Yanks can’t cash in with runners on base, lose 2-1 to Pirates

Source: FanGraphs

Well, that game could have gone a lot better. Jordan Montgomery didn’t have the best showing but limited the damage to 2 runs in 6 IP, which is pretty solid. Bryan Mitchell got out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam and tossed another scoreless to keep the Yankees close, but the offense went silent with runners on — and in general besides that Jacoby Ellsbury HR. The Yankees took a series loss against the Pirates and fall to 11-7 on the season. It’s the weekend so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • Down two runs: Montgomery got into a trouble in a jiffy in the first inning. He walked Jordy Mercer and allowed back-to-back singles by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen to get into a no-out, bases-loaded jam with Gregory Polanco, David Freese and Jose Osuna coming up. However, he got out of the inning relatively unscathed, allowing only a run on Freese’s deep sacrifice fly. Montgomery’s location was kind of all over the place that inning so it seemed like it could have gone a lot worse. Down 1-0 with eight more innings to go didn’t seem like a too bad of a scenario. The score stayed that way until the bottom of third when the Bucs scored another. Montgomery walked McCutchen and allowed an RBI double to Polanco for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
  • Dominated by an old friend: Ivan Nova had a start that the Pirates needed to win a ballgame, pitching seven solid innings, striking out seven and allowing only a run — on the Ellsbury solo HR — en route to earning his second win of the season. Oddly enough, he also allowed a walk. That’s a rarity nowadays because it’s only his fourth allowed in the Pirates uniform, which is pretty incredible. What makes it even more incredulous is that Jordan Montgomery drew said walk, in his first ML plate appearance ever, nonetheless. Baseball can be pretty weird like that. Speaking of an old friend, former Yankees backup catcher Chris Stewart went 2-for-3 today with a triple (!!!) because of course.
  • That ninth inning: The Yankees were gifted a pretty good chance against a very good reliever in Tony Watson. After Ellsbury lined out to first, Aaron Judge singled, Matt Holliday walked, and Ronald Torreyes reached on a Harrison error that should have been a game-ending double play. A flyball would have tied the game, which Aaron Hicks seems pretty capable of. However, he struck out in three pitches and Pete Kozma followed it up with a ground out on a 2-0 pitch to end the game. That was a huge and frustrating tease. The Yankees went 0-f0r-6 with RISP today and that’s not what you want if you want to win. Blergh.
  • Miscellaneous: Mitchell relieved Montgomery to start the seventh and got into a no-out, bases-loaded jam (two walks and a single). With top of the lineup coming up, it seemed like the game was going to get out of control pretty quickly. However, Mitchell induced a short fly out, a line out and a strikeout to get out of the jam, keeping New York in the game … Brett Gardner had another dud game at bat today, going 0-for-3 and dropping his season average to .182 … April AL MVP candidate Chase Headley also had an 0-for-4 day … Greg Bird? 0-for-3 day. Not the best day for the bats. You’re gonna get a few of these in a 162-game season.

Here are today’s box score, updated standings and video highlights. The Yankees get a day-off tomorrow before going to Boston. They’ll play a three-game series at Fenway Park and will be back to the Yankee Stadium on Friday to play the Orioles.

DotF: Gregorius continues rehab assignment in Tampa’s loss

The Yankees announced their first notable prospect promotion of the season earlier today: RHP Albert Abreu has been bumped up from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa. The team’s No. 9 prospect had a 1.84 ERA (2.54 FIP) with 22 strikeouts and three walks in three outings and 14.2 innings with the RiverDogs. Abreu, who came over from the Astros in the Brian McCann trade, threw 90 innings at Low-A last season as well.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Indianapolis)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-4, 2 K
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K — here’s video of yesterday’s homer (talk about a hanger)
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K — started the season 1-for-13 (.077) … he’s gone 11-for-35 (.314) since
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-3
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 53 of 91 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 15 of 21 pitches were strikes (71%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Mets and Nationals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Wheeler vs. Scherzer), plus there’s a whole bunch of NBA and NHL playoff games on throughout the afternoon and evening. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else here. Just not religion or politics, por favor.

Game 18: Nova vs. Nova’s replacement

Me at the start of 2016 vs. me at the end of 2016. (Presswire)
Me at the start of 2016 vs. me at the end of 2016. (Presswire)

This afternoon’s series finale against the Pirates features a matchup of last year’s fifth starter and this year’s fifth starter. Well, technically Ivan Nova opened last season in the bullpen, but it didn’t take long for him to return to the rotation. Jordan Montgomery started this season in the minors, and like Nova last year, it didn’t take long for him to wind up in the big league rotation. Nice little bit of pitching matchup symmetry.

Anyway, thanks to yesterday’s come-from-behind win, the Yankees are again in position to win a series this afternoon. That’s the name of the game. Win series. When the eight-game winning streak ended Tuesday, the Yankees rebounded with a blowout win Wednesday. After dropping the series opener to the Pirates on Friday, the Yankees hung eleven on them Saturday. This is fun, is it not? Here is the Pirates’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. SS Ronald Torreyes
  8. C Kyle Higashioka
  9. LHP Jordan Montgomery

Much better weather in Pittsburgh today than the last two days. It’s a little cloudy and on the warm side, and there’s a cool breeze. This afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:35pm ET. YES will have the game locally and MLB Network will have it nationally. Enjoy.

Judging from the Start

All rise. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
All rise. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Aaron Judge, huh? Okay, guys, thanks for reading! Check back next week for…something else…and enjoy whatever show Judge’s gonna put on for the next week.

Despite Chase Headley‘s heroics and Starlin Castro‘s hot start, the hands-down, no doubt about it, bonafide best thing about the Yankees in April of 2017 has been Aaron Judge. He’s been an absolute monster, clocking massive homer after massive homer, displaying the power we all dreamed of and got flashes of during 2016. Additionally, he’s cut down on his strikeouts from a mind-boggling 44.2% last year to a still-high-but-manageable 25.4% this year. Part of that is due to a reduced chase rate and a reduced whiff rate.

In 2016, the league averaged an O-Swing% (swings on pitches out of the zone) of 30.6%; Judge came in at 34.9%. This year, the average has dropped (so far) to 30.1%; Judge clocks in with a wonderfully below average rate of 18.3%. And while his contact rate–74.8%–is still worse than average (77.1%), it’s a demonstrable improvement from last year’s tally of 59.7%.

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

It’s no surprise that a guy as big and strong as Judge will do damage when he makes contact and so far, that’s what he’s done. The improved contact rate is a big step forward in Judge reaching his full potential. He’s shown growth in both the “where” and the “what” of making contact–not just in one area–and that dual fact has been key for his hot start.

In 2016, there were 13 zones out of a possible 25 that saw Judge whiff on 50% or more of his swings. So far in 2017, he’s cut that number to just five zones. Additionally from 2016 to 2017, Judge has dropped the whiff rates on fastballs by about one percent, sinkers by about three percent, changeups by over 20 percent, sliders by about 14 percent, and curves by about ten percent.

We tend to be selfish as fans and we want results when we want them and no later. Of course, baseball doesn’t work like that and we must be careful not to get mad at the microwave for not heating up our burrito fast enough. But so far this year, we’ve gotten near instant gratification from Aaron Judge. He’s given us the improvement we all knew he’d need to make while keeping his prodigious power. The rest of the year has a long time to play out, but with things starting to stabilize, we may be in for a truly great year from a truly great talent.

DotF: Frazier homers, Gregorius continues rehab assignment

OF Blake Rutherford made SportsCenter’s top ten plays yesterday. He flipped over the wall making a catch in foul territory. The video is above. Hopefully that’s not the last time we see Rutherford on the top ten, eh?

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Indianapolis)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-4, 1 BB — in a little 1-for-15 (.067) downswing
  • LF Clint Frazier: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — only his second multi-hit game of the season … hopefully we see more of this Clint Frazier going forward, this dude kicks butt
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-4 — 9-for-24 (.375) during his six-game hitting streak
  • 1B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB
  • DH Ji-Man Choi: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K
  • LHP Daniel Camarena: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 7/3 GB/FB — 51 of 72 pitches were strikes (71%) … he’s up here to help fill one of the rotation spots vacated by RHP Johnny Barbato (traded) and LHP Dietrich Enns (injury), so he should get to stick around a while … Shane Hennigan says RHP J.R. Graham was sent to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — nine pitches, eight strikes

[Read more…]

Carter’s clutch homer helps Yanks to an 11-5 win over Pirates

Source: FanGraphs

Well that was a wild one, huh? Look at that win probability graph up there. The Yankees went from being no-hit in the fifth inning to having two five-run innings by the eighth. The end result was an 11-5 win over the Pirates in the middle game of the series. It’s Saturday, so I’m going to recap this game will bullet points:

  • Five & Fly: Not a great outing for Michael Pineda but not a terrible outing either. Three runs in five innings is … serviceable. Andrew McCutchen solo homer in the first, David Freese solo homer in the fourth, McCutchen sac fly in the fifth. That was the damage. Pineda did walk two, which is very un-Pineda-like — he walked one batter total in his first three starts — and he only threw 73 pitches before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. We saw some shades of Bad Pineda in this one — the McCutchen homer came on a hanging slider — but he did fine.
  • The Comeback: For four innings plus two outs, the Yankees couldn’t touch Jameson Taillon. No hits and only four balls hit out of the infield. Then six of the next eight batters he faced reached base. One of the outs was Pineda, so Taillon retired only one of the final seven real batters he faced. The big blow: Starlin Castro‘s game-tying three-run homer in the sixth. Starlin hit it like he knew what was coming. A Jacoby Ellsbury infield single and an Aaron Hicks walk set that up.
  • And The Yankees Take The Lead: Castro’s home run didn’t end Taillon’s afternoon. Aaron Judge‘s booming double off the wall did. Juan Nicasio came in, hit Greg Bird with a pitch, then allowed a soft single to Austin Romine to load the bases with one out. Ronald Torreyes, who I thought should have been removed for a pinch-hitter in that spot (good one, idiot), dunked a ball in front of John Jaso in right field. It scooted by him and two runs scored, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Hooray for that. Torreyes was given a double on the play.
  • And The Bullpen Immediately Blows The Lead: The lead lasted two outs. Jonathan Holder came in for the sixth, got two quick outs, then allowed a double and a single to give the Pirates a run. Blah. Tyler Clippard then came in, hit Jose Osuna in a two-strike count, then allowed a two-strike single to Adam Frazier to tie the game. I have so little faith in Clippard in big spots it’s not even funny. At least he was able to strike out Josh Bell to strand two runners and escape that sixth inning with the score tied 5-5. Clippard went back out to start the seventh because assigned innings are very important, and thankfully Dellin Betances was able to bail him out.
  • All He Does Is Catch Touchdowns: An error opened the door. After two quick outs to start the eighth, Romine hit a grounder to short that Frazier bobbled, extending the inning. Torreyes followed with a single to put men on first and second. That brought up Betances’ spot since he was not double-switched into the game. Joe Girardi pinch-hit Chris Carter against the lefty Felipe Rivero, and Carter jumped on a first-pitch changeup for a long three-run home run into the back bullpen. It was only a matter of time until he ran into one. The Yankees made the Pirates pay big time for Frazier’s error. Carter’s blast gave them an 8-5 lead.
  • The Last Six Outs: Thankfully, the Yankees tacked on three insurance runs after the Carter homer. Ellsbury made it to third when McCutchen dropped a fly ball — the Pirates gave the Yankees five outs in that eighth inning — and he scored on a wild pitch. Back-to-back doubles by Hicks and Chase Headley gave the Yankees a 10-5 lead. Hooray. All after that Frazier error. Judge then put a ball into orbit for an 11-5 lead in the ninth. Here’s the video. Do not miss it. Bryan Mitchell and Aroldis Chapman got the last six outs without incident. Chapman hadn’t pitched since Monday. Needed the work.
  • Leftovers: Every starting position player had a hit except Bird, who did hit a ball to the wall in right field. It would have been out at Yankee Stadium … Torreyes had four hits and raised his batting average from .245 to .296 in one afternoon … Judge and Romine each had two hits. Hicks had a hit and two walks … the Yankees scored at least seven runs for the seventh time this season. No team has done it more.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Pirates will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:35pm ET start. Jordan Montgomery and ex-Yankee Ivan Nova are the scheduled starting pitchers.