Comeback falls short, Yankees drop opener 7-6 to Padres


Source: FanGraphs

Despite the eventful ninth inning, it wasn’t worth staying up for that game. I hope you didn’t. The Yankees opened their ten-game road trip with a 7-6 loss to the Padres Friday night. Back under .500 they go. The Yankees are now 39-40. West Coast night games get bullet point recaps, so let’s get to it:

  • More Eovaldi Struggles: Apparently Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda are not allowed to be good at the same time. Earlier this year Eovaldi was great and Pineda stunk. Now that Pineda has turned things around, Eovaldi’s been awful. He allowed six runs (two dingers) in 4.1 innings Friday night, and three of those runs came in the very first inning. The Yankees were in a hole immediately. Eovaldi has now allowed 31 runs and 57 baserunners in his last 30.1 innings, including 12 home runs. He looks nothing like the guy we saw a few weeks ago. It wouldn’t shock me if Eovaldi lands on the DL at some point soon. Something’s not right.
  • The Amazing, Disappearing Offense: The Yankees loaded the bases against Colin Rea in the first inning and did not score, in part because Jacoby Ellsbury misread Mark Teixeira‘s single off the bat. He should have scored from second on the bloop to center, rather easily too, but he held up and only made it to third. To be fair, Ellsbury made up for it with an RBI single in the second. Rea was behind in the count all night — he threw a first pitch strike to only eleven of 24 batters — but somehow managed to retire 13 of the 15 final batters he faced. Sigh.
  • Too Little, Too Late: To their credit, the Yankees did put up a fight in the ninth. Brian McCann homered in the sixth for the team’s second run, then, in the ninth, a walk (McCann) and a hit-by-pitch (Starlin Castro) put the wheels in motion. Pinch-hitter Alex Rodriguez singled in a run, Didi Gregorius doubled in another run, Aaron Hicks fielder’s choice-ed in another run, and Brandon Mauer wild pitched in a fourth run. That cut the deficit to 7-6. Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran doubled to put the tying run in scoring position, but alas, Ellsbury and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the game. Almost.
  • Leftovers: Ellsbury had yet another catcher’s interference. This one led off the game and he literally knocked the catcher’s glove off his hand. It was Ellsbury’s seventh CI, one short of Roberto Kelly’s single-season record … the only when losing relievers allowed an unearned run in 3.2 innings … Conor Mullee left the game because he felt something in his fingers. That stinks. Hope it’s nothing serious. He’s had more than his fair share of injuries over the years … A-Rod had his glove and was ready to play third had the Yankees tied the game in the ninth. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning. I wanted the Yankees to tie it just to see Alex in the field again. Alas.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Padres continue this series Saturday night — yes, a Saturday night game on the West Coast — when Ivan Nova and Drew Pomeranz will be on the mound.

DotF: Gamel, Austin continue hot streaks in latest AAA win

Here are the day’s notes:

  • Remember when OF Aaron Judge was mired in that ugly slump a few weeks ago? Well he was just named the International League Player of the Month (PDF link). Congrats to him.
  • Both LHP Ian Clarkin (No. 3) and Judge (No. 7) landed on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, so check that out. Clarkin started the season slowly but has really turned it on of late. Guess he’s finally shaken off the rust after missing all of last season.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Buffalo) six straight wins

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — first homer since May 27th and his third of the year overall
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SB — he’s 4-for-4 in steals this year and 34-for-45 (76%) in his career
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — four straight games with a double … 16-for-44 (.364) with seven doubles and five homers in his last 12 games
  • DH Ike Davis: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 65 of 100 pitches were strikes … I thought he was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but I got my days mixed up … either way, ho hum, another scoreless outing
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 13 of 18 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%) … allowed a solo homer … between Spring Training, MLB, and the minors, he’s allowed 13 homers in 40.1 innings this year (2.90 HR/9)

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Game 79: A Late Night on the West Coast

(Presswire)
Tony Gwynn hit .338. For his entire career. (Presswire)

I have to say, if you’re staying up for tonight’s series opener against the Padres, you are one dedicated fan. A night game on the West Coast on a Friday night? Geez. Not only that, but it’s a holiday weekend, and it’s a 10:40pm ET start too. Why is the game starting a half-hour later than usual? I have no idea. That’s such a Padres thing to do. Anyway, here is the Padres’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

The weather in San Diego tonight is perfect. I’m not even going to both to look it up. It’s safe to assume the weather is perfect. Like I said, tonight’s game will begin at 10:40pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy, if you’re still awake.

Injury Update: Carlos Beltran (hamstring) hit again and continues to make progress. Joe Girardi did say it’s possible Beltran will not play at all this weekend, however.

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are out on the West Coast this weekend, which means they don’t play until much later tonight. I imagine tonight’s game, a 10:40pm ET start (!) on the Friday of a holiday weekend against a nondescript interleague opponent, will be among the least watched games of the season. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you skipped this one.

Anyway, here is the open thread until the regular game thread comes along in a few hours. The Mets are playing the Cubs, and it appears that is the only nationally televised game tonight (MLB Network). There’s some serious rain in the forecast though, so that one might not be played. If it is, talk about that game, this photo of Yulieski Gurriel wearing Yankees gear, or anything else right here.

7/1 to 7/3 Series Preview: San Diego Padres

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s time for a ten-day, ten-game, three-city, three-time zone road trip to close out the first half. The Yankees will play the first three of those ten games this weekend in San Diego, home of the 2016 All-Star Game. Believe it or not, this is only the second third time the Yankees are visiting the Padres during interleague play. They lost two of three in Petco Park back in 2013 and won two of three at Qualcomm Stadium in 2002. Of course, there’s that whole 1998 World Series thing too. The Yankees had some success in San Diego that year. Also, this is Chase Headley‘s first trip back to the Petco Park since being traded to New York.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Padres were playing so poorly earlier this year that executive chairman Ron Fowler called his players “miserable failures.” He also called James Shields an “embarrassment” after a poor start and traded him a few days later, so yeah. Not the best season in San Diego. Anyway, the Padres have lost their lost three games and are 33-46 with a -55 run differential overall. That’s the fifth worst record and sixth worst run differential in baseball.

Offense & Defense

Petco Park is a pretty big ballpark — it still is even after the walls were brought in a few years back — and as a result the Padres always seem to have a below-average offense. They’re scoring 4.29 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+ this season. Rookie skipper Andy Green is without two of his regulars: OF Jon Jay (108 wRC+) is out with a broken forearm and 2B Cory Spangenberg (82 wRC+) has a quad strain. 2B Jemile Weeks (11 wRC+) is out with a hamstring problem too. None are coming back this series.

Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)
Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)

San Diego has a legitimate blossoming star in 1B Wil Myers (137 wRC+), who won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the Rays a few years back. He’s finally healthy after battling wrist problems the last few years, so he’s starting to come into his own as an impact hitter. Myers usually bats second with OF B.J. Melvin Upton Jr. (100 wRC+) leading off and RF Matt Kemp (94 wRC+) hitting third. Ex-Yankee IF Yangervis Solarte (121 wRC+) is the cleanup hitter. What’s Solarte going to hit against the Yankees this weekend, about .750? That sounds about right.

SS Alexei Ramirez (67 wRC+), 3B Brett Wallace (103 wRC+), and C Derek Norris (74 wRC+) are Green’s other regulars. OF Travis Jankowski (91 wRC+) and OF Alex Dickerson (76 wRC+) are filling in while Jay is on the DL. On the bench are C Christian Bethancourt (100 wRC+), UTIL Alexi Amarista (63 wRC+), UTIL Adam Rosales (87 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Schimpf (45 wRC+). It feels like it’s been forever since the Yankees faced a team with a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. Well, five man bench in this case. Silly NL.

San Diego’s defense is collectively below-average, and in Kemp they have one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game. He’s Carlos Beltran-esque despite being eight years younger than Carlos. Jankowski is a tremendous outfielder and is the team’s best defender by a mile. Upton, Solarte, and Ramirez are average at their positions. Wallace is a first baseman playing third. Myers is better at first than in the outfield but he’s still learning the nuances of the position. Both Norris and Bethancourt can shut down the running game.

Pitching Probables

Friday (10:40pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. SD) vs. RHP Colin Rea (No vs. NYY)
You know, right before the season I half-jokingly predicted Rea would throw the first no-hitter in Padres history this year. Wouldn’t it be something if he does it against the Yankees tonight? Today’s his 26th birthday too. A birthday no-hitter against the Yankees that some idiot blogger called three months ago? That would be the most 2016 Yankees thing ever. Rea has a 5.05 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 76.2 innings spread across 14 starts and one relief appearance this year. He has an average grounder rate (45.3%) and a better than average homer rate (0.82 HR/9), but his strikeout (17.9%) and walk (9.7%) numbers leave a little something to be desired. Rea has a small platoon split because he’s a true five-pitch pitcher. He sits in the 92-94 mph range with his four-seamer and sinker, and a notch below that with his cutter. An upper-70s curveball is his go-to offspeed pitch. Rea also throws a mid-80s changeup. He throws everything regularly too.

Saturday (10:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. SD) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (vs. NYY)
Along with Myers, the 27-year-old Pomeranz has been the brightest spot on an otherwise nondescript Padres team. The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft — he was drafted by the Indians, traded to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez, traded to the Athletics for Brett Anderson, and traded to the Padres for Yonder Alonso — has a 2.76 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 15 starts and 88 innings this year, and he’s been able to stay healthy, which has not always been the case. He’s had some injury trouble over the years. That always held him back. Pomeranz has a fantastic strikeout rate (28.4%) and good grounder (46.7%) and homer (0.83 HR/9) numbers, though he does walk a few too many (10.9%). The walks are the only real downside. Thanks to his big-breaking upper-70s curveball and upper-80s cutter, Pomeranz actually performs better against righties than lefties. His straight four-seamer sits in the low-90s and his changeup in the mid-80s. The curve is what got Pomeranz drafted so high. He has one heck of a yakker.

Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Sunday (4:40pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. SD) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (vs. NYY)
This could very well end up being one of Cashner’s last starts as a Padre. They got him from the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo a few years back (oops), and he’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season, so the rebuilding Padres figure to make Cashner available at the trade deadline. He’s been out with a neck issue and will come off the DL to make this start. Cashner has a 4.75 ERA (4.75 FIP!) in eleven starts and 53 innings around the neck injury this year. His homer (1.02 HR/9) and grounder (50.3%) rates are in line with his career norms, but he’s missing fewer bats (15.3 K%) and issuing more free passes (9.3%) than he has in recent years, and he has a big reverse split, which is the exact opposite of the rest of his career. Cashner still throws really hard, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer and sinker — the four-seamer has topped out at 99.3 mph this season — while using a hard low-90s slider as his primary secondary pitch. He throws a few upper-80s changeups and low-80s curves per start but they aren’t consistently reliable weapons for him.

Bullpen Status

Just yesterday the Padres traded closer RHP Fernando Rodney, who was having a really great year (0.31 ERA and 2.33 FIP), to the Marlins for a RHP Chris Paddack, a quality prospect. His MLB.com scouting report is right here. Miami did other sellers a favor by setting the bar really high for rental relievers.

Anyway, I’m not sure who will replace Rodney as closer. Here is San Diego’s bullpen at the moment:

Setup: LHP Ryan Buchter (2.91 ERA/2.75 FIP)
Middle: RHP Brandon Maurer (5.73/4.33), RHP Kevin Quackenbush (3.55/4.89), LHP Matt Thornton (3.48/2.49)
Long: LHP Brad Hand (3.53/3.40), RHP Carlos Villanueva (4.53/4.52)

It’s probably safe to assume Buchter will go from setup man to closer in the wake of the Rodney trade, but Thornton (an ex-Yankee) has closing experience and Quackenbush spent a few weeks as the team’s closer in 2014. Green may prefer someone with some closing experience in that role. Manager’s do stuff like that all the time. We’ll see.

The Padres will have to call someone up to today to fill Rodney’s roster spot, but they’re then going to have to send someone down Sunday when Cashner comes off the DL, so whoever gets called up might not be around very long. There’s been talk the Padres will go with a six-man rotation once Cashner returns. That doesn’t really matter to the Yankees though. They’ll be out of town by time that decision is made.

San Diego had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is relatively fresh. Our Bullpen Workload page shows you the status of the Yankees’ bullpen, so check that out. Joe Girardi has used his big three relievers quite a bit of late. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman all pitched yesterday and have each pitched five times in the last nine days. They’re going to need a break at some point.

Yankeemetrics: Riding the .500 roller coaster [June 27-30]

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mother Nature 1, Yankees 0
In a season filled with crushing losses, embarrassing performances, horrible blown leads and frustrating games, Monday’s contest against the Rangers just might surpass them all. It will certainly go down in the record books as one of the most surreal games played at Yankee Stadium, and likely one of the most deflating defeats in recent years. Joe Girardi summed it in his postgame comments to reporters:

“It’s hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did, and we lost.”

The two teams played through a rainstorm that got progressively worse during the night, until the umpires finally called for the tarp in the ninth inning with Aroldis Chapman on the mound to protect a 6-5 Yankees advantage.

chapman rain
(Getty)

When the delay finally ended 3 hours and 35 minutes later, the closer was on the bench and Kirby Yates was in to save the game.

Instead, he suffered an unprecedented meltdown on the mound, coughing up the lead as he hit three batters and surrendered three runs before getting the final out of the ninth.

Yates became the first pitcher in more than 100 years to hit at least three batters, pitch no more than one inning and get tagged with the loss. The last guy to do it was Earl Moore of the Buffalo Buffeds in a Federal League game on June 17, 1914 against the Indianapolis Hoosiers.

As unwatchable as the Yankees middle relief has been in the past few years, they’ve still maintained a lockdown back of the bullpen to close out games. So what happens when you’re forced to call upon that dicey non-Big 3 reliever to try and seal a win? You get an incredibly rare loss for the Yankees.

This was the first time the Yankees lost a game when taking a lead into the ninth inning since June 1, 2014 against the Twins. They had won 160 straight games in that situation, including a 34-0 mark this year and an 81-0 mark last season.

The Hangover
The best thing to be said about Tuesday’s lifeless 7-1 defeat was that it only took 2 hours and 37 minutes. Alas, here’s a few more words about the utterly forgettable loss.

CC Sabathia made one mistake in the first inning — a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre — but then retired 18 of 21 batters in the second through seventh innings. The large lefty unraveled in the eighth inning, however, as the first four guys reached base before he was pulled from the game.

It was the first time all season he threw a pitch in the eighth inning, and predictably, things didn’t go well as Sabathia was ultimately charged with six runs in seven innings. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his last two starts (11 1/3 innings), compared four earned runs allowed in his previous seven starts (44 innings).

It appears that Sabathia is experiencing some regression in his fly ball luck. Through his first 11 starts of the season he allowed two homers and had an incredibly low homer-to-flyball ratio of 3.1 percent. He’s now surrendered a homer in each of his last two starts, and while his fly ball rate remained unchanged, his homer-to-flyball ratio shot up to 14.3 percent in that span.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Miracle on 161st Street and River Avenue
Buried in the standings and left for dead by much of the New York media, the Yankees pulled off arguably the most stunning win of the season — and perhaps its biggest so far — on Wednesday night, staging an epic comeback for the ages to beat the Rangers 9-7.

Trailing by five runs with five outs to go and three runs with two outs to go, the Yankees capped off a furious ninth inning rally with a pair of dramatic home runs, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and breathing life into a team on the brink of irrelevance.

The win came with a few notable milestones:

  • it was their largest comeback win of the season
  • it was their first win this season when trailing entering the ninth inning (and it came less than 48 hours after they lost their first game in two years when leading entering the ninth inning!)
  • it was the first time they erased a deficit of at least four runs in the ninth inning or later since Sept. 22, 2012 against Oakland
  • it was their third win when trailing by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later in the past two weeks, after having only two such wins in the previous three seasons combined

The two biggest blows came from the bats of Brian McCann, who tied the game with a towering three-run homer in the final frame, and Didi Gregorius, who won the game with his first career walk-off shot. If that sounds like a rare type of rally … you’d be correct.

It was the first time since at least 1930 that the Yankees hit a game-tying homer when trailing by at least three runs in the ninth inning and then ended the game with a walk-off homer.

McCann became just the fourth Yankee in the past 70 seasons with a game-tying homer when facing a deficit of at least three runs at Yankee Stadium. He joins the illustrious group of Shelley Duncan (Aug. 15, 2007), Tino Martinez (July 2, 1998), and Joe DiMaggio (July 31, 1937 and Aug. 29, 1940).

Didi also put himself in some nice company with his historic blast. Only four other Yankee shortstops have hit a walk-off homer in the past 85 seasons: Derek Jeter (April 5, 2005 and Game 4 of the 2001 World Series), Gene Michael (June 23, 1971), Mickey Mantle (July 22, 1954 in a game he started in center field and then moved to shortstop in the ninth inning) and Phil Rizzuto (April 23, 1941).

(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)
(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Be Like Mike
What’s better than a walk-off win against the best team in the AL? How about two of them in a row. The Yankees beat the Rangers, 2-1, on Thursday afternoon thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth that scored Chase Headley from third base.

This was just the second time in the last 50 years that the Yankees enjoyed a walk-off win via a passed ball; the other game was April 27, 2012 versus the Tigers.

It was also their second straight victory in walk-off fashion (duh), third on this nine-game homestand (also June 22 vs. Rockies) and fourth of the season. The last time the Yankees had three walk-off wins in a span of fewer than 10 days was May 15-23, 2009, when they had back-to-back-to-back (!) walk-off wins against the Twins and one six days later against the Phillies.

The uplifting victory wouldn’t have been possible without another stellar performance from Michael Pineda, who finished with 12 strikeouts and one run allowed on two hits. It was the 13th time in last 100 years that a Yankee pitcher struck out at least 12 batters while giving up no more than two hits and one run — but only once before had that pitcher also not been credited with the win, like Pineda. On April 11, 1997, David Cone tossed seven scoreless innings and had 12 strikeouts against the A’s in a game the Yankees lost 3-1.

Pineda capped off an excellent June (2.75 ERA in six starts) with perhaps his two best outings of the season: a two-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout effort on June 25 against the Twins and Thursday’s two-hit, one-run, 12-strikeout masterpiece. He’s the third Yankee in the last century to strike out at least eight batters and allow no more than two hits in back-to-back starts, matching David Cone (1997) and Al Downing (1965).

His stuff was especially nasty when he got into two-strike counts, as he induced a swing-and-miss on strike three for all 12 of his punch outs. Pineda is just the fourth pitcher in baseball this season to record 12 swinging strikeouts in a game, along with Clayton Kershaw (12 on June 10), Vince Velasquez (13 on April 14) and Max Scherzer (14 on May 11). No other Yankee pitcher has done that in a game since at least 2008 (the Pitch f/x era).