Thoughts following the Castro injury and Tyler Wade call-up

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

Another day, another injured Yankee. Last night Starlin Castro went down with a right hamstring strain and tests today will determine the severity. The Yankees are calling up Tyler Wade, arguably their best healthy infield prospect, to replace Castro, which seems to indicate he’s heading to the disabled list. Sigh. The Yankees are now without Castro, Aaron Hicks (oblique), CC Sabathia (hamstring), Greg Bird (ankle), Matt Holliday (illness), and Adam Warren (shoulder). I have thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. I know we’re all excited to see Wade — well, I know I am, I don’t know about you — but losing Castro really bites. Even after cooling off these last few weeks like the rest of his non-Aaron Judge teammates, Starlin still owns a .315/.348/.486 (121 wRC+) batting line with 12 home runs. The Yankees will miss that. The offense seems to be snapping out of its recent funk — the Yankees have scored 12 runs the last two days, which is hopefully the start of something big — but it’s still not all the way back yet. Castro is an important complementary bat around Judge and Gary Sanchez. All these injuries mean the lineup simply is not as deep as it was a few weeks back. Stinks.

2. The Yankees aren’t calling Wade up to sit. I expect him to play second base pretty much every day while Castro is out — I wouldn’t be opposed to starting Ronald Torreyes against tough lefties, at least initially (the Yankees are going to see Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon the next two games, for what it’s worth) — which is probably the best thing for him. The Yankees are grooming Wade to be a super utility guy, someone who can play a different position every day, but that’s not easy! Veterans have a tough time doing that. Asking a kid to do it in his first taste of the show is less than ideal. Replacing Castro gives Wade a chance to play a familiar position day after day, and get his feet wet in the big leagues. Once he’s comfortable, the Yankees can start moving him around. The Starlin injury bites. There’s no doubt about that. The upside is Wade gets to step into the lineup and play one position, not be asked to move all around the field right away.

3. I think there’s a chance Wade is up for good. If he performs well as Castro’s replacement, the Yankees will keep him up as that super utility player. It’s not like the bench couldn’t use the upgrade. Heck, perhaps he’d get a second half audition at third base given the long-term need at the position. The Yankees have moved Wade all around the infield in his career and they introduced him to the outfield in the Arizona Fall League last year for this exact reason. To get him on the roster and into the lineup. They like him a lot. Point is, I don’t think this is necessarily an injury fill-in and nothing more. Wade will get a chance to earn a spot and stick with the team going forward. This is a great opportunity for him. It’s a chance to leave the minor leagues behind.

Wade and a friend. (Jon Durr/Getty)
Wade and a friend. (Jon Durr/Getty)

4. The roster move figures to be quite simple. Castro to the disabled list and Wade called up. There’s still an open 40-man roster spot with Chris Carter having been designated for assignment, so there’s no need to clear a spot. Castro to the DL, Wade up. Easy peasy. I do wonder, however, if the Yankees would use the Castro DL stint to get around the ten-day rule and bring Mason Williams back, then send Rob Refsnyder down for Wade. That would give the Yankees a true fourth outfielder — neither Williams nor Refsnyder figure to hit much, but at least Mason can go get it in the outfield — and they’re not going to need Refsnyder’s ability to play (“play”) second since Wade and Torreyes can cover every infield position. I suppose they could keep Refsnyder around as a right-handed platoon bat, especially with a bunch of lefty starters coming up, but meh. My guess is the straight Castro-Wade swap. Swapping out Refsnyder for Williams wouldn’t be a bad idea though.

5. I can’t help but wonder whether Gleyber Torres would be getting called up instead of Wade right now if he were healthy. Gleyber was playing second base in addition to third down in the minors, so the Yankees could have plugged him right into the lineup to replace Castro. Man, that would have been fun as hell, wouldn’t it? Alas. The Yankees always try to downplay expectations with their prospects — Brian Cashman said last week a Torres call-up hadn’t really crossed the team’s minds, but come on — but I absolutely believe they were prepping Gleyber for a second half call-up. Probably to play third base, though if an injury opened up second base or shortstop, he would have ended up there. Now there’s an injury at second base and Torres isn’t there to take over. /sobs

6. Don’t overlook the Jorge Mateo angle here. Abi Avelino is going from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton to replace Wade and Mateo is going from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton to replace Avelino. Mateo is hitting .240/.288/.400 (97 wRC+) this season, and going back to last year, he has a .249/.299/.387 (98 wRC+) batting line in 804 plate appearances at High-A Tampa. Not good! That said, I think there’s a chance the promotion will energize him a bit. I hope it does, anyway. I think the Yankees would love to see Mateo mash with Trenton and rebuild some value so they could trade him at some point, either at the deadline or in the offseason. Among all their top 100 caliber prospects, I always thought the Yankees considered Mateo the most expendable. Don’t ask me why. Just a hunch. Hopefully Mateo gets his act together with the Thunder and can contribute to the Yankees in some way down the line, either on their roster or as a trade chip.

Montgomery dominates in a 6-5 Yankees win over the White Sox

After all the futility that we saw in that homestand (and the past few weeks), it’s refreshing to see a win tonight to start the road trip. Jordan Montgomery stepped up as the stopper and the Yankee bats did their thing – despite losing Starlin Castro – to win this one 6-5. The bullpen was a bit shaky in the end but it sure is nice to have a 5-run lead heading into the ninth inning. They remain in first place along with the Red Sox, who also won a game tonight.

(Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Gumby Good

Ho-hum, another good start from Jordan Montgomery. He’s been the Yankees best starter for the past few weeks – marking a 2.52 ERA in his last 6 starts.

The Yankees rookie did a great job being a stopper: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8 K. He’s done much more than the Yankees could have hoped for and has become a legitimate ML starter. The only blemish from Montgomery tonight came in the bottom of the second. Todd Frazier hit the second pitch he saw from Montgomery over the left center field seats for a 1-0 White Sox lead. That was the only run Monty allowed all night.

Let’s go to Brooks Baseball to look at his arsenal tonight, shan’t we? He got 17 whiffs alone from his offspeed pitches, including 8 from his curveball. That’s pretty good. Yankees looked at him as a guy who can get hitters out with savvy approach using different looks and that’s exactly what he’s been able to do. After tonight’s start, his ERA dropped to 3.53 and he’s up to 1.6 fWAR, which is the 25th best among all qualified SP’s in the MLB. Not a bad

(Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Let’s go get some runs

Trailing 1-0, the Yankees scored three in the fourth to get it started. Aaron Judge led off the frame with a walk. Gary Sanchez grounded to third but Judge advanced to third on an error by 3B Todd Frazier, making both runners safe. Tyler Austin followed it up with a sac fly to score Judge to make it 1-1 game. The Yankees didn’t stop there. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to put runners on first and second and Chase Headley followed it up with an RBI single of his own to make it 2-1 Yankees. Austin Romine walked to load the bases and Ronald Torreyes hit a sac fly that ultimately became a double play when 1B Matt Davidson cut the throw off and got SS Tim Anderson to tag out Headley advancing to second. Meanwhile, Ellsbury scored to make it 3-1 Yankees. Not a bad inning!

Tyler Austin added another run for the Yankees in the sixth. He got the 88 mph up the zone and hit a bullet into the bullpen over the left field fence to make it 4-1 Yankees. Ellsbury followed it up by hitting a roller down the first base line that pitcher David Holmberg couldn’t handle for an E-1. Headley hit a double to deep right to put two runners in RISP and that was it for Holmberg. White Sox brought in Juan Minaya to try to finish the inning off. Romine hit a sac fly to add another run and during Torreyes’ AB, Headley advanced to third on a passed ball by C Kevin Smith. Torreyes reached on a missed catch error by 1B Matt Davidson and Yankees tacked on another, 6-1. The White Sox played some sloppy, sloppy baseball in this frame. A five-run lead was pretty comfortable but man, thank God that Yankees scored that much because they really needed it later on.

Bullpen show

After Montgomery finished his 7-inning gem, Jonathan Holder was summoned to pitch in the eighth inning. After getting Tim Anderson strike out swinging, Holder allowed a single and walk to Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu respectively. After he got Avisail Garcia to ground into a fielder’s choice to third, Joe Girardi brought in Dellin Betances to nail down the final out of the inning. After walking Frazier to load the bases, Betances struck out Matt Davidson to finish the eighth unscathed. That was just a prelude to a big egg that the bullpen would lay in the next inning.

Boy, the ninth got edgy pretty quickly didn’t it? The Yankees had a 6-1 lead heading into the 6-1 and, because it was far from being a save situation, Girardi sent Chasen Shreve to the mound to close it out. However, after getting the first out, Shreve allowed back-to-back singles to Smith and Adam Engel, and allowed a three-run bomb to Tim Anderson (on a 0-2 count!) to make it 6-4 Yankees lead.

Aroldis Chapman came in to try to nail down the last two outs. Dude still hits 100, 102 on the radar guns but the White Sox hitters pestered him well tonight. He threw 20 pitches and did not get a single whiff. Melky Cabrera singled to center and Jose Abreu followed it up with an RBI double to make it 6-5. Dicey! Thankfully, Avisail Garcia grounded out to third and Frazier flew out to Brett Gardner to end the game. This was way more stressful than it should’ve been, but a win is a win.

Leftovers

Aaron Judge did not get a hit but man, he still continues to be a wiz at getting on base. He walked three times tonight, which brings his season totals to 50. It’s not even the middle of the season and he has that much! The last time a Yankee hitter had more than 100 walks in a season was 2006 Jason Giambi, who had 110.

Starlin Castro, who’s been having a nice season, hurt himself in the top of the third trying to beat out a grounder for a base hit. He had to limp off the field and the Yankees announced that he had a hamstring strain. Not good! As a response, they are calling up Tyler Wade, who’s been hitting .313 with .834 OPS in the Triple-A this season (.351 BA, .894 OPS this month). Wade coming up is exciting because he’s a young guy (22-years old) with legitimate talent but you don’t want to see your starting second baseman with a good bat go down.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back again tomorrow at the Guaranteed Rate Field at 8:10 pm EST. Luis Severino is up against the former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana. It’ll be a nice matchup to watch.

DotF: Acevedo dominates in Trenton’s loss

A couple quick notes to pass along:

  • IF Tyler Wade is coming up to the big leagues, reports Kyle Franko. He’s going to replace the injured Starlin Castro. Also, IF Abi Avelino is going up to Triple-A Scranton and SS Jorge Mateo is going to Double-A Trenton in corresponding moves.
  • RHP Zack Littell has been moved back up from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. He made one start with the Thunder two weeks ago. The Yankees have to many starters at each level and keep having to shuffle guys around.
  • C Kyle Higashioka has inflammation in his back, according to Conor Foley. He went for tests that showed no structural damage. Higashioka is currently on the Triple-A disabled list.

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Syracuse)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-3 — he was lifted from the game following the Castro injury
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 1 RBI
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-4, 1 BB, 4 K — went from having no Triple-A strikeouts in six games to having four in seven games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • RF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — nine homers in 41 games this year after hitting eight in 116 games last year
  • LHP Joe Mantiply: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 30 of 50 pitches were strikes … making the spot start in place of RHP Ronald Herrera, who was called up to the big leagues earlier today
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 34 of 50 pitches were strikes (68%) … up here to help out the bullpen for a day
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 14 of 23 pitches were strikes (61%) … 41/13 K/BB in 32 innings

[Read more…]

Update: Castro exits Monday’s game with hamstring injury

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

9:27pm ET: Castro left the game with a right hamstring strain, the Yankees announced. I imagine he’ll head for tests to determine the severity and all that. Sigh. Rains, pours, etc. etc. Here’s the video.

8:59pm ET: Starlin Castro left tonight’s game in the third inning with an apparent leg injury. He pulled up lame running out down to first base on a ground ball. Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue went out to talk to him, and Castro came out of the game almost immediately. He walked off the field gingerly.

The Yankees welcomed Jacoby Ellsbury back from the disabled list tonight, though they lost Aaron Hicks to an oblique strain yesterday, and they’re still without Greg Bird (ankle), CC Sabathia (hamstring), and Adam Warren (shoulder). Matt Holliday is out with an ongoing allergic reaction issue too.

Castro went into Monday’s game hitting .315/.350/.490 (122 wRC+) with 12 home runs. Losing him for any length of time would be really tough, especially with top prospect Gleyber Torres not an option to replace him. Stay tuned for any updates on Starlin.

Game 74: Split vs. Reverse Split

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

Tonight the Yankees open a four-game series with the White Sox in Chicago, where they are undefeated so far this season. They swept three games from the Cubs back in May. Remember that? It was awesome. Brett Gardner hit that insanely clutch ninth inning home run in the first game and the Yankees outlasted the defending World Series champs during the 18-inning game on ESPN in the last game. Good times.

Tonight left-hander Jordan Montgomery will face baseball’s very best hitting team against left-handed pitchers. Their combined batting line: .307/.370/.474 (125 wRC+). Big right-handed power bats like Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson, and Avisail Garcia explain that. Montgomery, however, has a reverse split. He has a 3.43 FIP against righties and a 6.72 FIP against lefties. The best lefty hitting team in baseball against a lefty who gets righties out. Intrigue! Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. 1B Tyler Austin
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cloudy and cool in Chicago this evening, and, of course, windy. Lots of wind. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 8:10pm ET and WPIX will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: As you can see, Ellsbury is back. He was activated off the disabled list earlier today. The Yankees also officially placed Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with an oblique strain and sent down both Mason Williams and Tyler Webb. Ronald Herrera and Rob Refsnyder were called up. So that’s Hicks, Williams, and Webb out, Ellsbury, Herrera, and Refsnyder in.

Injury Update: Matt Holliday (allergic reaction) was sent to see a doctor and is not available tonight … Greg Bird (ankle) is with Triple-A Scranton. He’s going to take batting practice with them the next few days. I imagine he’ll begin another minor league rehab assignment with the RailRiders if things go well … Castro (wrist) is feeling better after his cortisone shot. He said he originally hurt the wrist on multiple check swings … Adam Warren (shoulder) played catch over the weekend and is tentatively scheduled to throw a bullpen later this week. He hopes to be back in time for the homestand next week.

All-Star Voting Update: MLB released their final fan voting update earlier today and Judge remains the leading vote-getter in the AL. His 3,442,597 votes are second only to Bryce Harper’s 3,617,444 among all players. Pretty cool. Sanchez (second), Castro (second), Didi Gregorius (third), Matt Holliday (fourth), and Gardner (ninth) are also getting votes at their positions. Here’s the ballot. Voting ends Thursday and the All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday. Also, Judge said he still hasn’t decided whether to participate in the Home Run Derby. (It’s an easy yes, dude.)

6/26 to 6/29 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Yankees are knee-deep in a sixteen games in sixteen days stretch, and the early returns have been less than ideal. They are 2-4 thus far, which actually makes them look a bit better than they have been over the last two weeks, and they’re intermittently struggling in all aspects of the game. Next up are the White Sox, who have dropped six of their last seven.

The Last Time They Met

The White Sox visited the Bronx from April 17 through April 19 of this year, dropping two of three. A few notes:

  • Jordan Montgomery picked-up the first win of his MLB career in the first game. He went 6.0 IP, allowing 7 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 4.
  • The Yankees scored seven runs in that game, all of which came with two outs. They were 3-for-7 with RISP.
  • Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 in the second game, dropping his OPS on the season to .917. It hasn’t been below .960 since then.
  • Masahiro Tanaka had his first strong start of the season in the final game of the series, pitching to the following line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 13 GB:7 FB.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more interesting tidbits.

Injury Report

Chicago’s disabled list is quite crowded, with the most notable name being Carlos Rodon. He’s been out with left biceps bursitis since Spring Training, and has had his timetable delayed a couple of times. As of now, however, he is expected to start against the Yankees on Wednesday, June 28. Otherwise, the following players are currently on the DL, and all are doubtful to return for this series: SP Dylan Covey, UT Leury Garcia, SP Miguel Gonzalez, RP Nate Jones, RP Zach Putnam, IF Tyler Saldino, C Geovany Soto, OF Charlie Tilson.

Their Story So Far

The White Sox have the worst record in the American League, as they currently sit at 32-42. Losing six of their last seven hasn’t helped, but it belies the overall competence of the team. Their run differential is -4, which suggests that they’re much closer to a .500 team, and their injury-depleted pitching staff has league-average run prevention numbers. Their offense hasn’t been good (93 wRC+, 12th in the AL in runs) – but it has been improving (102 wRC+ in June). At the very least, they aren’t the doormat that their record might suggest.

Much of their story has been the team’s desire to sell, which was announced when they dealt Chris Sale during the off-season. They haven’t made any significant moves since, however, largely due to their high asking price for Jose Quintana (and his poor performance hasn’t helped matters). Nevertheless, this team will look quite different once the trade deadline rolls around.

You can read more about the White Sox at South Side Sox.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Rick Renteria has utilized sixty-nine different lineups this year, as he tries to find something that works amidst the offense’s poor performance. He has used seven different leadoff hitters, for example, and ten different hitters in the sixth and seventh holes. He has seemingly settled on the following as of late:

  1. Alen Hanson, CF
  2. Melky Cabrera, LF
  3. Jose Abreu, 1B
  4. Avisail Garcia, RF
  5. Todd Frazier, 3B
  6. Matt Davidson, DH
  7. Tim Anderson, SS
  8. Omar Narvaez, C
  9. Yolmer Sanchez, 2B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (8:10 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. LHP David Holmberg

Holmberg was once a prospect of moderate note, as a second-rounder that was dealt by the White Sox for Edwin Jackson back when that meant something. His young career – he’s still just 25 – has come full circle seven years later, as he is back in the White Sox organization. Holmberg has already set a career-high this year with 31.2 IP at the highest level, with solid results (2.84 ERA/4.24 FIP) through fourteen games (five starts).

The soft-tossing lefty falls somewhere between “crafty” and “junkballer,” with a four-pitch mix that includes an 88 MPH fastball, low-80s slider- low-80s change-up, and mid-70s curveball.

Last Outing (vs. OAK on 6/23) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (in relief)

Tuesday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Jose Quintana

Quintana was the model of consistency from 2013 through 2016, which led to some folk labeling him as a more ideal trade candidate than Chris Sale. Through fifteen starts, however, he has turned in the worst season of his career, to the tune of a 4.69 ERA and 0.7 bWAR. His strikeout rate has increased substantially, but so have his walk and home run rates. He’s shown signs of life of late, though.

The 28-year-old relies heavily on his low-90s four-seamer and mid-to-high 70s curveball, which account for around 80% of his offerings. He’ll mix in a low-90s two-seamer and a mid-80s change-up, as well.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 6/22) – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Wednesday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Carlos Rodon

The White Sox future is largely dependent upon Rodon staying healthy, and making good on his promise as a prospect (and third overall pick). He has been more solid than spectacular through two seasons, with a 3.90 ERA (102 ERA+) and 3.1 bWAR in 304.1 IP, but he’s still only 24-years-old.

Rodon is a three-pitch guy, with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a big-breaking slider in the mid-80s, and a mid-80s change-up. The slider is his best pitch, with a career 18.8% whiff rate.

Last Outing – has not pitched in 2017

Thursday (8:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Cessa vs. RHP James Shields

Shields was on the disabled list when these teams met in April, but he is still a known commodity to all Yankees fans. And, while his ERA is right around league-average right now, his underlying numbers suggest that he is pitching even worse than he did last year – a season that ended with a 5.85 ERA and -1.9 bWAR.

Shields was never really a hard-thrower, but his fastball velocity has dipped noticeably over the last two years, and now sits in the 90 MPH range. He throws a four-seamer, a two-seamer, and a cutter, all of which have been hit hard these last few years. His off-speed arsenal includes a mid-80s knuckle-curve and a low-80s change-up.

Last Outing (vs. OAK on 6/24) – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K

The Bullpen

The White Sox bullpen has been a strength this year, with the group currently sitting seventh in the majors with a 3.56 ERA (119 ERA+). Their 28 meltdowns are the third-fewest in baseball, too, meaning that they generally do a fine job of keeping the team in the game. That effort is led by a trio of former Yankees, in closer David Robertson (130 ERA+), Tommy Kahnle (291 ERA+), and Anthony Swarzak (145 ERA+), who may just be the best back-end of a bullpen in baseball right now. Injuries to Zach Putnam and Nate Jones have put more stress on their bullpen arms of late, though, which bears watching as the season rolls on.

 Who (Or What) To Watch

Rodon’s 2017 debut is already generating a great deal of buzz in Chicago, and he was pegged as a potential breakout candidate prior to his injury setbacks. His slider is a legitimately wicked offering, and he has shown the ability to dial his fastball up into the upper-90s at times. Kahnle bears watching, as well, if only to try to figure out how the heck he has a 1.47 ERA and 44.8% strikeout rate.

Yankeemetrics: Fighting spirit, Baby bombs (June 23-25)

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Torre-YES!
The comeback kids aren’t dead yet. After gutting through eight innings of a historically great pitchers duel, the Yankee bats finally broke through and notched yet another dramatic overtime win, 2-1, on Friday night.

Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish were absolutely brilliant, throwing a combined 15 scoreless innings while allowing only five hits and striking out 19 batters. This was just the second game in major-league history that each starter allowed no runs, gave up three-or-fewer hits, and struck out at least nine batters.

The only other instance came on August 26, 1968 in a game between the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins; the dueling pitchers in that game were Jim Perry (Twins) and Frank Bertaina (Senators).

The key to Tanaka’s dominance was getting ahead of batters and then unleashing his devastating offspeed pitches to put away hitters. He threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 27 batters faced (92.6%), the highest rate of his career and the second-best mark by any starter in a game this season (Michael Fulmer was 23-for-23 against Twins on April 12). The Rangers went 0-for-14 when reaching a two-strike count against Tanaka.

The most encouraging number to come out of Tanaka’s outing, however, might be zero: the number of home runs he allowed. In fact, he was excellent in avoiding hard contact all night. Of the 23 batted balls recorded by Statcast, none were charted as “barrels” or “solid contact” – the two categories (out of five) that produce the highest quality of contact and the most damage. Here’s what that looks like in a cool radial chart via baseballsavant.mlb.com:

masahiro-tanaka-8

The Yankees were on the verge of wasting Tanaka’s gem until Brett Gardner – the “little ball of muscle” – saved the day with a game-tying homer in the ninth inning. He drilled a 98-mph fastball into the right field seats, the fastest pitch he’s ever hit for a home run in his career.

It was just the second hit in 21 ninth-inning at-bats for Gardner this season. The other one? A three-run homer to beat the Cubs on May 5. Good timing? Sure!

One inning later, Ronald Torreyes capped the comeback with a two-out, game-winning single, his first career walk-off RBI. Torreyes’ heroics give us a chance to unleash some #FunFacts:

  • The 5’8” Torreyes (height as listed on baseball-reference.com) is the shortest Yankee with a walk-off hit since Mike Gallego on July 27, 1994 against the Red Sox (hat tip to Friend of Yankeemetrics, Mark Simon).
  • Big Toe is also the first Yankee third baseman with a two-out, walk-off hit since A-Rod‘s memorable walk-off solo homer in the 15th inning against the Red Sox on August 7, 2009.
  • And our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series: Torreyes is the second Yankee No. 9 batter with a two-out, walk-off RBI against the Rangers. He joins Gene Michael, who hit a walk-off single to score Thurman Munson in a 3-2 win on August 8, 1973.
(AP)
(AP)

Please help Mr. Judge
Any positive momentum generated from Friday’s thrilling victory came to a screeching halt the next day in a lackluster 8-1 loss on Saturday afternoon.

The game was closer than the final score indicates, because the human blowtorch – aka, Tyler Clippard – was put to work in the ninth inning. Three outs later, after giving up four runs on three hits (including two doubles), Clippard again found himself on the wrong side of history. He became the first Yankee ever to allow multiple runs and multiple extra-base hits in three straight appearances of one inning pitched or fewer.

In his last three games, spanning 1? innings, Clippard has allowed nine runs … or one more than Dellin Betances (4) and Chasen Shreve (4) have combined for in their 44 innings pitched this season.

The Yankees avoided being shut out thanks only to a solo homer in the sixth inning by The Animal. It’s still June, and the only Yankee rookie to hit more homers than Aaron Judge is Joe DiMaggio (29) in 1936.

Forget rookie or any age records, the all-around excellence of Judge’s first half is unprecedented in the long and storied history of this franchise. Since the first All-Star game in 1933, no Yankee had ever compiled as many homers (26), doubles (11), triples (3) and steals (6) before the break than Judge did this year.

(AP)
(AP)

Fighting Spirit not enough
An early seven-run deficit was one run too many for the Comeback Kids to overcome on Sunday afternoon. Trailing 7-0 entering the fifth, the Yankees staged an improbable rally to get within a run, but fell just short in yet another crushing loss, 7-6.

It was the Yankees 13th one-run loss this season, one more than they suffered in all of 2016. The calendar on my computer tells me its still June.

The loss also extended their inexplicable struggles against AL West teams. They fell to 6-14 against the division, while going 34-19 against everyone else. The only MLB team this season that has played more than one series vs. the AL West and has a worse record than the Yankees is the Tigers (7-17).

Michael Pineda wore the goat’s horns in this game, allowing seven runs — thanks to three dingers — in four innings. It’s the first time in his career he’s coughed up than many runs and that many homers while getting before the fifth inning.

A couple Baby Bombers did their best to erase Pineda’s dreadful performance, as Gary Sanchez clobbered a three-run homer into Monument Park and Judge went 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.

For Sanchez, it was his 33rd career homer in his 100th career game. He tied Rudy York for the second-most homers in a player’s first 100 big-league games, trailing only Mark McGwire (37).

Judge’s stellar day at the plate extended his on-base streak to 27 games, the longest active streak in the American League. Over the last 50 years, just one other Yankee age 25 or younger has reached base safely in 27-plus straight games within a season: Derek Jeter (1999).