak … second straight game in right field, and Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings it was Refsnyder’s idea to spend some time in the outfield
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 11/1 GB/FB — 65 of 92 pitches were strikes (71%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Phil Coke: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 19 pitches were strikes (63%) … back into a relief role after making a spot start a few days ago
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes … 19/3 K/BB in 13 innings for the three-time Tommy John surgery guy

[Read more…]

Game 25: Stage Three

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve reached the third stage of grief over the Yankees being so unwatchably bad. I’ve already gone through denial (“It’s just a slump, they’ll be fine”) and anger (“Blow this crapfest up”), and now I’m in the bargaining phase. Just win a game, please? Score some runs, get good pitching, that’s all I ask. I’m a simple man. I guess depression and acceptance can’t be too far away now. Sigh.

Anyway, the Yankees could really use a win! They have 138 games remaining including tonight, and eventually they need to win one (or, preferably, 80) of them. Even by accident. You’d think they would luck into some hits with men on base or get a random great pitching performance one of these days. Hasn’t happened yet though. Each game is better than the next. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Chase Headley
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cool and cloudy in Baltimore tonight, though there is no rain in the forecast. That’s good. I think. Today’s game is going to start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: In case you missed it earlier, Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain. Lefty James Pazos was called up to fill the roster spot.

TiqIQ: Fresh Off Series Sweep, Yankees Look to Avoid Brooms Against Red Sox Again This Weekend

The downward spiral continued for the New York Yankees on Tuesday, as they dropped their sixth straight game, and will crawl to the end of a nine-game road stint in Baltimore on Thursday. The Bombers will return to the Bronx for a ten-game stretch of their own beginning this Friday, hoping to jump start the homestand with a big weekend against the red-hot Boston Red Sox.

Sure, there are more desirable teams the Yankees would rather face given their sluggish start, but the basement dwellers have a chance to right the ship with a good showing at the Stadium this weekend. And for fans who remain optimistic about the team’s early-season woes, plenty of deals still exist for Yankees tickets for this weekend’s series.

The Red Sox make the first of three trips to Yankee Stadium this season looking to regain the divisional lead in the AL East. They did so last week after sweeping the Yankees at Fenway Park, where they decimated Yankees pitching and scored 20 runs during the three-game series. Friday night’s series opener will see Michael Pineda start for the Yankees against Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello. While the bleacher sections are sold out, upper deck seating starts from just $21.

On Saturday, Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound in search of his second win of the season against newly-signed Red Sox ace David Price. Price has been hit early and often this season but a formidable offense has allowed him to start the season 4-0 despite his 6.14 ERA. There is limited ticket inventory available for the matinee game, however, and the cheapest seats are listed from $53 in Section 231.

ESPN’s Baseball Tonight will broadcast the final game of the series on Sunday night. Luis Severino will be in search of his first win of the year after starting the season 0-4. The Braves will give the nod to Steven Wright, who sits at 2-3 and is coming off a loss against the Chicago White Sox. It will be the cheapest game of the series, with outfield bleacher seats starting from just $17.

While the Yankees have struggled to find any sense of balance through the first month of play, there is plenty of excitement surrounding Aroldis Chapman’s debut in pinstripes next week. Chapman is nearing the end of a 30-game suspension and will provide a boost to a bullpen that already features Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Miller has been sensational thus far, allowing just four hits in 10 innings of work. However, the Miller-Chapman tandem can only go as far the offense takes them, and the bats will need to wake up beginning this weekend if the Yankees hope to curb a streaking Red Sox team.

Yankees place A-Rod on 15-day DL with hamstring strain, call up James Pazos

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Yankees placed Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain this afternoon, the team announced. Left-hander James Pazos has been called up to fill the roster spot on what I assume is a temporary basis. No 40-man roster moves are required or anything like that.

A-Rod left last night’s game after coming up lame running out a ground ball in the fifth inning. Here’s video of the injury. Rodriguez was replaced by pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley in the eighth inning, and the Yankees sent him for an MRI this morning. There’s no word on the severity of the strain just yet. Is this a two weeks thing or a two months thing?

The fact the Yankees called up a reliever — they’re two days into a 20 games in 20 days stretch — indicates they will play Ackley and Aaron Hicks more going forward, with the veteran regulars rotating in and out of the DH spot. Despite his slow start, I’m ready to see what Hicks can do on an everyday basis. I say run him out there full-time with A-Rod out.

The Yankees could and likely will call up another position player like Rob Refsnyder or Ben Gamel (or Aaron Judge or Nick Swisher) and get back to a normal four-man bench at some point during this 20-day stretch. For now, having the extra left-hander in the bullpen will be nice against the lefty heavy Orioles and Red Sox this week.

Rodriguez is only hitting .194/.275/.444 (100 wRC+) on the season overall, but he’s gone 7-for-20 (.350) with three home runs in his last six games, so he was heating up. The Yankees need all the offense they can get right now. A-Rod missed a few games but was able to avoid the DL after tweaking his oblique taking swinging in the batting cage between at-bats last week.

Girardi confirms Aroldis Chapman will take over as closer when he returns

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Bryan Hoch, manager Joe Girardi confirmed Aroldis Chapman will indeed take over as the Yankees’ closer as soon as he returns from his suspension next Monday. They’re not going to ease him back into things and Andrew Miller‘s otherworldly performance doesn’t mean he’ll remain in the ninth inning.

Chapman is scheduled to make tune-up appearances in Extended Spring Training today and Friday — today’s outing will likely be two innings, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild — before joining the team Monday. He’s been throwing in Tampa since the end of Spring Training and has been gradually increasing the intensity of his prep work.

I thought maybe the Yankees would ease Chapman back into things at first, perhaps with a low to medium leverage outing or two before taking over the ninth. In a perfect world, I bet the Yankees would like to see Aroldis come into Monday’s game to face the 7-8-9 hitters with a three-run lead. Nice and easy for his first game, you know? Just to get those first game jitters out of the way.

Miller has been out of this world so far this season. He’s allowed three singles and one double in ten scoreless innings, with 16 strikeouts and zero walks. Only eight of the 33 batters he’s faced have hit the ball out of the infield. Insanity. Miller has said all along he’ll pitch in any role and he seems sincere about it, so I don’t expect giving up the closer’s job to Chapman to be a problem.

Now, if Chapman comes in and blows one of his first save opportunities, then there will be some second guessing. That’s inevitable. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. Girardi likes to assign relievers set innings, so in all likelihood Miller will take over the eighth inning and Dellin Betances the seventh. I suppose he could mix and match Miller and Betances as necessary, though they’re so good against all hitters it won’t make much of a difference.

“I just think it makes our bullpen longer,” said Girardi to Hoch when asked about the impact of adding Chapman to the bullpen. “You use guys maybe a little bit differently, which I think helps … Let’s just see what we get into. Worry about that when he gets here.”

Getting Chapman back is not going to cure all that ails the Yankees, not even close, but it’s not going to hurt either. Adding this kind of talent to the roster only helps. We’ll see what kind of shape the bullpen is in next week, though the smart money is one Nick Goody going to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for Chapman. Hopefully the Yankees start giving him some games to save.