Massacred: Yankees fall 5-4 as Red Sox finish four-game sweep

For the first time since 1990, the Yankees have been swept in a four-game series at Fenway Park. They dropped their fifth straight game Sunday night, this one by the score of 5-4. The Yankees held at least a three-run lead in three of the four losses to the Red Sox. Completely outclassed all weekend, both the players and the manager.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
(Rich Gagnon/Getty)

Four Runs In Four Innings
On paper, the Yankees used their worst lineup of the season Sunday night. They were short several key players due to injury, which is why Ronald Torreyes was hitting second and Donovan Solano was in the lineup at all after spending the entire season with Triple-A Scranton. It didn’t look great going into the game, so, naturally, the Yankees scored four runs in the first four innings and chased Drew Pomeranz after eleven outs.

The first inning rally nearly died an unceremonious death. Brett Gardner led the game off with a double to right, but Torreyes and Gary Sanchez followed with strikeouts, meaning the stranding of Gardner was imminent. Cleanup man Billy Butler — that is definitely not something I expected to write this season — worked a two-out walk, and Didi Gregorius came through with a run-scoring single to right to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. The leadoff double wasn’t wasted.

After a 1-2-3 second inning, the Yankees scored a run in the third inning the way they seem to score most of their runs these days: Sanchez knocked the crap out of a baseball for a home run. Pomeranz gave him a first pitch heater over the plate and Gary hit it like he knew it was coming. John Sterling didn’t have time for anything more than, “It is high! … ” before the ball cleared the Green Monster for a 2-0 lead. Rocket.

The Yankees scored their next two runs in the fourth inning, when they managed to load the bases and plate two runs while hitting one (1) ball out of the infield. That was Mason Williams‘ opposite field double. It was a really nice at-bat. He fell behind a tough lefty 1-2, worked the count back full, then shot the ball into the left-center gap. Williams hustled into second base and slid in just ahead of the tag. Love it. He waited a long time to get back to the big leagues following shoulder surgery.

A Solano infield single and a Rob Refsnyder walk were sandwiched around the double to load the bases with no outs. The first run scored on Gardner’s ground ball thanks to Refsnyder’s baserunning. It was a soft grounder to second, but Refsnyder stopped and backed up before being tagged, allowing Gardner to reach first. The second run scored on a Torreyes ground ball to third. Aaron Hill fielded it and threw to second, at which point Williams took off for home and beat the throw to the plate for a 4-0 lead. Love the aggressive baserunning. Two nice slides too.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
(Rich Gagnon/Getty)

The Inexplicably Long Leash
Joe Girardi has had a very long leash with CC Sabathia this season, an undeservedly long leash, and it’s come back to bite the Yankees more times than I care to count. His numbers the third time through the order and once his pitch climbs over 75 are abysmal. Girardi again ignored both trends Sunday and it predictably cost the Yankees yet another multi-run lead. They blew a few of those this series.

Sabathia battled through four scoreless innings and had a 4-0 lead to start the fifth inning, a fifth inning that began when third string catcher Bryan Holaday smashed a near home run off the wall in center field. It was close enough to a homer that a fan reached over and the play had to be reviewed. After walking Xander Bogaerts on five pitches with one out, Sabathia very nearly escaped the inning on a Mookie Betts line drive.

The line drive found Sabathia — he threw his glove up and caught it, all luck — and he tossed to first to double off the runner, but the throw was a little wide of the bag and the human-sized big toe the Yankees started at first base couldn’t reel it in. It was not a good throw to first at all, but I feel like most non-Butler first baseman make the catch and at least stop it from going into foul territory and allowing the runners to advance. Alas.

As expected, the error came back to bite the Yankees. Sabathia was facing the molten hot Hanley Ramirez a third time and his pitch count was approaching the century mark. After falling behind Hanley in the count 3-1, Sabathia missed a little out over the plate with a slider and Ramirez Sanchez’d it over the Monster for a three-run home run. The Betts line drive was nearly an inning-ending double play that would have given the Yankees a 4-0 lead after five. Instead, it was 4-3.

But wait! Sabathia was not done. With his pitch counting sitting at 101, Girardi sent the big man back to the mound to get the left-on-left matchup against not only Travis Shaw, but also Jackie Bradley Jr., apparently. That happened even though a) Sabathia’s pitch count was over 100, b) three of the last five batters hit rockets, and c) there are approximately 37 lefty relievers in the bullpen. Single, single, single, game tied. So predictable.

Blake Parker inherited runners on first and second with no outs and miraculously escaped despite facing David Ortiz (three-pitch strikeout!), Dustin Pedroia (fielder’s choice), and Bogaerts (strikeout). Sabathia’s final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. It could have been 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K without the error, but alas. Six of the final nine batters he faced reached and they weren’t bloop singles or grounders with eyes. Not reason for Sabathia to be out there in the sixth.

The Inevitable Loss
Following that heartbreaker Thursday night, it felt like the Yankees were losing all series even when they had the lead. As soon as the Red Sox tied things up in the sixth, it was only a matter of time until they took the lead, and if the Yankees were lucky, it would only be a one-run lead. The inevitable go-ahead home run came in the seventh, when Tyler Clippard hung the hell out of a changeup …

Tyler Clippard Hanley Ramirez

… to Ramirez, who hit his fourth home run of the series. He went 9-for-16 (.563) with four homers, one walk, and zero strikeouts in four games. He drove in nine runs in the series. Hanley absolutely demolished the Yankees. Man against boys. It was only a matter of time until Clippard allowed a home run — he came into the game with a 0.47 HR/9 with the Yankees and a career 1.06 HR/9 — and he threw a bad pitch to a hot hitter. So it goes.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had four baserunners after Pomeranz left the game in the fourth. Brian McCann doubled with two outs in the fifth, Sanchez singled with one out in the sixth, Williams singled with two outs in the eighth, and Sanchez singled with two outs in the ninth. Not exactly prime scoring chances, you know? Four scattered hits in the final 5.1 offensive innings.

Sanchez went 3-for-5 with a normal single, a loud single off the Monster, and the home run. It was his 16th homer of the season. He’s the first Yankees rookie with 16 homers since Hideki Matsui in 2003, and Matsui wasn’t really a rookie. He was an experienced veteran from overseas. The last true rookie to hit 16+ homers in pinstripes was Alfonso Soriano. He hit 18 in 2001.

Gregorius and Williams were the only other Yankees with multiple hits and they had two each. Gardner, Butler, McCann, and Solano had base knocks as well. Butler and Refsnyder drew the only walks. The Yankees went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position but that’s a bit deceiving because they had some productive outs to score runs in that fourth inning. Whatevs.

And finally, the Orioles, Tigers, and Mariners all won earlier on Sunday while the Blue Jays and Astros lost. Here are the wildcard standings with a mere 13 games to play:

Orioles: +1.0 GB
Blue Jays:
Tigers: 2.0 GB
Mariners: 2.0 GB
Astros: 3.0 GB
Yankees: 4.0 GB

That … could be worse?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for both the box score and updated standings. is the place to go for the video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s yet another win-turned-loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This nightmare of a series is finally over. The Yankees have an off-day Monday and thank the baseball gods for that. Not sure I want to sit through another night of this nonsense. The Yankees will be in Tampa for a three-game set against the last place Rays next. Michael Pineda and lefty Drew Smyly are the scheduled starters for Tuesday night’s opener.

Yankees continue to fall apart, drop Saturday’s game 6-5 to Red Sox

Source: FanGraphs

It would be more depressing if it weren’t so predictable. Saturday afternoon the Yankees blew a three-run lead for the second time in three days, sending them to their fourth straight loss and sixth in the last seven games. In the most important stretch of the season, they’ve folded like a lawn chair. Saturday’s final score was 6-5 Red Sox. It’s Saturday, so let’s recap with bullet points.

  • An Early Lead: Well, if nothing else, at least we know the Yankees have David Price’s number. They hung a five-spot on him Saturday thanks to a two-run home run by Gary Sanchez and a two-run double by Austin Romine. The Sanchez homer was mighty impressive. Price gave him a fastball down and in and Sanchez hooked it over the Green Monster. Pretty cool. The Yankees scored those five runs on nine hits in six innings against Price.
  • Another Short Start: Man, Bryan Mitchell was one pitch away from a really nice start. It could have been two runs in five innings, but instead it goes in the books as four runs in 4.2 innings. For shame. Xander Bogaerts hit Mitchell’s final pitch over the Monster for a two-run home run to cut New York’s lead to 5-4. Mitchell missed his spot by the full width of the plate, but still, Bogaerts somehow managed to keep this …bogaerts

    … fair for a home run. Not even mad. I’m impressed. Sanchez is the only player on the Yankees who could hit that pitch out of the park. Maybe Starlin Castro. That’s it. Mitchell allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk in his 4.2 innings. He fanned three. Good start, bad finish.

  • The Latest Bullpen Meltdown: It really felt like only a matter of time until the bullpen blew the lead, didn’t it? Five of the nine batters Luis Severino faced reached base, and one of the outs was a bunt. He was charged with the tying run after allowing a double to Bogaerts, then Mookie Betts hit a chopper over Didi Gregorius‘ head against Adam Warren. The winning run scored on a wild pitch. Runner on third with one out is a Tyler Clippard situation because he’s a strikeout/pop-up pitcher. It wasn’t his assigned inning though. Alas. So in came Warren and his put the ball in play approach. Shocked it backfired. Shocked, I tell you.
  • No Late Offense: None one of the final 13 Yankees to bat hit the ball out of the infield. Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and was thrown out stealing second for some stupid reason. Just let Sanchez hit with a man on base. First base is already scoring position with him. Romine was stranded at third after his double against Price too. Rob Refsnyder struck out with a man on third and one out for the fourth time in his last three games. Brutal.
  • Leftovers: Both Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) and Castro (hamstring) left the game hurt and there’s a decent chance their seasons are over. Both are going back to New York for tests … Gregorius and Romine were the only Yankees with multiple hits. Romine was allowed to hit for himself against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth even though Brian McCann was available to pinch-hit … Refsnyder went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts overall … New York’s postseason odds have nosedived from 18.2% to 2.2% in seven days, per FanGraphs.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Assuming either the Orioles or Blue Jays win tonight, the Yankees will be five games back of the second wildcard spot with 14 games to play. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. CC Sabathia and Drew Pomeranz will be on the mound in the series finale Sunday. That’s the ESPN Sunday Night Game. ESPN still thinks the Yankees are relevant, apparently.

Yankees continue to fall out of postseason race with 7-4 loss to Red Sox

Less than a week after winning seven straight games to climb back in the postseason race, the Yankees have managed to erase most of that progress these last few days. They dropped Friday’s game 7-4 to the Red Sox for their fifth loss in the last six games, and really, the game felt more lopsided than the score indicates. Those playoff dreams were fun, eh?


A Shaky Start
Oh boy, things did not look good for Luis Cessa and the Yankees early on. In fact, Cessa failed to retire any of the first five batters he faced, though two (Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz) were thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Base hits by Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Yankees were playing from behind all night.

To Cessa’s credit, he settled down after that rough first inning, during which he seemed to have no idea where his fastball was going. He retired 12 of 14 batters faced from the second through fifth innings, allowing only a solo homer to Hanley and a ground-rule double to Travis Shaw. Cessa needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order in both the third and fifth innings. After that first inning, he was pretty great.

We’ve seen that out of Cessa a few times so far, haven’t we? He had a rough first few innings in Kansas City before settling down. He also allowed a first inning run against the Blue Jays last time out before getting locked in. That’s pretty impressive. Cessa doesn’t let things snowball into a disaster outing. Three runs on six hits and no walks in five innings was the final damage. That’ll do, kid. I like what I’ve seen so far.


Off the Hook
For the second straight night, the Yankees had a bunch of chances to cash in runs, but were unable to take advantage. Right in the very first inning, Gary Sanchez smashed into a 5-4-3 double play after Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk. Then, in the second, a Didi Gregorius single and a Chase Headley double put runners on second and third with one out. Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira both flew out harmlessly to strand the runners.

A Mason Williams single and a Gardner walk put the Yankees in business in the third before Ellsbury lined out and Sanchez hit into another 5-4-3 double play. Sigh. The Yankees finally got on the board in the fifth, but not before nearly blowing that rally too. Following back-to-back singles by Teixeira and Williams, Gardner struck out and Ellsbury flew out for two quick outs.

The Yankees were facing another blown opportunity, and once Clay Buchholz jumped ahead in the count 0-2 on Sanchez, it was easy to assume the rally was over. Instead, Sanchez worked it the count back full, then launched a two-run double high off the Green Monster to cut the deficit to 3-2. I thought it was gone off the bat, but alas. Sanchez put a charge into it but just didn’t hit it high enough.

All told, the Yankees put ten runners on base in six innings against Buchholz, yet only plated the two runs. The only thing this team excels at is stranding runners, I swear. Early in the season I said not to worry about it, eventually the runs will come as long as the Yankees kept getting on base, but nope. They’ve been unable to hit with runners in scoring position or even get guys in with productive outs all year. Blah.

The Only When Losing Relievers
Joe Girardi went to his bullpen to start the sixth inning, and I assumed Cessa was nearing 90 pitches or so. That’s what it felt like, anyway. Needless to say, I was surprised to see Cessa was lifted after only 64 (!) pitches. Girardi said his fastball was starting to “leak” and he didn’t want him to face the middle of the order a third. Okay. I get that. Cessa’s still a kid and sending him out to face Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Hanley a third time could equal trouble.

The problem: Girardi went to James Pazos (James Pazos!) to face Ortiz in a one-run game. I mean, what? Predictably, Pazos tried to muscle up and throw a fastball by Ortiz, and Ortiz promptly smashed it off the center field wall for a double. Pazos is lucky it stayed in the park. Girardi went to Jonathan Holder after that, and … you know what? Here, just look at the pitching lines:


Ah yes, that’s the good stuff. Four relievers to get six outs and allow four runs in the process. The game slipped away from the Yankees in the sixth and seventh innings. Pretty much every bullpen move Girardi makes these days backfires. Bringing in Pazos to face Ortiz with a one-run deficit was a really questionable decision though, especially since Chasen Shreve came in later in the inning with a three-run deficit.

This game shows how wholly unprepared the Yankees were for this late-season run at a playoff spot. It really did come out of nowhere. The Yankees traded away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline, and while they replaced them adequately with Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren, the middle innings were never addressed. Those were a problem back in April and May. It’s not like this snuck up on anyone.

It’s been a while since the Yankees slapped the pinstripes on a cadaver and got a miracle month out of him, and Billy Butler sure seems like a good candidate, huh? He came off the bench to hit a long two-run home run in the ninth inning to make things kinda sorta interesting. The Yankees were able to get the tying run on deck. Yay? They’ll pay Butler about $50,000 this month and he’s already been worth every penny.


The Yankees had nine hits overall, including three out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Williams had two singles and Butler pinch-hit with the homer. Gardner, Sanchez, Gregorius, Headley, McCann, and Teixeira had the other hits. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Teixeira drew the walks. The Yankees went 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position. Life is pain.

And finally, the Orioles won and the Tigers lost, and the Mariners are getting hammered as I write this. I assume the Blue Jays will beat the lowly Angels. If they do, the Yankees and Tigers will be four games back of the O’s and Blue Jays for the second wildcard spot. Seattle will be three back. FanGraphs puts New York’s postseason odds at 3.8% at the moment. Yeah.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score, for the video highlights, and ESPN for the updated standings. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the all too familiar looking win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Unfortunately, the schedule says the Yankees and Red Sox have to play again Saturday afternoon. That’s a normal 1pm ET start. Bryan Mitchell and David Price are the scheduled starts. This is fine.

Yankees waste Tanaka’s gem, lose 7-5 heartbreaker to Red Sox in series opener

Woo boy. That was bad. The Yankees wasted Masahiro Tanaka‘s gem in Thursday’s series opener against the Red Sox because they stranded 12 runners and an obviously fatigued Dellin Betances was allowed to give the game away. The result was a crushing 7-5 walk-off loss. The Yankees have now lost four of their last five games. That wasn’t the final nail in the postseason coffin, but it was close.


Out of Gas, Out of Time
For the second straight September, it looks like Betances is completely worn down. He’s worked a lot recently, including pitching back-to-back-to-back days several times this year (he did it as recently as last week), and that’s something he very rarely did from 2014-15. Betances took the loss Wednesday after a kinda stupid inning with two errors and one hard-hit ball. Thursday’s loss was a full blown meltdown.

The Yankees took a 5-2 lead into the ninth and usually that means Betances time, but because he worked the last two days, Joe Girardi tried to stay away from him. Oh, and Tyler Clippard was unavailable too. Adam Warren had already pitched as well. That meant the ninth inning fell on the shoulders of Tommy Layne and Blake Parker, at least temporarily. Layne struck out his batter before Parker hit Chris Young with a breaking ball. That put the wheels in motion.

Apparently the leash was one batter. Parker let a curveball slip loose and plunked Young right on the top of the helmet, and that was it, Girardi had seen enough. In came Betances, and four of his first five pitches were out of the zone. Dustin Pedroia drew a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. The inning actually started like this: Layne comes in, strikeout, Parker comes in, hit-by-pitch, Dellin comes in, stolen base, walk, double steal. Three steals within his first seven pitches. Brutal. (They were actually scored defense indifferences, but come on.)

After Betances got Xander Bogaerts to hit a chopper back to the mound for the second out, he fell behind in the count 3-1 to David Ortiz and allowed a run-scoring single. Then Mookie Betts pulled a 1-1 pitch through the left side to score another run and put the tying run on third. Bad. Bad bad bad. Betances was obviously fatigued and only half of his 16 pitches had gone for strikes. Fewer were actually in the zone. (He got some chases off the plate.)

The at-bat against Hanley Ramirez was classic bad Betances. He fed him nothing but breaking balls, fell behind in the count 3-1, then tried to throw a fastball by him when his back was up against the wall. Hanley was ready for it and Jacoby Ellsbury could do nothing nothing but watch the ball sail over his head into the center field stands for the three-run walk-off home run. The pitch was on a tee:

Dellin Betances

It’s worth noting first base umpire D.J. Reyburn unquestionably missed a called on Ramirez’s check swing in the 2-1 count. Replays showed Hanley clearly went around and chased the breaking ball of the plate, but Reyburn said no swing, so instead of a 2-2 count, it was a 3-1 count. Huge difference. Huge huge huge. To wit:

MLB average in 2-2 counts: .179/.184/.279
MLB average in 3-1 counts: .371/.699/.677

Yup. Brutal missed call, but you know what? The game shouldn’t have gotten to that point in the first place. Betances was ineffective in general and he wasn’t exactly put in the best position to succeed. Was he available or not? If yes, put him in to start the inning with a clean slate and stop getting cute with Layne and Parker. If not, they stay away. What kind of day off is it if Betances is going to warm up in the ninth anyway?

Stranded Runners
The Yankees scored five runs and I swear, I don’t remember any of them. Billy Butler had a sac fly in the first inning, right? He had a run-scoring single later in the game too, so his Yankees career got off to a nice start. I’m drawing a blank on the other three runs. The box score says Starlin Castro, Chase Headley, and Castro again singled in those other three runs. Eh, whatever. The five runs the Yankees scored are not important. The runs they didn’t score are.

Overall, the Yankees went 5-for-16 (.313) with runners in scoring position and they still managed to strand 12 runners. The missed opportunities absolutely came back to bite them. Look at these chances:

Second inning, two runners stranded. Tyler Austin dunked a bloop double down the right field line with two outs — it landed just fair and hopped into the seats — and Brett Gardner followed by being hit by a pitch. Ellsbury then flew out to end the inning.

Third inning, two runners stranded. The Yankees scored two runs in the inning but it should have been three; Headley dunked a run-scoring single to right and for some reason Didi Gregorius stayed at second to tag up. He’s got to be halfway with one out there. Would have scored if he was. Alas. Headley later stole second on the first pitch, putting men on second and third with one out. Rob Refsnyder then struck out against righty Heath Hembree and Austin grounded out.

Fifth inning, one runner stranded. Gregorius led off with a double and moved over to third on the most terrible great play ever. He stole third for some reason and the throw absolutely beat him to the bag, but Gregorius was able to swim move around the tag. Replay confirmed it. Stealing third with no outs in Fenway Park is totally unnecessary. Headley, Refsnyder, and Austin then struck out to strand Didi at third. That was the third time Refsnyder struck out with a man on third and less than two outs in the last two games. At least he makes up for it by hitting for zero power and playing poor defense.


Eight inning, Joe Espada strikes again. I can’t ever recall seeing a third base coach make as many baffling sends as Espada. Every team has runners thrown out at the plate. It’s inevitable. But Espada seems to specialize in those OMGWTF sends. It’s uncanny. A single (Headley), a bunt (Mason Williams), and a walk (Austin) put runners on first and second with one out. Gardner flew out to center, then Ellsbury hit a soft-ish grounder back up the middle. Bogaerts reeled it in and for whatever reason Espada sent Headley home. Replays show him waving him around even though the ball never left the damn infield. Headley was out by a mile. Is it possible for a third base coach to have a negative WAR?

Ninth inning, three runners stranded. The ninth inning was when it became clear that yeah, stranding all those runners was going to come back to hurt the Yankees. Two singles put runners on the corners with no outs, but pinch-hitter Brian McCann struck out. Boo. Then Gregorius drew a walk to load the bases. Woo! Then Headley struck out. BOO! Then Williams ripped a line drive right at Joe Kelly’s stupid little head that he caught out of self-preservation. Threw his glove up and caught it. What can you do? It was ticketed for center field and at least one run, if not too.

In case you weren’t keeping track through all of that, the Yankees went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts with a runner on third and less than two outs. Yup. As miserable as the Betances meltdown was, he never should have had to pitch anyway. The offense came up mighty small several times — Espada sure didn’t help matters — and managed to turn 17 baserunners in Fenway Park into only five runs. Gross. What a traveshamockery.


Masahiro My Hero
Oh Masahiro, you don’t deserve to be stuck with these sad sacks. Tanaka did not have his best stuff or his best location Thursday night — he got four swings and misses and did not strike out a batter — yet he worked through seven innings of one-run ball. Damn is he good. I don’t know if he deserves the Cy Young, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me there are three better pitchers in the AL right now. (He leads the league with a 2.97 ERA.)

Tanaka’s biggest mess was self-induced. It was in the third inning. He walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the inning, got a ground ball out, allowed a single to Pedroia, and walked Bogaerts to loaded the bases with one out for Ortiz. Hmmm. Not ideal. Ortiz flew out to deep left field to score the run on a sac fly, then Tanaka got Betts to ground out to third to limit the damage. That was the only time Tanaka seemed to be in real danger.

The final tally: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. Tanaka got 15 ground ball outs and only six in the air. None of the final ten batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield. Why was Tanaka lifted after throwing only 93 pitches in seven innings? Beats me. He was cruising, and you’d think that with Betances and Clippard unavailable Girardi would want as much length out of Tanaka as possible. He was awesome. Tanaka deserves zero blame for this loss.


Warren allowed a solo home run to Ortiz in the eighth to help the Red Sox start the comeback. It seems Girardi went to Warren in the eighth because the middle of the order was due up, then he was going to roll the dice with Layne and Parker against the bottom of the order in the ninth. Smart. Too bad it all blew up in his face.

Ellsbury, Gary Sanchez, Castro, Gregorius, and Headley each had two hits. That 2-3-4-5-6-7 portion of the lineup went 13-for-28 (.464) and that’s really good. Timing is everything in this game though, so all those stranded runners wound up costing the Yankees the game. Fourteen hits and three walks in Fenway and only five runs? Good grief.

And finally, the Blue Jays won but the Tigers and Orioles lost. The Yankees are three games back of Toronto for the second wildcard spot with 16 games to play. The Tigers and Mariners are both two games out. The Yankees aren’t out of it — they still have four games left with the Jays, after all — but losses like this remind you this team just isn’t good enough. Hasn’t been all year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and for the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the devastating win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Unfortunately, the Yankees have to play again Friday. Then Saturday too. The worst. Hate baseball. Luis Cessa and Clay Buchholz will be on the mound Friday night. Eat at Arby’s.

Yankees let winnable game slip away, drop series finale 2-0 to Dodgers

That was a tough one. Thanks in part to the rain, the Yankees were able to wait out Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Dodgers, but the offense never bothered to show up, and eventually some defensive miscues led to a 2-0 loss. Brutal. The Yankees have lost three of four since their seven-game winning streak.

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

Defensive Meltdown
Might as well start with the ninth inning since that’s when all the important stuff happened. The game was still scoreless in the top of the ninth, and the inning started with a bad Starlin Castro error. Dellin Betances was on the mound and Corey Seager lifted a little line drive right to Castro, but he misplayed it and the ball scooted by. Easily catchable ball and a play a Major League second baseman must make.

Because Betances was on the mound, Seager stole second almost immediately, and the play wasn’t all that close even with Gary Sanchez behind the plate. Justin Turner followed with a ground ball double just beyond the reach of a diving Chase Headley, which scored Seager and gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Blah. Turner moved up to third on Adrian Gonzalez’s deep fly ball, so Los Angeles had the lead and a runner at third with one out.

A runner at third with one out stinks because an out can score a run there, so you’re hoping Betances can get a strikeout to keep the runner at third. Rather than the strikeout, Yasmani Grandal hit a weak tapper back to the mound, which is almost as good. Turner broke for home and would have been out by a mile had Betances, you know, made a good throw home. He shot-putted the ball to the backstop, allowing the run to score.

Dellin Betances

Sigh. Dellin’s two biggest flaws were on full display that inning. He can’t hold runners — opponents are now 19-for-19 in steal attempts against him after Seager’s stolen base — and he struggles throwing to the bases. Usually it doesn’t matter much because Betances is so good at everything else, but those flaws cost the Yankees on Thursday. Castro’s error was obviously huge too. That started the game-winning rally. Sloppy baseball at a very bad time.

Not Enough Offense
In the three biggest at-bats of the game, Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine faced Kershaw, and Brian McCann hit against a lefty. Not great, Bob. Kershaw retired the first dozen batters he faced before a 56-minute rain delay, and because he stayed loose in the batting cage underneath the stands during the delay, he came back out for the fifth inning too. That surprised me. Whatever.

That fifth inning was the Yankees’ best chance to score all game. Castro started the inning with a hot shot grounder off Turner’s glove at third base, then Headley followed with a legit single through the left side of the infield. The Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs, and with Didi Gregorius set to face a lefty annihilator like Kershaw, he laid down a bunt. Fine with me. It was textbook and advanced the runners.

The Yankees were in position to score a run with an out, but it never came. Kershaw overpowered both Refsnyder and Romine, striking them out to end the inning. Why did Refsnyder and Romine bat there? Beats me. At the very least, Mark Teixeira should have pinch-hit for Romine. I’d argue he should have pinch-hit for Refsnyder because you need a fly ball, and Refsnyder is a very ground ball heavy hitter.

Their other best chance to score came in the seventh inning. Castro singled and Headley walked, both with one out, though Pedro Baez got Gregorius to fly out to center for the second out. Joe Girardi lifted Refsnyder for pinch-hitter Brian McCann, which was great! Except the Dodgers countered with lefty Luis Avilan, and McCann hit anyway. He came into the game with a .205/.314/.356 (82 wRC+) line against lefties. Naturally, McCann struck out to end the threat.


The Yankees scored five runs in the three games against the Dodgers and all five came on solo homers. They had bad matchups in their three most important at-bats of the game Wednesday even though there were better options on the bench. The offense stunk in general, doing get me wrong. The loss falls on the entire offense, not one or two guys. But did Refsnyder and Romine give the Yankees the best chance to succeed in the fifth? Did McCann in the seventh? You’ll have a hard time convincing me they were the best available options at the time.

Michael Pineda didn’t allow a run! He also threw 83 pitches in four innings. Pineda closed out his outing with a nice 3-6-1 inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, during which he took an awkward step at first base and appeared to hurt himself. I’m not sure if he left the game hurt or because he was laboring so much. The Yankees can’t really afford to lose another starter.

The Yankees had five baserunners total: two singles by Castro, a single and a walk by Headley, and a walk by Brett Gardner. Gardner’s walk came with two outs in the eighth inning of a scoreless game and he never tried to steal second. Dude. The Yankees struck out 14 times as a team in this game, their second highest strikeout total in a nine-inning game this season. The Astros struck out 15 Yankees back in July.

Aside from Betances, nice work by the bullpen. Tommy Layne and Tyler Clippard each threw a scoreless inning and Luis Severino threw two. Those three combined to allow one hit. Also, both of the runs were unearned against Betances because of the errors.

The Orioles and Tigers both won while the Blue Jays lost Thursday. The wildcard standings look like this at the moment:

Orioles: +1.0 GB (first wildcard)
Blue Jays: — (second wildcard)
Tigers: 1.0 GB
Yankees: 2.0 GB

Also, if the Mariners beat the lowly Angels later Wednesday night, they’ll be 1.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and jump over the Yankees in the standings. That’s annoying, but they’re the Mariners. I’m sure they’ll screw up somehow before it’s all said and done.

And finally, there were two rain delays in this game. The second one was the big one, the 56-minute delay we all hoped would knock Kershaw from the game. The first delay lasted 12 whole minutes in the third inning. It was somehow sillier than two rain delays against the Blue Jays last week. Not a great week for the tarp-callers.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings while has the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too, so check those out. Here’s the unfortunate win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The homestand is over and the Yankees will now head out on a eleven-game, three-city road trip. First up: four games in Boston. Fun fun fun. Masahiro Tanaka and Eduardo Rodriguez are the scheduled starters for Thursday night’s opener.

Sabathia dominates, Yankees turn to the long ball in 3-0 win over Dodgers

Now that’s more like it. After dropping back-to-back games the last two days, the Yankees rebounded with an emphatic win Tuesday night, reminding everyone they are still in the damn postseason race. The Yankees beat the Dodgers by the score of 3-0 in the middle game of the three-game series. The Orioles won and the Tigers lost, so the Yankees are now tied with Detroit in the standings and two games back of the O’s for the second wildcard spot.

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

World Champ
Last time out, CC Sabathia looked like a total wreck. He was laboring right from the start of the first inning and there was nothing on his pitches at all. I wrote in that night’s recap that Sabathia almost seemed to be pitching hurt. He looked that bad. Fast forward to this game and Sabathia looked far better, with jump on his fastball and conviction in his delivery. He looked better than good. Sabathia was as good as we’ve seen him at any point this season.

The Dodgers had their best chance to score against Sabathia in the second inning, after Enrique Hernandez ripped a two-out double to left field and advanced to third on a passed ball. Sabathia ended the threat with a quick three-pitch strikeout of former Yankees farmhand Rob Segedin. Following the Hernandez double, Sabathia retired nine straight and 14 of the final 16 batters he faced. He didn’t allow another runner to make it as far as second base.

Sabathia has been shakier and shakier as his pitch count climbs this season, particularly once he gets over 75-80 pitches or so. He held the Dodgers scoreless over the first five innings, but his pitch count was at 73, and he was about to face the top of the lineup a third time. That’s usually the danger zone. Joe Girardi sent Sabathia out for the sixth — no one was warming in the bullpen — and while he gave up a hard-hit one-out single to Justin Turner, CC finished the sixth with the 0-0 tie intact.

Sabathia started the seventh to get the left-on-left matchup against Adrian Gonzalez, and after getting him to roll over on a ground ball, he was replaced by Adam Warren. I was pleased. I thought this was one of those batter-to-batter situations. Sabathia finished the night with three hits and one walk allowed in 6.1 innings. He struck out seven and impressively allowed only two fly ball outs against ten on the ground. Well done, CC. You’re still a BAMF.

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

Power Off The Bench
Dodgers rookie lefty Julio Urias showed a lot of things Tuesday night. He showed some nasty stuff first of all, regularly hitting 96+ mph. He also showed a lot of pitching know-how by fooling hitters with a few 2-0 and 3-1 changeups. And Urias also showed a decided lack of efficiency; he threw 78 pitches to 17 batters in 3.2 innings. That’s 4.59 pitches per batter and 21.3 per inning. Yikes.

Incredibly — and annoyingly — six of the final nine hitters Urias faced reached base, yet the Yankees failed to score a run. They stranded two runners in the third and the bases loaded in the fourth. There was a double play mixed in there as well. Blah. Aaron Judge‘s two-out walk in the fourth inning was the last batter Urias faced. Righty specialist Louis Coleman came in and got contact machine Ronald Torreyes to ground out to short with the sacks full. Alas.

Judge’s walk was his final at-bat of the night. He hurt his oblique taking a swing during that at-bat and was removed from the game after the inning. He’ll go for an MRI tomorrow. Sucks. Jacoby Ellsbury replaced Judge in the lineup — he took over in center, Brett Gardner went to left, and Rob Refsnyder slid over to right — and his only at-bat of the game was rather huge.

With the game scoreless in the seventh inning, Ellsbury came to the plate for the first time with one out. Rowdy Ross Stripling was on the mound for his second inning of work, and Ellsbury worked a really great at-bat. Fell behind in the count 0-2, worked it back full, and fouled off three two-strike pitches. The ninth pitch of the at-bat was a hanger and a half. Check it out:

That is one aesthetically pleasing home run. You can see Ellsbury read hanger out of Stripling’s hand, wait back for it to arrive at the plate, then unload for the tie-breaking solo home run into the second deck. Perfect. I’ve given Ellsbury a lot of crap this year (and last year … and the year before that) but he’s been really good the last three weeks or so. Coming on at just the right time.

I don’t know about you, but one run felt like it was enough to win this game. Thankfully Didi Gregorius did not share that sentiment and followed Ellsbury’s home run with a solo homer of his own. It was a pinch-hit dinger on a flat fastball up in the zone. Another mistake pitch. Neither Ellsbury nor Gregorius started Tuesday’s game, yet they came off the bench to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead with back-to-back solo homers in the seventh.

One run felt like enough to win and two runs felt like plenty. What did three runs feel like? I dunno. Pretty good, I know that much. Gary Sanchez hit New York’s third solo dinger of the night in the eighth inning, this one against veteran Jesse Chavez. Look at the pitch location:

Gary Sanchez

That ridiculous. You’re not supposed to be able to hit that out of the park. Sanchez muscled the high and outside pitch over the right field wall for his 14th homer of the season and third in the last five games. He hasn’t been picking up as many non-home run hits lately, but man, when he connects, the ball goes an awfully long way. Sanchez has 24 home runs in 107 total games this season between Triple-A and MLB. As a full-time catcher. That’ll do.

Shutdown Bullpen
The Yankees haven’t gotten much length from their starters recently, but with Sabathia taking the ball into the seventh inning, Girardi was able to go right to his end-game relievers. Warren got two quick outs to close out the seventh, then after Tyler Clippard allowed a dinky two-out single to Howie Kendrick in the eighth, Dellin Betances entered for the four out save. His only blemish was a leadoff Corey Seager single in the ninth. It deflected off Mark Teixeira‘s glove at first base and away from Starlin Castro. What can you do?

Following Hernandez’s double in the second, the Dodgers did not have another runner reach second base until the ninth inning, when Seager took second on defensive indifference. Just a phenomenal job by all four pitchers. They held the Dodgers to one double, four singles, and one walk in nine innings. They struck out ten. Thirty-three Dodgers came to the plate and nine hit the ball out of the infield. Nine!

It didn’t seem like it — I guess because the game was scoreless into the seventh inning — but the Yankees had 13 baserunners in eight offensive innings. Eight hits, four walks, and a hit batsman. Castro led the way with three hits. Brian McCann was the only other Yankee to reach base twice; he walked and was grazed by a pitch.

The Yankees went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. I wonder how many games they’ve won with so few at-bats with men on second and/or third? Power hitters are pretty cool. When you can hit dingers, there’s a runner in scoring position even when the bases are empty. The Bronx Bombers came through big Tuesday.

And finally, the Yankees have a new wrestling style championship belt in the clubhouse, and before the game Gregorius said they plan to give it to the player of the game after each win. Sabathia earned the first title belt after his performance in this game, hence the “World Champ” section title earlier. Check it out (via Didi on Twitter):

CC Sabathia belt

If you’re down with the Yankees giving out a title belt after wins, gimme a hell yeah.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, for the video highlights, and ESPN for the updated standings. Make sure you don’t miss out Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings as well. Here’s the very excellent win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees close out the non-AL East portion of their schedule with the series finale against the Dodgers tomorrow. Michael Pineda and some guy named Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any of the other six (six!) home games left in 2016.

Bad pitching, bad defense send the Yankees to an 8-2 loss to the Dodgers

The improbable run to the postseason has hit bump in the road. The Yankees dropped their second straight game Monday night, this one 8-2 to the Dodgers in the series opener. The Orioles lost and the Tigers won, so those two teams are now tied for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees remain two games back with 19 games to play.


Bad Matchup
Bryan Mitchell had a bad night that would have been slightly less bad with a little more luck and defensive help. The Dodgers were able to find some holes with ground balls in the first inning, during which they scored their first run on a failed double play ball. The play developed slowly. Starlin Castro‘s flip to second was a little slow and Ronald Torreyes need a moment to avoid the take-out slide before throwing to first, so Adrian Gonzalez beat it out. So it goes.

The big blow, the one that put the game firmly on the side of the Dodgers, was Aaron Judge‘s error in the second inning. Chase Utley hit a two-out bases loaded rocket into right-center field that Judge very nearly ran down, but the ball clanked off the end of his glove and fell in. I thought it was a tough error. He went a long way for that ball and nearly made the full extension catch at full speed. But, the ball Judge’s his glove, so an error it is. Either way, two runs scored to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Corey Seager then pulled a ground ball just out of the reach of Castro to make it 4-0.

I first-guessed the decision to send Mitchell out for the fifth because the lefties were giving him such a hard time. Yes, there was some poor luck and shoddy defense in there, but there were also a lot of comfortable swings. Mitchell doesn’t have a changeup and has to use his cutter to neutralize lefties, and it obviously wasn’t working Monday. Sure enough, Mitchell went out for the third, gave up two more hits to lefties, then was pulled. Predictable outcome is predictable.

All told, Mitchell was charged with six runs — only two were earned thanks to Judge’s error — on eight hits in 2.1 innings. He struck out two and got only three swings and misses out of 47 pitches. Lefties went 6-for-12 against him and it would have been 7-for-12 had the Judge error been called an Utley triple. Some things didn’t break Mitchell’s way — he was charged with the sixth run when Chasen Shreve allowed an RBI infield single to Howie Kendrick — but he wasn’t fooling the lefties either. Bad matchup led to bad results.

Two Token Runs
The Yankees made some very loud contact against Dodgers rookie Jose De Leon. Castro absolutely walloped a long solo home run into the second deck in left field in the second inning, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Then, in the fifth inning, after the Dodgers stretched the lead to 6-1, Aaron Judge exit velocity-ed the crap out of an even longer solo homer into the left field bleachers. That ball was well-struck. Check it out:

Goodness. You live with the strikeouts — to his credit, Judge only has four strikeouts in his last five games and 16 plate appearances, which is manageable — because he can do that when he connects. At 115.2 mph, Judge’s home run was the single hardest hit ball by a Yankee this season, home run or otherwise. Long solo homers are still solo homers, so Judge’s blast only cut the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2.

Gary Sanchez smashed a hard-hit ball of his own later in the fifth inning, though it hooked foul. The Yankees were starting to get to De Leon, which is why Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts pulled him after the fifth at only 83 pitches. Amazing to see a manager be proactive when there are warning signs rather than get cute and go batter-to-batter. The Yankees only had three hits and two walks against De Leon in his five innings. Luckily two of the three hits left the yard.

Ain’t No Lie, Blei Blei Blei
Shreve replaced Mitchell in the third inning and allowed that annoying RBI infield single to Kendrick before closing out the frame. Girardi then went to lefty long man Richard Bleier to start the fifth, and Bleier gave the Yankees four innings of no effs given relief. Four innings, no hits, no runs, one walk. He also hit Utley with a pitch, which I’m sure Chase had coming to him for something.

Bleier struck out three and his nine other outs were ground balls. He didn’t allow a single ball to be hit to the outfield in his four innings. Pretty awesome. Bleier did exactly what the Yankees needed him to do, and that was soak up innings and not let the Dodgers tack on runs. The offense never did get back into the game, but that’s not Bleier’s fault. He was pretty awesome. James Pazos and Ben Heller, who allowed garbage time solo homers to Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner, were decidedly less awesome.

You see a giant Dodgers flag in Yankee Stadium, ownership sees tickets sold. (Presswire)
You see a giant Dodgers flag in Yankee Stadium, ownership sees tickets sold. (Presswire)

The Dodgers schooled the Yankees with their own move. Kendrick stole second in the second inning, and as soon as Sanchez made the throw, Josh Reddick broke for home from third. Sanchez’s throw was well wide of the bag and sailed into center field, but it didn’t really matter. Reddick broke as soon as the ball was out of Sanchez’s hand, and it was going to take a perfect throw back to the plate to get him. Rookie mistake. Eat the ball and let them steal second with two outs.

Torreyes went 1-for-4 and the single was his third hardest hit ball of the night. He hit a line drive to left-center that Joc Pederson managed to run down in the third, and two innings later Torreyes did the exact same thing, except this time left fielder Andrew Toles ran it down. Two really nice catches robbed Torreyes of extra bases. That’s a deceiving 1-for-4 right there.

Tyler Austin went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and is now 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts since his walk-off home run. It looked like he was starting to find it, then poof, it was gone. Judge went 1-for-4 with the homer and two strikeouts. The Yankees had five hits total, including two by Castro. They had only three at-bats with runners in scoring position all night.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. has the video highlights. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the over early win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Game two of this three-game interleague series. The Yankees and Dodgers will be back at it Tuesday night. Veteran lefty CC Sabathia and rookie lefty Julio Urias are the scheduled starters. Chances Urias has as good a career as Sabathia? I’ll say … 5.648%. Anyway, there are only eight home games left this season (eight!), so if you want to catch any of them live, head on over to RAB Tickets.