Bats remain silent, Yankees drop series opener 3-2 to A’s in 11 innings

For the first time this season, the Yankees played extra innings Tuesday. And for the fifth time in the last six games, the Yankees lost Tuesday. The offense remained dormant in the series opening loss to the Athletics. The final score was 3-2 bad guys.

(Presswire)
Imagine how the guys who aren’t hitting must feel. (Presswire)

Two Token Runs
Yeesh, this offense stinks right now. The Yankees were held to two runs (or less) for the fifth time in the last six games, and they’ve lost all five of those games. Things look pretty good in the first inning! The Yankees plated a run and hit some rockets off generic lefty Eric Surkamp in that opening frame, though it could have been better. Brian McCann struck out swinging at ball four with two men on base to end the inning.

The Yankees scored their other run in the fifth inning on a walk (Brett Gardner), a double (Starlin Castro), and a sacrifice fly (Carlos Beltran). Didi Gregorius opened the inning with a single, but was picked off first. Blah. Castro was stranded at third that inning as well. Mark Teixeira, who drew a walk after the sac fly, was left at first base. They only got the one run that inning and two token “we tried” runs in the game.

Of course, the Yankees had several opportunities to score between the first and fifth innings. Gardner lead off the third with a double, then the next three batters went down on ten total pitches. Alex Rodriguez started the fourth with a leadoff single, and then the next three batters went down on 12 pitches. The Yankees have had 57 leadoff base-runners this season and zero have scored. I just made that up, but it sounds like it could be true.

Adequate Mike
It would seem the rotation is starting to turn the corner. After the first two turns through the rotation featured high pitch counts and long innings, Masahiro Tanaka turned in a strong outing Sunday and Michael Pineda followed with six good innings Tuesday. Big Mike held the Athletics to two runs on seven hits and a walk in six those innings. He struck out seven and got 19 swings and misses out of 97 pitches.

The second inning got a little messy, and it looked like it was about to snowball out of control on Pineda. Two singles against the shift gave the A’s runners at first and second with two outs, then Marcus Semien jumped on a get-me-over 3-0 fastball …

SemienPineda1

… for a run-scoring single to left field. I am a big fan of swinging 3-0. Not all the time, of course, but that was a good time for Semien to hunt a 3-0 fastball, and it paid off. Pineda was able to get Billy Burns to ground out to first to end the inning, limiting the damage for one run. For a while it seemed the A’s were about to bust things open.

Oakland scored their second run in the sixth inning — they scored in the next half-inning both times the Yankees scored — thanks to a Beltran aided Danny Valencia leadoff triple. The ball was scalded over Beltran’s head, but he didn’t retrieve it quickly, allowing Valencia to get to third. Jed Lowrie punched a single through the drawn in infield to knot the game up.

Last time out Pineda walked three batters for the first time as a Yankee, and in this start he issued his first four-pitch walk as a Yankee. Josh Reddick drew the four-pitch free pass in the first inning. Pineda went to three 3-0 counts on the night overall — Reddick’s walk, Semien’s single, then again to Reddick later in the game (he flew out) — and his location doesn’t seem as sharp as usual. It happens. This was his best start of the season to date and hopefully he builds off it going forward.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Battle of the Bullpens
Walk-off wins are cool, and it appeared the Yankees were set up to win the game after Chase Headley singled through the shift to start the ninth inning. Jacoby Ellsbury came off the bench to pinch-run — after the first pitch of the at-bat for some reason, not sure what the delay was about — but he didn’t run right away. I hate when Gardner does that. Wait, what?

Gregorius tried to bunt Ellsbury up to second but failed miserably. I know Didi pushed a nice bunt the other day, but man, he did not look comfortable bunting there at all. Why try to force it when the guy is so uncomfortable? Gregorius didn’t do the job, then Ellsbury was thrown out by a mile trying to steal second. It was not close. Ellsbury is doing nothing well right now. He’s not hitting, his defense has been rough, and that’s the second time he’s been thrown out trying to steal in a big spot.

The final eight — and 15 of the final 16! — Yankees to bat in the game made outs. The Oakland bullpen allowed just the one hit — Headley’s leadoff single in the ninth — in 5.1 total innings. Yuck. The Yankees are blowing way way waaay too many opportunities right now. Some of it is bad luck — Yonder Alonso robbed Gardner of a two-run line drive single in the sixth with a jumping catch — but that excuse doesn’t last forever. Six games of this now is pretty terrible.

Johnny Barbato took the loss in his second inning of work when Mark Canha yanked an 0-2 fastball by Gregorius at shortstop with two outs in the 11th. Barbato was one strike away from escaping the jam. Lowrie set the rally up with a leadoff double into the right field corner. The pitching staff did its job Tuesday. Three runs on eleven hits, a walk, and 12 strikeouts in eleven innings should be good enough to win. At some point the offense has to do something.

It's not your fault, Johnny. (Presswire)
It’s not your fault, Johnny. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Teixeira drew two walks for the fourth straight game. The last Yankee to do that? Nick Swisher back in 2012. Gardner (double, walk), A-Rod (two singles), and Headley (two singles) all reached multiple time as well. McCann and Aaron Hicks both went 0-for-5. Womp wimp.

Gregorius had a fantastic night at shortstop, making two highlight plays in the seventh and another very good play in the ninth. He went 1-for-4 in the game but couldn’t get that bunt down in the ninth. For this team, failing to get that bunt down shouldn’t be a back-breaker offensively.

Both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller threw scoreless innings, and since they threw for the third time in four days, they might not be available Wednesday. Maybe Miller will be good to go because he only threw eight pitches. We’ll see. Joe Girardi usually doesn’t like to push his top relievers this early in the season.

Did I mention the offense sucks right now? Because the offense sucks right now. Geez. Snap out of it ya jerks.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and the updated standings for the season. When I glanced at the standings before the game, 18 of the 30 clubs had between five and seven losses, so yeah. Everyone is still bunched close together. Anyway, check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here is the sad win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Athletics continues this three-game series with the middle game Wednesday night. Nathan Eovaldi vs. Kendall Graveman is the pitching matchup. “Kendall Graveman” is such an A’s name, isn’t it? RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game, or any of the other four remaining games on this homestand. You know, after this homestand the Yankees play only 13 of their next 35 games at home. Better see ’em while they’re in town.

Bullpen slams the door; Yankees beat the Mariners 4-3 to snap four-game losing skid

Now that’s more like it. The Yankees snapped their four-game, RISPFAIL filled losing streak Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 win over the Mariners. It followed the blueprint perfectly: hit a dinger or two, scratch out some runs, then turn it over to the bullpen. Textbook.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

End The Streaks
Two notable hitless streaks ended Sunday. First and foremost, Alex Rodriguez snapped his 0-for-19 skid with a two-run home run in the second inning. Joe Girardi understandably dropped Alex to the sixth spot in the lineup, and in his first at-bat he yanked an 87 mph fastball from Hisashi Iwakuma into the left field seats. Pretty great way to respond to the lineup demotion.

Then, in the third inning, Brett Gardner put an end to the club’s hideous 0-for-30 streak with runners in scoring position. He did it with a long double to left-center field that I thought was a routine fly ball off the bat. It looked like Gardner popped the ball up, but it just kept carrying and carrying and carrying. I was pleasantly surprised to see that ball fall in for a base hit.

Like I said, that was their first hit with runners in scoring position in 30 at-bats. Furthermore, it was their first hit with runners in scoring position that actually scored a run in 41 at-bats. They had two hits that didn’t score runs because some of the Yankees are pretty slow, man. The last hit with runners in scoring position that scored a run prior to Gardner’s double was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s go-ahead bloop single in the seventh inning of the series opener in Toronto. Yeesh.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

When Three Runs Could Have Been One Or Two
Masahiro Tanaka‘s final pitching line is pretty strong (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 12/3 GB/FB) and it could have been even better. The Mariners didn’t exactly score their ball by ripping the ball all over the park. They strung together four ground balls in the first inning to score their first run. The inning went:

  • Nori Aoki ground out to second.
  • Seth Smith ground ball single against the shift.
  • Robinson Cano infield single to third.
  • Nelson Cruz ground ball single through the right side of the infield to load the bases.
  • Kyle Seager fielder’s choice on a ground ball to second base to score a run.

Five ground balls, two outs, one run. Blah. Baseball can be so dumb sometimes. Tanaka got the desired results (grounders) and still allowed three hits and a run. So finally he took matters into his own hands and struck out Adam Lind to escape the inning with just the one run allowed.

Seattle’s second and third runs were partly the result of defensive miscues by the usually sure-handed Mark Teixeira and Ellsbury. Seager pulled a hard ground ball right through Teixeira’s legs for a two-base error in the fourth inning, then Steve Clevenger dunked a softly hit single into shallow left to score the run. Hate getting burned by the light-hitting backup catcher. That cut New York’s lead to 3-2.

The Mariners scored their third run when Ellsbury made an ill-advised attempt at a diving catch on Aoki’s line drive with one out in the fifth. He should have held up and played the hop, holding Aoki to a double or maybe even a single. Instead he missed the dive, the ball rolled to the wall, and Aoki landed on third. Smith drove him in with a ground ball single through the drawn in infield.

Tanaka retired seven straight batters to end his outing after the Smith single, making him the first Yankees starter to complete seven innings this season. He did it on 93 pitches and he probably could have gone back out for the eighth, but there was no need to push it with the guys Girardi had waiting in the bullpen. Here is Tanaka’s pitch selection, per Brooks Baseball:

Masahiro Tanaka pitch selection

We saw much more velocity out of Tanaka on Sunday than we did in his first two starts of the year, and that could be the product of getting closer to midseason form or getting further away from offseason elbow surgery. Or both. Also, I’m guessing some of those 89 mph splitters were actually sinkers PitchFX misclassified based on the movement.

All those ground balls — 16 total out of 21 balls in play — were the result of Tanaka’s new sinker heavy approach. I think this new approach is an adjustment made to combat last season’s home run issues. Tanaka allowed a lot of dingers, so, in an effort to keep the ball in the park, he’s now using a sinker as his primary fastball. The result is a 65.3% ground ball rate through three starts, which is excellent. Tanaka was pretty good Sunday. With some more help from his defense, it could have been one or two runs in seven innings instead of three.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

And The Yankees Take The Lead
The Yankees did manage to go 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position Sunday, so Gardner’s double was their only hit in those situations. To score that go-ahead fourth run in the fifth inning, the team needed a little help from Iwakuma and Clevenger.

Gardner and new No. 3 hitter Carlos Beltran strung together back-to-back singles with one out to put men on the corners. Iwakuma then spiked a splitter in front of the plate and Clevenger let it scoot through his legs, allowing Gardner to trot in from third base. Well, not trot, he had to hustle and slide in just ahead of the tag. Once again, the Yankees had the lead.

Tanaka cruised through the sixth and seventh innings with that 4-3 lead before turning the game over to the bullpen, and holy crap, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were unreal. They each struck out the side on 13 pitches and there was no fight from the Mariners. It’s incredible to big league players be so overmatched like that. Betances and Miller mowed them right down, Dellin the 1-2-3 hitters in the eighth and Miller the 4-5-6 hitters in the ninth.

On the season, Betances has struck out 15 of 24 batters faced (62.5%) — he has 15 strikeouts in six innings! — and Miller has struck out 12 of 17 batters faced (70.6%), so that a combined 65.9% strikeout rate. The league average is 21.7%. Betances has fanned 14 of the last 17 batters he’s faced …

Ron Burgundy really

… and Miller has struck out the last seven men he’s faced. Those two have record 33 outs this season and 27 have been strikeouts. This is absurd. In three weeks Aroldis Chapman, who had the highest strikeout rate in baseball each of the last three seasons, will join the bullpen.

Leftovers
Gardner had three of the team’s eight hits to raise his season batting line to .314/.442/.429 (159 wRC+) with seven walks and five strikeouts. Remember when the Yankees tried to trade him over the winter? What was that about? Beltran went 1-for-4 and Teixeira went 1-for-2 with two walks. Teixeira is hitting .216/.383/.459 (146 wRC+) with ten walks and ten strikeouts so far.

On the other side of the coin, Ronald Torreyes went 0-for-3 and saw five pitches Sunday. His batting average dropped 167 points in an afternoon. Of course, he’s still hitting .500, so who are we to complain. Didi Gregorius went 0-for-4 and is in the middle of a 3-for-25 (.120) slump.

Gardner and Ellsbury each stole a base against the Iwakuma-Clevenger battery. The Yankees have stolen 13 bases and been caught only two times this year. They were 6-for-10 in steal attempts through the first eleven games of last season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and MLB.com for the video highlights. Here are the updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages that are worth checking out. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees have an off-day Monday, then they’ll welcome the Athletics to the Bronx for a three-game series. Michael Pineda and lefty Eric Surkamp, who I’m pretty sure is a made up MLB: The Show player, will be the pitching matchup Tuesday night. If you’re looking to go to that game or any of the other five games left on the homestand, RAB Tickets can get you in the door.

Mariners 3, Yankees 2: RISPFAIL continues as Yanks drop fourth straight

Baseball is stupid and I hate it. The Yankees once again put a small army of runners on base Saturday afternoon — 16 in nine innings, to be exact — but were unable to cash in. The Mariners did all they could to give the Yankees the game the last two days. Instead, New York has now dropped four straight. Saturday’s final score was 3-2 in favor of the Fightin’ Canos.

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

Oh This Again
The only thing more excruciating than leaving runners on base is not having runners on base in the first place. The Yankees had a ton of guys on base Saturday, just like they had a ton of guys on base Friday. Felix Hernandez, arguably the greatest pitcher of his generation, walked a career-high six in five innings. The Yankees put at least two runners on base in all five of his innings.

The result? One run. That came in the third inning, when Carlos Beltran drove in Mark Teixeira from first base (!) with a booming double to right-center field. That’s what it takes to score a run right now. Teixeira chugging around from first on a double. Think about that. If not for that, Hernandez might have been able to navigate five scoreless innings even though he was far from his best. Far, far from his best.

In fact, like Nate Karns on Friday night, Felix leaned heavily on his offspeed stuff to pitch his way out of jams Saturday. PitchFX says he threw 20 fastballs out of 106 total pitches. Twenty! And that came after Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. told Shannon Drayer he wanted Felix to throw more fastballs going forward. Here is Hernandez’s pitch selection Saturday, via Brooks Baseball:

Felix Hernandez pitches

Karns threw 43% fastballs Friday and Felix threw 19% fastballs Saturday. I’d say Seattle’s game plan is bury the Yankees with offspeed stuff, but Karns threw 51% fastballs in his only other start of the season, and Felix threw 44% fastballs in his first two starts. This is kinda who they are now, offspeed heavy pitchers. What they did against the Yankees isn’t totally out of the ordinary.

Either way, the Yankees could not take advantage of all those base-runners. They even put men on base against the bullpen — Beltran took Nick Vincent deep in the seventh inning for the team’s only other run — and the go-ahead run was on base in the ninth inning. M’s closer Steve Cishek allowed singles to Beltran and Starlin Castro to put runners on the corners, but Chase Headley grounded out to end the game. So it goes.

Perhaps the biggest at-bat of the game aside from Headley’s in the ninth was Austin Romine‘s in the second inning. The Yankees had runners on the corners with one out, and Romine popped up Felix’s first pitch changeup to the shortstop. Felix was battling his control and I get wanting Romine to take a pitch or two, but the pitch was super hittable …

Felix Hernandez Austin Romine

… and he just didn’t hit it. I don’t care who is on the mound and who is at the plate. You can’t not swing at a pitch like that simply because you want to drive up a guy’s pitch count. The Yankees aren’t going to walk themselves out of this offensive slump. Romine got a good pitch to hit and just didn’t hit it. That’s baseball. It’s a game of failure. Romine didn’t get the run in, which he could have done with an out, and didn’t get it done.

The total damage: two runs on ten hits and six walks in nine innings. The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and eight of the nine players in the starting lineup batted at least once in those situations. Teixeira was the only starter who didn’t see an at-bat with a runner(s) at second and/or third. The Yankees have put 29 men on base in their last 18 offensive innings. If they continue doing that, they’re going to score runs. A lot of them. It’s just not happening right now.

The One Bad Inning
For the second straight start, CC Sabathia looked like a competent big league pitcher Saturday. He did put a runner on base in each of his first four innings, but it was only one runner per inning, and Sabathia stranded them all. CC fanned four of the first eleven men he faced too. He was doing exactly what the Yankees want him to do at this point of his career: keep them in ballgames.

Things unraveled in the fifth inning and it would have been worse if not for some heads up defense by Didi Gregorius. Leonys Martin had already homered leading off the inning to tie the game, then Luis Sardinas made it to second base with one out on a single and a ground out. With Sardinas on second, Ketel Marte slapped a soft grounder to Gregorius, who threw to third to get Sardinas when he made too wide a turn at the bag. Marte is crazy fast and was going to beat out the infield single. Smart play by Didi to get the lead runner instead.

Immediately following that, Robinson Cano knocked a single back up the middle that, incredibly, allowed Marte to score all the way from first. Jacoby Ellsbury can take the blame for that one. Marte’s aggressiveness caught him completely off guard in center field. Look at how he approached the ball, then hesitated before throwing home:

Jacoby Ellsbury Ketel Marte

That is a man who expected the runner to stop at third. Ellsbury told Bryan Hoch he thinks he would have been able to throw Marte out at the plate had he not double clutched the throw, and maybe he’s right, but Jacoby has not thrown a runner out at the plate since 2011, so you’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical. Either way, Marte scored and the Mariners took a 2-1 lead.

Nelson Cruz, the next batter, drove in Cano with a double inside the third base bag and down the line into the left field corner. That gave Seattle a 3-1 lead and ended Sabathia’s afternoon. I’m not sure why Sabathia was left in to face Cruz if his leash was that one batter. Righties hammered CC last season and Cruz hit 84 homers from 2014-15. Sabathia can face Cruz with the Yankees down one but not Franklin Gutierrez down two? I thought Cano should have been his last batter.

Sabathia’s final pitching line looks worse than he pitched, I feel: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. His first four innings were solid and I think we’d all take that version of Sabathia all season long. Things fell apart in the fifth — thanks in part to Ellsbury — so the one bad inning bug bit CC again. Every starter has seemed prone to that the first two times through the rotation.

Leftovers
The bullpen was spectacular. Johnny Barbato got four outs while Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller tossed a scoreless inning each. Those four combined to allow three hits and strike out eight. Betances and Miller each struck out the side. Miller did so on ten pitches. He looked razor sharp. As dominant as he’s looked at any point as a Yankee. It was silly.

Brett Gardner had two hits, Castro had three hits, and Beltran had four hits. Carlos homered and doubled twice. He’s been the team’s most consistent hitter in the super early going. Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is down to .103/.235/.207 (32 wRC+) on the season. He’s in the middle of an 0-for-19 slump. I will be pretty surprised if Beltran and A-Rod do not flip lineup spots Sunday.

The Yankees stole three bases overall. Two by Castro and one by Headley. Headley has three steals he already. He stole zero bags last season. Headley also committed his first throwing error, airmailing first base on a routine grounder. It was bound to happen at some point. His throwing has looked way better this season overall.

And finally, for some reason Ellsbury stayed glued to first base after reaching on an error with two outs in the eighth. The Yankees were down one and Gardner saw five pitches, yet Ellsbury never tried to steal. I do not understand.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game. Now here are the updated standings, if scoreboard watching in April is your thing. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here is the ol’ WPA graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will try to salvage this mess of a three-game series Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma will be on the mound. Those two were teammates with the Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2007-11, you know. Pretty cool. RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark for that game or any of the other six games remaining on the homestand.

Offense continues to sputter, Yankees fall 7-1 to Mariners

Blah, baseball is being stupid right now. The Yankees had a whole lotta base-runners but not a whole lotta runs Friday night, leading to a 7-1 loss to the Mariners in the series-opener. The Bronx Bombers have lost three straight.

Not enough of this. (Elsa/Getty)
Not enough of this. (Elsa/Getty)

One & Done
This was one of those annoying “blow all the scoring chances!” games. The Yankees put 13 runners on base overall, including nine in five innings against starter Nathan Karns, yet they only mustered one run. That was a first inning solo home run by Brett Gardner. It clanked off the facing of the second deck and was Gardner’s first extra-base hit of the season. That’s a good start! First inning taters are pretty great.

The offense could not get The Big Hit after that. The Yankees had plenty of scoring chances and scoring chances are good! Keep getting scoring chances and you’ll score eventually, but damn yo, stranding so many runners is frustrating as hell. The fourth through sixth innings were like pulling teeth. The Yankees put seven men on base in those three innings and scored zero runs. They went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position those innings.

The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position overall, and seven players batted in those situations. This was a total team effort. It’s not like one guy killed them in those spots. Karns did a really good job keeping the Yankees off balance with offspeed stuff — he threw 43 fastballs, 43 curveballs, and 14 changeups per PitchFX — and then spotted heaters when necessary. Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury struck out with runners on second and third in the fourth inning, and they took the same damn pitch for strike three, a fastball on the outside corner:

Nate Karns Chase HeadleyNate Karns Jacoby Ellsbury

Karns fed them nothing but curveballs and changeups early in the at-bat, then surprised them with the fastball. He did a very nice job pitching backwards. The Yankees had their chances, no doubt about it. They didn’t take advantage. If they keep generating chances, they’ll be just fine. Too bad that wont help them in this game.

Severino Struggles Again
You know what? Luis Severino has not been very good through two starts. He allowed three runs on ten hits in five innings against the Tigers last weekend, then, on Friday, he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in 5.2 innings against the Mariners. If not for some nifty — if unconventional — double plays, the damage would have been much worse.

Severino’s biggest mistake was the center cut fastball Chris Iannetta smacked for his go-ahead two-run home run in the fifth inning. I mean, look at this location:

Luis Severino Chris Iannetta

Not good, Luis. Can’t throw it there to even the crappiest of big leaguer hitters, like Iannetta. What made that worse were the previous innings. The Mariners tied the game on Robinson Cano‘s single in the top of the fourth, then the Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the bottom half (second and third with no outs!). Blah. That homer took the wind out of everyone’s sails.

Severino threw 87 pitches in his 5.2 innings and he got only five swings and misses. That’s … bad. He did get a healthy eleven swings and misses out 95 total pitches in his first start, so this is more of a blip than a trend, but it was pretty obvious Friday that Severino is far from a finished product. His secondary pitches and location are inconsistent. That’s okay. All pitchers come up to MLB in need of refinement. It’s just not fun to be reminded growing pains are coming.

Pull Away
The Yankees have a truly great end-game bullpen. You’re not going to find many (if any) teams with a better one-two punch than Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. You can add Chasen Shreve to the mix too. He’s been great. The problem? Those guys only pitch in very specific situations: when the Yankees have a lead or the game is tied in the late innings.

The Yankees were down three runs when Severino exited in the sixth inning, which meant the “only when losing” relief crew sprung into action, and they let Seattle pull away. Kirby Yates did a nice job stranding the bases loaded in the sixth, but he was charged with a run in the seventh, then new call-up Tyler Olson allowed two more runs to score as well. Yates and (mostly) Olson allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in 3.1 innings. Comeback attempt averted.

Leftovers
Starlin Castro made a great behind-the-back catch at second base to turn a double play. It was one of those “the ball caught him” situations. Check this out:

Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once except Ellsbury, who went 0-for-5. Gardner had the homer, a single, and two walks. Mark Teixeira (two walks) and Headley (single, walk) reached base multiple times. Headley stole a base. Everyone else reached once. Base-runners are good. Eventually they’ll cash them in. Just not tonight.

Funny moment in the first inning. Teixeira checked his swing in a 3-1 count, then took off his shin guard and prepared to walk down to first, but third base ump Mike Winters said he went around. (Replay showed he cleared he clearly did not go around.) The next pitch was exactly the same: curveball down and a check swing. Teixeira held his bat, stared down Winters, then jogged to first for the walk.

Mark Teixeira Mike Winters

Olson threw 47 pitches in 2.2 garbage time innings, meaning he’s likely to wind up right back in Triple-A tomorrow. Branden Pinder has not pitched since Wednesday, making him the obvious call-up candidate.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Mariners will continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia will be the pitching matchup. Man, that would have been awesome like five years ago. Alas. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any of the other seven games left on the homestand.

Donaldson’s long ball sinks the Yanks 4-2 in the series finale

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

In a matchup of young starters, Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays came up victorious. Nathan Eovaldi showed flashes of brilliance early on, locating his fastball well and his secondary pitches fooled hitters, but a few mistakes to good hitters proved costly as he came away as the loser. With the exception of the fourth inning, the Yankee bats went mostly silent against Stroman, and New York dropped the series finale in the Rogers Centre.

Grounderfest in the Six

Marcus Stroman, only 24 years-old, is the Blue Jays ace and he will give Yankees fits for a long time. He can cut, sink, locate, etc., basically a lot of things you want from a pitcher. He also seems to be friendly with the 6 God so that’s pretty neat. Earlier today, the Phillies’ Vincent Velazquez struck out 16 in a C GSHO. Stroman mowed down the batters in a different way: weak contact.

The Yankees rallied to score a couple in the fourth. A-Rod got hit by the pitch and Mark Teixeira dunked a single to right. With one out, runners on first and second, Brian McCann hit a grounder to Ryan Goins, but the second baseman couldn’t handle it, loading the bases. With the count full, Carlos Beltran hit a grounder that he just beat out to avoid a double play. Also, the run scored and New York took a 1-0 lead.

They weren’t done scoring. Stroman walked Chase Headley to load the bases again, bringing up Starlin Castro. During the Castro at-bat, Stroman threw a sinker way low and Russell Martin – who was brilliant with blocking low pitches all series – let it pass towards the side for a wild pitch. 2-0 Yanks.

That was about the only blemish in Stroman’s outing. After walking Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth, he did not allow a baserunner, retiring 11 straight batters until the end of his outing. Did I mention how efficient his pitching was? Stroman had a 17-2 GB/FB ratio, which is pretty darn neat. He pitched eight full innings and threw 98 pitches (66 for strikes). New York’s woes in RISP situations continued as well, as the lineup went 1-for-5 in scoring chances.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Temporarily Nasty Nate

Eovaldi had his splitter working tonight – at least early on. For the first four innings, he was the pitcher that many envisioned to be – a power guy with deadly secondary stuff.

For the first four innings, Eovaldi struck out five – all of them on breaking pitches (four splitters and a slider). His fastball worked pretty well to set the knockout secondary pitches up, which is pretty much a recipe for success for most ML pitchers. It was reminiscent of a lot of his outings during his hot second-half stretch in last season.

Boom (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The bottom of fifth was a different story. With two outs and runner on, Kevin Pillar hit a double that put runners on second and third. Next up: Josh Donaldson. The reigning AL MVP tends to punish mistakes. Eovaldi hung a splitter up the zone and Donaldson did not miss any of it. He crushed it into the center field second deck for a 3-2 Jays lead – a sight that you’ll see in multiple end-of-the-year highlights for sure. 89 mph in, 111 mph out. Eovaldi hung another meatball up the zone the next inning. He threw a slider up the zone that Troy Tulowitzki didn’t miss for a solo homer. 4-2 Jays.

He entered the seventh inning, got two outs, but surrendered another XBH to Donaldson – a double. Joe Girardi pulled Eovaldi out of the game, ending an enigmatic start. Eovaldi’s line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K’s. The strikeout numbers are nice but the homework for Nasty Nate is to allow less mistake pitches.

Rest of the Game

Johnny Barbato relieved Eovaldi in the seventh and got out of it. He also pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Overall, he picked up two strikeouts in 1.1 IP, bringing season totals to 4.2 IP with 7 K’s and 0.00 ERA. He may not be pitching in a glamorous role now (at least for this season, with Dellin BetancesAndrew MillerAroldis Chapman in back of the bullpen) but he’s slowly earning brownie points. As Mike pointed out earlier, he’s looking more like a keeper in the roster.

In the ninth, the Jays put in 21-year-old Roberto Osuna to close out the game and he was brilliant, retiring all three Yankee hitters for a save. 4-2 Toronto victory.

Leftovers

The four-five-six hitters of the Yankee lineup had a hit each. The rest? 0-for-18 with two walks and a HBP. It’s not what you want. A-Rod’s slow start worsened with his 0-for-3 performance, lowering his season avg. to .120 (.507 OPS).

Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees come back home tomorrow and start a series versus the Mariners for this weekend. I’ll be at the Sunday game, excited to see Robbie Cano back in Bronx and hopefully much nicer weather than the opening series!

Yankees drop the second game of the series 7-2 to Happ’s arm and Jays’ bats

Like it’s always been said, any game with this Toronto Blue Jays team is never going to be easy. After winning a fun one yesterday, the Yankees went down rather haplessly tonight 7-2. On a positive note: Michael Pineda looked much better tonight and, well, Ronald Torreyes kept hitting. It was largely unspectacular, let’s go with that.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Big Mike

Unlike against the Astros, Pineda had his slider working tonight. Especially early on, he really had it going, showing a very sharp downward movement that made it near impossible for hitters to catch up.

For instance:

 

That doesn’t mean his outing went all too well though. In the second, the Jays drew first blood. With two outs with Russell Martin at first, Pineda uncorked a fastball right down the middle to Ryan Goins that got clobbered to right-center for an RBI double. 1-0 Toronto.

Ryan Goins struck again in the fifth. Pineda walked Justin Smoak to start the inning. Goins saw the first pitch fastball and drove it towards the left field fence for a double. With runners on second and third, Torreyes bounced a throw to first on a Kevin Pillar grounder and Mark Teixeira couldn’t handle it: an E-6 and a 2-1 Jays lead. With runners on first and third, Josh Donaldson grounded into the double play to make it two outs but a runner came home for a 3-1 Toronto lead anyways.

His final line – 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER) 3 BB, 6 K – is not his best nor worst line but I’ll say this: he gave Yankees a chance to win today. Unfortunately, their bats did not come up potent against J.A. Happ tonight.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The Few Activities of Yankee Bats

J.A. Happ wasn’t spectacular – he allowed ten baserunners in six innings pitched – but he did the job. He induced two double plays, struck out four (including A-Rod twice), did not give up big hits with RISP, etc. It remains to be seen if his late-season performance boost with the Pirates is fluke or not (7-2 with 1.85 ERA) but if his adjustments hold true long-term, the Jays have themselves a nice starter. 

In the top of fifth, Torreyes led off with a double past third base. Austin Romine hit a single to center that put the runners on first and third with no out. Jacoby Ellsbury popped out innocuously to third but Aaron Hicks hit an RBI ground out to drive a run in, 1-1. A run engineered by Torreyes and Romine, how about that? 

The Yankees got a run back in the eighth against the former Yankee draftee Drew Storen (34th rounder in 2007). With one out, Teixeira hit a fastball right down the middle to the right field foul pole to make it 3-2.

And well, those were all the scoring activities they had. The Bombers hit 1-for-7 in RISP situations tonight, leading to seven runners left on base in total. That’s not what you want. There are nights where you score sixteen runs and there are those where you go away quiet like this. It’s baseball.

Digging the Hole

Right after the Yankees scored a run in the top of eighth, they allowed much more. Joe Girardi turned to Ivan Nova for the bottom of eighth. Nova, on his previous appearance, threw for a pretty solid four-inning save. Tonight, nothing went right for him.

On the first pitch, he allowed a double to Donaldson. A wild pitch advanced the reigning AL MVP to third but it didn’t matter – Jose Bautista snared a double to drive him in. Nova retired Edwin Encarnacion on a ground out but Troy Tulowitzki singled to right to bring Bautista home. Michael Saunders banged a double off the left field wall to put two runners in the scoring position and both of them came in with a Russell Martin sac fly and Ryan Goins RBI single. When it was all said and done: a four-run inning and a 7-2 Jays lead.

On the next frame, former Yankee farmhand Pat Venditte came in and threw a three-up-three-down frame to end the game.

Leftovers

How about Ronald Torreyes? As Michael Kay said “He’s a hitting machine!” Tonight, he went for 2-for-4, bringing his season average to .667 with an OPS of 1.667. I can’t say I’m confident that he’ll keep it going but he’s making a nice case for a long-term roster spot.

A bullpen arm who pitched tonight not named Ivan Nova – Kirby Yates – threw a solid scoreless inning tonight. Yates came in the bottom of seventh, threw 14 pitches and struck out two. He was the only Yankee pitcher tonight that retired Ryan Goins (went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s tonight) when he struck out the Jays second baseman on three pitches, therefore earning a temporary superhero status.

Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standing

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


Source: FanGraphs


The series tied at 1-1, so you know what that means. Tomorrow’s game will be a rubber match between the Yankees and Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound against Marcus Stroman. It should be a fun one.

Bullpen shines bright in a 3-2 Yankees victory in Toronto

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

I forgot for a hot minute how intense those late-season Yankees-Blue Jays games were last year. The Jays are not a team without imperfections (see: their rotation) but they still figure to be a contender for AL East title this season. Tonight’s game was not an easy one to watch for either team’s fans, but thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury‘s seventh-inning bloop RBI and a strong bullpen performance, the Yankees took the first game of the three-game series by the score of 3-2.

Early Lead

The Yankee bats were up against a power arm, Aaron Sanchez. After being chosen with the 34th overall pick out of HS in 2010 MLB Draft, Sanchez was a starter in minors, but when he came up, the Blue Jays got him used to pitching in ML as a reliever. After battling for a fifth starter spot in ST, he beat out Gavin Floyd to be a starting pitcher in their rotation.

New York had a scoring chance against him in the bottom of second. Brian McCann walked to lead off and advanced to second on a Carlos Beltran ground out. Chase Headley walked to put two baserunners on and both of them advanced when Sanchez’s pickoff throw to second sailed to outfield. With one out, runners on second and third, Starlin Castro‘s ground out scored McCann from third. 1-0 Yankees. When you’re matching up against a division foe, you really want to score a run some way or another. Yankees will gladly take a couple of walks, an errant throw and an RBI ground out to do so. For Sanchez, it didn’t help that his command was rusty early on.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

(Gutty) Tanaka Tuesday

You would think that, Masahiro Tanaka, who hasn’t been great with keeping the ball in the ballpark (allowed 28 homers last year), would not be a great matchup versus the Jays. However, in seven career games versus Toronto, Tanaka has held them to a .584 OPS, allowing only 7 walks while striking out 48, which is … pretty good.

Anyways, no matter how successful he’s been against them, it’s never easy facing a lineup like that. From the get-go, in the first, Tanaka walked Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion back-to-back to create a two out, runners on first and second situation. After a full count battle against Troy Tulowitzki, Tanaka got him strikeout swinging on a splitter, needing 29 pitches to get three outs.

At least in the early going, Tanaka seemed like he was pitching for hitters to chase while not being able to finish them off swiftly. For instance, here’s how his matchup versus Russell Martin in second inning:

Pitch 1: Ball above the zone, 90 mph fastball
Pitch 2: Strike on outside corner, 91 mph fastball
Pitch 3: Foul on the inside 88 mph fastball
Pitch 4: Foul on the outside 85 mph splitter
Pitch 5: Ball on just above the zone 85 mph slider
Pitch 6: Foul on inside 83 mph slider
Pitch 7: Foul on the 91 mph fastball on outside corner
Pitch 8: Ball on the outside 78 mph curveball
— Pickoff Throw —
Pitch 9: Foul on the 82 mph slider, bit down the middle
Pitch 10: Swinging strike on 91 mph fastball up

In the third, Tanaka hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch and surrendered a single to Josh Donaldson. Up next, Bautista smoked a hanging slider to deep center for a two-run double. It also didn’t help that Ellsbury got off to a late start to track the ball. Had he seen the ball better, he could have limited the damage to a sac fly; instead, it became 2-1 Jays. However, after a Larry Rothschild mound visit, fortune stood more on Tanaka’s side. He struck out Encarnacion and induced a Chris Colabello double play to get out of the inning without more damage.

Tonight wasn’t Tanaka’s prettiest start but give him credit for this: he bent but didn’t break. After the laborious third, the rest was easier for him. He managed a seven-pitch fourth and allowed only one baserunner (Pillar lead off single) in 14-pitch fifth. And that was the end of his night – 92 pitches, 54 strikes, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K. Not great but all things considered, especially with the walks he allowed, two earned runs in five innings pitched doesn’t sound terrible.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Tie Game

After showing some rocky command to start the game, Sanchez seemed to settle in. From third to fifth, he only allowed two baserunners and protected Toronto’s 2-1 lead. It seemed like he was well on his way to another scoreless inning in the sixth after getting A-Rod and Mark Teixeira out. However, McCann saw a mistake fastball down the middle with full count and drove it to the right field seats to tie the game up at 2-2.

McCann is not usually known as a contact hitter, but so far this season, he’s carried one of the hottest bats in baseball. After tonight, the Yankee catcher has hit for a .500/.591/.889 line in 22 PA’s. He also came off a ST where he hit for a pretty good average too (.333/.366/.436 in 39 AB’s) so I wonder if there were some adjustments made with new hitting coaches.

Bullpen Wars (aka How I Learned to Love the Yankee Bullpen Even Without Chapman)

The Yankees put in Johnny Barbato in the bottom of sixth in relief of Tanaka. I know this may sound like a knee-jerk reaction, but his stuff has late-inning reliever written all over him — power fastball and nice-looking off speed pitches. He needs some big league seasoning, of course, but man, his arm can be something nice to watch.

In the next frame, the Jays put in Brett Cecil, one of their late-inning guys. Headley led off with a single and Castro walked in four pitches. Did Gregorius executed a successful sac bunt to bring two runners into scoring position with one out. In a full count, Ellsbury dunked a blooper right in front of LF Michael Saunders for an RBI single. After misjudging a fly ball earlier in the game to cost Yankees a run, he gave one for the team when it counted. Had the Jays placed the infield back, Donaldson might have had a chance to catch it. 3-2 Yankees.

Chasen Shreve entered in the bottom seventh and got the first two outs. After walking Donaldson, however, Joe Girardi decided to match up Bautista with Dellin Betances. Power against power, Betances against Bautista, Yankees up by one in late innings: pretty fun TV, right? After a full count battle, Betances dropped an absolute filthy curve into the strike zone to win the battle. Goodness gracious what a pitch. Don’t believe me? Just watch:

The Yankees threatened once again in the next frame against Jesse Chavez. After a Teixeira ground out, McCann singled to not only get on base but also to raise his batting average to .500, which is pretty neat. Beltran struck out swinging but Headley singled to left to make it dicey for the Jays. Castro, after putting up a bit of a battle, struck out swinging on a cutter way off the plate. He can hit the ball hard but sometimes, he can make himself foolish like that.

Betances did what was expected of him in the eighth: pure filth. Encarnacion popped out, Tulowitzki struck out swinging on a curve on dirt and Colabello got called out on strikes on (guess what) a curve. They call good curveballs Uncle Charlie. Betances’ tonight was more like Great Uncle Charleston who drinks the finest bourbon on fancy cruise parties, or something like that.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Girardi pulled the usual move and put Andrew Miller to take care of the ninth. The tall lefty struck out Michael Saunders, got Martin to ground out and struck out Justin Smoak to win it for New York. 11 pitches, 9 strikes, 2 strikeouts and immeasurable filth.

The Yankee bullpen: 4 IP, 2 BB, 5 K’s and no hits allowed tonight. Pretty solid.

Leftovers

I mentioned Barbato before but he deserves another mention because tonight was his first career ML victory. Drafted in the 6th round by the Padres (out of Varela HS in Miami, Fl.), he spent five seasons in minors and looks like he found his niche as a bullpen arm that could be useful in ML. Congrats to him.

This is a bit buried since New York won tonight but the top four of the lineup – Ellsbury, Gardner, A-Rod and Teixeira – were very quiet tonight. They went 2-for-16 combined, which is not ideal. So far in this very young season, these guys are hitting a total combined 18-for-87, which is good for a 0.207 average. Good to see that the team hasn’t faltered much (4-2 in first six games is pretty nice) while they’ve been cold.

Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, WPA, video highlights and updated standings. Knock yourself out. Side note: a 4-2 start is nice but man, are the Orioles hot (7-0 !).


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back at it again tomorrow in the Rogers Centre. Michael Pineda will take the mound, hoping to pitch a better one than his season debut last week.