Youngsters make their presence felt in 3-1 Yankees win over the Red Sox

(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Maybe it was the young guys were thriving, maybe it was because the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, but man, that was the most satisfying victory of the season so far. Aaron Judge hit a homer to put the Yankees on the board, Luis Severino threw seven impressive innings, and heck, Greg Bird pitched in an RBI! Aroldis Chapman made it a bit scary in the ninth inning but eventually got out of it for a 3-1 Yankees victory in the Fenway Park.

The Judge and the Bird

In the second inning, Aaron Judge hit a birthday celebration home run off Rick Porcello. Starlin Castro reached on a Xander Bogaerts throwing error to begin the frame. Looked like a routine play, then the throw fell short and Mitchell Moreland couldn’t save the shortstop from an error. With a runner on first, Judge squared up an 88 mph fastball from Rick Porcello and sent it into the right field bullpen to give New York a 2-0 lead. I thought, if Judge were to hit a home run in Fenway, it would be a majestic shot going over the Green Monster, but this is good too. Drove it the opposite field (385 feet) and gave Yankees a two-run advantage. Judge also drew a walk later on in the sixth on a very, very close pitch off the outside corner. Last year’s Aaron Judge probably flailed at it haplessly but he showed some exceptional plate discipline to let it go and take a walk.

After tonight, Judge is hitting .281/.352/.672 with 7 home runs in 71 PAs. That is pretty good. He also gave Yankee fans a little scare by jumping into the stands to make a catch. It was initially ruled a foul ball but upon further review, they reversed the call. I’m just glad that his legs are okay after this:

1aj1

The other Yankee run was driven in by none other than Greg Bird. Judge advanced to second on a wild pitch after said walk in the sixth inning. Bird got a fastball on the outside and drilled it towards the Green Monster to score Judge. Prior to that at-bat, Bird was hopelessly whiffing at fastball offerings from Porcello. Pretty encouraging to see him do anything positive right now. I believe he will be alright though. Players do go through tough patches at times. Meanwhile, there was another young Yankee thriving on the other side of the ball.

Severino good

(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

This is what we all waited for from Luis Severino. The young righty, who has been teasing the Yankee fans with potential and enigmatic performances the last few years, made a very strong case to be a not only a long-term starting pitcher but also maybe the best in the rotation. Well, he has a lot of things to take care of — especially lowering the home run rate — in order to be excellent for years, but he showed tonight what he can do when everything clicks.

Per Brooks Baseball, Severino was throwing some serious heat tonight, as usual. He clocked at 99.8 mph with his fastball, which is pretty impressive given that Brooks Baseball doesn’t really go with the new velocity measuring system by MLBAM (measuring at 50 ft from home plate as opposed to 55 ft). He also generated 13 total whiffs — seven from fastball, five from slider and hey, one from changeup! I’d like to see more from his third pitch from here on.

When it comes to an eye test, Severino looked a thousand times better than he did last year. He seemed to hit the spots better, deliver them with much less doubt, went after hitters with tons of confidence in his pitches, etc. He’s had great stuff for a long time. Whatever Pedro Martinez taught him and/or he adjusted in the Spring Training has paid dividends so far. After tonight, he has a 33 strikeouts-to-4 walks ratio in 27.0 IP, which is excellent. His ERA is down to 3.00 and FIP is at 2.87.

Lastly, here’s that nasty slider…

1sev

Hold unto your butts

After Dellin Betances took care of the Red Sox hitters in order in the eighth, it was up to Chapman to get a save and finish the win for the Yankees. Something seemed a bit off with him tonight. Maybe it’s the cold weather or the four-day rest he got (or both), but he had trouble commanding his pitches from the get-go, walking Andrew Benintendi and allowing a deep double to Mookie Betts to start the frame. Uh-oh. With that, the tying run was already on the plate. Chris Young, pinch-hitting for Moreland, hit an RBI grounder to get a run in for Boston but also an out count for New York.

With a runner on third, it was Hanley Ramirez up for the Sox. Ramirez isn’t off to a good start but you always worry about him because he has good pop in the bat, especially with the Green Monster favoring his HR chances. Chapman, again, ended up walking him to make it runners on corners. Thankfully, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out swinging on a bad slider way over the strike zone and Josh Rutledge struck out on a fastball located well (possibly the best one Chapman threw all night) to end the ballgame. 3-1 Yankees. I needed a cigarette after that frame.

Box score, WPA graph and updated standings

Here’s tonight’s box score and standings thanks to ESPN and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back at it again at Fenway tomorrow. Masahiro Tanaka is up on the hill against the noted Yankee killer Chris Sale.

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


Source: FanGraphs

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

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

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

Tanaka solid, offense blasts four home runs to beat the White Sox 9-1

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

I’m still in the high from that ridiculous Aaron Judge home run. But anyways, the formula was simple for this win — good pitching and good hitting got it done. Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff but he grinded out a nice 7 IP, 1 ER outing while the offense hit four out of the park en route to a 9-1 victory.

Welcome to the gun show

Unlike last night, the Yankee bats raked from the beginning. Brett Gardner began the bottom of first with a double and Chase Headley followed it up with a casual, 426-feet two-run home run. How hot is Headley right now? Sure, that was the only hit he had tonight (bust!) but he’s hitting an unreal .396/.500/.646 in 58 PA in 2017. I don’t know when WAR gets updated on Fangraphs, but I’d imagine he’s close to the top.

While that was all for the first inning, the beat went on in the second. Aaron Judge led off with a single and Bird hit a double into left-center to make it runners on second and third. Austin Romine, who came into the game hitting .333/.414/.542, squibbed a single up to the middle to drive Judge in. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with an RBI ground out to make it 4-0 Yankees.

For the next two innings, the Yankee bats went quiet against 2010 1st round draft pick Dylan Covey. The bottom of fifth started unceremoniously as Gardner struck out and Headley grounded out to make it two quick outs. However, Matt Holliday and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles to give Starlin Castro something to work with. And boy, Castro worked it alright. He hit a three-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen to give New York at 7-1 lead.

Two pitches after Castro’s home run, Judge put a charge on a hanging breaking ball and, well, destroyed it. Just watch:

Per Baseball Savant, that home run traveled for 448 ft with an exit velocity of 115.5 mph. I wouldn’t be surprised if that actually traveled further. That distance is A-Rod territory right there. At some point in his career, Judge will probably outdo that home run, which is exciting to think about. Oh yeah, that home run put the Yankees to a 8-1 lead and Covey exited after the frame ended.

Joining the dinger party later on was Aaron Hicks. As a pinch-hitter, against the tall righty Michael Ynoa (who I vividly remember as the top 2008 IFA signee), Hicks lined one just over the short porch for a solo home run. That was as cheap as a Yankee Stadium cheapie could get but hey, I’ve said it before: you play at the Yankee Stadium, you play by Yankee Stadium rules. Hicks’ hot bat probably caught your attention as well. The man is hitting .296/.444/.778 after tonight, which is quite Giambi-in-prime-esque.

#TANAK

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Tanaka’s final line is as follows: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Looks like a pretty swell start, right? It was not as easy as the numbers suggest. He had runners in scoring position three out of those seven innings and, to the White Sox hitters’ credit, they squared up the balls well at times, especially Jose Abreu, who had three hits off Tanaka tonight (including two doubles). However, Tanaka remained cool and calm and got out of the jams mostly unscathed. The only major blemish was the RBI double allowed to Abreu in the fourth inning to score Tim Anderson, which was the only run Chicago scored tonight.

Brooks Baseball had Tanaka’s fastball velocity as usual (topping out at 93.5 instead of going up to 96-97 like we saw in past two starts) and indicated that his splitter was working tonight. He got eight whiffs out of that pitch (29.6% rate). I mean look, how can you throw it any better than he did it right here?

After tonight’s start, Tanaka’s ERA sunk from 8.36 to 6.00. Regression to normalcy! The first few starts were not ideal but he will be just fine.

Leftovers

Bryan Mitchell came in to relieve Tanaka to start the eighth inning and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. It is also his 26th birthday so, happy birthday to that guy. Tommy Layne came in the ninth with one out to get some work in and got the last two to close it out.

Tonight was one of those games where it just clicked well for the offense — each hitter in the starting lineup got a hit. I’ll take games like this any day.

Box score, WPA graph and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score and updated standings from ESPN and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have a day-off tomorrow and will travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series vs. the Pirates. New York is now 10-5 after a 9-1 homestand. Time to get the beat going on the road.

The Yankee offense gets quieted by Miguel Gonzalez in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox

After winning eight in a row, the Yankees almost got shut out by Miguel Gonzalez. They made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, but one run definitely wasn’t enough. The Yankees lost 4-1 on Tuesday to snap the eight-game winning streak. Oh well. Time to start another winning streak.

Gonzalez is not impressed with the Yankees lineup (Elsa/Getty)
Gonzalez is not impressed with the Yankees lineup (Elsa/Getty)

A series of unfortunate events

Luis Severino got off to a really good start for the first eight hitters, taking care of them on 30 pitches total with four strikeouts. The first bit of damage was done by their No. 9 hitter Leury Garcia, who squared up a 96 mph fastball and deposited it over the right-center wall. 1-0 White Sox. Look amazing against the first eight guys and get hurt by the ninth hitter, go figure.

Meanwhile, the Yankees offense was getting perfect gamed by… Miguel Gonzalez. For the first four innings, other than a loud fly out by Brett Gardner, there weren’t many ball hit with an authority. You might remember Gonzalez as an underwhelming SP for the Orioles who was actually released by them in the beginning of the 2016 season. Ever since joining the White Sox though, he added the Don Cooper specialty — cut fastball — and has served as a useful back-end rotation guy for them. Last year, he had 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 GS) and earned 2.7 fWAR.

The Yankees broke the perfecto in the fifth with a Starlin Castro infield single. And, of course, Aaron Judge followed it up with a GIDP. Gonzalez is a guy who lives off of late movement in his pitches and that seemed to absolutely befuddle the Yankee hitters tonight. In the sixth, Austin Romine led off with yet another softly-hit infield single. However, Ronald Torreyes and Pete Kozma both popped out on the first pitch and Gardner struck out to quickly end that.

Severino got into a bit of jam in the seventh. He allowed a single to Tim Anderson and Melky Cabrera reached on a Kozma error — the grounder that normally would’ve been a GIDP went through the wickets. While Jose Abreu made the matters easier by popping out on the bunt, Avisail Garcia hit a hanging breaking ball up the zone into the left field bullpen for a 4-0 Sox lead. We can play the “what if” game here — if Kozma makes that play and turns it into a double play, Severino could’ve been out of the inning unscathed. However, it’s also not a great thing to hang a breaking ball up to a hitter as hot as Avisail Garcia. Players make mistakes. It’s just unfortunate.

In the bottom seventh, Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a bunt single to get something going. However, Matt Holliday hit a grounder right on the screws to SS Tim Anderson for a quick double play. That might’ve been the hardest ball hit by the Yankees tonight and it impacted the offense quite negatively. It’s just one of those games.

Sevy

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

While the offense seemed powerless tonight, Severino brought tons of it. Tonight, he went 8 innings while walking none and striking out 10. From a guy who just turned 23, you can’t ask too much more than that. On the negative side, he did allow two homers. One of them was from Leury Garcia, who hit a decent pitch close to the outside corner. Another was from red-hot Avisail Garcia, who drilled a hanging breaking ball. That’s the kind of mistake you hope to see less from Severino.

But to be fair, Severino had his slider working well tonight. He got 8 whiffs out of it for a 22.2% rate, which is great (an average whiff rate is around 11%). He also got 8 whiffs from his fastball, which topped out at 98.8 mph per Brooks Baseball. The YES Network gun had his fastball up to 98 mph on the last pitch of the outing, which is something.

Tonight’s outing brought his season ERA up to 4.05 ERA. What I like though, is that he has 27 strikeouts and 2 walks in 20 IP. I’m curious to see how he would do against a Red Sox-caliber lineup. There are a lot of positives to take from what Sevy has shown so far in 2017. Keep him in the rotation.

The ninth inning

It seemed like Yankees were well on their to getting Maddux’d by Gonzalez in the ninth. After allowing a single to pinch-hitting Chase Headley, the righty got Chris Carter to fly out. However, after walking Brett Gardner on four pitches, the White Sox pulled Gonzalez out and put David Robertson in to close it out.

Robertson walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases, making this game a bit more interesting with the tying run coming up to the plate. However, he channeled his 2011 Houdini act to strike out Matt Holliday to get the second out. Next up was Starlin Castro, who actually managed to draw a walk to push one across to avoid a shutout for New York. Unfortunately, that was all for the Yankees, as Judge grounded out to short to end the game. 4-1 White Sox.

Box score, WP graph and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score and updated standings from ESPN and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


Wouldn’t you love to see another winning streak start? Well, the Yankees are back at it again against tomorrow at 7:05 pm EST. Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound versus Dylan Covey.

Yankees beat the Cardinals 9-3 for second straight sweep

Beautiful (Elsa/Getty)
Beautiful (Elsa/Getty)

Seven in a row and a sweep! It was a good night to don Yankees gear as the Bronx Bombers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-3 behind Michael Pineda‘s arm and excellent hitting performances all around, especially from Greg Bird (!). It’s Sunday night so let’s do it bullet point style for this gamer:

  • The big bombs: If you ask me, or most of the other Yankee fans, that Aaron Judge fly ball should’ve been a homer. From what I saw, the ball sure seemed to eek over the fence before an idiot fan Jeffrey Maier’d his own team. Interestingly enough, the umpires, upon reviewing the fly, ruled that the ball would not have cleared the fences and ordered Judge to stay at third (since he had already reached there by hustling). So many questions about that one, but Bird distracted the fans very quickly by hitting a two-seamer inside from Adam Wainwright deep into the bleachers for a two-run homer, giving Yankees a 3-1 lead. Also look who joined into the party: Aaron Hicks! Sluggin’ Hicks hit a tall fly that landed into the short porch in the bottom of fifth to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. After tonight’s game, he has a .318/.484/.773 line in 31 PAs, which is Bonds-esque. Have no idea how long this hot Hicks streak will last so I’m just going to enjoy it now.
  • The Greg Bird: Have you not heard? Bird is the word (okay, I won’t reference it ever again in the gamers). After starting the season with a 1-for-26 slump (.038 avg), Bird seemed like a totally different hitter tonight. He hit three balls on the screws for a 3-for-3 night with a walk, raising his season line to .138/.265/.310. Like many hitters have experienced, Bird was a triple away from the cycle. More importantly, after seeming helpless at the plate for the past few weeks, he hit the ball with absolute authority tonight. Here is a guy who needed a turning point this season and he may have gotten one tonight.
  • Big Mike: After that mind-blowing start vs. the Rays last week, a lot of fans seem to wonder if the good Pineda would be back tonight. Well, he had two failing moments but that was it. In the second inning, he allowed a two-out RBI single to Greg Garcia that gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead. In the seventh, against Yadier Molina, he hung a slider in the zone and the Cardinals catcher sent it into the left field seats for a solo HR. So besides the familiar dinger and two-out RBI problems, Pineda looked great. Per Brooks Baseball, he got 12 whiffs, which is good. What is noteworthy, however, is that four of those came from his changeup. Pineda has two sure pitches and the changeup has been a work in progress for a long time. If he can establish consistency as a three-pitch pitcher all the way, he could have a very nice year heading into the free agency. Tonight’s outing brought Pineda’s ERA down to 3.44 and his FIP/xFIP are at 2.72 and 1.99 respectively. Pretty good.
  • A barrage of runs: With a 4-2 lead into the bottom of eighth, and Dellin Betances having pitched a scoreless frame, it seemed like the Yankees were going to go with the Aroldis Chapman = closer equation for the ninth. However, that was interrupted by the five-run outburst by the offense. The Yankees got the bases loaded against Michael Socolovich (two walks and a single) and Austin Romine brought two of them in with a double, extending the lead to 6-2. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with a 2-RBI ground rule double to make it 8-2. Bottom of the lineup getting it done! Two batters later, Hicks hit a sac fly to drive in Torreyes. Bryan Mitchell allowed a run in one inning of work before closing out the game to make it 9-3, the final score.
  • Box score, WP graph and standings: Head over to ESPN for box score and standings and Fangraphs for WPA graph.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will next host the Chicago White Sox for a three-game series before they head to a six-game road trip. Jordan Montgomery and Derek Holland will be on the mound Monday. Enjoy the feeling of this seven-game winning streak until then.

Yankees top the Cardinals 4-3 for a five-game winning streak

Five straight wins! How about that? It seems like forever ago when the Yankees were 1-4 and many were prematurely calling for a lost year. While the young hitters were quiet tonight, the veteran bats stepped up to score runs and the bullpen stopped the Cardinals bats to preserve the first victory for Masahiro Tanaka this season.

You get two, we take three

Tanaka didn’t ease fans with his performance from the get-go. In the first inning, he allowed a 2-run homer to Matt Carpenter into the bleachers on a 94.5 mph fastball. Tanaka was supposed to locate it in the outside corner but he missed it all the way across to the inside corner. Maybe a little rust from an extra day’s rest? Anyways, after a shaky start, Tanaka later went on to have a solid outing.

Yankees got two right back in the bottom of that frame. After Brett Gardner got on base with a leadoff walk, Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer just above the right field fence. The Yankees added another run in the second with an Austin Romine (!) dinger to the right. Neither of the homers were hit all that far (385 ft from Castro and 364 ft from Romine) but hey, you play in Yankee Stadium, you play with the Yankee Stadium dimensions.

Tanaka Solid

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

After the two-run first, Tanaka went into a vintage groove. From the second to sixth inning, he was in absolute control, throwing five innings and allowing only one hit, a walk and striking out four. We saw Tanaka missing spots and unnecessarily overthrowing to get out of jams last time out. But during that five-inning stretch, he was in command, mixing pitches well, and flustering Cardinals hitters with his usual craft.

However, he left the game on a very tough spot. With 4-2 lead in the top of seventh, Tanaka gave up a run by allowing a double to Randal Grichuk with runners on first and second. As a result,Joe  Girardi replaced him with Tyler Clippard with runners on second and third with only one out. Fortunately for the Yankees, Clippard induced a shallow fly (not enough to score the runner from third) and a heart-attack inducing big flyout to Dustin Fowler to get out of the inning. Had Fowler pulled it a smidge more, we could be talking about a whole ‘nother ballgame. Whew.

Anyways, a start like this is definitely encouraging for a staff ace who struggled the first two appearances of the season. Tanaka’s offspeed pitches were definitely working today. Per Brooks Baseball, he got 3 whiffs from his fastball/sinker, another 3 from his slider and 6 from his splitter. After tonight’s outing, his ERA dropped to 8.36. Not the number you’d expect to see from your no. 1 starter but it’s a long season — he’ll be just fine.

Holding the lead (thankfully)

Set the Clipparbot to
Set the Clippardbot to “Joy” and “Relief” (Elsa/Getty)

New York extended the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of fifth thanks to a Cardinals defensive gaffe. Jacoby Ellsbury reached with a single and Chase Headley followed it up with a double to right. It seemed like Ellsbury was going to stop and stay put on the third base, but Kolten Wong’s throw to home went a bit off-line and went past Yadier Molina. Ellsbury saw it right away and sprinted home to score. Whoops. I’ll take it though. That run ended up being pretty big for the Yankees later on the game.

I talked about how Clippard just got out of the seventh inning jam he inherited, right? At the time, with the score at 4-3, I thought Girardi would bring in Dellin Betances to try to get strikeouts but Clippard is a good punchout pitcher in his own rights (10.29 K/9 IP last year, 12.46 prior to tonight). He struck out neither of the batters he faced but he got the job done.

Betances had an easier outing tonight than he did yesterday. He struck out the side while giving up a walk to Stephen Piscotty, which turned out to be harmless. Aroldis Chapman, however, pitching in his third consecutive game, had a hell of a time trying to get that save. After getting the first two outs easily (Molina strikeout, Jhonny Peralta fly out to right), he walked Grichuk after a full-count battle.

The Cardinals sent out pinch-hitter Jose Martinez for Kolten Wong’s spot. With one strike to go to end the game, Chapman threw a fastball inside that Martinez somehow squared up for a double to the left. Because Gardner played it well off the wall, the Cardinals held the runner up at third. If Martinez hit it towards the right field, St. Louis might have tied the game up. Instead, there were runners on second and third with two outs and Dexter Fowler came up to hit. Thankfully for the Yankees, Chapman induced a ground out to second to end the game. That made fans nervous for a bit but the Yankees won 4-3.

Also, note, I doubt Yankees will bring out Chapman tomorrow if they get into another save situation. Just a hunch.

Miscellaneous

Starlin Castro had a 2-for-4 night at the plate, raising his season batting line to .350/.366/.525. Totally sustainable, right? Probably not (but what do I know) but it’s good to see a guy like him getting some solid hits while the kids are struggling. Speaking of veteran bats, Ellsbury and Headley combined for a 4-for-7 night out of the no. 4 and 5 spots. Ellsbury hitting cleanup was a bit odd but hey, he got the job done tonight. It’ll also be a nice trivia someday.

Box score, WPA graph, standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have a 1:05 pm EST matinee game tomorrow for the game two of the Cardinals series. CC Sabathia is gonna go up against one of the league’s finest young aces Carlos Martinez. Have a good Friday night, y’all.

Aaron Judge shines, Montgomery impresses in 8-4 Yankees win over the Rays

This was a day game with a lot of action. We saw a rookie make his MLB debut, the Yankees scoring in bunches to come back from a 3-0 deficit, a scary collision and, well, New York coming up victorious in the end. With today’s win, New York already clinched the home opening series versus Tampa and improved to a 4-4 record.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The debut

Jordan Montgomery’s first big league inning was a whirlwind. He struck out the first two hitters on eight pitches. He then walked Evan Longoria after getting ahead in the count 0-2 allowed a two-run homer to Rickie Weeks. Montgomery threw a fastball right down the middle and those tend to get crushed in the bigs. Welp, welcome to the big leagues, kid. He didn’t let that get to his head too much though.

After that frame, Montgomery turned in a solid outing: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB sounds pedestrian, but 7 strikeouts stand out, and so do 17 whiffs. Sure, the Rays lineup doesn’t scare too many people, but for a rookie making the first ever ML start, that’s pretty solid.

Neither broadcast had a radar gun most of the game due to technical difficulties, but according to Brooks Baseball, Montgomery topped out at 93.4 mph with his four-seamer. What is more impressive though, is the pitch’s average vertical movement of 11.92, which means that he has a nice “rise” to his fastball, as David Cone mentioned several times during the YES broadcast. It is physically impossible for fastball to actually “rise” during flight but it can stay on higher plane and confound hitter’s eye levels. FanGraphs has the average vertical movement for lefties at 9.4, for reference. Also, Montgomery generally did a good job at staying away from the meat of the plate with his command.

From Baseball Savant
From Baseball Savant

He was able to locate a lot of the pitches on the bottom part of the zone (or lower). Maybe a few hittable ones up the zone but it would be strange not to see that from a guy making his first MLB start, with adrenaline, etc.

There aren’t a lot of guys like Montgomery in the bigs – a tall lefty with very high arm slot that can throw any pitch at any count. He has definitely earned a more long-term trial in the Yankee rotation with today’s start. I think, if the ML coaching can add some jazz to his secondaries, he can become a more dominant starting LHP long-term. That’s just my outlook though.

Runs! 

After being shut out by Blake Snell for the first four innings, the Yankees had a big offensive chance in the fifth. Chase Headley singled and Aaron Judge followed it up with a walk. Kyle Higashioka hit a grounder that Tim Beckham couldn’t handle and bases were juiced for Pete Kozma. It seemed like the Yankees were going to waste an opportunity though – Kozma struck out and Jacoby Ellsbury popped out on the first pitch. Thankfully, Aaron Hicks worked a full-count walk to push in Headley to make it a 3-1 game.

Rays manager Kevin Cash brought in Jumbo Diaz to face Matt Holliday. Diaz uncorked a slider that Derek Norris couldn’t block and let it slip in between his legs, scoring Judge. 3-2 Rays. With bases loaded — after Holliday’s walk — and a righty pitcher up, Joe Girardi stuck with Chris Carter, who ended up popping out to end the threat. Should be noted that Greg Bird was available off the bench, but I guess Girardi felt more comfortable sticking with Carter there.

In the sixth, with Diaz still on mound, Starlin Castro and Headley both singled to get on base. Judge followed it up with a 116.5 mph rocket up the middle to tie it up, 3-3. Higashioka’s bunt ended up being a force out at second base, putting the Yanks in a one-out, runners in corners chance. Girardi opted to pinch-hit Kozma with Brett Gardner and the Rays put in LHP Xavier Cedeno to counter.

Be well, Brett (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Be well, Brett (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Gardner hit a comeback grounder to Cedeno but the lefty’s throw to first got Weeks to handle it on the baseline. Weeks, who hadn’t played much first base, got on Gardner’s way and they both collided very, very brutally. It was a scary sight. While the go-ahead run scored for New York on the play, both Gardner and Weeks were taken out of the game. Hope they are both alright. You hate to see injuries like that. Gardner’s injuries were described as a “bruised jaw and strained neck.” Yikes. Get well soon, Brett.

On a much more positive note, the Yankees managed to score more in that frame. Ellsbury singled to center to score Higashioka and Hicks’ RBI ground drove in Ronald Torreyes, who replaced Gardner. New York came away with a 6-3 lead out the bottom of sixth.

They weren’t done scoring though. In the bottom of seventh, the Rays had Erasmo Ramirez up on the mound. With two outs and Carter on first, Ramirez served up a two-seamer on the inside part of the plate to Aaron Judge. Judge, with his huge power, drove the baseball into Monument Park for a two-run homer (435 feet, to be exact). It didn’t look like Judge got all of the pitch either — he didn’t get his arms extended and looked maybe a little bit jammed. Nonetheless, he made a solid contact off the bat and the ball just simply traveled far enough and a bit more. After today’s game, Judge is hitting .308/.379/.692 in 29 PA’s. That’s a reason to be excited!

Miscellaneous

All Rise (Al Bello/Getty Images)
All Rise (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The bullpen turned in another solid outing today. Bryan Mitchell, one of the starter candidates from the ST, relieved Montgomery and recorded four outs. After Mitchell, Tyler Clippard tossed a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. It looked like Yankees would go with Betances in the 8th but Judge’s homer bumped their lead for five runs, which prompted Girardi to put in Tommy Layne instead. Layne allowed a run in an inning’s work, which shaved Yankees’ lead to 8-4. Well, that’s how the score remained for good. Jonathan Holder came in to pitch the ninth but allowed two baserunners while getting an out, making it a save situation for Aroldis Chapman. Chapman got the remaining two outs to earn the first save of the season, and that’s all she wrote.

While the top of the lineup was a bit quiet today (combined 2-for-16 from Ellsbury, Hicks, Holliday and Carter), the no. 5 to 7 hitters – Castro, Headley and judge – played catalyst to Yankees’ comeback today. They combined for 6-for-11 day with three RBI’s (all coming from Judge, by the way).

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Here’s box score and standings rrom ESPN and WPA graph from FanGraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will play a 7:05 pm EST game tomorrow for a series finale versus the Rays. Luis Severino will make his second start of the year versus Matt Andriese. If you want to check out the game, RAB Tickets got you.