Sanchez and Pineda power the Yankees to an 9-1 win over the Red Sox

It’s a good day when the Yankees get to extend their division lead. Even better when they do it after a win against the Red Sox. Great pitching by Michael Pineda and some power hitting go a long way. Yankees are now 34-23 and 3 games above the Red Sox and O’s for the first place in AL East.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike coming up big

This is the finest start that Pineda’s ever thrown against the Red Sox – 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB and 8 K’s. It’s the first time ever that he’s gone 7 innings against Boston AND also the first that he allowed 0 ER in a start against them. How about that? Came at a good time too, when the Yankees are trying to extend the division lead against a rival. His offspeed pitches were working tonight, generating 12 whiffs overall between his changeup and slider (25.5% rate). 7 out of his 8 strikeouts were swinging as well. I like.

The only run that he allowed came via a runner reaching on an error and scoring on a passed ball. In the top of the fourth, with the Yankees leading 4-0, Xander Bogaerts reached when Chase Headley made a bad one-hop throw to Chris Carter that he couldn’t handle. Mitch Moreland followed it up with a sneaky bunt single against the shift, but Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play to erase a chunk of the Sox threat. However, facing Jackie Bradley Jr., Pineda threw a fastball with a big cutting action that got past Gary Sanchez‘s mitt. The ball rolled into the backstop and Bogaerts was able to score easily. It was ruled a passed ball – Sanchez should’ve been able to catch that. Oh well. A minor blemish to a great start.

Anyways, after tonight’s dominant start, Pineda’s season stats improved to 7-3, 3.39 ERA in 71.2 IP with 17 walks and 75 K’s. Sure, there are worries about his long-ball tendencies but if he keeps those numbers up, Pineda will end up becoming a rich man in the free agency (assuming the Yankees don’t extend him by then). Before that, for now, let’s enjoy the improved Big Mike shoving it to the hitters more often this season.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Homers!

There’s no denying that David Price is a top-tier MLB starting pitcher. However, ever since joining the Red Sox, the lefty has turned into a pumpkin when facing the Yankees. Tonight, the Yankees got 6 runs off of him in 5 innings. Since last year, they’ve pounded Price to a tune of 8.31 ERA in 34.1 IP. As someone sided with the Yankees, let me say this: this is fun.

The big blows by the Yankee bats tonight are mostly comprised of the three home runs – two by Gary Sanchez and one from Brett Gardner. With the Yankees leading 1-0, the bats got it going in the bottom of the third. Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday got on base with a single and a walk, respectively. Two hitters later, Sanchez hit a 87 mph pitch right down the middle into the right field seats for a no-doubt, 415 feet 3-run homer. 4-0 Yankees.

After the Red Sox added a run, the Yankees headed into the bottom of the fifth with a 4-1 lead. Sanchez changed that once again. This time, he hit a 96 mph fastball from Price into over the opposite field fence for a 2-run HR, making it 6-1 Yankees. After tonight, Sanchez is 4-for-7 with 4 HR’s against David Price.

Gardner joined in the big flies fun leading off the bottom of the eighth. The Yankees had a 7-1 lead going in with Starlin Castro adding an RBI single back in the sixth. Brett the Jet hit a breaking ball from Brandon Workman that traveled into the right field seats to make it 8-1 Yankees. Gardner’s power surge in 2017 has been… something. He has 13 home runs this season already, which is only 4 away from his career-high set in 2014. It is even more impressive that he did it in the past 160 PAs. The Yankees loaded the bases up in the frame with two singles (Aaron Hicks and Judge) and a HBP (Holliday), scratching a run out of it with a Castro’s fielder’s choice groundout. 9-1 Yankees, it is.

Leftovers

After Pineda departed, Adam Warren came in the eighth inning and pitched a clean frame. In the ninth, Girardi had Giovanny Gallegos pitch through the first two outs and put in Dellin Betances to get the last out. That was an interesting decision in his part. Bring in the closer in the top of the 9th with a 9-1 lead? The only explanation that I can think of is that Betances has only pitched in two games in the past two weeks and needs to get some game action somehow. Some will argue that if Girardi really wanted to get some work in for Betances, he would’ve let him start the inning. I don’t disagree. Just an interesting decision all-around but, in the grand scheme of things, Betances ended the game. 9-1 Yankees win.

Aaron Judge hasn’t homered much lately but man, he can still hit. Today, he had a 3-for-4 day with one of the base hits registering at 119.8 mph (!!!) off the bat. Judge has hit 7 balls over 116.0 mph this season and the rest of the big league has 12.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will host a 3-game series vs. Orioles this weekend. Tomorrow, they’ll have Jordan Montgomery up on the hill against Dylan Bundy.

Sabathia’s brilliant outing leads the Yankees to 8-0 win over the Red Sox

This was a very refreshing game, especially after a frustrating loss last night. CC Sabathia went eight strong innings while the offense picked him up, particularly … Chris Carter??? Anyways, it was a good baseball night for Yankee fans. They improve to 33-23 and are now up 2 games in the AL East again.

(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

The Stopper

Just what the doctor ordered. As Katie Sharp noted, Sabathia has been lights-out this year in games following a team loss. The Yankees were in danger of the Red Sox tying them for first place in the AL East and CC denied it.

Sabathia didn’t get many whiffs – 5 overall – but he got weak outs and called strikes attacking the zone. Take a look:

bandicam-2017-06-08-11-29-23-448

Sabathia threw a lot outside to RHH’s and inside to LHH’s. A good amount of contact was made on pitches towards the edges of the zone, which is how Sabathia intends to approach hitters – he’s not as overpowering anymore so he needs some finesse to get through the lineup.

When it was all said and done, Sabathia had a 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K outing, which is more than you could ask from a starter facing the Red Sox lineup. He improved to 7-2, 3.66 ERA for the season. Surprising how well he’s done, huh? Especially after the bad start he had to this season (5.77 ERA in first 7 starts). He has allowed only 4 ER in the past 5 GS and 32.1 IP, which is good for a 1.11 ERA.

Runs! 

Unlike last night, when hitting with RISP was the team’s kryptonite — they went 0-for-10 in team’s many chances — tonight was a different story: the team went 5-for-12 in RISP situations and the most impressive offensive performer was Chris Carter. That’s how you know the game is going your way, eh?

The Yankees got the scoring started in the third inning. Didi Gregorius hit a 81 mph changeup fading downwards over the right-center fence for a solo home run. Chase Headley and Carter both followed it up with back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third with a Red Sox infield error. No outs, two runners and scoring position, time to break the game wide open, right? Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Hicks popped out to make it two outs, and Red Sox intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday, who flew out to right field to end the inning. New York took a lead but man, that was a tease.

(Elsa/Getty Images)
(Elsa/Getty Images)

The bats got back into it the next inning, however. Starlin Castro tripled to deep center and Gary Sanchez banged a single to bring him in, breaking a 0-for-13 team cold streak in RISP chances. After a Didi flyout, Headley singled to put two runners on. Carter got a hold of a fastball down the middle and hit a 3-run homer to put the Yankees up top, 5-0.

Carter could have added another HR to his day but was robbed, maybe more than in a way. In the bottom of sixth, he hit a big fly towards right that seemed to head into the seats but Mookie Betts made a perfectly-timed leap to make a catch… or did he? The replays showed that the fan clearly touched the ball before the ball went into the glove, which should be ruled a home run. However, despite Joe Girardi‘s protest, the umpires declined to look at the replays. Weird.

Anyways, the Yankees got more runs off Rick Porcello in the seventh. Gardner reached on an error by the second baseman Josh Rutledge and stole second to put himself into, again, a RISP situation. Two hitters later, with the Red Sox pitcher changed to Blaine Boyer, Holliday hit an infield single that drove in Gardner to make it 6-0.

But wait! We’re not done here. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Gregorius (single) and Headley (walk) reached base against Boyer. Carter, as he did all night, made contact and hit an RBI single that scored Didi. Gardner joined the RBI party with a single to make it 8-0 Yankees.

The factor to the offensive outburst tonight? Well, the top part of the lineup was quiet tonight (2-for-17) but the rest of them were en fuego (10-for-19). Also, as mentioned, helps a lot when Carter drives in 4 runs. He’s taken bad reps most of the year but he came up huge tonight. Props to the big man.

One last fun fact courtesy of Katie Sharp: this is the largest shutout win against the Red Sox at (any) Yankee Stadium since Sept. 3, 1965. Pretty unbelievable that taken been that long.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will look to take the series tomorrow in the rubber match of the series. Big Mike Pineda will take the mound against David Price. Should be a fun matchup.

Tanaka gets shelled and offense can’t come up clutch in a 5-4 loss to Boston

The Yankees are a good team. However, this game was a microcosm of the team’s weaknesses – their ace slumping and the struggling hitters failing to deliver in big spots. They did show some of that Fighting Spirit towards the end, gathering a few runs against the Sox bullpen, but came up short. The Yankees are only up by one game in the division – the Red Sox and Orioles trail by 1.o and 2.5 games respectively.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bad Tanaka, again

The fall of Masahiro Tanaka so far in 2017 can be described as “mystifying.” After a great 2016 season and Spring Training, Tanaka just hasn’t looked like himself at all this season. Of course, I might have said this before – players go through slumps, but what Tanaka is going through seems more than that. It is now more than two months into the season and a pitcher who was supposed to be the ace has been a liability.

As David Cone suggested during the broadcast, the Yankees are probably going to keep Tanaka in the rotation. Maybe that’s the solution. Maybe not. It is a finicky situation that the Yankees have with Tanaka right now. You take a guy with a big contract who’s been pretty great for the past three seasons, see him in an unseasonable slump… what do you do? Many on Twitter have pointed out that Chance Adams is lined up perfectly with Tanaka in starts but would the Yankees call him up? I don’t know. It’s only June, but I don’t know how worse Adams would pitch than Tanaka right now. As Jack Curry said, I don’t think it is going to be right now.

Again, the downfall of Tanaka came with the home runs. He has allowed 11 home runs in the past 22.2 IP, which is extremely not what you want. It also didn’t help that he wasn’t exactly fooling a lot of hitters tonight, generating only 3 whiffs all night (one on fastball, two on splitter) per Brooks Baseball.

The backbreaker happened in the top of the fourth inning. With a 1-1 tie, Tanaka walked Xander Bogaerts to begin the inning. Mitch Moreland followed it up with a massive 434-feet home run off a hanging 85-mph slider to give Red Sox a 3-1 lead. Hanley Ramirez, not to be outdone, hit a 90 mph fastball down the middle just over the left field fence to extend the lead to 4-1. At that point, Yankee fans were collectively thinking somewhere in the line of “not again” and “what the heck is really going on with Masahiro??” That didn’t improve when Tanaka, once again, gave up another Red Sox dinger in the fifth – this time, to Andrew Benintendi, on a 90 mph fastball inside.

While Tanaka did finish the fifth inning, he left the game with another bad line: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 1 BB and 2 K’s. His season ERA has risen to 6.55 and so has his FIP (5.60). He has a HR/9 rate of 2.32. His 2017 implosion has been something to behold, but in a very painful way.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Failed rally attempts

To the Yankee offense credit, they did make Drew Pomeranz work. The lefty battled and threw 123 pitches in only five innings Meanwhile, the Yankees squeezed only 2 runs off of him. In fact, in 10 AB’s of RISP chances, the Yankees failed to gather a base hit. The only time that they got something out of a runner in scoring position was in the eighth inning, when Craig Kimbrel struck out Didi Gregorius, but the ball got past Christian Vazquez and Matt Holliday scored. It didn’t help that the ball was in the court for two coldest hitters in the lineup – Chase Headley and Chris Carter – twice each. Had they came through at least once, we could be talking about a different ballgame. The Yankees had opportunities to break open several times but they merely gathered four runs. That is annoying.

While Headley and Carter have been futile (well, Carter did have a solo HR), it also doesn’t help when the first two hitters of the lineup also becomes quiet. Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez combined for 0-for-9 with 5 strikeouts. While the no. 3 to no. 7 hitters each had at least a base hit and helped engineered the rallies, the top and bottom of the lineup failed to cash in. Gardner and Sanchez have flashed offensive brilliance this season but Headley and Carter… man, they have continually become liabilities.

Leftovers

How about Chad Green? He kept the Yankees in the game coming into relief for Tanaka and looked pretty strong. Green went 3.1 IP, allowed zero baserunners and struck out six out of ten hitters – not an easy feat against that Red Sox lineup. Always makes me wonder if Green keeps it up, if the Yanks will look at him at the rotation again or they’ll stick him there as a solid relief arm.

In a frustrating day for the lineups, Aaron Judge continued to shine, hitting 2-for-4 and drawing a walk. The current AL All-Star voting leader is hitting .328/.433/.683 for the season.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will have C.C. Sabathia on the mound against last year’s AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Hopefully a new win streak starts tomorrow. If the Yanks lose, then the Sox will claim tie with New York atop the AL East 1st place. Imagine that. The Red Sox are a good team and their surge isn’t unprecedented. It’s up to the Yankees to try to hold them off.

Yankees let winnable game slip away, drop series finale 3-2 to Blue Jays

A pretty terrible loss, that was. Luis Severino gave the Yankees another marvelous outing, though a battle of the bullpens was lost as New York’s best reliever sat and watched. The Blue Jays won Sunday’s series finale 3-2. The Yankees went 3-4 on the seven-game road trip through Baltimore and Toronto.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Dominant Sevy
Sunday’s game promised to be a pitcher’s duel, and both starters delivered. Severino came out pumping 98 mph fastballs and 93 mph sliders (!), and it wasn’t until the third inning that the Blue Jays managed to hit the ball out of the infield. He pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, a two-out single in the third, a one-out double in the fourth, and a leadoff single in the fifth. Toronto had some baserunners, no doubt, but Severino escaped nearly every jam.

The one jam he did not escape came in the sixth inning. Severino got two quick ground outs from Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista before Kendrys Morales lined a single to left field. Morales had three lines drives against Severino. I’m pretty sure the rest of the Blue Jays had three line drives combined. With Morales at first and two outs, Severino hung a first pitch slider to Justin Smoak …

justin-smoak-luis-severino

… who promptly deposited it into the center field seats for a game-tying two-run home run. Smoak being good now is incredibly annoying. It’s bad enough he cost the Yankees Cliff Lee back in 2010, you know? Now he’s hitting game-tying dingers in 2017 after being awful from 2010-16? The nerve of that guy, man.

Anyway, Severino made an awful pitch, easily his worst of the game, and Smoak made him pay. He was able to pitch around a leadoff hit batsmen and a sac bunt in the seventh inning to finish his start with just those two runs allowed on six hits and one walk. Sevy struck out seven and got eleven ground ball outs compared to only three in the air. Smoak home run aside, Severino pitched very well again. He’s down to a 2.90 ERA (3.13 FIP) in eleven starts and 68.1 innings this year.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Manufacture Two Runs
Unfortunately Marcus Stroman held up his end of the pitcher’s duel bargain too. He retired ten of the first eleven batters he faced before the Yankees were able to build a run in the fourth. It was almost all Aaron Judge too. He stroked a single to right, stole second, then went to third when catcher Luke Maile’s throw sailed into center field. I could you could say he air-Maile-d it. (Sorry. So sorry.)

With Judge on third and one out, all Matt Holliday had to do to get the run in was lift a ball into the outfield. He did that and then some, hammering a double over Kevin Pillar’s head and off the wall in center field. Can you call it manufacturing a run when it involved crushing a ball off the wall? Sure, why not. Holliday doubled in Judge and the Yankees took a nice little 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.

It was in the sixth that they scored an insurance run, an insurance run that ultimately wasn’t enough. A Brett Gardner single and a Gary Sanchez walk put runners on first and second with no outs against a tiring Stroman. Judge’s fly ball to center was deep enough to allow Gardner to get to third, which was pretty huge. Holliday followed with what looked like a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play ball, though he was able to beat out the return throw to first, allowing Gardner to score. Holliday gave it all he had. He busted it down the line.

After the Sanchez walk, only one of the final dozen batters the Yankees sent to the plate reached base safely. That was Aaron Hicks, who filleted a leadoff single in the eighth. He was immediately erased on a Didi Gregorius double play ball. The final five Yankees to bat struck out. There would be no Fighting Spirit in this one. At least not from the road team.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Blown By The Bullpen
Joe Girardi‘s paint by numbers bullpen management meant that, in a tie game, eighth inning guy Tyler Clippard faced Donaldson, Bautista, and Morales in the eighth inning. I imagine most folks can take a step back, look at that situation, and determine you should use your best reliever. Right? A tie game in the eighth with the other club’s three best hitters due up is a more dire situation than having a lead of no more than three runs in the ninth.

Alas, Dellin Betances remained in the bullpen and ultimately did not pitch, because extreme fly ball pitcher Tyler Clippard allowed a fly ball to extreme power hitter Josh Donaldson. What are the odds? Clippard tried to sneak a 92 mph fastball by the former MVP upstairs and the former MVP did what former MVPs do to pitches like that. I dunno, man. If there was ever a time to reverse roles and let Betances face the meat of the order in the eighth and let Clippard potentially protect a lead (against the bottom of the lineup) in the ninth, that was it.

And who knows, maybe Betances blows it. But don’t you have to get your best relievers into the game in the most important situations? Dellin has pitched once in the last week (Saturday) and there’s an off-day Monday. Really, really annoying. It’s 2017. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a manager be more flexible with his bullpen than “you’re the ninth inning guy, you’re the eighth inning guy,” and so on. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead with seven outs to go, and they lost without one of the best relievers in the world even warming up. Shrugs.

Leftovers
The Yankees only had six hits on the afternoon. The double by Holliday and singles by Gardner, Judge, Hicks, Gregorius, and Chase Headley. Sanchez drew the only walk. The Yankees were pretty aggressive on the bases too. Judge and Headley stole bases, and Gregorius was thrown out. They tried to make some things happen. Only the two runs though.

And finally … that’s it? Not much more to add to this game. Did I mention the Yankees were up 2-0 with seven outs to go and lost without Dellin Betances even warming up? Because the Yankees were up 2-0 with seven outs to go and lost without Dellin Betances even warming up.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, then back to ESPN for the updated standings. We have a Bullpen Workload page, so check that out too. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading back to New York for a six-game homestand against the Red Sox and Orioles. More AL East rivals. But first, an off-day. There’s no game Monday. Masahiro Tanaka and Drew Pomeranz are the scheduled starters for Tuesday night’s series opener against the BoSox. RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark for any of the six games on the homestand.

Yankees power their way to a 7-0 win at Toronto

Good game. Would watch over and over. Jordan Montgomery had one of his best ML starts and the bats hit nothing but extra-base hits to rout the Blue Jays. The Yankees now stand at 32-21 with a .604 winning percentage.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Good Gumby

This is probably the best we’ve seen of Jordan Montgomery in his young career. He went 6 innings, allowed no runs, only 3 hits and struck out 5. Well, he also walked 3 but none of them ended up haunting the Yankees.

For what it’s worth, here is his pitch chart for the day:

bandicam-2017-06-04-05-12-53-007

What I see here is a lot of pitches towards the different edges of the strike zone (besides the up-and-in vs. RHB’s), which is good. Montgomery is not a guy who can overpower hitters by just throwing fastballs in the zone. It’s fun to watch him when he can locate with different pitches and fool hitters. Speaking of which, his curveball was absolutely working today. Per Brooks Baseball, batters whiffed on his curve 7 times, which may not sound like a lot but it’s good for a 29.2% rate. He’s not really a guy who gets swing-and-misses with his fastball (only 2 from today) so secondary pitches working like that is vital.

After today’s game, Montgomery’s ERA dropped to 3.67. His 3.54 FIP suggests that his peripherals reflect well on his basic stats. He’s been striking out close to a hitter per inning (8.47 K/9 IP) while limiting hits (50 allowed in 56.1 IP) and home runs (0.80 HR/9 IP). It’s really hard to ask more from a rookie starter. Montgomery is here to stay for awhile.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

All the extra base hits!

The Aarons hit a pair of RBI doubles to give Joe Biagini a pair of unearned runs in the third inning. Rob Refsnyder reached on base with a Troy Tulowitzki error and stole second. He moved to third on a long fly out off Brett Gardner‘s bat. With two outs and runner on third, Aaron Hicks hit a bloop double dropped perfectly between the second baseman and right fielder (a hit probability of 9%). Aaron Judge, however, hit an absolute bullet double 116.2 mph off the bat to make it 2-0 Yankees. It was hit so hard that it deflected off of Kevin “Superman” Pillar’s glove. It seemed like he might have been able to make a Sportscenter-worthy jump catch but he just couldn’t come down with it.

The Yankees scored another run in the seventh thanks to doubles. Starlin Castro led off the inning with a bloop double to left. Didi Gregorius, not to be outdone, followed it up with another bloop double to left to drive Castro in, 3-0 Yankees. It was not left fielder Darwin Barney’s finest defensive inning. At that point, the Yankees had four base hits and all of them were doubles.

But wait, the fun was just starting. In the top of the eighth inning, the Jays brought in Jason Grilli to relieve Joe Biagini. Gardner led off the inning with his 12th HR of the year. That was also his 12th homer in the past 124 at-bats, which is mind-boggling. The calendar just barely flipped to June and the man’s way ahead on pace to shatter his career-high (17 in 2014). He’s also hitting .270/.356/.524 after today. Not a slash that you’d expect from Gardner. That’s awfully similar to Edwin Encarnacion’s from last year (.263/.357/.529). I have no idea how long Gardy will keep it up but I’m enjoying it.

Grilli went on to retire Hicks (line out) and Judge (strike out) … then all heck broke loose. Matt Holliday, Castro and Gregorius hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to make it 7-0 in a hurry. So many home runs! That was immensely fun to watch. Holliday jogging back to the dugout, yelling “I got you Gardy!” was a crowd pleaser as well. These guys are winning and having fun. What more could you want? On the flip side, Grilli became just the third reliever ever to allow four home runs in no more than 0.2 IP, per Diane Firstman.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Leftovers

Many things went right for the Yankees in this game and one of them was bullpen. Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, and Dellin Betances worked quite flawlessly (3.0 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K’s combined) in a relatively stress-free ending to a game. Today was Betances’ first appearance since May 27 vs. the Athletics. It was not a save situation but I figured that Joe Girardi wanted to put him in for some work so he can stay sharp. Betances has been as good as any reliever this season – 33 strikeouts in 18.1 IP with only 1 ER allowed all season. Folks, he is… good.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have secured at least a split in this series. They will go for the series win tomorrow with Luis Severino on the mound. He will face off Marcus Stroman. Should be a good matchup. Have a good Saturday, everyone.

Yankees can’t overcome Pineda’s rough start, fall 7-5 to Jays

Some games it seems like you’re just not meant to win, and this was one of them. The Yankees had Francisco Liriano on the ropes in the early innings of Friday night’s game, but they never capitalized, and the Blue Jays raced to a 7-5 win. Drat. The Yankees are now 12-12 in their last 24 games, which is mildly annoying. At least they’re still in first place in the AL East (by 2.5 games) and have the AL’s second best run differential (+64).

Devon Travis' life flashes before his eyes. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Devon Travis’ life flashes before his eyes. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Cursed By The RISP Gods
This game was lost in the first three innings. Well, maybe not entirely, but the Yankees wasted way too many chances. Brett Gardner was stranded at third in the first inning after a leadoff three-base error by Ezequiel Carrera — Carrera dropped a routine fly ball because (I think) he thought he was going to run into Kevin Pillar — and then Aaron Hicks was left standing at second base following a one-out double in the second.

The third inning was when it really started to feel like it just wasn’t their night. With the Blue Jays already up 3-0, the Yankees put runners on first and second via a ground rule double (Chris Carter) and a walk (Gardner). Gary Sanchez then hit a 107 mph rocket … right at the second baseman Devon Travis for a line out. After Aaron Judge worked a walk to load the bases with one out, Matt Holliday hit a 109 mph rocket … on the ground and right at Josh Donaldson for an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. SIGH. Seven hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first three innings. There’s yer ballgame.

Big Mike‘s Big Dud
I suppose Michael Pineda was due for a stinker. After allowing no more than three earned runs in any of his previous nine starts, Pineda gave up three runs in the first inning Friday night, and they came on two very loud home runs. He hung the hell out of a slider to Donaldson, who smacked it over the left field wall for a solo home run. Three batters later Pineda split the plate in half with a fastball to Justin Smoak, who cranked it off the luxury box windows for a two-run shot. The pitch locations:

michael-pineda-josh-donaldson-justin-smoak

Yeah. Not great. Pineda also hung a slider that inning to Jose Bautista, who just got under it and flew out. Giving up a solo homer to Donaldson is whatever. It happens. The Smoak homer was the killer. The two-out walk to Kendrys Morales that preceded it was the accomplice. Pineda has allowed 13 home runs in eleven starts so far this season, and only twice in those eleven starts was he able to keep the other team in the ballpark. As good as he’s been overall this year, the long ball has been an issue.

The Blue Jays tacked on two more runs against Pineda with a third inning sacrifice fly and fourth inning wild pitch. Like I said, it was just one of those nights. After the home runs, there were a lot of ground balls with eyes and bloops that dunked in. Less exit velocity is more, I guess. Pineda gave up a hit to Luke Maile, a career .178/.208/.297 big league hitter, in an 0-2 count with a pitch up at shoulder level. What can you do? Some nights things don’t go well.

The most telling number about Pineda’s night: one. That’s how many strikeouts he had. And he didn’t get that strikeout until the fifth inning, against the 27th and final batter he faced (Maile). Pineda’s slider wasn’t good at all, so much so that midway through the game he started going to his changeup more than his slider. He never does that. The final tally: 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. Shake it off and come back in five days, Mikey.

Not Enough Fighting Spirit
The offense tried and tried to get back into the game, but the bullpen just wouldn’t let it happen. The Yankees struck for four runs in the top the sixth to turn a 5-0 game into a 5-4 game. Judge hit a two-run home run into the second deck in right field — opposite field second deck! — and Starlin Castro hit a laser two-run home run juuust over the right field wall. A Sanchez single and a Holliday made those two-run homers possible.

Alright, one-run game! The Blue Jays answered right back with a run in the bottom of the sixth, unfortunately. Donaldson took Jonathan Holder deep and it wasn’t even a bad pitch. Donaldson went down and got a curveball.

jonathan-holder-josh-donaldsonGreat hitter does great hitter things. The 5-4 game became a 6-4 game. It became a 6-5 game in the top of the seventh with a quick strike two-out rally. Judge drew a walk and Holliday doubled into the right-center field gap. He has a knack for hitting these opposite field fly balls that just carry and carry and carry. I thought it was a routine fly out off the bat. Next thing you know, Pillar is leaping and unable to make the catch at the warning track.

Okay, great, the Yankees were back within one. That didn’t last long though. The Blue Jays scored another insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a Smoak ground ball deep into the shift, which Castro got to and was able to first to first. The problem? Carter gave up on the play, thinking it was a hit. He was late to first base and Smoak beat him. The Yankees challenged the play to see whether Carter’s toe touched the bag, but alas. Pretty terrible.

Troy Tulowitzki followed with a loud double to right, and Travis got the run in with a hard-hit sacrifice fly to left. Adam Warren was on the mound that inning. Every time the Yankees scored runs to get to within one, the bullpen gave a run right back. The bats let them down early with the RISPFAIL and the bullpen let them down late with all those tack-on runs. At least they didn’t go down quietly.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Leftovers
Every starter had a hit except Gardner and Chase Headley. Gardner drew a walk. Headley did nothing. He’s down to .232/.306/.356 (80 wRC+) on the season. Remember his great start? It feels like a lifetime ago. The Yankees are going to have to think about making a change at third base in the near future. Maybe that means Ronald Torreyes, maybe it means Gleyber Torres, maybe it means a trade. But this can’t go on forever.

Your nightly Aarons update: Judge went 1-for-3 with the homer and two walks while Hicks went 2-for-4. Judge is hitting .326/.431/.691 (198 wRC+). Hicksie is hitting .323/.438/.585 (175 wRC+). Why don’t they just make the entire team out of Aarons? Those guys are awesome. I love Sanchez, he’s the man, but I wish Hicks was hitting second.

The one reliever who didn’t allow a run was Chasen Shreve, who struck out Donaldson and Bautista as part of a perfect ninth inning. I know he gave up that moonshot to (future Yankee?) Mike Moustakas a few weeks ago, but Shreve has been pretty darn good since coming back up.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game weekend series continues with the third game Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1pm ET start. Hooray for that. Jordan Montgomery and reliever-turned-starter Joe Biagini are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Sanchez and Hicks crush Blue Jays in 12-2 series opening win

Now that’s how you start a series. The Yankees rebounded from a disappointing series in Camden Yards to hammer the Blue Jays in the series opener at Rogers Centre on Thursday night. Bit of a statement game. Toronto had been playing well and were surely looking to gain a lot of ground in the standings this weekend. The Yankees put them in their place. The final score was 12-2 good guys.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

A Four-Run First
Remember the other day when I said I love getting a first inning run on the road? It’s so great. You force the other team to play catch-up before they even come to the plate. The Yankees did exactly that Thursday night, though instead of scoring one run, they scored four. Love it. A double by Brett Gardner and a single by new No. 3 hitter Aaron Judge scored the first run. Nice and quick.

After the Judge single, Matt Holliday picked up a one-bagger of his own, then Starlin Castro drew a walk to load the bases with one out. It looked like the Yankees were going to waste the opportunity after Didi Gregorius struck out and Aaron Hicks swung through a Marco Estrada changeup, but thankfully Hicks connected with the 1-1 pitch from Estrada for a booming bases-clearing double to right. It was LOUD. I thought it was way gone off the bat. Instead, it sailed over Jose Bautista’s head and went to the wall. Works for me. Seven batters into the game, the Yankees led 4-0.

You Can’t Spell Kraken Without Rake
The last week or so has been kinda weird for Gary Sanchez. He’s been a bit jumpy at the plate and it felt like he was slumping, yet he went 4-for-13 (.308) in Baltimore. There won’t be any talk about a slump now. Sanchez smacked two home runs against Estrada on Thursday, the first a solo shot and the second a two-run job. He made obscure Statcast history in the process:

Sanchez is now 4-for-8 with four home runs against Estrada in his career. The one time he faced him in this game and didn’t hit a home run, he hit a line drive right to center fielder Kevin Pillar. Some guys just throw your speed, you know? Sanchez now has six homers in 26 games this year. That’s a 37-homer pace across 162 games. Some slump, huh?

Another Strong Start For Sabathia
Nice 4-0 lead after the top of the first? A veteran pitcher knows what to do with that. CC Sabathia has been there, done that. His biggest jam came in the second inning, which Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak started with back-to-back singles. Two fly balls and a strikeout later, the inning was over. CC threw 23 pitches that inning and never more than 15 pitches in any of his other five complete innings.

After the Smoak single Sabathia retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced, and one of the three baserunners was an infield single. It wasn’t until the seventh inning, when the Yankees were up 9-0, that Sabathia allowed a run. It was a Morales solo homer on a pitch that can best be described as a “we’re up 9-0 and the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning has a full count” fastball. A get-me-over I’m not walking you heater, you know? Even then it only barely cleared the wall.

The final line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Sabathia threw 102 pitches and is sporting a 4.12 ERA (4.44 FIP) on the season. He’s allowed no more than two earned runs in seven of his eleven starts. Outside that miserable four-start stretch a few weeks ago — and it was truly awful (22 runs in 20.2 innings) — Sabathia has been rock solid this year. He’s given the Yankees exactly what they need. Pretty awesome the big man has figured out how to make it worth with reduced stuff.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Leftovers
The Yankees were nice enough to tack on insurance runs in the late innings. A Hicks double and a Chase Headley single drove in two runs in the seventh to stretch the lead to 9-0. Gregorius was nearly thrown out at the plate on the Hicks double, but replay confirmed he was safe. Then, in the ninth, Hicks doubled in two runs and Headley singled in another. Four runs in the first, one in the second, two in the fourth, two in the seventh, and three in the ninth.

Big night for Hicks, obviously. He went 4-for-5 with three doubles and drove in six of the team’s dozen runs. The second best Aaron is now hitting .317/.437/.579 (173 wRC+) on the season. That’ll do, Hicksie. That’ll do. The 1-2-3-4 hitters went a combined 8-for-20 (.400) with two homers, both by Sanchez. Castro and Chris Carter were the only starters without a hit, and they both drew walks.

Chad Green came out of the bullpen to replace Sabathia and took it the rest of the way. He allowed a solo home run to Ezequiel Carrera in the eighth inning and, well, who cares? Solo home runs in the eighth when you’re up 9-1 are no big deal. Just throw strikes and get outs. Green allowed that one run and two hits in his 2.2 innings of work. He struck out two. His fastball topped out at 97.6 mph.

And finally, congrats to Gardner for joining the 1,000-hit club. The longest tenured Yankee reached the milestone with a clean single back up the middle in the fourth inning. Gardner went from college walk-on to reaching 1,000 hits in the big leagues. He picked up a World Series ring and a $52M contract along the way. Pretty cool.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Game two of this four-game series. Michael Pineda and Francisco Liriano are the scheduled starters Friday night. So basically the right-handed and left-handed versions of the same enigmatic pitcher.