Yankees swat five home runs, take series opener 6-3 from Royals

The Bronx Bombers are back! For one night, anyway. The Yankees hit five home runs en route to a 6-3 win over the Royals in Monday’s series opener. It was their first five-homer game of the season. I hope there are many more. The Yankees have won four of their last six games too. Are things turning around? I hope so.

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

Five & Fly
The Yankees went into Monday’s game next to last in the AL with 25 home runs. Only the Royals hit fewer. They had 23. After two innings and change against Chris Young, the Yankees jumped from 14th in the AL to ninth with 30 home runs. Young faced 14 batters and five (five!) took him deep. That’s … bad. Young is the first pitcher to allow five homers to the Yankees since Clay Buchholz back in 2012.

The tater mashers: Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and then Beltran again. Gardner and Hicks went back-to-back in the third. (First back-to-back homers of the season for the Yanks.) All five home runs were solo shots, which is kinda lame, but hey, I’ll take it. Young is an extreme fly ball pitcher and his fastball averages 88 mph on a good day, so when he misses his spot, the ball tends to go a long way. The Yankees haven’t been hitting many home runs this year. It was fun to watch them do some yard work Monday.

Four and Two-Thirds & Fly
Ivan Nova probably cost himself a win in the fifth inning. Not because he pitched poorly, but because he made some defensive no-nos. First he fielded a chopper from Cheslor Cuthbert, then turned and rushed the throw, pulling Mark Teixeira off the bag. Replays showed Nova had a little more time than he probably realized. Also, Chase Headley was right there too and could have made the play without the difficult throw.

Then, later in the inning, Nova reached out with his barehand and slowed down a Jarrod Dyson chopper back up the middle. Had he let it go, it would have gone right to Didi Gregorius near second base for a possible double play, even with the speedy Dyson running. It would have been catch, step on the bag, throw. Bang bang bang. Gregorius did get the out at second but nothing more because Nova slowed the ball down.

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

And finally, Nova missed first base on Alcides Escobar’s ground ball to Teixeira at first. The flip was perfect and Nova did make the catch, he just missed the bag. It happens, but man, Nova did himself no favors that inning defensively. The Yankees were up 5-1, and he was pulled with runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth inning because his pitch count hit 81, six more than Joe Girardi said Nova was scheduled to throw. One out short of a win. Sucks.

Most importantly, Nova’s first start in place of the injured CC Sabathia went well. One run on six hits and a walk in 4.2 innings is serviceable, especially since he was on a pitch limit. The run came on a long Alex Gordon homer. Nova wiggled out of trouble in the second and Phil Coke bailed him out in the fifth. Pretty much exactly what the Yankees needed from Nova. Don’t meltdown, basically.

Bullpen Machinations
Girardi managed his four-run lead like it was a one-run lead. Coke got Eric Hosmer to end the fifth — he fell behind in the count 3-0 before rebounding to get a fly out — then got the first out of the sixth. After Coke walked Gordon, Kirby Yates came in to finish off the inning. Dellin Betances was warming behind him much of that inning, just in case things got really hairy.

Rather than bring Betances into the seventh, Girardi managed to steal another inning’s worth of outs from Yates, who had some help from Gregorius and Teixeira. Didi and Tex made two great plays in that inning — both times Gregorius made the backhanded snag, fired to first, and Teixeira made the scoop — and Kirby retired all three batters he faced. Yates seems to be this year’s “who is this guy and why is he pitching effectively out of the bullpen?” guy.

The Yankees were able to tack on a sixth run in the seventh inning on two singles (Headley, Ronald Torreyes), a productive ground out (Gardner), and a sac fly (Hicks). That meant Chasen Shreve and not one of the big three relievers handled the eighth inning. On his first pitch, Shreve gave up another homer. Hosmer got him. That was the fifth dinger he’s allowed in his last 5.2 innings. So much for Chasen being fixed, huh?

Andrew Miller was on the bullpen mound warming up before Hosmer’s home run landed, it seemed. Shreve did get through the rest of the inning unscathed though, so Miller did nothing but warm up. Aroldis Chapman then made his Yankees debut in the ninth. The first batter he faced:

Aroldis Chapman Omar Infante

That’ll do. Chapman topped out at 102.1 mph and did actually allow a run. Paulo Orlando hit a booming double to center and Escobar drove him in with a single through Gregorius. Didi should have had that one. He played the hop weird. One inning, two hits, one run, two strikeouts. Good to get Chapman in there in a low-leverage spot for his first first game of the year.

Nitpick Time
Allow me to nitpick, because it’s what I do best. Why warm up Betances and not bring him in? Girardi had Dellin ready to go in case Yates ran into trouble in the sixth and seventh, which he didn’t. Then, when Shreve gave up the homer, it was Miller who warmed up, not Betances. Why not just go to Betances since he was already warmed up and avoid getting both hot?

Pitchers will tell you warming up and not pitching is almost like appearing in the game. It’s not nothing. Dellin and Miller didn’t pitch, but they kinda did, you know? The Yankees had a four-run lead (and temporarily a five-run lead), yet six of the seven relievers either warmed up or pitched. Overkill. Girardi was like a kid on Christmas morning. He didn’t know which toy to play with.

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

The offense went pretty silent after Young left the game. The Yankees did add that sixth run in the seventh, but they still had only three hits and one walk in their final 5.1 offensive innings. They managed to score six runs while having only two at-bats with runners in scoring position. Hooray dingers! Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Texeira and Gregorius. At least they played some mean defense.

Speaking of warming up and not pitching, Chien-Ming Wang was getting hot in the Kansas City in the bullpen in the eighth inning. He didn’t enter the game, unfortunately. Hopefully he pitches at some point in the series, preferably in a blowout loss. Wanger deserves a nice big ovation at Yankee Stadium.

And finally, congrats to Ben Gamel for picking up his first big league hit in his first at-bat. It was a soft ground ball single through the left side of the infield. It hit off Escobar’s glove and scooted away. Line drive in the box score, my man.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, then go to MLB.com for the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages that may be of some help. Here’s the ol’ win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Royals will play the second game of this four-game series Tuesday night. Masahiro Tanaka and Kris Medlen are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any other home game this season.

Yankees have no answer for Wright, drop series finale 5-1 to Red Sox

Well, winning two out of three ain’t bad. The Yankees didn’t put up much of a fight against Steven Wright and the Red Sox on Sunday night, dropping the series finale 5-1. The game was not as competitive as the score may indicate.

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

Strugglin’ Sevy
For the first time this season, Luis Severino showed flashes of dominance Sunday night. Yeah, he did give up four runs in 6.2 innings, including two on a cheap Yankee Stadium homer (Dustin Pedroia) and two on moonshot homers (David Ortiz), but he also overwhelmed hitters from the first through sixth inning. We caught a glimpse of 2015 Severino again, finally. (It was only a glimpse though.)

After giving up the homer to Pedroia in the first, Severino retired 17 of the next 19 batters he faced — the two exceptions where Ortiz’s first homer and a soft single pretty much every non-Carlos Beltran right fielder catches — including eight on strikeouts. His previous season high was five strikeouts and he matched that eight batters into the game. Severino’s nine strikeouts overall tied a career high.

All told, Severino generated 13 swings and misses out of 113 total pitches, a new season high. He averaged 6.8 swings and misses per start the first five times out. There were still enough mistakes to remind you Severino is not all the way back — he missed his spot by the entire width of the plate on the second Ortiz homer — but at least we saw an effective pitcher for a few innings. We’ve been waiting for that.

Sending Severino back out for the seventh was unnecessary in my opinion, but out he went to serve up another bomb to Ortiz and a single to Brock Holt, ending his night. The kid has been getting knocked around all season and that was a chance to get him out — his pitch count was at 96 at the time — feeling good about things. I dunno, seemed like there was no need to try to squeeze a few more outs from him. /shrugs

I don’t think it’s a coincidence the Yankees shuffled the Triple-A Scranton rotation to line Luis Cessa up with Severino. It was time for Severino to make some progress. The season is a month old now and the Yankees can’t just send the kid out there to take a pounding every five days. Severino needed to show some improvement to keep his rotation spot, and we saw it Sunday, albeit for only a few innings. Now he needs to show more in five days.

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

I Used To Have An Open Mind, But My Brains Kept Falling Out
I’m not a big exit velocity guy, but this sums up the offense: the Yankees put 21 balls in play against Steven Wright on Sunday, and exactly six were above the MLB average exit velocity (89.2 mph). Mark Teixeira hit a 90 mph grounder, Beltran hit a 100 mph fly ball, Starlin Castro hit a 93 mph double, Dustin Ackley hit a 92 mph fly ball, Didi Gregorius hit a 93 mph fly ball, and Brett Gardner hit a 106 mph solo homer. That’s it. It was weak contact all night.

Wright pitched like a knuckleballing version of vintage Roy Halladay. He totally dominated the Yankees and they never once had anything close to a rally. Even after Castro’s leadoff double in the seventh, Starlin managed to get picked off third later in the inning like a nincompoop. He’s been doing stuff like that his entire career, unfortunately. It’s part of the Castro experience. Anyway, Wright was generally throwing his knuckler up in the zone …

Steven Wright pitch location

… though I’m not sure that was by design. The knuckleball by definition is unpredictable. They aren’t exactly conducive to command. Either way, the old “if it’s high let if fly, if it’s low let it go” mantra did nothing to help the Yankees. It was high, they let it fly, and they didn’t square it up. Wright had his way with the Yankees all night, like far too many other pitchers this season.

Gardner gets Player of the Game for the Yankees by default. In addition to the homer, Brett also threw Hanley Ramirez out at home in the top of the ninth. Very quick release and an accurate throw from Gardner. It was the second runner thrown out at home by a Yankee this season. Aaron Hicks threw someone out a few weeks ago. That was the 105 mph throw.

Chasen Shreve and Johnny Barbato, who were so excellent for a few weeks to start the season, combined to put three men on base in 2.1 innings. Shreve gave up a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts and has now has allowed four homers in his last 5.2 innings. Yeah, it literally hit the top of the wall and hopped over, but still. The middle innings are a bit of a mess right now.

The Yankees had three hits on the night: Gardner’s homer, Castro’s double, and Brian McCann‘s soft single in the first inning. McCann’s single should have been caught. I’m not sure why Holt pulled up and played the hop, but he did, and McCann’s batting average benefits.

And finally, Castro felt something in his rib cage diving back into third base when he was picked off in the seventh inning. Girardi seemed to indicate it is no big deal and thinks Starlin will play Monday. I bet he sits a day.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The homestand continues Monday night with the first of four against the defending World Series champion Royals. Ivan Nova will make his first start of the season in the opener. He’s replacing the injured CC Sabathia in the rotation. Big Chris Young will be on the bump for Kansas City. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to go to that game or any of the other six remaining games on the homestand.

The Big Hits Finally Arrive: Didi & Beltran back Eovaldi in 8-2 win over Red Sox

Source: FanGraphs

Don’t look now, but the Yankees have won two in a row and three of their last four games. They’ve scored at least seven runs three times in their last six games too. Are they turning it around? Possibly! For now I’m just happy with another win. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-2 Saturday afternoon. Let’s recap with bullet points, because it’s Saturday and I stayed up way too late writing last night’s recap.

  • The Big Hit: Finally! It sure looked like the Yankees were going to blow that bases loaded situation in the fourth inning, but Didi Gregorius wouldn’t let it happen. He hooked David Price’s 0-2 changeup into the right field corner for a bases-clearing half-swing double to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. It wasn’t even a bad pitch. Didi just went down and got it.
    Didi Gregorius Aaron HicksWe could all feel the RISPFAIL coming when Gregorius fell behind in the count 0-2 against Price. Thankfully, it never did come. The Yankees have been waiting for a hit like that all season.
  • Nasty Nate: It was not always pretty, but boy, give me two runs and eight innings out of Nathan Eovaldi eight days a week and twice on Sundays. He allowed the first run on a dumb little shift-beating squibber and the second on a solo homer, and those things happen. Eovaldi managed to hold the BoSox to two at-bats with runners in scoring position. That’s it. Nasty Nate finished with those two runs allowed on six hits and no walks in eight innings. He stuck out six. Huge outing. The Yankees absolutely needed that with the bullpen short. That’s four good to great starts in a row for the rotation, by the way.
  • The Other Big Hit: The Yankees did it again! In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees put two on with one out, and they again cashed in those runners. Carlos Beltran came up with the big two-strike, two-out double into the left field corner to score both runs and make it 6-2 Yankees. That was rather huge. They were going to need all the insurance they could get with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller unavailable. Price walked two and Beltran made him pay. B-e-a-utiful.
  • Leftovers: Home plate umpire Chris Conroy had a very tight strike zone, and it definitely seemed like Price got screwed more than Eovaldi. Here’s the PitchFX zone plot … three Yankees had multiple hits: Chase Headley, Gregorius, and Austin Romine. How about that? Headley and Didi had two hits each, Romine had three … Aaron Hicks went 1-for-3 with a walk and a sac fly. He seems to be coming around a bit … everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once … Nick Goody finished things off with a perfect ninth … this is the Yankees’ third series win of the season. They’ve played nine three-game series.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t forget to check our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap this series up Sunday night on ESPN. Blah. Luis Severino and Steven Wright will be the pitching matchup.

Hicks homers, Yankees hang on for 3-2 win over Red Sox

You done messed up that baseball A-A-Ron! I hope some of you get that. (Those who didn’t: watch this.) The Yankees actually won a game Friday night — weird, I know — beating the Red Sox 3-2 thanks to a late home run by Aaron Hicks. Andrew Miller, with some help from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, made it stand up in the ninth inning. That was a fun game, yes? Yes. Yes it was.


Nail-Biting Time In The Ninth
Let’s recap this game backwards and start with the ninth inning. The Yankees were nursing a 3-2 lead and Joe Girardi wanted this game so badly he used Dellin Betances for the third consecutive day. Dellin threw six pitches Wednesday and ten pitches Thursday, so it’s not like he pitched a lot the last few days, but Girardi usually doesn’t use his relievers three days in a row. In fact, this is the first time he’s done it since September 2014 (David Robertson).

Betances allowed a single and got two outs in the eighth inning, and it was pretty clear Girardi had him on a pitch count. He was lifted after 15 pitches and Miller came in for the four-out save. Miller struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning, then came back out for the ninth. And gosh, what a ninth inning. It’s never easy, is it? The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out on an infield single, a legitimate single, and a dropped pop-up in the triangle. Yuck.

The Yankees still led 3-2 but now the BoSox had the bases loaded with David Ortiz at the plate, which is pretty much everyone’s worst nightmare. Miller fell behind in the count 3-1 and we were all waiting to see how the Yankees would blow the lead. Here’s the 3-1 slider that I’m pretty sure every single one of us thought was ball four:

Andrew Miller David Ortiz

Good gravy is that a bad aesthetic. McCann got crossed up — he was expecting a fastball and got a slider — and he caught it funny, which made the pitch look a lot worse than it really was. It was a strike though. Absolutely. It caught the corner according to PitchFX. David Ortiz and manager John Farrell didn’t want to hear it though. They both argued and Farrell was tossed. Not Ortiz though. He continued the at-bat.

Miller went back to the slider for the 3-2 payoff pitch and he got a favorable call from Kulpa for strike three. Ortiz walked the dugout before running back out to give Kupla the business. To be honest, I don’t blame him. Umpires are known to hold grudges, and after Ortiz and Farrell gave him lip after the 3-1 pitch, it seemed like Kupla gave the favorable call to Miller on the 3-2 pitch. Here’s the video of the 3-2 pitch and Ortiz’s tirade:

Miller struck out Hanley Ramirez with the bases loaded to end the game after putting Ortiz away. That almost felt inevitable. I felt like once the Yankees got away with that 3-2 pitch to Ortiz, they were going to win. The call was too favorable to not win, you know?

For the sake of being thorough, here is the strike zone plot of the Ortiz at-bat, per Brooks Baseball:

Andrew Miller Davis Ortiz strike zone

The 3-1 pitch was in the strike zone. It just looked really bad because McCann got crossed up. The 3-2 pitch was down below the zone though and a robot umpire would have ruled it ball four. Luckily the #humanelement still exists and Kulpa called what should have been ball four strike three. Hey, I ain’t complaining.

An A-A-Bomb For A-A-Ron
Hicks’ tenure with the Yankees has not started well. (John Ryan Murphy was sent to Triple-A on Friday, so neither side is getting what they want from the trade right now.) He came into Friday’s game with three hits in 33 at-bats (.091), which is obviously terrible. Alex Rodriguez‘s injury means Hicks is probably going to play everyday for the next two weeks however, so this is a chance for him to show what he can do.

In the sixth inning Hicks’ usually excellent defense let the Yankees and Michael Pineda down. He let two soft fly balls drop in front of him for base hits and both probably should have been caught. The second one definitely should have been caught. The first one kinda died in the air and dropped quick. It would have been a tough play. But still, you want your defensive wiz to make those plays. Pineda put his hands up and showed up Hicks on both plays, which is total crap. Pineda finally had his first decent start of the year and he’s showing up teammates? Get real.

Anyway, Pineda got Bradley to bang into a double play to end that sixth inning and keep the game tied 2-2. Two innings later, in the bottom of the seventh, Hicks laid into a first pitch changeup from Rick Porcello that was right out over the plate. I mean, look at this thing:

Aaron Hicks Rick Porcello

That’s an 86 mph center cut changeup. It’s a batting practice fastball, basically. Hicks hit it over the bullpen and into the first row of the right field bleachers, so he got all of it. In fact, at 446 feet (per Statcast), it was the longest home run by the Yankees this season.

And boy, did Hicks need that. Hicks and the Yankees needed it. He needed something to feel good about following his rocky start, and the Yankees just needed a damn run. When Girardi gets ejected trying to get a balk call to force in a run like he did Thursday, you know the team is desperate for runs. Hicks delivered a big one Friday.


The Battle Back
The Yankees quickly fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, and it was easy to think the game was over. They’re not scoring and the Red Sox probably were not going to stop at two runs. Instead, the Yankees battled back to tie the game at 2-2, scoring one run in the first and another in the second.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first with a four-pitch walk, then stole second and third against Christian Vazquez, who I’m told is the fourth Molina brother. McCann cashed the run in with a two-out, two-strike double to right field. Ellsbury, by the way, got hurt in the inning. He tweaked his hip on the steal of third and was pulled from the game. An MRI showed a strained hip muscle and he is day-to-day.

McCann cut Boston’s lead in half, then, in the bottom of the second, the Yankees manufactured a run with an infield single and a sacrifice bunt. Starlin Castro beat out the single and Hicks laid down the bunt. He was trying to bunt for a hit, which is a smart play in the rain with the wet grass, but Porcello made a very nice play to get him at first. Dustin Ackley, who replaced Ellsbury, stroked a two-out single to center to score Castro and the tied the game.

The inning actually ended on that play. Ronald Torreyes drew a walk and was on first base when Ackley singled, and he was cut down at third base on the single. Bradley’s throw from center was so bad that Dustin Pedroia cut if off and threw Torreyes out at third. The ball had to have slipped out of Bradley’s hand. I’m not sure how else he fired a two-hopper to the cutoff man.

Anyway, how about that? Hicks and Ackley (Hickley or Ackicks? Did we pick one?) contributing to the offense. Good times.


Two Outs Mike
The Red Sox put eight runners on base against Pineda — six hits and two walks — and wouldn’t you know it, six of the eight came with two outs in the inning. Coming into the game opponents had a .509 OBP (!) with two outs in the inning against Pineda. It was .239 OBP with zero or one out. He’s struggled to finish innings all season.

Boston scored both their runs in the first inning. Pineda got two quick outs (of course), then allowed a two-out double to Xander Bogaerts (of course) and a two-run home run to Ortiz (of course). Hanley and Travis Shaw followed with two-out singles for good measure. It felt like another one of those games for the pitcher former known as Big Mike. He looked great after two batters then it came apart.

To Pineda’s credit, he settled down very nicely after that first inning. He retired 12 of 14 batters from the second through fifth innings before the Red Sox put some runners on base in the sixth. Hicks’ misplays in center were to blame there. Pineda finished the night with just the two runs allowed on six hits and two walks in six innings. He fanned five. The first inning was frustrating, but Pineda did settle down, so hooray for that. That’s three good to great starts in a row for the rotation.

Disturbing stat about the offense: they saw 32 pitches in the final four innings. Total. They saw seven pitches in the fifth, ten in the sixth, five in the seventh, and ten in the eighth. That is: bad. I am in favor of swinging early in the count, but geez, not that much. Starting working some counts, fellas.

Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates tag-teamed the seventh inning. Shreve allowed a leadoff double to Vazquez, then got a gift when Mookie Betts popped up a bunt. Why he was bunting, I’ll never know. Yates then came in and got a liner to short from Pedroia and a strikeout of Bogaerts. Bogaerts did not like the strike three call:

Kirby Yates Xander Bogaerts

Kulpa bad a big strike zone, I get it, but boy do the Red Sox complain about a lot of calls. They’re like the Rasheed Wallace of baseball teams.

The Yankees only had six hits and three walks offensively. Ackley, McCann, Castro, Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Didi Gregorius had the base hits. Ellsbury, Gardner, and Torreyes drew the walks. Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran went a combined 0-for-7 with two strikeouts. Yuck. The Yankees really need those two to get going.

And finally, Ben Gamel made his big league debut as a defensive replacement for Ackley in right field in the eighth inning. Naturally, the very first ball was hit his way. Congrats to Gamel. He’s come a long way since being a tenth round pick in 2010.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game. Here are the updated standings and our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probably graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox will continue the series Saturday afternoon. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi against David Price, a rematch of last Sunday’s game. Hopefully this one goes a little better. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch game or any of the other eight games left on the homestand live.

Tanaka’s gem can’t save Yankees in 1-0 extra-innings loss to O’s

That horrible road trip is finally over and Yankees ended it in a fitting way: a frustrating walk-off loss to the division rival Orioles. Masahiro Tanaka pitched one of the best starts in his Yankee career but the bats came up empty against Kevin Gausman and the O’s bullpen. The Yankees made the very questionable decision of using a 5.00+ ERA rookie bullpen pitcher to pitch in bottom of tenth and, well, they lost. At least we have Aroldis Chapman‘s return to look forward to after this weekend, right?

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ace Tanaka

So, most of the game was… pretty much uneventful. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun to watch though. Tanaka had his A-game with his new sinker/splitter-heavy approach inducing, getting more grounders and going on to throw eight scoreless innings. This is the first time he threw 8.0 IP of no run ball since May 31, 2014 versus the Minnesota Twins. His game score of 78 is the highest since April 18, 2015 when he threw a seven scoreless against the Rays.

After CC Sabathia‘s scoreless start last night, this has to be the best two-game stretch for the Yankee starters in 2016, right? I don’t think you could have asked for any more from Tanaka. His line – 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K’s  is quite neat. His start brought his ERA down to 2.29 while his FIP is at a nice 2.56. What stands out to me from the new Tanaka is that he’s generating more weak contact and grounders. He had 46.6% and 47.0% GB% in his first two seasons; so far in 2016, he has a 59.6 GB%, which is the second best among qualified ML starters. How about that? I think I like this version of Tanaka.

He only let baserunners in scoring position twice – third and fourth innings – and they turned out to be very harmless. Also he only let five batted balls out of the infield. He pretty much did everything to warrant a W in his line but unfortunately, that did not happen.

Failed Chances

The Yankees had a good scoring chance in the fourth. Starlin Castro, who had been hitless in the series, led off with a double down the left field line. Brian McCann‘s big fly out advanced Starlin to third, setting up runner on third with one out. However, Mark Teixeira‘s ground out to first base couldn’t bring Castro in. Carlos Beltran followed it up by popping up to end the inning. Joe Girardi was also tossed by the third base umpire Chris Guccione, possibly for missing a balk on Gausman’s pre-delivery actions. The Yankee offense has been struggling for the most part (duh) and being able to squeeze a run even via balk would have been very nice for the team.

After being retired 10 in a row, Yankees got something going on with a 1 out Teixeira single in the top of seventh. Beltran, however, immediately grounded into double play to kill yet another Yankee scoring chance. What’s a good picture to summarize how offense fared tonight? Well…

The Yankees made some noise in the top of the ninth. Darren O’Day came in to relieve Gausman and got first two outs with relative ease. He allowed a single to Castro and on deck was left-handed McCann. Showalter decided to bring in Zach Britton to combat the Yankee catcher. During the at-bat, Britton threw a wild pitch that advanced Castro to second, leaving the Yankees a single shy of taking a 1-0 lead. However, Matt Wieters caught Castro napping way off the second base and threw him out to end the inning. I mean, boy, Yanks’ rotten luck with RISP has been a theme of this season and they just seem to find various of ways to keep it going.

Getty Images


The Yankees brought in Dellin Betances in the ninth to relieve Tanaka. After getting Chris Davis to strike out, Betances allowed a walk to Mark Trumbo. The O’s put in speedy Joey Rickard to pinch-run for Trumbo. Up next, Wieters hit a long and tall fly ball to right that seemed to hang in the air for forever… and then Dustin Ackley just barely, barely, made a jumping up against the wall and doubled off Rickard on the base paths for a double play. Rickard must have thought that the ball ricocheted off the wall into Ackley’s glove. Buck Showalter and the O’s challenged the call but Ackley clearly caught it (and the umps agreed, rightfully so).

Instead of Andrew Miller, who threw a whopping fifteen pitches in the previous nine days, the Yankees brought in Johnny Barbato to take care of the bottom of tenth. Hyun Soo Kim reached first with a Baltimore Chop infield single. Jonathan Schoop followed it up with a single to make it runners on first and third with no outs.  New York *then* got Miller to relieve but they were several batters too late. Pedro Alvarez hit a sac fly to center to win the game for Baltimore. It was a kind of a fitting game (and ending) for Yankees in this awful 2-7 road trip.

Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standings

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

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees come back to Bronx tomorrow to face the Red Sox in this weekend’s three-game series. Can you hear the enthusiasm from my writing voice? Probably not.

Sabathia stops the bleeding; Yanks snap six-game losing streak with 7-0 win over O’s

Now that’s more like it. The Yankees snapped their six-game losing streak Wednesday night with what was maybe their most complete win of the season. They had some extended rallies, they played solid defense, and the pitching was on point. The final score was 7-0 Yankees.


The Stopper
It has been a long time since CC Sabathia last pitched like a true ace. For at least one night, the ace version of Sabathia returned, and he showed up at exactly the right time for the Yankees. Sabathia played the role of stopper Wednesday night and put an end to the losing streak with seven scoreless innings against the Orioles. He allowed six hits and two walks while fanning six.

Was it easy? Of course not. Sabathia’s only 1-2-3 inning was his final inning. He held the O’s to 1-for-8 with three strikeouts and one double play with runners in scoring position, and, obviously, the one hit did not even score a run. Sabathia can thank Aaron Hicks for that. Jonathan Schoop didn’t even try to score from second on Ryan Flaherty’s fifth inning single to right because Hicks has a rocket arm. Sabathia got two other double plays as well.

The changeup was Sabathia’s best pitch by far Wednesday night. He was consistently burying the change down and away to righties — he threw 28 changeups, they swung 14 times, and missed eight times — and it allowed all those fastballs he threw in on the hands to play up. Sabathia also threw some nice backdoor sliders too. This was a vintage performance from the big man. CC is still a boss.

The Offense Breaks Out
Jacoby Ellsbury started the game with a double to right field. As per 2016 Yankees tradition, he was stranded. (Actually, he got thrown out at home on the contact play.) Fifteen of the next 17 Yankees made outs against righty Tyler Wilson, and the two base-runners were walks that were quickly erased. The Yanks did not record their second hit until Ellsbury singled with one out in the sixth. For the first five innings and change, it was more of the same from the Yankees. The offense was lifeless.

Things changed in the sixth. Ellsbury pulled the single to right, stole second, moved to third on Brett Gardner‘s single to center, then scored on Carlos Beltran‘s sacrifice fly. The fly ball wasn’t terribly deep and it looked like Adam Jones had a chance for a play at the plate, but he fumbled the transfer a bit and Ellsbury scored without a throw. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead and it was like pulling teeth, I swear.


The floodgates opened after that. Mark Teixeira walked and Brian McCann drove in Gardner with a single to right. Starlin Castro hit a tapper back to the mound that looked like it would end the inning, but Wilson spiked the throw to first and it scooted on by Chris Davis for a run-scoring error. The Yankees needed something like that. They haven’t been playing well, and when you don’t play well, it seems like your opponent makes every play in the field. It was nice to see the Yankees get a break for once.

The three runs felt like 300 runs given how the Yankees have been struggling to score this season. They didn’t stop there though. Two innings later, they put up a four spot thanks mostly to McCann’s two-run double to right. Didi Gregorius also drove in a run with a single, and Gardner got an RBI the hard way: he took a pitch to the right elbow with the bases loaded. Brett took one for the team and added a (sixth) insurance run.

In the first five innings the Yankees went 1-for-15 (.067) with two walks. In the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings they went a combined 8-for-17 (.471) with six singles, two doubles, three walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a sacrifice fly. They batted around for the first time in about a month in that eighth inning. In fact, it was the first time they batted around since scoring six runs in the first inning against Collin McHugh and the Astros in the second game of the season. Crazy, right? Crazy.

Never Easy
The Yankees never do things easily these days, so of course Kirby Yates walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and forced Dellin Betances into action. I don’t have a problem with using Dellin there at all. He hadn’t pitched since Sunday and the team is struggling like hell to win. Davis was at the plate and he is very capable of turning a 7-0 game into a 7-4 game with one swing.

Anyway, Betances came in, struck out Davis with three straight curveballs — he definitely got a favorable call for strike three, but that’s cool with me — and got Mark Trumbo to pop up weakly in foul territory to end the threat. I officially declare What’s Wrong With Dellin Week™ over. Yates has actually been pretty good as a low-leverage middle innings guy so far, but he needed a hand Wednesday, and Betances came through.


The top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, five walks, a hit-by-pitch, and two strikeouts. Teixeira had three of those walks and is now hitting .224/.365/.341 (109 wRC+) on the season. Feel free to mix in an extra base hit, Mark. Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with two walks to raise his season batting line from .247/.293/.366 (83 wRC+) to .271/.327/.396 (104 wRC+).

Castro took an 0-for-5 and Hicks, who is in the lineup due to Alex Rodriguez‘s injury, went 0-for-4. It sure sounds like he’s going to play a lot while A-Rod is on the shelf, so hopefully getting to relax and play every day gets his bat going. His defense is an asset either way. Hicks stopped a runner from scoring from second without even making a throw.

Gardner was lifted in the ninth and x-rays on his elbow were negative. Dustin Ackley took over in right and Hicks slid over to left, which is completely backwards based on their arms. That said, I think Joe Girardi put Hicks in left because the O’s were sending up a bunch of right-handed hitters. Didn’t matter either way. Whatevs.

And finally, Chasen Shreve came out of the bullpen to record the final three outs without incident. A nice and easy 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Feels good. Love this team, you guys.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN again for the updated standings. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This three-game series comes to end with the rubber game Thursday night. It’ll be right-handers Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman on the mound. After that, the Yankees will head home for a ten-game homestand. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to boo the team in person instead of from your couch.

Yankees lose sixth straight; drop opener 4-1 to Orioles

The losing streak has hit six. The Yankees have also lost 14 of their last 18 games. They skipped right over mediocrity and went straight from good to awful, apparently. The Yanks dropped Tuesday’s series opener 4-1 to the Orioles and once again looked bad at literally everything. Pitching, hitting, defense, base-running, you name it. They’re doing nothing right.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Two Errors, Two Dingers
I’d like to go back and rewatch this game because holy cow, Luis Severino missed the target on seemingly every pitch. He did bury a few sliders down in the zone in the first inning — elevating sliders has been a problem — but after that he was all over the place. Severino missed up in the zone at times and by the full width of the plate at others.

The first run Severino allowed — it came five pitches after the Yankees took a 1-0 in the top of the second — came on a long Mark Trumbo solo homer. Trumbo is known to mash dingers, so that’s going to happen, but look where Brian McCann wanted the pitch and where it ended up:

Luis Severino Mark Trumbo1

Not even close. McCann wanted it down and away and the pitch was up and in. The same thing happened on Trumbo’s second homer, a two-run shot that gave the O’s a 4-1 lead in the fifth. McCann wanted the pitch in one spot and Severino missed his location by no small margin:

Luis Severino Mark Trumbo2

Severino did not miss his spot as much as he missed on Trumbo’s first homer, but he still missed and put it in a hittable location. It seems like this has been a consistent problem for Severino this year. He’s missing the target and not by an inch or two. He’s not even in the same quadrant.

The Orioles scored a run between Trumbo homers and it was the result of Severino’s second error of the night. The two errors were identical: Mark Teixeira fielded a ground ball, flipped to Severino covering first, and he dropped the ball because he was looking down for the base before making the catch. He was able to wiggle out of trouble the first time, but not the second.

Ryan Flaherty hit the grounder to Teixeira with two outs in the fourth, and Jonathan Schoop chugged all the way around to score from second on Severino’s drop. Schoop just never stopped running. By time Severino picked up the ball and realized Schoop was heading home, it was too late to make a play at home. Flaherty’s grounder would have ended the inning and kept the game tied. Instead the O’s took a 2-1 lead.

(Teixeira put his arm around Severino and offers some words of encouragement following the second error. That was nice to see.)

Severino finished the night having allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out four. Four of those five hits were for extra-bases: Trumbo went deep twice and both Schoop and Manny Machado had doubles. I was encouraged by the sliders Severino was able to locate down in the zone early, but at the end of the day, he wasn’t all that good. The kid is sitting on a 6.31 ERA and a 4.44 FIP in 25.2 innings. Yuck.

I'm not sure what's going on here, exactly. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
I’m not sure what’s going on here, exactly. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Offense Disappears (Again)
So it turns out Sunday’s seven-run outburst was an aberration. The Yankees were held to one run Tuesday night even though they put eleven guys on base against Chris Tillman and various relievers. They had seven hits, but only one went for extra bases. That was Brett Gardner‘s first inning double. He was stranded, of course. They also drew four walks. Three were leadoff walks too.

The Yankees scored their only run despite their best RISPFAIL efforts. McCann drew a four-pitch walk to start the second, then Carlos Beltran followed with a single. Starlin Castro banged into a double play, his fourth of the season, which threw a wrench into the rally. Didi Gregorius salvaged things with a two-out, two-strike single up the middle after Tillman threw him three straight curveballs.

Believe it or not, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 only once in this game. That happened in the seventh inning, when Tillman ended his night by striking out the side. He fanned six of the final 13 batters he faced. The Yankees put the leadoff man on base four times and didn’t even advance the runner two of the four times. That is: bad. This team isn’t doing anything right at the moment.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

In case you missed it earlier, Alex Rodriguez left the game with a right hamstring injury. He hurt himself running out a fifth inning ground out. A-Rod is going for an MRI tomorrow. We’ll see what it says. If nothing else, an A-Rod injury would presumably open the door for a young player like Aaron Hicks to get more playing time.

McCann (single, two walks), Gardner (double, walk), and Beltran (two singles) all reached base twice. Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, and pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley each had a single. Teixeira drew a walk as well. Chase Headley took another 0-for-4. They can’t keep running him out there. Give him a few days on the bench, at least.

Kirby Yates and Johnny Barbato came out of the bullpen and retired all six men they faced. Barbato fanned two in his perfect inning. Yay? Barbato’s been struggling of late, so it was good to see him come in and blow some hitters away. He’s looked a little rough over the last week or so.

And finally, the six-game losing streak is the longest since a six-gamer last May, which I completely forgot about. Prior to that the Yankees had not lost six straight games since 2011, when they had both a six-game losing streak and a seven-game losing streak in the same season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, because they’re there and they exist. Here is the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The three-game series continues Wednesday night at Camden Yards. CC Sabathia and young right-hander Tyler Wilson is the scheduled pitching matchup.