Here is an open thread for the night. MLB Network is carrying regional games at 7pm ET and 10pm ET, and ESPN+ will have the Brewers and Cardinals. The College World Series is going on and the NBA draft is tonight (7pm ET on ESPN). Will the Knicks screw it up? Tune in to find out! Talk about that stuff or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics. Have at it.
What started as a laugher ended as a bit of a nail-biter. But, a win is a win. The Yankees completed the three-game sweep of the Mariners on Thursday afternoon to pick up their 50th win of the season. Fifty wins in 72 games. Last year the 50th win came in the 95th game. Smell ya later, Mariners.
Four in the First
Three home runs in the first inning but only two made it over the fence. Pretty good start to the game, I’d say. Luis Severino fired a quick 1-2-3 top of the first and the offense put up a four-spot in the bottom half, and it would’ve been a five-spot had Mitch Haniger not robbed Giancarlo Stanton’s center field home run. Would’ve been three straight games with a dinger for Stanton. Alas.
Anyway, Clint Frazier opened the first inning with a solid single to right field. Going back to Wednesday night, it was the third straight at-bat he laced a ball the other way. Aaron Judge followed that by inside-outing a 95.8 mph fastball into the right field seats for a quick 2-0 lead. Look at this:
A mere mortal inside-outs that ball into shallow right field for a single. Judge muscled it into the seats. Pretty amazing. Stanton followed that with his robbed home run, then Gleyber Torres singled to left and Miguel Andujar went opposite field for a cheap two-run home run into the short porch. The home run details:
- Judge: 107.8 mph exit velocity and 382 feet
- Stanton: 108.6 mph exit velocity and 414 feet
- Andujar: 94.8 mph exit velocity and 339 feet
Of course Stanton’s was caught. Go figure. Still a good start against the very good James Paxton. A great start, really. Paxton is a tough assignment and the Yankees put four runs on the board in the first inning, and it should’ve been five.
Not a good start for Luis Severino. Not a terrible start either, but it wasn’t good, especially by his standards. The Mariners worked him for three runs on eight hits and a walk in 5.2 innings, and he needed 107 pitches to do it. Severino walked Nelson Cruz on five pitches to begin the second, then left a changeup right out over the plate for a Kyle Seager two-run homer. The Yankees scored four in the bottom of the first and the Mariners halved that lead eight pitches into the top of the second. Blah.
Severino’s only 1-2-3 inning was the first. He pitched around leadoff doubles in the fourth and fifth, but wasn’t able to pitch around a one-out single in the sixth. Cruz and Seager strung together back-to-back one out singles in the sixth, and Ben Gamel got Cruz home with a two-out single to center. Of those season high tying eight hits Severino allowed, four came in two-strike counts. The five strikeouts tie a season low and the 12 swings and misses are his second lowest total of the year. A real grind for Severino, this was. Didn’t look sharp at all.
Take It Away, Bullpen
On paper, Severino vs. Paxton was a great pitching matchup. So course there were six runs on the board three half-innings into the game. Neither pitcher was sharp, though Paxton was able to keep the Yankees off the board following that four-run first inning. Most notably, he struck out Austin Romine to strand the bases loaded in the third. Romine swung at ball four, which is mildly annoying.
The bullpen battle started in earnest in the seventh inning. David Robertson got the final out of the sixth to strand the two runners he inherited from Severino and pitched around a leadoff single in the seventh thanks in part to a gift strike three call on Mitch Haniger. That sure helped. The Yankees in turn wasted a two on, one out opportunity in the bottom of the seventh. Torres struck out and Andujar grounded out. Groan.
In the eighth, Aaron Boone when to the untouchable of late Dellin Betances, who pitched around a two-out walk. He struck out two and has now struck out 14 of the last 20 batters he’s faced. That is: Good. After the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the eighth — 12 of the final 14 batters they send to the plate made outs — Aroldis Chapman pitched around a one-out walk int he ninth. This was Chapman’s tenth appearance in the last 18 days. Give him the weekend off, offense.
Tough 0-for-4 for Stanton. He did strike out twice against Paxton, but he also had a home run robbed, and a 101.6 mph liner find Denard Span’s glove in left field. Leadoff hitter Clint Frazier had two hits, as did Gregorius and Torres. Judge and Andujar each had a single and a walk, and … that’s it. The 7-8-9 hitters went a combined 0-for-10 with two walks.
Frazier started his first big league game in center field Thursday afternoon — Boone said he wanted to give Aaron Hicks a day off, and Brett Gardner’s hurt, so Clint it was — and he didn’t have any tough plays. Caught a fly ball and did a nice job cutting a ball off in the gap to hold the hitter to a double. That’s about it. All things considered, a good came in center.
And finally, the Yankees have now played exactly one-third of a season (54 games) since their 9-9 start. They are 41-13 in those 54 games. That is a) a 123-win pace, and b) their best 54-game stretch since 1998. At one point that 1998 team went 45-9 in 54 games. Good gravy.
The homestand is over and the Yankees are heading to their home away from home next. First series of the season in Tampa, if you can believe that. CC Sabathia will start Friday night’s series opener. The Rays will use right-hander Ryne Stanek as their opener.
According to Ken Davidoff, Gleyber Torres said he will pass on participating in the Home Run Derby next month. It’s unknown whether MLB has invited him, but it doesn’t matter now. Torres will pass. “I’m not a home-run hitter. I’m a contact hitter,” he said.
Gleyber may not seem like the Home Run Derby type, but there are a few things to keep in mind here. One, MLB definitely wants a Yankee involved to generate buzz, and an exciting young Yankee would be preferable. Two, Torres has socked a lot of dingers lately. Here is the home run leaderboard since the day he was called up:
- J.D. Martinez: 18
- Jose Ramirez: 17
- Mike Trout: 15
- Khris Davis: 15
- Gleyber Torres: 14 (tied with five others)
And three, several big names have already says they’re going to pass on the Home Run Derby this year, including Aaron Judge. Others like J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts have said they’re unlikely to take their hacks in the Home Run Derby. Even Bryce Harper is supposed on the fence and the game is at Nationals Park.
With so many big name players passing on the Home Run Derby, MLB needs some guys fans want to see — Justin Bour and Charlie Blackmon were in the Home Run Derby last year, and no offense to them, but not many folks tuned in to see those two hit — and Torres is definitely one of those guys. Instead, he’s passing.
I’d bet the farm on at least one Yankee participating in the Home Run Derby. MLB wants a Yankee there. With Judge and Torres out, Giancarlo Stanton makes sense, especially since he’s done it a bunch of times before and won it two years ago. I suppose Gary Sanchez is a possibility too. Maybe Miguel Andujar? We’ll see. I’d bet on there being at least one Yankee sin the Home Run Derby though.
Torres, 21, came into today hitting .287/.344/.556 (142 wRC+) with those 14 home runs in 51 big league games. He’s not going to beat out Jose Altuve in the fan voting for a spot in the starting lineup, but Gleyber definitely has a chance to go to the All-Star Game as a rookie.
Good game last night. I’ve watched the Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton homers like ten times since breakfast. Baseball doesn’t let you enjoy the highs too long though. The Yankees and Mariners are right back at it this afternoon with the finale of their three-game series. The Yankees have already clinched the series victory. Now it’s time for the sweep.
Luis Severino is on the bump today and the Yankees are 13-2 in his 15 starts this season, including 8-0 at Yankee Stadium. The guy taking the ball for the other team, James Paxton, is pretty good too. But I feel confident with Severino on the mound against anyone. The Yankees are 16-4 in their last 20 games. Keep on keepin’ on. Here are today’s lineups:
New York Yankees
1. CF Clint Frazier
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. LF Giancarlo Stanton
4. SS Didi Gregorius
5. 2B Gleyber Torres
6. DH Miguel Andujar
7. 1B Greg Bird
8. C Austin Romine
9. 3B Neil Walker
RHP Luis Severino
1. 2B Dee Gordon
2. RF Mitch Haniger
3. LF Denard Span
4. DH Nelson Cruz
5. 3B Kyle Seager
6. 1B Ryon Healy
7. RF Ben Gamel
8. C Mike Zunino
9. SS Andrew Romine
LHP James Paxton
Good afternoon for baseball in the Bronx. There are a few clouds in the sky but it’s sunny and not ridiculously hot. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Updates: A.J. Cole has been placed on the 10-day DL with a left neck strain, the Yankees announced. Must’ve gotten a kink in his neck sleeping in the bullpen during all that time off. Luis Cessa (oblique) was activated off the disabled list to replace Cole. Cessa was scheduled to start for Double-A Trenton today and has gotten stretched out to 50-ish pitches during his rehab assignment … Masahiro Tanaka (hamstrings) could throw a bullpen at some point this weekend … Brett Gardner (knee) is doing better and is ready to play. He’s being held out against the lefty and to give the knee another day. This is day five without him. Wish they’d just put him on the 10-day DL.
Even though he turned only 24 in February, Luis Severino has been through an awful lot in his baseball career. He was a small bonus international signing who developed into a top prospect, had instant success at the MLB level in 2015, fell on his face and was demoted (to Triple-A and the bullpen) in 2016, and bounced back to become an ace in 2017. Lots of ups and downs in a short period of time.
This season Severino is showing last year’s success was no fluke. In fact, he’s been even better this year than he was last year. Last season Severino posted a 2.98 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 193.1 innings. This year he’s sitting on a 2.09 ERA (2.18 FIP) through 99 innings. Through 99 innings last year Severino had a 3.52 ERA (3.15 FIP), so yeah, he is getting better. He’s not just the Yankees’ ace. He’s a top ten pitcher in baseball. Maybe top five.
Probably my most favorite thing about Severino is that he’s challenging hitters more now than ever before, and he’s doing that while allowing less contact on pitches in the strike zone. Here’s a fun graph:
More pitches in the zone and less contact on pitches in the zone. Among the 91 pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Severino has the third highest zone rate (54.3%) and the 15th lowest contact rate on pitches in the zone (82.9%). His stuff is so good (sooo good) that he can attack hitters in the zone and still get empty swings. Not many starters can do that consistently. Severino can.
“Clearly, he’s established himself as one of the best in the game,” said Aaron Boone following Severino’s eight shutout innings Saturday. “He gave us a lot today. Now we’re seeing, in a lot of ways, what a finished, elite pitcher in the league looks like. He’s a special one.”
The on-field performance makes Severino an ace. He’s among the best pitchers in the game, clearly. But “ace” is one of those ambiguous baseball terms everyone seems to define differently. Technically every team has an ace. Every team deemed someone the leader of the rotation and gave him the ball on Opening Day. Every team has an ace, but are there really 30 aces in baseball? Nah.
To me, there are three components to being an ace. First of all, you have to be a great pitcher and you have to do it for a while. I mean, duh. We see lots of one-year aces — remember 2003 Esteban Loaiza? — but to be a true ace, you’ve got to do it year after year. Severino’s short on track record right now, but he is doing it again this year — he’s doing it better this year — and not many guys get that far.
Secondly, there needs to be some semblance of durability. Taking the ball every fifth day is part of being an ace in my book. Injuries happen and sometimes they’re unavoidable. That’s baseball and it ain’t always fair. The best of the best stay on the field. And third, there’s an off-the-field aspect to being an ace. There are leadership responsibilities, I think. Some lead by example, some are more outspoken. But the ace of the staff leads.
CC Sabathia is a perfect example. At his peak he was a high-end performer who never missed a start, and he was great in the clubhouse. Sabathia is no longer the pitcher he was in his prime, but he remains a key figure in the clubhouse. Severino has provided elite performance every fifth day (knock on wood) since Opening Day 2017, so he has the first two components of being an ace. Now the leadership part is coming.
“I think I can work more on that,” said Severino to A.J Herrmann back in Spring Training when asked about taking on a leadership role. “I can listen more to CC, one of the leaders here, and I think that if I can work on that with him, with the veteran guys here, I can become somebody like that.”
Last week, when Jonathan Loaisiga struck out Christian Arroyo to strand the bases loaded in the fourth inning of his big league debut, Severino was among the first to greet him in the dugout. We’ve also seen Severino huddle up with Domingo German both during starts and on days German didn’t pitch. German’s older than Severino and yet it’s Severino who’s taking on that mentor role.
“(Severino) was giving me some pointers on how to face hitters,” said German to Dan Martin last month, after he faced the Astros in long relief following Jordan Montgomery’s injury. “One of things he mentioned was being aggressive and getting ahead of the count and he explained why that was so important to do.”
Severino went out of his way to make his presence felt at Old Timers’ Day …
One thing from today, Luis severino shook every old timers hand in the dugout before the game started! That kid gets it!
— John Flaherty (@flash17yes) June 18, 2018
… and that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do for a 24-year-old kid with one full season in the big leagues. Severino seems to be growing more comfortable in his own skin. Getting to the big leagues is difficult. Staying in the big leagues is even more difficult. Severino seems to have reached the point where he’s good, he knows he’s good, and he’s getting more comfortable and trying to help others the way someone like Sabathia helped him.
“He’s definitely a voice in there,” said Aaron Boone when asked about Severino as a leader over the weekend. “He’s definitely somebody that guys in a way look up to, and guys — position player, pitcher, he connects with a lot of guys in there — see the way he is on the bench when he’s not starting. He’s hooked up. On the days he’s not pitching, he’s really into the games on the bench and cheering his guys. I think he is very respected, and those experiences (in 2016), I think people understand he’s been through that. So I think he is somebody a lot of the guys look too.”
The Yankees have a great veteran leadership core with Sabathia and Brett Gardner — Sabathia mentioned Didi Gregorius as another strong voice in the clubhouse in a recent episode of the R2C2 podcast — but it doesn’t stop with them. Leaders usually emerge organically and, now that he’s settled in as an on-field performer, Severino is beginning to assume more of a leadership role, even at such a young age. Everything about him continues to improve, and not only on the field.
This team, man. THIS TEAM. Never out of a game, talent up and down the roster, a new hero every night. What a fun season. It’s only going to get better too. The Yankees erased a 5-0 deficit in the final five innings Wednesday night to earn a 7-5 walk-off win over the Mariners. They are 15-1-3 in their last 19 series now. Love this team, you guys.
Gary in the Eighth, Giancarlo in the Ninth
Gosh, how good does it feel that Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton provided the big hits? So good. So, so good. They’ve been struggling to different degrees most of the season — Stanton’s been getting booed pretty much every home game — and the Yankees have been waiting and waiting and waiting for them to break out and be the hitters they’ve been their entire careers. On Wednesday, they arrived.
Fast forward to the eighth inning, when the Mariners were nursing a 5-3 lead. Alex Colome, who struck out Stanton with a man on base to end the seventh inning, stayed on to pitch the eighth as well. Gleyber Torres worked a five-pitch leadoff walk, then my goodness, Sanchez took a first pitch cookie right down the middle. It was a 95 mph heater. I immediately thought “that was the pitch … he’s not going to get another one to hit this at-bat,” know what I mean? Well, two pitches later, Colome hung the crap out of a cutter, and Gary tied the game.
With the score tied 5-5 in the ninth, Mariners skipper Scott Servais decided to leave all-world closer Edwin Diaz in the bullpen and save him for the save situation, because those are the rules. Instead, journeyman Ryan Cook and his zero big league innings pitched from 2016-17 came in to face the top of the order. Managers do such stupid things sometimes. Naturally, Cook retired Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge quickly.
The game-winning rally started with two outs. Didi Gregorius golfed a 1-1 changeup into center field for a single, setting up Stanton to be the hero or the goat. Cook hung a first pitch slider that Stanton took and again I thought “that was the pitch … he’s not going to get another one to hit this at-bat.” Stanton fouled away the second pitch heater, then Cook went back to the slider, and again he hung it. Take it away, Giancarlo:
The Comeback Begins
One thing is for sure: The Yankees had plenty of chances to score Wednesday night before Sanchez and Stanton played hero. Chances against Felix Hernandez and chances against the parade of relievers. A one-out double was wasted in the first. Back-to-back one-out singles in the second were wasted. Runners were stranded at first and second in the fifth and sixth too. Gross.
The Yankees broke through and got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, after Miguel Andujar stroked a one-out double and Aaron Hicks worked a two-out walk. Felix gave Aaron Judge nothing but offspeed pitches. The seven-pitch at-bat featured four changeups, two curveballs, and a slider. In fact, Hernandez went with the anti-fastball strategy all night. He threw 95 pitches in five innings and only 26 of those 95 pitches were fastballs.
Anyway, Judge managed to pull a two-out ground ball single into left field to score two runs — Denard Span bobbled the ball in left, allowing Hicks to score from first base — and cut the deficit to 5-2. In the seventh, the Yankees added their third run on a Gregorius sacrifice fly. Clint Frazier hustled a leadoff double and moved to third on Judge’s hard-hit single to left. Gregorius hung in against the hard-throwing lefty James Pazos to get the sacrifice fly.
The unsung hero: Jonathan Holder. He entered the game with two outs and the Yankees down 5-3 in the sixth inning, and retired seven of the eight batters he faced. Holder plunked Mike Zunino with two outs in the eighth and that’s it. More great work from him. Holder has been nails since rejoining the team in April. The other day in Washington he escaped that runners on the corners, no outs jam. On Wednesday, he shut the Mariners for 2.1 innings to give the offense a chance to win.
The Shreve Decision
It’s a footnote, now, but it has to be discussed. It’s the first time all season an Aaron Boone move really annoyed me. With a mere one-run deficit and post-prime Felix on the mound, Boone went to his worst reliever with runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth inning. To face the top of the lineup, no less. Chasen Shreve was brought in to get the left-on-left matchup against Dee Gordon — we all know it was a left-on-left thing — but:
- LHB vs. Shreve: .207/.361/.552 (.386 wOBA)
- RHB vs. Shreve: .246/.310/.477 (.338 wOBA)
Shreve’s had a reverse split his entire career too, so those numbers are not a small sample anomaly confined to 2018. Sure enough, Shreve allowed the two-run single to Gordon — he left a splitter up in a two-strike count — and then he compounded the problem by allowing two more runs in the fifth inning. Yuck. Shreve faced five lefty batters and got two harmless outs. The other three lefties had two hits and a sacrifice fly. Righties did a number against him too.
In his last seven appearances now Shreve has allowed eight runs on eleven hits and two walks in seven innings. He also allowed the two runners he inherited to score. I just don’t get bringing him into that spot. I mean, I get it, the left-on-left matchup, but no. Shreve is fine enough as the last dude in the bullpen. He has no business pitching in big spots, especially with most of the bullpen rested following the Domingo German/A.J. Cole effort Tuesday. Blah.
Not so great second MLB start for Jonathan Loaisiga, who was charged with three runs — the defense wasn’t great behind him and Shreve allowed two inherited runners to score — in 3.2 innings. The Mariners worked him hard though. Loaisiga threw 84 pitches to get eleven outs. Unlike his first start, when he seemed to be just missing off the plate, Loaisiga was more wild this time. Kid’s got great stuff and I like his moxie. You can tell he has limited experience at the upper levels of the minors though.
Three hits for Judge and two hits apiece for Stanton and Sanchez. Gary also a pitch right to the elbow, but, based on the dinger, he’s fine. Those three dudes went 7-for-12 (.583) and the rest of the Yankees went 4-for-23 (.174). Ain’t mad about it. The Yankees have been get contributions from up and down the lineup all season. It was time for the big boys to win a game, and win a game they did.
After Shreve barfed all over everything and Holder saved the day, Aroldis Chapman threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning and was electric. Needed ten pitches to get the three outs and he hit 104.5 mph on the radar gun. His fastest pitch of the season and his fastest pitch since hitting 104.8 mph with the Cubs in September 2016. I still hope he gets like four days off now.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB for the video highlights. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page and here is the amazingly awesome win probability graph:
The Yankees will go for the sweep in the three-game series finale Thursday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day game. Great pitching matchup too: Luis Severino vs. James Paxton.
RHP Anyelo Gomez’s season is over, according to Conor Foley. He needs shoulder surgery. Gomez had a breakout season last year, throwing 70.1 relief innings with a 1.92 ERA (2.19 FIP) with 31.0% strikeouts and 7.5% walks at four levels. That earned him a look in Spring Training with the Braves as a Rule 5 Draft pick, though he was later returned. Unfortunately injury. Went from big league camp to an uncertain future in three months.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (5-3 win over Lehigh Valley, walk-off style)
- SS Tyler Wade: 0-4, 1 K
- 3B Brandon Drury: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB
- 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K — here’s video of the homer … back-to-back days with a dinger
- CF Billy McKinney: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K — got picked off first
- PH-DH Zack Zehner: 1-1, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — walk-off pinch-hit two-run homer
- LHP Josh Rogers: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4/7 GB/FB — 57 of 84 pitches were strikes (68%) … four homers in his last 19 innings (1.9 HR/9)
- RHP Gio Gallegos: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 29 of 41 pitches were strikes (71%)
- RHP Cody Carroll: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — four pitches, three strikes