Yankeemetrics: May 22-24 (Rangers)

Garrett Jones: Yankees new sixth starter? (Elsa/Getty Images)
Garrett Jones: Yankees new sixth starter? (Elsa/Getty Images)

Bad Mike
Nine runs? Check.
Three home runs? Check.
You’d think that would be enough offense to win a game, right? Wrong.

The Yankees descent towards mediocrity picked up steam on Friday night in a 10-9 loss to the Rangers. It was the first time the Yankees lost a game at home when they scored at least nine runs and hit three-or-more homers since Sept. 19, 1996 vs Orioles. (At this point, it’s hard to see this season ending the same way that season did.)

Most of the damage was done against Michael Pineda in a seven-run third inning. He is the first Yankees pitcher to allow at least seven runs in an inning against the Rangers since David Wells on May 6, 1998 in Texas, and first to do it at Yankee Stadium since Andy Hawkins on May 8, 1989.

The Rangers are quickly becoming Pineda’s kryptonite. He is now 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA in four starts vs. the Rangers, his worst record against any team and also his second-highest ERA against any team he’s faced more than twice.

Garrett Jones did his best to spark a Yankees rally, hitting a three-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to two runs. It was the first time a Yankee hit a pinch-hit homer against the Rangers since Don Baylor on July 11, 1985.

Rock bottom
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse … Saturday afternoon happened.

An embarrassing 15-4 loss, punctuated by another third-inning implosion, and the Yankees had their fifth straight loss. This time the Yankees gave up a whopping 10 runs in the third inning, their most allowed in a single frame since April 18, 2009 against the Indians.

Combined with Friday’s seven-run third inning, it’s the first time the Yankees had back-to-back games allowing at least seven runs in an inning since playing an interleague series in Colorado in June 2002. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, before this weekend, the Yankees had never given up seven-or-more runs in an inning in consecutive games at Yankee Stadium — the old or new version.

CC Sabathia didn’t make it out of that third frame, giving up nearly as many runs (6) as outs recorded (7). He’s now lost his last six starts at Yankee Stadium, matching the longest such losing streak by any Yankee in the last 100 seasons. Four other Yankees in that span dropped six starts in a row in the Bronx: Red Ruffing (1931), Sam McDowell (1973-74), Orlando Hernandez (2000) and Phil Hughes (2013).

It gets worse, though. Sabathia’s ERA is 9.42 during the six-start losing streak, and he is the only pitcher in the group listed above to have also allowed at least four runs in each of the six starts. Welp.

Garrett Jones came in to get the final two outs of the ninth inning (and didn’t allow a hit or a run!), sparing another wasted bullpen arm in this pointless game. The only other Yankee position player to pitch in a game against the Rangers was Rick Cerone on July 19, 1987 in a 20-3 loss at Texas.

It’s not what you want
The slide continues, and where it ends, nobody knows.

The Yankees lost the Sunday night series finale, extending their season-high losing streak to six games, their longest in a single season since May 11-16, 2011. They’ve won just once in their past 11 games, their worst 11-game stretch in nearly 20 years — since they went 1-10 in an 11-game span from May 23-June 3, 1995.

The Rangers completed a rare sweep in the Bronx, winning every game in a series of three-or-more games at Yankee Stadium for just the second time since the team moved to Texas in 1972 (it also happened May 16-18, 2003).

The Yankees simply couldn’t stop giving up hits (and runs) against the Rangers, surrendering a total of 40 hits in the series. It’s the first time they’ve ever been swept in a series of three-or-more games at Yankee Stadium, allowing at least 12 hits in each game.

Yankeemetrics: May 19-20 (Nationals)

It's not what you want. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images )
It’s not what you want. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images )

The end of perfection
We knew it had to happen some time, right? Andrew Miller finally succumbed to the regression gods and gave up his first runs of the season – and unfortunately it came at a very ill-timed moment for the Yankees.

Tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Ryan Zimmerman smoked a 96-mph fastball from Miller off the right field foul pole to cap a Nationals’ comeback after trailing 6-2 in the fifth inning. Not only was it the Yankees largest blown lead of the season, it was also the Yankees first walk-off loss of the season and the first time Miller had surrendered an extra-inning homer in his career.

However, these dramatics were nothing new for Zimmerman. It was the second time he had hit a walk-off homer against the Yankees, with other coming on June 18, 2006 at RFK Stadium. Strange-but-true fact: since his debut in 2005, Zimmerman is the only player with two walk-off shots vs. the Yankees … and this is a guy, remember, that has played his entire career in the National League.

Zimmerman also joined a rare club with that decisive swing of the bat, as one of just three first baseman to hit a two-out, walk-off homer in extra innings against the Yankees over the last 75 seasons. The others were Bob Allison in 1960 and Mike Napoli in 2013. Go figure.

Before Miller’s streak came to an end, Dellin Betances pitched two scoreless innings to ensure that we’d get free baseball on Tuesday night. It was his 20th appearance of the season and the 20th time he gave up zero earned runs, establishing a new franchise record for consecutive games to begin a season without allowing an earned run. The previous record of 19 was set by Lee Guetterman in 1989.

National crisis?
As bad as last year’s team was, it never lost seven times in an eight-game span. With the Yankees 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday, the 2015 team has now already done that, and it’s not even the end of May.

Justin Wilson allowed the game-winning run when Denard Span hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, scoring Wilson Ramos. How unlikely was that hit? Before that at-bat, Span was 0-for-7 against left-handed relievers this season (and 2-for-21 vs. all lefties); Wilson had faced 21 left-handed batters this season prior to Span, and had given up a hit to only two of them.

A-Rod pinch-hit in the top of the ninth inning and struck out looking for the final out with Didi Gregorius on first base. If that sounds familiar … well, not really. The last Yankee pinch-hitter to take a called strike three to end the game with a man on base and the team trailing by a run was Chili Davis against the White Sox on May 22, 1999. Brutal.

Let’s end on a positive note, and celebrate the debut of Slade Heathcott, who pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the eight inning. Another (maybe not) hard-to-believe fact: he is the first player position player picked in the first round by the Yankees to play for the team in a non-September game since Derek Jeter made his debut in May 1995.

Examining Chase Headley’s defensive ‘slump’

(Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the season, there was probably no major-league team that had more question marks than the Yankees. Can the starting rotation remain healthy and be effective? Can A-Rod be an everyday player after being out of baseball for a year? How will Didi Gregorius handle the pressure of replacing Derek Jeter? Can the middle-of-the-order bats (Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann) bounce back? Who will be the closer? And the list goes on and on and on …

If there was one thing that Yankees fans did not have to worry about – and a reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances to be a playoff contender – it was the expectation that the Yankees would have one of the league’s best defensive lineups in 2015. One of the key factors in that projection was that they’d get a full season of Chase Headley at third base. No player accumulated more defensive value at the hot corner last year than Headley, who also seemingly passed the eye test as one of the league’s best-fielding third baseman.

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Six weeks into the season, the consensus is that Yankees defense has failed to live up to those lofty preseason expectations. Whether you prefer the traditional stats or the advanced metrics, the Yankees are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, and their sloppy play has probably cost them at least a few wins already. They rank 24th in both Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), 22nd in fielding percentage and 19th in defensive efficiency.

While he’s not the only Yankee underperforming on defense, Headley’s poor stats so far are perhaps the most surprising. His struggles in the field are puzzling given his stellar defensive reputation, and history would suggest that this stretch of poor defense is just a short-term slump rather than a real decline in skill. Although defensive stats can be unreliable in small samples, they are still hard to ignore right now when all of them are in agreement that Headley has performed well below average this season.

The advanced metrics have not been kind to Headley this season. He’s already cost the team five runs with his glove, according to DRS, and UZR has him as the third-worst defensive player at the hot corner. Both of those numbers are also the worst among all Yankees at any position (min. 40 innings played).

Looking at the traditional fielding stats, Headley already has as many errors this season (8) in 39 games as he did all of last year in 127 games at third base, and six of those have been throwing errors – twice as many as he made in 2014.

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It’s not just the errors that have been piling up. Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) tracks every batted ball fielded by a defender, and flags certain ones as “Defensive Misplays” — plays that were not scored an error but where the fielder clearly squandered the opportunity to make an out or allowed a baserunner to advance. Headley has seven Defensive Misplays this season, putting him on pace for nearly 30, which would be more than double his total from last year (13).

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Digging deeper into the numbers, we can see the types of plays that have been the most troublesome for Headley. One of the reasons that Headley was so good at the hot corner was his ability to make a lot more plays down the line than the average player. Balls hit to that location are typically more damaging than others if they get past the defender, because they often scoot into the outfield corners or reach the wall and likely end up as extra-base hits. According to BIS, Headley made 13 more plays to his right than the average third baseman last season. That’s good! This year, he’s been essentially an average fielder on those same balls hit down the third-base line. Uh, not as good.

As we know, defensive stats are not perfect, and there a couple possible explanations for the regression in these numbers. It could be due to a change in positioning (though they do not include any balls in play where the infield is shifted); or Headley could be struggling to make plays because the balls he’s fielded have been hit really hard towards him (the average velocity of ground balls fielded by Yankee third baseman ranks fourth-highest in the majors this season).

So what does all this mean going forward? Given Headley’s excellent defensive reputation, the fact that he’s historically rated above-average in the advanced metrics, and the unreliability of defensive stats over a short time period, we can’t make any definitive statements about his defense right now. It’s hard to believe that his true defensive talent has declined in a sample of fewer than 40 games, so you have to expect that his numbers will eventually normalize over an entire season.

Headley himself said that he’s not worried about his defense. “I’ll get it cleaned up,” he told the media on Sunday. Let’s hope he’s right.

Yankeemetrics: May 15-17 (Royals)

The large lefty officially has a winning streak. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
The large lefty officially has a winning streak. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Royal crush
The Yankees’ worst skid of the season continued with a 12-1 loss to the Royals on Friday night. Entering this series, they were the only AL team that hadn’t given up at least nine runs in a game this season. It was the first time the Yankees opened their season with a streak of at least 36 straight games allowing eight-or-fewer runs in each game since 1981 (38 games).

Michael Pineda‘s first start since his 16-strikeout game on Mothers Day couldn’t have been any more different than that historic one just a few days earlier.

He didn’t strike out his first batter until he got Lorenzo Cain swinging in the fifth inning, and that was the only guy that got rung up by Pineda in the game. Seems improbable, right? Almost. The last pitcher to get only one strikeout (or zero) in a game after whiffing at least 16 batters in his previous start was Mark Langston in 1988.

Although he struggled to put away batters, Pineda didn’t have any problems with his control, recording his fifth walk-free start of the season. Dating back to last September, Pineda hasn’t walked more than one guy in each of his last 10 games, pitching more than five innings in each of those starts. The only other Yankee in the last 100 years to fashion a streak like that was David Wells, who had also had a 10-game stretch in 1998 where he gave up one or fewer walks and pitched more than five innings in each outing.

Throwback Saturday
How do you snap your longest losing streak of the season? This formula usually works: a vintage performance from your former ace pitcher and a couple longballs from the middle of the order.

CC Sabathia scattered six hits and allowed one run over seven innings, earning his second straight win after going winless in his first six starts of the season. This was the fourth time Sabathia has started a game with the Yankees on a losing streak of at least four games – and he is now 4-0 in those four starts.

Chase Headley hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the fifth inning and Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot in the ninth inning to provide the power in the Yankees’ 5-1 win. Three of Headley’s five homers this season have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead, and each of those three has come with two outs in the inning.

For A-Rod, it was his 10th homer of the season, and he joins Mark Teixeira as Yankees with double-digit homers in 2015. The only other seasons in the last 40 years when the Yankees had two players with at least 10 homers within the team’s first 38 games were 2005 (A-Rod and Tino Martinez) and 2009 (Teixeira and Johnny Damon).

A first for everything
As bad as the Yankees offense has been recently, they still had not been shut out in 2015 until Sunday’s 6-0 loss in the series finale. They were one of two MLB teams that had scored at least one run in every game this season, along with the Tigers and Blue Jays. It was the first time they had been blanked since September 15, 2014, snapping a streak of 51 straight games with scoring a run, which was the longest active streak among all major-league teams.

The loss was also the Yankees’ first one on a Sunday this year. Entering the game they were the only team undefeated (5-0) on Sundays in the majors this season.

Chris Capuano‘s first start of the season was “not what you want,” as he gave up four runs before he was pulled in the fourth inning. He’s the first Yankee to allow at least four runs in three innings pitched or fewer in Kansas City since David Wells on August 11, 2003. Sunday (May 17) also happened to be the anniversary of Wells’ perfect game against the Twins in 1998. So there’s that, at least.

Yankeemetrics: May 11-14 (Rays)

(Steve Nesius/AP)
(Steve Nesius/AP)

From zero to hero
Finally. CC Sabathia got his first win of the season on Monday night as the Yankees beat the Rays in the series opener. His 0-5 record to start the season was the fourth-worst opening stretch by any Yankee lefty in the last 100 years.

The odds of getting a win were really stacked against CC entering the game. His 4-8 record at Tropicana Field was his worst at any ballpark he’d started more than five games, and the Yankees offense had scored just 13 runs during his first six starts this season. It makes perfect sense then that the Yankees broke out for 11 runs and gave the large lefty a rare win at Tropicana Field. Of course, what else were you expecting?

The Yankees backed Sabathia with barrage of home runs – five of them – and gave him plenty of run support to work with. It was their first five-homer game with Sabathia on the mound since May 8, 2011 against the Rangers. Since that night four years ago, the Yankees had eight other games with at least five homers — and somehow either Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes was the starting pitcher in five of them!

Singles night at the Trop
The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the first inning on Tuesday night but were then held scoreless the rest of the night despite generating a good number of scoring chances, and lost as the Rays rallied to win.

One day after it seemed like every ball went over the fence, the Yankees were held to just eight singles – that’s it. It was the first time since Opening Day that they didn’t have at least two extra-base hits in a game. That 32-game streak with multiple extra-base hits was tied for the fourth-longest by the franchise over the last 100 years.

Chris Archer held the Yankees to just two runs in seven innings, and though he didn’t get the win, he still hasn’t lost or given up more than three runs in seven starts vs. the team. He is the only pitcher to start his career with a streak of least seven unbeaten starts and three-or-fewer runs allowed against the Yankees in the last 100 years.

Deja vu?
The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the first inning on Wednesday night but were then held scoreless the rest of the night despite generating a good number of scoring chances, and lost as the Rays rallied to win.

Wait, what?! Did I just plagiarize myself? Sadly, yes.

They were also held without an extra-base hit for the second game in a row, scattering 10 singles off four Rays pitchers. It marked the first time the Yankees had at least eight hits, without any of them going for extra bases, in consecutive losses since Sept. 6-7, 1965 against the Orioles.

Adam Warren was the tough-luck loser on the mound for the Yankees, allowing three runs in a career-best seven innings. It was the first time in his 10 career starts that he completed at least six frames. Warren enters the record books as the only Yankee to debut in the last 100 years and pitch fewer than six innings in each of his first nine major-league starts.

A-Rod to the rescue
The offensive drought continued for the Yankees on Thursday, losing 6-1 to the Rays in the series finale. Alex Rodriguez saved the team from being shut out for the first time this season with a ninth inning solo homer, which also was their first extra base hit since Mark Teixeira homered in the ninth inning of Monday’s game. In between those longballs, the Yankees played 26 innings and hit 22 singles.

That was A-Rod’s fourth homer in seven games this year at Tropicana Field. No player on any team — even the Rays — has hit more homers at the ballpark this season. It also was his 1,000th RBI with the Yankees, making him the 13th player in team history to reach that milestone. Since RBI became official in 1920, that is easily the most 1,000-RBI players on any franchise (Cubs and Tigers are second with seven).

Erasmo Ramirez is the third starting pitcher in 2015 to hold the Yankees to one hit with five-or-more innings pitched (Anibal Sanchez on April 23, Joe Kelly on April 11). Only three pitchers did that against the team in all of 2014. There’s still four-and-a-half months left of baseball to play this season.

Should we believe in Carlos Beltran’s breakout May?

Is Beltran's hot streak for real? (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Is Beltran’s hot streak for real? (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

To say Carlos Beltran had a slow start to the season would be a massive understatement. There is no sugar-coating the fact that for the first month of 2015, Carlos Beltran looked every bit like a struggling 38-year-old veteran in decline. He was unable to catch up to fastballs, repeatedly chased breaking balls out of the zone and was essentially a near-automatic out almost every time he stepped to the plate.

His numbers in April were just plain ugly — 11-for-68 (.162), seven RBI, 21 strikeouts, five walks — which ranked him among the bottom-10 players in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. According to weighted runs created — a statistic that attempts to quantify a player’s total offensive value — Beltran was 76 percent worse than the league average hitter, ranking 181st out of 186 qualifying players in the month.

He was a black hole in the Yankees lineup, and scouts around the league were calling for him to become a platoon/DH-type player, citing how slow and un-athletic he looked in the field and at the plate. Yet Joe Girardi kept running him out there nearly every day, insisting that he’d find his swing again.

Two weeks into the month of May, and it looks like Beltran may finally be breaking out of his slump. Sure, Girardi hinted that Beltran was better than his numbers showed in April because of his high “exit velocity” — but who could have predicted this outburst? Beltran already has more hits and RBIs this month than all of April and, after going homerless in his first 98 at-bats of the season, he hit two homers in a span of four at-bats on May 10 and 11.

What has been the key to Beltran’s breakthrough? His recent hot streak is obviously a very small sample of less than a dozen games, so we can’t suddenly say that Beltran is completely fixed and back to being the highly productive middle-of-the-order bat who excelled with the Cardinals in 2012 and 2013. But are there signs that he’s turned the corner and on the verge of being at least a capable hitter in the Yankees lineup for the rest of the season?

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First, let’s take a glance at his traditional batting stats.

CARLOS BELTRAN THIS SEASON

Month PA AB H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April 74 68 11 0 7 5 21 0.162 0.216 0.265 0.481
May 43 41 13 2 8 2 4 0.317 0.349 0.561 0.910

Bravo! Everything is looking good here: he’s getting on base more, he’s hitting for power and he’s significantly cut his strikeout rate. Remember earlier when we said that Beltran in April was 76 percent worse than league average in terms of his overall offensive production … this month, he is 50 percent above league average in that same stat.

Beyond those basic numbers, Beltran also appears to have made fundamental changes to his plate approach. Although his walk rate remains below-average, he’s become more aggressive swinging at pitches within the strike zone (that’s good!), and is making more contact overall (90 percent in May vs. 81 percent in April). He has cut his swinging strike rate from 9.3 percent to 6.7 percent, and has whiffed on just one pitch in the strike zone in May:

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His monthly batted ball profile also makes you optimistic that Beltran has become a different – and better – hitter in May. Most significantly, he is hitting the ball harder and is really starting to show his pull-side power stroke at the plate.

Beltran has doubled his line drive rate over the last two months, while increasing his percentage of hard-hit balls from 23 percent in April to 35 percent in May. Last month, only one of every three balls he put into play were pulled; this month, 60 percent of his batted balls have been hit to his pull side.

Another encouraging sign is that Beltran’s bat speed appears to have returned — he has had little trouble handling above-average velocity fastballs in May. He was just 1-for-13 in at-bats ending in a pitch 93 mph or higher during the first month of the season; this month, he has six hits in 10 at-bats ending in 93-plus mph pitches. After whiffing or fouling off 39 percent of those 93-plus mph pitches in April, he’s chopped that rate to just 19 percent in May.

Here’s what the “May” Beltran can do to a 94 mph fastball in his hitting sweetspot:

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If there is one concern about Beltran’s recent hot streak, it’s that the entire thing has come against right-handed pitchers. Literally. He is 0-for-9 against lefties in May and 13-for-32 (.406) against righties. That’s not a serious problem yet because he’s had so few plate appearances against them – but given the fact he was awful against southpaws in April (3-for-20), too, you’d like to see him get a few hits from the right side of the plate this month before declaring him completely back.

Despite the small sample of his empty at-bats against lefties this month, there is a lot to like about what Beltran is doing at the plate in May. The improvement in his peripheral batting stats – i.e. the decline in his strikeout and whiff rates – combined with a better approach at the plate and real increases in his ability to hit the ball with power, indicate that Beltran’s performance in May just might be sustainable for a few more months.

If Beltran can remain healthy the rest of the season, the Yankees may have added yet another dangerous bat to a lineup that already was among the best in the league, giving them even more firepower to remain atop the AL East and on track for a deep playoff run in October.

Yankeemetrics: May 7-10 (Orioles)

Can we just give him the Cy Young today? (AP Photo)
Can we just give him the Cy Young today? (AP Photo)

We’re going to kick things off with Pineda’s spectacular outing on Mother’s Day… because, well, do we really need a reason?!

The Yankees won their 20th game of the season on Sunday afternoon but the story of the game was the incredible performance by Michael Pineda, who struck out 16 batters without allowing a walk in seven innings. It was a historic day for the 26-year-old right-hander at Yankee Stadium:

• He is the first Yankee with at least 16 strikeouts and no walks in a game. The last major-league pitcher to do it was Johan Santana on Aug. 19, 2007.
• At 26 years old, Pineda is the youngest pitcher with a 16-strikeout, no-walk game since a 22-year-old Mark Prior on June 26, 2003.
• He is the only MLB pitcher in at least the last 100 years (and probably ever) to have 16-or-more strikeouts and zero walks in a game when pitching fewer than eight innings.
• Pineda is the second Yankee right-hander to strike out 16 batters in a game, joining David Cone on June 23, 1997 vs. the Tigers.

And just for fun: He struck out 16 in seven innings, the equivalent of 20.6 strikeouts in nine innings. The major-league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game is 20. If only Pineda had a rubber arm and there were no pitch counts…

He featured a nasty slider all afternoon, which netted him 12 swings-and-misses and eight strikeouts by Orioles batters. Pineda now has 30 strikeouts via his slider this season, the most among all pitchers in the majors.

Pineda is 7-0 in his last nine starts dating back to last September, with at least five strikeouts and no more than one walk in each of those games. Only two other pitchers have put together a streak like that – no losses, five-or-more strikeouts and no walks in a nine-start span – in the last 100 years: Bret Saberhagen in 1994 and Curt Schilling in 2002.

Pineda has three games this season with no walks, at least seven strikeouts and a win. Here’s the list of pitchers to do that within the team’s first 32 games during the last 100 years: Walter Johnson (1916), Greg Maddux (1994) and Fergie Jenkins (1971). Oh, just a few Hall of Famers, and Pineda.

A-Rod ‘says goodbye’ to Willie
With one swing of the bat, Alex Rodriguez once again etched his name in the record books – passing Willie Mays to move into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time home run list – and helped the Yankees to another key win over a division rival. Check out the similarities between career homers No. 660 and 661:

Last week it was a pinch-hit solo homer that broke a 2-2 tie to help the Yankees beat the Red Sox; on Thursday night it was another tie-breaking solo shot to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead against the Orioles, in a game they would eventually win, 4-3.

The (not) milestone home run No. 661 came off Chris Tillman, a pitcher that A-Rod has absolutely owned in his career. He’s now 6-for-12 with four homers vs. Tillman, good for a nice round slugging percentage of 1.500 – his highest against any of the 315 pitchers he has at least 10 at-bats against in his career.

Nate Eovaldi gutted through 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits for the win. He did match a season-high with 14 swinging strikes, six of which came via his curveball – a career-best whiff total for that pitch.

And your official 2015 Yankees closer is …
The Yankees followed a familiar script in beating the Orioles 5-4 on Friday night: a big blast to give the team an early lead, followed by a near-flawless performance from the back end of the bullpen to secure the win.

Brian McCann provided the power, sending a 3-0 pitch from Miguel Gonzalez over the fence that put the Yankees up 3-0 in the first inning. After Friday’s game, the Yankees had swung at four 3-0 pitches this season – and two of them turned into home runs (also A-Rod’s 660th last week). They are the only team this season to hit two homers on 3-0 pitches.

Trying to protect a one-run lead, Andrew Miller came on in the ninth inning to finish off the game and did Andrew Miller things. He pitched a perfect inning for his 13th save of the season, of course. And for the 15th time in 15 games, he didn’t allow any runs or more than one hit. Guess how many Yankee pitchers have ever started a season with a streak like that? Keep guessing…. Yup, none.

The Chase is over
Chase Whitley came crashing back down to Earth in Saturday’s loss to the Orioles, allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings after he entered the game with a shiny 0.75 ERA in his first two starts this season.

It was hardly surprising that he ran into trouble against the O’s. He’s now pitched 11 1/3 innings vs. Baltimore and allowed 14 earned runs, good for a 11.12 ERA that ranks as the second-highest against the Orioles by any active pitcher (min. 10 IP). Only the Padres’ Tyson Ross (17.10) has a worse mark than Whitley.

Jose Pirela was the only Yankee with more than one hit in the game, going 2-for-4 and notching the fifth multi-hit game of his career. He is just the seventh Yankee to debut in the last 100 years and have at least five multi-hit games within his first 10 career major-league appearances. He’s in some pretty good company here: Jerry Coleman (1949), Snuffy Stirnweiss (1943), Phil Rizzuto (1941), Joe DiMaggio (1936), Leo Durocher (1928), Norm McMillan (1922).