Offense no-shows as Yankees fall 8-1 to the Rangers

The recent free fall continues. A lifeless offense and (more) bad bullpening sent the Yankees to an 8-1 loss to the Rangers on Saturday afternoon. The Yankees have lost nine of their last eleven games and are 10-12 in June overall despite outscoring their opponents by 40 (!) runs. The Orioles are good for the ol’ run differential.

This is a happy picture. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
This is a happy picture. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Amazing, Disappearing Offense
The Yankees have now scored three runs in their last 26 offensive innings, dating back to Aaron Judge‘s monster three-run home run against the Angels on Thursday night. They scored one run Saturday afternoon. A Judge home run, of course. He cranked a solo home run into the left field seats in the sixth inning. Austin Bibens-Dirkx caught a little too much of the plate with a 91 mph heater.

Three problems. One, the Yankees were already down 3-0 when Judge homered. Two, no one was on base when Judge homered. And three, the Yankees only had two other baserunners make it as far as second base in the game. Mason Williams walked and stole second in the first inning, then singled and stole second in the third inning. No runner made it as far as third base aside from the Judge dinger. Five hits and one walk on the afternoon. That’s all.

Bibens-Dirkx, a 32-year-old rookie who has spent multiple years in independent ball, deserves all the praise he’ll receive for this game and he should enjoy the hell out of his performance (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and this day. Good for him. The Yankees have been pretty crummy at the plate though. Have been for a few days now. A sampling of the ongoing slumps:

  • Aaron Hicks: 0-for-4 on Saturday and 2-for-18 (.111) since coming back from the Achilles issue.
  • Matt Holliday: 0-for-4 on Saturday and 5-for-36 (.139) in his last eleven games.
  • Starlin Castro: 1-for-4 on Saturday and 5-for-28 (.179) in his last seven games.
  • Didi Gregorius: 1-for-3 on Saturday and 5-for-27 (.185) in his last seven games.

Hmmm. That’s not good. This is baseball and players slump during the long season. It happens. It just bites when half the lineup slumps at the same time.

The Yankees went through an offensive slump a few weeks back — they scored 26 runs in a nine-game span at one point last month — and they snapped out of that. They’ll snap out of this eventually because no, those guys are not true talent .100-something hitters. Hopefully it happens soon. No disrespect to Bibens-Dirkx, but not getting a runner to third base against him is awful.

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

Five & Fly
On most days, getting five innings and three runs from your sixth starter would be an okay outcome. Just not Saturday given the way the Yankees have been swinging the bats of late. Luis Cessa gave up a first inning run in maybe the most annoying way possible. The first four batters of the game:

  • Delino DeShields Jr.: 0-2 to a walk (DeShields then stole second)
  • Shin-Soo Choo: Four-pitch strikeout
  • Elvis Andrus: 0-2 RBI single on a pitch out of the zone (strike zone plot)
  • Adrian Beltre: 0-2 to a 1-2 count to a broken bat single to center

Cessa jumped ahead in the count 0-2 to three of the first four batters, and all three reached base. The leadoff walk was easily the biggest mistake of the inning. Andrus tomahawked a high fastball to right and Cessa broke Beltre’s bat. What can you do? Cessa struck out Rougned Odor on three pitches and Carlos Gomez on six pitches to strand runners on the corners and limit the damage to one run.

After that, Cessa settled into a little groove and retired the side in order in both the second and third innings. Seven of his first eight outs were strikeouts. He ran into trouble again in the fourth, when he issued a leadoff walk to Mike Napoli and the defense couldn’t complete the line drive double play. Starlin Castro caught the ball, double-clutched, and the throw clanked off Tyler Austin‘s glove at first.

Naturally, the next batter hit a two-run home run. Cessa left a two-strike slider up enough to Gomez, who pounded it into the left field seats. Sigh. Cessa pitched around a leadoff hit batsman (Pete Kozma!) in the fifth before hitting the showers. Three runs on three hits and two walks in five innings, plus a career high eight strikeouts. Normally a winnable game from the sixth starter. Normally.

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

The Bullpen Of Our Discontent
The bullpen allowed the Rangers to tack on five runs in the late innings and it was the usual suspects: Jonathan Holder and Tyler Clippard. Holder’s sixth inning went double off the wall, fly out to the right field warning track, strikeout, fly out to the left field warning track. Seems good. The first batter he faced in the seventh, Robinson Chirinos, hit a homer. So four of the first five men he faced hit the ball to at least to the warning track.

A 4-1 deficit is a good time to try to iron out Clippard’s issues, apparently. Three-run lead in the ninth inning? This situation is so important I have to literally save my best reliever in case it arises. Three-run deficit in the ninth inning? Oh well, the chances of a comeback are so small that I might as well give my struggling reliever some work. The wonders of modern bullpen usage. Chess, not checkers, people.

Clippard allowed four runs on three hits and two walks. Loud hits too. They didn’t dink and dunk him that inning. Clippard needed 36 pitches to get three outs and looked just terrible. No life on his fastball and his changeup might as well be a batting practice fastball. He’s allowed eleven runs and 14 baserunners in his last 3.2 innings. Holder has allowed ten runs and 20 baserunners (including five homers!) in his last 14 innings. He’s lucky Clippard is around to deflect attention. Bad bullpen is bad.

Leftovers
Welcome back to the big leagues, Tyler Austin. He went 0-for-3 with a three-pitch strikeout, a six-pitch strikeout, and a first pitch double play. He also couldn’t make the catch on the potential line drive double play in the fifth, though, to be fair, it was not an easy play. Still, Chris Carter would have been raked the coals for that.

Welcome to the big leagues, Tyler Webb. He made his MLB debut between Holder and Clippard and retired the left-handed hitting Choo. He also tossed a perfect eighth inning as well. I’m pretty sure that makes Webb the third best reliever in the bullpen now.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Old Timers’ Day! The Yankees will hold their annual celebration of the team’s history Sunday afternoon. The ceremony starts at 11:30am ET. The series finale against the Rangers will then begin at 2pm ET. Michael Pineda and Nick Martinez are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch Old Timers’ Day, or boo the offense and bullpen.

Toe to the rescue! Tanaka tosses gem and Yankees walk-off with 2-1 win over Rangers

Boy did the Yankees need a win like that. I think we all did after these last 12 days. The Yankees turned the clock back to April and used good pitching, timely hitting, and (occasionally) good defense to earn a hard-fought 2-1 walk-off win over the Rangers on Friday night. They needed ten innings.

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Master ‘Hiro
As bad as Masahiro Tanaka has been overall this season, there have been some flashes of brilliance, and we saw one Friday night. Eight shutout innings, three soft singles (one didn’t leave the infield), two walks, and nine strikeouts against a Rangers lineup that is more than capable of hitting the ball out of ballpark. At one point Tanaka retired 16 consecutive batters.

This start was not about Tanaka getting away with mistakes and lucking out when some balls were hit right at defenders. His defense definitely helped out — Ronald Torreyes made two very good plays at third base, including one to start an inning-ending double play in the second, and Didi Gregorius made a great play up the middle as well — but Tanaka was razor sharp. Best splitter and slider and he’s had in a while. Here are his pitch locations:

masahiro-tanaka-pitch-locationsNot many middle-middle pitches at all. You can count them on one hand. Tanaka stayed on the edges and down in the zone, something he’s struggled to do most of the season, mostly because neither his slider nor his splitter have had the same movement as last season.

Also, Tanaka elevated his fastball for strikeouts several times Friday night. Those green and red dots at the top of the strike zone were not mistakes. Gary Sanchez called for the high fastball with two strikes several times and Tanaka executed. (Most of the time.) We haven’t seen him elevate fastballs all that much over the years. I wonder if this is a new trick or just something they saw in the Texas scouting report.

We’ve seen Good Tanaka a few times this season. He had the shutout in Boston and the 13-strikeout game against the Athletics, plus he was pretty good two starts ago in Anaheim, but he’s been unable to get on any kind of roll. Hopefully this is the start of something big. Given his season to date, I need to see more before declaring Tanaka #cured. Still though, what a night. This man is something else when he’s on.

No Runs For Yu
Unfortunately, Yu Darvish was on top of his game as well. This was the first time Tanaka and Darvish had ever faced each other in MLB — they had four head-to-head matchups in Japan — and it lived up to the hype. Did it ever. Darvish carved the Yankees up with mid-90s fastballs and wicked mid-80s sliders and silly low-70s curveballs. He even threw Aaron Judge a 65 mph curveball at one point. He was better than Tanaka, really.

The Yankees did get a runner to second base in the first inning — Brett Gardner singled and stole second — but their only other baserunner against Darvish was Sanchez’s one-out single in the fifth inning. He was immediately erased on a double play. That was it. Two baserunners, both singles to center, in seven innings against Darvish. He struck out ten and threw only 88 pitches, and after the game manager Jeff Banister said he removed Darvish as a precaution because he felt “tightness.” Can’t really blame the offense for doing nothing in those seven innings. Darvish was lights out.

Yardy. (Adam Hunger/Getty)
Yardy. (Adam Hunger/Getty)

Battle of the Bullpens
Lately anything that involves the bullpen has been bad news for the Yankees, no matter who’s on the mound. Aroldis Chapman took over in the ninth inning and put the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out with a single (Elvis Andrus) and a hit batsman (Nomar Mazara). Chapman plunked Mazara in a 1-2 count. Two-strike hit-by-pitches are the worst.

The Mazara hit-by-pitch pushed Andrus to second base and he then stole third, which is pretty gutsy. Not many players would attempt that in that spot. Not with one out. Sanchez’s throw was high and wide and Torreyes did a great job lunging to make the catch and stop the ball from going into the outfield. He saved a run. Only temporarily, unfortunately. Chapman struck out Adrian Beltre with a 101.3 mph fastball in the dirt Sanchez couldn’t block.

aroldis-chapman-gary-sanchez-adrian-beltre

Yes, Sanchez has to block that. No, a 101.3 mph fastball in the dirt isn’t an easy pitch to the block, especially when you called for and were expecting the pitch on the outside corner. But still, Gary’s gotta get his body in front of that one. Andrus scooted home to break the scoreless tie. The steal of third base was pretty huge. Chapman got Rougned Odor to ground out to limit the damage to one.

Given the way things have been going lately, it was easy to think the game was over at that point. The offense went to sleep after the Judge home run Thursday night and Darvish shut them down for seven innings Friday night. Matt Bush is pretty darn good too. Fortunately he caught a little too much of the plate with a 2-1 fastball to Gardner, who yanked it into the short porch for a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. No. 14 of the season for Gardner. How about that?

The Gardner blast gave us what we all wanted to see: more bullpen! Woof. Chad Green and Chasen Shreve (and Gregorius) conspired to load the bases in the top of the tenth without allowing a hit. Gregorius made an error on Carlos Gomez’s soft line drive — it took a short hop right in front of Didi, but still, a Major League shortstop should make that play — to give the Rangers a leadoff baserunner. The next four batters:

  • Jonathan Lucroy grounds out to third on first pitch (no chance at a double play)
  • Mike Napoli walks on eight pitches (Shreve then replaces Green)
  • Joey Gallo strikes out on six pitches
  • Shin-Soo Choo walks on five pitches

Including the Gomez at-bat, that’s 24 pitches to load the bases with two outs. And, naturally, Shreve fell behind in the count 3-1 to Andrus with the bases full. Not ideal! He tried to get him to fish for splitters, but Andrus wasn’t having it. He took the fastball down the middle for the 3-2 count — it was a good pitch to hit, but I don’t blame Andrus for taking here — fouled off the next fastball down the middle, then popped up the third to shallow right field. Inning over. Ex-friggin-hale. A scoreless inning felt like a miracle given the recent bullpen issues.

Joltin’ Toe
The game-winning rally in the bottom of the tenth was made possible by three of my favorite Yankees. Sanchez got it started with a one-out single back up the middle, then Gregorius set it all up with a big single to right-center field, allowing Sanchez to chug all the way to third. A fly ball wins it! And of course Chris Carter was due up, and of course he struck out. At least he had the decency to do it on four pitches rather than the minimum three.

Suddenly, the rally was on life support. Two outs, runners on the corners, Torreyes up against Bush, who was still pumping upper-90s heaters and nasty breaking balls. Bush left one of those upper-90s fastballs out over the plate and Toe slapped it back up the middle for the walk-off single. Beautiful little piece of hitting. Right back up the box. Torreyes knew he’d won the game right away:

ronald-torreyes

Smart move by Carter striking out rather than hitting into a double play, eh? The Yankees really need a new first baseman. Like yesterday. Anyway, Sanchez to Gregorius to Torreyes gave the Yankees a much-needed feel-good win. The last week and a half as been pretty terrible. Suddenly now everything feels like it’ll be a-okay.

Leftovers
Somehow the Yankees finished the night with seven hits despite getting only two in seven innings against Darvish. They sent ten men to the plate against Bush and five got hits. Five! Didn’t see that coming. Gardner and Sanchez each had two hits. Judge, Gregorius, and Torreyes had one each. No walks and 14 strikeouts, mostly because Darvish was so ridiculous.

Chapman, Green, and Shreve combined: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP. I guess that qualifies as a good bullpen day these days? Chapman really labored. He threw 28 pitches and got only two swings and misses. His velocity was there though. He topped out at 102.2 mph. After the shoulder issue, I can’t help but keep on eye on the radar gun.

And finally, the no shutout streak remains alive! It was in serious jeopardy there. The Yankees and Nationals are the only teams in baseball yet to be shut out this season. I love it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and updated standings are at ESPN and the video highlights are at MLB.com. Check out our Bullpen Workload page too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The second game of this three-game series, assuming the rain holds off Saturday afternoon, which it looks like it will. Luis Cessa and Austin Bibens-Dirkx are the totally not made up scheduled starting pitchers. There are two games left on the homestand and RAB Tickets can get you into Yankee Stadium for both of them.

Yankees melt down late to lose 10-5 to the Angels

The Yankees only won 2 out of 6 against the Mike Trout-less Angels team this season, which is not good! They lost 8 of the last 9, which is also not good. Because the Red Sox aren’t playing tonight, the Yankees still stay in the first place (albeit tied), which just seems like a miracle. They had a 5-1 lead tonight that evaporated away for a 10-5 loss. Gross.

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

Taking the lead

Things did not start great for the Yankees. Cameron Maybin drove the second pitch of the game over the left field fence for a home run. But don’t worry, the Yankee bats are in town! They tied it up on the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked, and Starlin Castro singled to drive a run in to make it 1-1.

The Yankees blew it open (or so it seemed) in the second with four runs. With one out, Chris Carter doubled to get on base. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with a line drive that hit Jesse Chavez on the hip and became a single. Ouch. That seemed painful for Chavez but thankfully, he was able to stay in the game. Brett Gardner drove Carter in with a force out at second and Aaron Hicks extended the inning with a single to make it runners on corners.

Aaron Judge, being the Aaron Judge he is, did what he does the best – working the count and hitting big home runs. On a 3-2 count, Judge got a 90 mph fastball down the middle and drove it into the Monument Park to make it 5-1 Yankees. It was his 25th of the year. A big lead early in the game! With your best starter out there, it would be a walk in the park for the Yankees for the rest of the game, right? Nope. That’s why you gotta play it out.

The Angels got two right back in the top of the third. The Angels got two baserunners on with a Cliff Pennington single and Maybin walk. Kole Calhoun grounded into a force out at second to make it two outs with runners on the corners. Albert Pujols got a hold of Severino’s slider for an RBI single to right field. Yunel Escobar followed it up with another RBI single to make it 5-3 Yankees. Ho-hum, a two run lead. It was still early in the game and you could bank on the Yankee bats on scoring more runs (they didn’t). Halos got another run in the sixth with an Escobar double and a Luis Valbuena RBI single. Heading into the seventh, Yankees had a 5-4 lead…

The meltdown

Top of the seventh, with Severino on the mound, the plan seemed clear: let him have one more inning, then have Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman take care of the last two, right? That is how it should have went, but the Angels had different ideas. Pennington singled to lead off the inning. Maybin followed it up with a grounder to second… that subtly changed its course right before Castro was about to catch it. As a result, the ball went past Castro as he stumbled for an error. Oof. That should have been an easy double play. To be fair, the ball did have a really funky hop and not a lot of infielders would have made such last-split-second adjustment to field it successfully. Anyways, that made it runners on corners with no out. Joe Girardi went to Chasen Shreve and that was it for Severino tonight.

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

The Angels tied the game up with a Calhoun sac fly to center. Girardi then played mix-and-match by putting in Betances to face Pujols. During the at-bat, Maybin attempted to steal second and Gary Sanchez’s throw sailed way over Castro and allowed Maybe  to advance to third. Yeesh. Some sloppy baseball going on right here. Anyways, Pujols singled off Betances’ 99 mph fastball to make it 6-5 Angels. The next hitter, Yunel Escobar, walked to make it runners on first and second. With Valbuena batting, Betances unleashed a wild pitch way over and outside to put both runners on scoring position. One batter later, Andrelton Simmons jumped on the first pitch for a two-RBI double, making it 8-5 Angels. Welp. Betances had allowed only 9 hits this whole season prior to this game. He allowed two tonight. The Simmons double was also the first XBH he’s allowed all year. It was that kind of night.

The Angels tacked on two in the eighth against Domingo German. It involved even more sloppy baseball. With one out, Pennington doubled and a wild pitch advanced him to third. Maybin walked to make it runners on corners. During Calhoun’s at-bat, German made a pickoff attempt to first but the errant throw got past Carter, scoring Pennington and advancing Maybin to third. Calhoun followed it up with a sac fly to make it 10-5 Angels. The score remained this way for good. Definitely not the pinnacle of the Yankees season.

Leftovers

Chris Carter probably had the quietest 2-for-4 game that I can remember in awhile. He had that double to start the second-inning rally. Sure, the bats scored five but from the third inning till end, they only managed three baserunners. With the rotation and bullpen not performing to their strength lately, the team needs as much runs as possible.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


New series tomorrow. The Rangers are in town and we have a Japanese pitching matchup – Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound against Yu Darvish.

A win! Yanks break the game open late in 8-4 win over Angels

Finally. The seven-game losing streak is over. This one was a nail-biter for five-and-a-half innings before the Yankees pulled away in the late innings. The final score was 8-4. A new winning streak has begun.

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

Montgomery’s One Mistake
Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco came into this game tied with Masahiro Tanaka for the MLB lead in home runs allowed (sob sob), and the Yankees wasted no time taking him out of the park. Gary Sanchez singled and Didi Gregorius hooked a hanging first pitch curveball into the second deck in right field for a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning. Nolasco throws a lot of first pitch curveballs and it look like Didi sat on it.

Given the way things have been going, it was easy to think Jordan Montgomery was going to have to make those two runs stand up, and the hand the ball directly to Dellin Betances. Montgomery pulled his Andy Pettitte act in the first (leadoff walk), second (one-out double), and third (leadoff single) innings, though he couldn’t escape the jam in the fourth. An Andrelton Simmons single, a balk, and a Martin Maldonado two-run homer knotted things up. The home run came on a hanging slider that spun right into Maldonado’s bat. ‘Twas bad.

After the home run, Montgomery kinda sorta settled down and retired six of the final eight batters he faced. His night ended when Simmons pulled a little ground ball single under Gregorius’ glove. Didi probably should have knocked it down, but with his momentum going toward third base and Simmons running, I don’t think he would have gotten the out at first anyway. Chad Green came in to escape that jam and preserve the 3-2 lead.

All told, Montgomery finished the night with those two runs allowed on five hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. He threw 97 pitches and struck out five. The hanging slider to Maldonado was, rather easily, his worst pitch of the night. He pitched pretty well aside from that. A lot of routine fly balls and ground outs. Typical Montgomery start, basically. Kid is boringly reliable.

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

A Lead!
For all the attention the bullpen has received for the blown leads, the offense hasn’t been tearing the cover off the ball either the last two or three games. The Yankees took a 3-2 lead on Matt Holliday‘s two-out opposite field home run in the fifth inning. It came immediately after a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Hate that. Seems like the Yankees were trying too hard to make something happen. Sending the runner (Aaron Hicks) with a high strikeout hitter (Aaron Judge) at the plate? Gah.

Anyway, Holliday hit the homer, and the game went to the sixth inning. Montgomery got two quick outs, gave up the grounder single to Simmons, then gave way to Green. Green got the four biggest outs of the game. He struck out Maldonado to strand Simmons to end the sixth, then got all three outs in the seventh as well. Getting the ball from the starter to Betances has been a problem of late. Green was asked to do it Wednesday night and he did it well. Nice work, Chad.

Of course, the Yankees did score three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, so that helped. Austin Romine doubled in two runs after a Sanchez single and a Chase Headley walk. Romine’s first at-bat: single served to right. Romine’s second at-bat: single served to right. Romine’s third at-bat: rocket double pulled into the left-center field gap. Nice night for the backup backstop. A Hicks infield single scored the third run of the sixth inning for a 6-2 lead.

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

The Late Innings
Thankfully, the offense did not stop there. And, thankfully, Joe Girardi did not not use Betances. In fact, he had Betances warming in the bottom of the sixth. I’m pretty sure Dellin would have come in for the seventh and eighth had the Yankees not tacked on runs to turn that 3-2 lead into a 6-2 lead. Anyway, a Holliday double and a Starlin Castro single scored a run in the seventh, and Headley got in another run with a two-out single against the shift. The Yankees have done that an awful lot this year, tack on runs in the late innings. I love it.

Betances, who warmed up to Shook Ones, came on for the eighth and looked well-rested. Fourteen pitches, two strikeouts, and a weak ground ball to short. Vintage Dellin. He was sharp. You always kinda have to worry about his command disappearing after a long layoff. His command was there in this one. In the ninth, Girardi went to Tyler Clippard with an 8-2 lead in an effort to get him straightened out. A double and a homer later, he was out of the game. Clippard’s six batters faced the two nights:

Home run
Double off the wall
Fly ball to the warning track
Triple off the wall
Double
Home run

Not great, Bob. Clippard was booed throughout his appearance and Girardi gave him a long talking to on the mound when he was pulled. Not scolding him or anything like that. It’s almost like he was talking him down from the ledge. Clippard’s confidence is shot. You can see it in his face. Aroldis Chapman came in and got the final three outs without incident. He looks like himself. Throwing free and easy. Not like before the shoulder injury.

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

Leftovers
The 6-7-8-9 spots in the lineup: 7-for-14 with a double and two walks. Those four batters combined to drive in five of the team’s eight runs. Romine led the charge with his three hits. Sanchez had two hits and Headley had a hit and two walks. The 1-2-3-4-5 hitters went 5-for-20 with three walks. The Yankees went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Clippard allowed both batters he faced to reach base and was charged with two runs. Green, Betances, and Chapman combined to retire ten of the eleven batters they faced, with five strikeouts. Green walked a batter and that’s it. The bullpen has been pretty terrible the last week. It wasn’t in this game. Not coincidentally, the good relievers pitched. Funny how that works.

And finally, Romine’s fourth inning single was his 100th career hit. Considering his career was basically left for a dead a few years ago as guys like Sanchez and John Ryan Murphy passed him on the depth chart, getting to 100 big league hits is pretty cool. Congrats, Austin.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. For the video highlights, go to MLB.com. For our Bullpen Workload page, stay at RAB. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Angels will wrap-up this three-game set Thursday night. Luis Severino and Jesse Chavez are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark in that game.

Angels 8, Yankees 3: Losing streak reaches seven after Dellin Betances watches another bullpen meltdown

And the losing streak has hit seven. A well-deserved loss, this was. Shaky starting pitching, bad defense, not enough offense, and miserable relief pitching sent the Yankees to an 8-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night. Turns out you occasionally have to win to stay in first place. The seven-game losing streak is their first since April 2007. (They had one that spanned the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, but that doesn’t count.)

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

Pineda Settles Down
The top of the first was the baseball equivalent of having your teeth pulled. Cameron Maybin started the game by poking a double into the right field corner, then Michael Pineda went into “I’ll throw the next pitch whenever I damn well feel like it” mode. He took a looong time between pitches. The walk and run-scoring single didn’t help matters. Pineda threw 27 pitches that inning and it took about 25 minutes. No joke.

The two-run second inning started with an inexcusable error by Chris Carter. Eric Young Jr. pulled a soft grounder to first and Carter just whiffed on it. Brought his glove up too quickly. Young made it to second, then Danny Espinosa ripped a run-scoring double into the right-center field gap to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. Kole Calhoun later chipped in a two-out, two-strike single against Pineda to score a run and give the Halos a 3-0 lead.

To Pineda’s credit, he settled down quite nicely after the rough first two innings. He retired nine in a row after the Calhoun single and 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. Pineda did allow back-to-back two-out singles in the fifth and a two-out single in the sixth, but escaped. Well, Chasen Shreve escaped the sixth. He struck out Espinosa after Pineda was yanked. Can’t feel good when your manager doesn’t trust to you face Espinosa a third time.

All told, Pineda allowed three runs (only one earned thanks to Carter’s error) on seven hits and one walk in 5.2 innings. He threw 105 pitches and struck out seven. It was a grind early. Big time. The first inning was a mess and Pineda did well to escape that mess with only one run allowed. He couldn’t do the same in the second, but I guess one outta two ain’t bad. Nice work not letting this snowball into a disaster outing, Mike.

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

Fighting Spirit!
Down three runs after two innings? No problem! The Yankees stormed back to knot things up 3-3 by the sixth inning. They got on the board with a Chase Headley sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. A Starlin Castro single and a Gary Sanchez walk set that one up. Didi Gregorius lifted a fly ball deep enough to center field to get Castro to third for the sac fly.

In the fifth, Aaron Judge flicked his wrists and hit a solo home run into the right-center field seats for his team’s second run of the night. An inning later, Sanchez did the same thing. Judge’s home run was more of a high fly ball. Sanchez’s was a line drive. Two different homers, but the same result. The picket fence in innings 4-6 evened the score at three apiece. A new ballgame!

Death By Bullpen
I have to admit, I’m impressed by Joe Girardi‘s steadfast refusal to use his best reliever in high-leverage situations. No matter how many games the non-Dellin Betances relievers blow, Betances is going to pitch his inning and his inning only. Bullpen management in the year 2017. What a time to be alive.

The 3-3 tie lasted two pitches. Two pitches! Seventh inning guy Tyler Clippard came into face the top of the lineup in the seventh inning — definitely don’t want to use Betances against those guys — and he left a 78 mph nothingball out over the plate to Cameron Maybin …

tyler-clippard-cameron-maybin

… which turned the 3-3 tie into a 4-3 Angels lead. It was a homer as soon as it left Clippard’s hand. A 78 mph changeup there is a batting practice fastball. This was the third time Clippard allowed the game-tying or go-ahead home run to the first batter he’s faced (!) in his last seven appearances. Amazing. If that doesn’t knock him out of the Circle of Trust™, nothing will.

But wait! It didn’t stop there. The next batter: double off the wall. The next better: fly ball to the warning track. The next better: triple off the top of the wall. Nothing but loud contact against Clippard, which is the norm these days. Jonathan Holder, who has been sneaky crummy of late too, replaced Clippard and allowed the inherited runner to score. The final line on Clippard: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. Six runs in his last 5.2 innings.

Holder didn’t stop the bleeding. In addition to allowing Clippard’s inherited runner to score, he also allowed a run on a double, a bunt, and an infield single in the eighth. Then came the Luis Valbuena solo homer in the ninth to give the Angels an 8-3 lead. That was that. Holder threw 41 pitches in 2.2 innings. He has now allowed nine runs, including four homers, in his last 12.1 innings. That bad? That seems bad.

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

Leftovers
The bullpen was awful but let’s not excuse the offense here. Four hits against Parker Bridwell (?!?) and various relievers? Come on. The Yankees did draw five walks, so that’s good, but four hits won’t win you many games. Judge (homer), Matt Holliday (double), Castro (single), and Sanchez (homer) had the hits. The other five players in the lineup went 0-for-16.

Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup after missing three games and went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. Holliday, Sanchez, and Headley had the other walks. Austin Romine pinch-hit for Carter in the ninth inning, which seems ridiculous even as bad as Carter has been this year. No one said he’s hurt after the game though. Weird. Tonight was bad but I’m not worried about the bats. The bullpen is another matter.

And finally, the Yankees last lost seven in a row back in April 2007, as I said. That losing streak ended after Jeff Karstens had his leg broken by a comebacker, and Kei Igawa came out of the bullpen to throw six shutout innings against the Red Sox. I was at that game. No idea why I mentioned that. I guess it’s better than talking about this game.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page that you should check out. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Wednesday night, in the middle game of this three-game series. Jordan Montgomery and Ricky Nolasco are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can you in the door for that game, or any of the other four games remaining on the homestand.

Yankees drop their sixth straight and get swept by the A’s with a 4-3 loss


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees lost six (6) games in a row to cap off this miserable West Coast trip. Getting swept by the Athletics in a four-game series is a cherry on the top. Today, they drew first blood by taking a 2-0 lead, but the A’s scored four off Luis Cessa in the third and the Yankees simply could not rally. Yuck. It is easily the lowest point of the 2017 Yankees season so far. Let’s just get it out of the way with a recap done in bullet-point style.

  • Getting ahead: The Yankees got the first run of the game when Matt Holliday drilled a solo homer to lead off the top of the second. He got a fastball upstairs from Jharel Cotton and took it pretty, pretty far (433 feet) into the center field seats. They added another in the top of the third. Brett Gardner doubled to deep right to start the frame and Aaron Judge hit a soft single off the end of his bat to drive him in. 2-0 Yankees. Maybe this game was going to be different than the previous five! And, of course, the bottom of the third came.
  • Getting all of them out of the way: The Yankees gave the lead back and then more (surprise, surprise). Cessa got into a trouble after allowing a single to Josh Phegley and a double to Matt Joyce, making it runners on second and third with one out. Chad Pinder hit a double to right to drive both of them in and the Yankees lead was gone. It was an annoying sequence of pitches – Cessa kept throwing towards the outside corner and Pinder fouled a bunch off. He got a hold of a slider that didn’t break sharply and tied the game up. Two batters later, Khris Davis went deep on a fastball upstairs to make it 4-2 Athletics. I, for one, am shocked that a guy with a 4.15 ERA/4.41 FIP in the AAA this season couldn’t rescue the Yankees out of the losing streak. Anyways, that was all the Athletics needed today.
  • The attempts to rally: The Yankees got one back right after. Leading off the fourth, Didi Gregorius pulled one just inside the foul pole to make it 4-3 A’s. From the fifth to the eighth innings, however, Yankees only managed two baserunners (Gardner single in the fifth and Judge HBP in the eighth) and, of course, came up with zilch. They had a chance to tie it up in the ninth inning. With one out against Sean Doolittle, Gregorius hit a grounder to short that seemed like an easy out, but the shortstop Chad Pinder badly missed his throw and the ball went into the Yankee dugout. As a result, Didi advanced to second. However, Chase Headley followed it up with a strikeout and Chris Carter popped out to end the game rather swiftly.
  • Leftovers: After Cessa, three bullpen arms went scoreless overall to keep it a one-run game. Chad Green continues to make his case to stay in the ML roster long-term by throwing two scoreless innings while striking out two. Tyler Clippard followed it up with a scoreless one in the seventh. Aroldis Chapman made his comeback in the eighth, hitting 100 mph a several times while pitching an easy 8-pitch 1-2-3 inning. The Yankees got one of the big bullpen arms back, so they got that going for them.

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees are back in Bronx on Tuesday against the LA Angels to start a six-game homestand. Thank God that trip is over now. Hope the Astros win again tonight to keep the Yankees in the first place in the AL East. Also, hope you all have a great Father’s Day!

Tanaka’s struggles continue as the Yankees drop their fifth straight, 5-2 to A’s


Source: FanGraphs

The bullpen can’t blow a lead if the team can’t build one, am I right? Well, this loss was not as much of a tease as the past few days but still, as loss nonetheless. Masahiro Tanaka gave up 3 homers and the bats couldn’t rally against Jesse Hahn and the A’s bullpen. It’s Saturday so let’s just do it bullet-point style and get over with.

  • The enigma: Tanaka had literally a one of a kind outing – he’s become the only pitcher to strikeout 10+ hitters and allow 3+ HR in 4 IP or fewer in MLB history (thank you Katie Sharp). So good news: he’s missing bats! Bad news: the dingers. It was nearly a literal hit-or-miss start for him. He got 19 whiffs in 4 innings! That is a lot. 10 of them came from his slider and 7 from splitter. So, at times, his stuff was really working. At the same time, he gave up hittable pitches up in the zone. You’d think the solution is simple: “stop putting meatballs in the zone!” Pitching is hard. If Tanaka could command pitches low all the time, he would. Anyways, after today’s game, Tanaka has a wacky 8.92 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 2.47 HR/9 rates with a 6.34 ERA. It’s the middle of the June so not so much a small sample size thing.
  • Two runs and nothing much: The Yankee bats didn’t show as much Fighting Spirit as they did the past few days. The only runs they scored came from the second inning. With one out, Ronald Torreyes and Mason Williams hit back-to-back singles to put two runners on. Austin Romine singled to center to score Torreyes and advance Williams to third, who later scored on a Brett Gardner sac fly. Yankees took a 2-1 lead and that would be the last time they’d lead for the game. They did make Jesse Hahn throw a lot of pitches, but he’s no scrub, striking out 6 and allowing only 3 hits overall in 5 IP (105 pitches, 69 strikes). The A’s bullpen, which is not usually the team’s strong suit, shut down the Yankee lineup to the tune of 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R and 6 strikeouts. And that was the story of the Yankee offense today.
  • Domingo on a Saturday: Coming into the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees called it a day for Tanaka and put Domingo German on the mound. In his second ML appearance, German put up another scoreless outing: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K with 79 pitches. It wasn’t without any jams though. The A’s had the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings but German got out of both unscathed. He kept the A’s lead at 3 runs but today, the bats went silent against the A’s bullpen because of course.
  • Leftovers: Gary Sanchez pinch-hit in the ninth inning! He struck out swinging but the Yankees putting him up there is a pretty good sign given his injury. Hopefully it is a precursor to him making it to the starting lineups tomorrow. Torreyes was the only hitter today that had a multi-hit game (2-for-4). Gardner, Chase Headley and Aaron Judge each drew a walk but went hitless (0-for-8 collectively).

Here are today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The dreaded West Coast trip is over tomorrow. The Yankees will have Luis Cessa on the mound against Jharel Cotton. There’s more baseball on the schedule today. Hope the Astros beat the Red Sox so the Yankees still have the AL East top spot outright by the end of the day.