Sweep! Mitchell and Severino hold down the Blue Jays in 2-0 win

That was a satisfying series. Stressful, but satisfying. The Yankees, led by two young pitchers, shut out the high-scoring Blue Jays 2-0 on Wednesday night. This is their first three-game sweep of the season, believe it or not. This team is fun as hell right now, aren’t they? Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Mitchell Returns
Welcome back to the big leagues, Bryan Mitchell. Go face the Blue Jays in homer happy Yankee Stadium with only 21 minor league tune-up innings under your belt. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, and truth be told things did come close to unraveling a few times, but Mitchell was able to bear down and escape each jam he faced. The result: five scoreless innings. Five! Who expected that? No one, that’s who.

The Blue Jays had their best chance to score against Mitchell in the third inning, which he started by walking No. 8 hitter Melvin Upton and No. 9 Kevin Pillar. That generally leads to bad things. Luckily Devon Travis smashed a hard-hit ground ball to Chase Headley, who started the 5-4-3 double play. A ground out by Josh Donaldson ended the inning. Mitchell’s only 1-2-3 inning was his last, the fifth.

All told, Mitchell allowed four hits and two walks in his five innings, and it could have easily been only two hits had Tyler Austin not come down with a case of the Trumbos in right field. Mitchell used mostly fastballs to keep the Blue Jays in check — his 80 pitches were broken down into 64 fastballs and 16 curveballs — including a filthy cutter that averaged 93.4 mph. Also, he got ten ground outs and only three air outs. What more could you want from the kid? Way to go, Bryan.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two Runs Are More Than Enough
The Yankees had a chance to score in the very first inning thanks to a Brett Gardner single and an error by Travis. It was a tough error; Didi Gregorius hit a hard grounder up the middle, Travis ranged to his right to field it, but his flip to second for the force out was wide of the base. Very difficult play. Should have been a hit. Mark Teixeira struck out to end the inning, so the Yankees couldn’t capitalize. Blah.

Both runs scored in the third inning and they scored in very different ways. Starlin Castro started the scoring with a solo home run, his career-high 20th. Marcus Stroman left a slider up and bam, dinger time. Stroman was shook after that, because the next three Yankees reached base. Gregorius poked a double to left, Teixeira worked a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2, and Brian McCann pulled a run-scoring single through the shift. All of that happened with two outs. All of it.

After the homer, five of the next eight Yankees to bat reached base. They very nearly scored a third run in the fourth inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury‘s opposite field double barely hopped over the wall, forcing Gardner to stop at third. He would have scored from first base easily on the play, especially with two outs. Heck, replays showed he was rounding third when the ball hopped over the wall. Alas. Two runs was all the Yankees got and it was one more than they needed.

Bullpen Ace
As soon as Mitchell walked Upton and Pillar in the third inning, Joe Girardi had Luis Severino up in the bullpen. His plan was clear. Whenever Mitchell was done, Severino was coming in. He wasn’t needed until the sixth, after Mitchell allowed a leadoff double to Troy Tulowitzki. Severino retired Donaldson (fielder’s choice), Edwin Encarnacion (ground out), and Jose Bautista (strikeout) to strand the runner. The Bautista strikeout if GIF-worthy:

Luis Severino Jose Bautista

Severino remained in and threw scoreless seventh and eighth innings as well. Once the Yankees got the lead, that was the plan all along. Get whatever you can out of Mitchell, the ride Severino as long as possible. He allowed one hit and one walk in his three scoreless innings of relief, striking out three. His final out was the scariest; Encarnacion flew out to the right field warning track with a man on base in the eighth. That was the tying run right there.

In six total games as a reliever, Severino has faced 51 batters and allowed two hits. Two! Two hits and four walks in 14.1 innings equals a 0.42 WHIP, which is decent. Severino has struck out 17 of those 51 batters, or 33.3%. The kid should absolutely be given a chance to start next season, but if the rotation doesn’t work it, it sure looks like he can be a dominant reliever. Closer du jour Tyler Clippard stuck out two in a perfect ninth. What a nice game on the mound.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
The Yankees had nine hits total, including two each by Gardner and Ellsbury. Every starter had a hit except Teixeira and Austin Romine, and Teixeira drew a walk. Romine was the only one who failed to reach base. It was not a great night for the bats, but the pitching staff was able to pick them up. That has to happen from time to time.

The Orioles, Tigers, and Astros all lost on Wednesday, which means the Yankees gained ground on each of the three teams ahead of them in the wildcard race. Awesome. The Yankees are 2.5 games back with 24 to play. If nothing else, this team looks poised to play meaningful baseball for a few more weeks. I’ll take it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score, MLB.com has the video highlights, and ESPN has the updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. The first one is actually kinda useful. Here’s the win probability graph.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
One AL East rival leaves the Bronx and another comes in. The Rays will be in town for a four-game weekend series starting Thursday night. CC Sabathia and Alex Cobb, who just returned from Tommy John surgery, are the scheduled starters for the series opener. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any of the other 12 home games left on the schedule.

Yankees survive ninth inning meltdown, hang on for crazy 7-6 win over Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Well, the Yankees definitely aren’t boring anymore. Tuesday night’s 7-6 win over the Blue Jays was, without question, the most intense and fun and stressful and exciting game of the season. It was the best game since the Carlos Beltran home run/Andrew Miller vs. Troy Tulowitzki game in Toronto last season, right? Has to be. This was playoff baseball. Goodness.

I seriously have no idea how to recap this game. I usually build these things as the game progresses, but it just wasn’t happening with this one. The game was too hectic. It was crazy. I’m going to try something a little different and annotate the WPA graph so that way we hit on everything. Sound good? Too bad if it doesn’t, we’re going with it anyway. Let’s get to it.

NYYvsTORwpa090616(1) Luis Cessa‘s fourth big league start was his biggest test so far. The Blue Jays can really hit, and Edwin Encarnacion made sure Cessa knew it in the very first inning. He missed his spot with a fastball (by a lot) and Encarnacion absolutely clobbered it into the second deck in left field. It left his bat at 114 mph, which is nuts. The Blue Jays took a quick 1-0 lead on that blast.

With a rookie pitcher, you worry a monster home run like that will scare them out of the strike zone or away from their fastball. Not Cessa. The Royals hit him around early in his last start, but he showed some composure and held Kansas City down long enough for the offense to come back. Cessa did the same in this one. He shook off Encarnacion’s home run and retired nine of the next 12 men he faced. Only two of those 12 batters hit the ball out of the infield.

(2) Brian McCann must have known I have a “Brian McCann hasn’t hit for much power lately” post in the hopper for Wednesday. I wrote the damn thing earlier on Tuesday and, sure enough, McCann goes and hits his third home run of the second half in the fourth inning to tie the game 1-1. It was only the second home run Aaron Sanchez has allowed since the All-Star break. That kid is mighty impressive, isn’t he? He missed up with a changeup and McCann promptly deposited it into the second deck.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

(3) The defense both helped and hurt Cessa in the fifth inning. Mostly hurt. Kevin Pillar dunked a single into center to start the inning, and after a Justin Smoak fly out, Devon Travis beat out an infield single when Chase Headley failed to make the barehand play. YES was using the behind the plate angle, which is basically the worst thing ever, so I have no idea if Headley had time to use his glove. Doesn’t matter. Travis was safe the Blue Jays had two on with one out.

The next defensive miscue came on the very next pitch; Jose Bautista lifted a soft broken bat fly ball to left field that should have been caught, but Brett Gardner held up and allowed the ball to drop in for a run-scoring hit. He had to misread it off the broken bat. I can’t explain it otherwise. It looked like Gardner thought it was hit harder than it actually was. The ball dropped in a few steps in front of him and the Blue Jays took a 2-1 lead. The Yankees had just tied the game in the previous half inning. Blah.

Toronto only scored one run in the inning because Headley atoned for his barehand whiff with an outstanding diving stop on Josh Donaldson’s rocket down the line. It was ticketed for the corner and would have scored at least one run, if not two. Headley snared the hot shot and threw across the diamond for the out. One of the best defense plays of the season, bar none. Encarnacion flew out after that, so despite all the baserunners and bad defense, the Blue Jays were only able to score the one run that fifth inning.

(Presswire)
That is a man who knows he just mashed a tater. (Presswire)

(4) It sure looks like Tyler Austin is getting locked in, huh? Austin hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat, then went into a 5-for-37 (.135) slump and found himself on the bench more often than not. He did come out with two doubles on Monday afternoon, and, more importantly, he had some quality at-bats. Austin was flailing a little bit before that. Monday he stayed controlled and did damage at the plate.

Before Austin played hero in the seventh, the struggling Aaron Judge extended the inning with a two-out single to center. He grounded out in his first at-bat of the night but it was actually a good at-bat. Sanchez jumped ahead in the count 0-2, Judge worked it full, fouled off another pitch, then rolled over on a sinker. Bad outcome, but it was his best at-bat in a long time. The single set Austin up for the go-ahead birthday home run. To the action footage:

What a bomb. I don’t remember the last time a right-handed hitter hit one into the right field bleachers. I told you Austin has oppo pop. Austin is the first Yankee to hit a home run on his birthday since Alex Rodriguez last year. He’s the first rookie to hit a birthday home run with the Yankees since Eduardo Nunez in 2011. Congrats, Tyler. Your 25th birthday was way better than mine.

(5) Rosters may be expanded, but that doesn’t mean the bullpen can’t be worn down. Tyler Clippard has pitched three straight days and Dellin Betances pitched two straight, so when Cessa was pulled with one out in the sixth, Joe Girardi had to do some mixing and matching. The just recalled James Pazos didn’t get his batter out and gave way to Adam Warren, who got Smoak to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Warren stayed on to retire the side in the seventh, including Bautista and Donaldson, and he got the first two outs of the eighth too. The matching up started after Troy Tulowitzki singled with two outs in the eighth. Tommy Layne came in, walked pinch-hitter Melvin Upton, then gave way to Ben Heller. The Yankees were up 3-2 at the time, but the Blue Jays had two on, so Heller was in a pickle. He groove a fastball to Kevin freakin’ Pillar, who hammered a go-ahead two-run double to the wall in left. Blargh.

Girardi sure seems committed to using Heller in tight spots, and the rookie couldn’t get it done Tuesday. Betances was never going to come in for the four-out save after pitching Sunday and Monday, and with Clippard unavailable, Heller was probably Girardi’s best option. Either him or Chasen Shreve, who got the last out of the inning. It’s easy to say Heller shouldn’t have been in that spot given the outcome, but the alternative was Jonathan Holder or Kirby Yates or Nick Goody, so yeah. Not great. Bottom line: Heller can’t throw a pitch that poor. Even guys like Pillar will make you pay for grooved fastball. These are the big leagues.

(6) Earlier this season the Yankees would just roll over in a game like this. Blown lead in the eighth? Meh. Go get ’em tomorrow. Not these Yankees though. The kids don’t know any better and the veterans feed off that. The eighth inning rally started with, of all things, a Jacoby Ellsbury walk. Those done come around often. Jason Grilli was up there grunting fastballs, but he missed with four wide ones, so Ellsbury was on first.

Grilli pretty much owned Gary Sanchez for the first out of the inning. Struck him out on four pitches and had Sanchez looking silly. Once Sanchez struck out, I was waiting for Ellsbury to take off for second — there’s no reason to risk getting thrown out with Gary at the plate — but it never happened. Didn’t need to. The slumping Didi Gregorius hit a first pitch triple over Pillar’s head in left-center that scored Ellsbury to tie the game 4-4. I thought Pillar was going to catch it. He’s so good in the field. It sailed right over his head though. How about that?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the life of me, I will never understand why Grilli threw Starlin Castro a two-strike fastball. He got him to chase two breaking balls out of the zone for a quick 0-2 count because that’s what Castro does, yet Grilli opted for the heater, and Starlin lifted it out to right field for the go-ahead sac fly. Grilli and Russell Martin got a little too cute there trying to set something up. They should know Castro will chase three straight pitches off the plate.

The sac fly gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead, and after McCann drew a five-pitch walk, Headley provided two insurance runs with a two-run home run into the short porch. Two insurance runs the Yankees would ultimately need. Headley more than made up for the missed barehand with the diving stop and the two-run home run. You done good, Chase.

(7) Three-run lead with Betances on the mound? No big deal. Even against the top of the Blue Jays lineup and while pitching the third straight day. Dellin had plenty of breathing room. Then eight of his first 12 pitches were balls and suddenly Encarnacion was up as the tying run. That was: bad. Encarnacion fouled off five pitches as part of a ten-pitch at-bat before beating out an infield single. A wild pitch moved Bautista and Donaldson up earlier in the inning, so a run scored to cut the lead to 7-5, and the tying run was on base.

(8) Betances was clearly not sharp in his third straight day of work, so much so that his first out was not recorded until his 27th pitch. Twenty-seventh! Woof. Betances struck out Martin for the first out, then walked pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro on seven pitches. The Yankees still led 7-5, but now the Blue Jays had the bases loaded and Dellin had thrown 34 (!) pitches to get one out. Egads. That’s bad.

Betances needed another six pitches to get Upton to hit a ground ball towards defensive replacement Mark Teixeira at first. It should have been the second out of the inning. Instead, Dellin took a little misstep at first and completely missed the bag. Upton was safe and another run scored. And the bases were still loaded. And there was still only one out. And Betances had thrown 40 pitches and was visibly fatigued. He was on fumes. The stakes were high and morale was low. The Yankees needed a hero.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

(9) Girardi did the only thing he could do after the Upton infield single: he took out Betances. He had to. Dellin’s pitch count was through the roof — it wasn’t just 40 pitches, it was 40 high-stress pitches — and he was working for the third straight day. It was dangerous to push him any further.

So, with Betances worn out and Warren having already pitched and Clippard unavailable, in came Blake Parker for the save chance with the bases loaded. The Yankees started 2016 with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller in their bullpen along with Betances, yet here was Blake Parker coming in to get the most important two outs of the season. Baseball, man.

Parker was able to strike out Pillar for the second out using almost exclusively non-fastballs. He dropped a first pitch curveball in for a strike, then got him to swing through a second pitch splitter for an 0-2 count. Pillar fouled off a high fastball, then Parker spiked a splitter that Sanchez was able to block with his body. Huge underrated play in the game. The pitch was nowhere close to the plate and Sanchez kept it in front of him to stop the tying run from scoring.

Pillar fouled off a splitter before getting locked up with a curveball for a called strike three. I have no idea what he was looking for, but it definitely wasn’t that. Pillar just froze. That was only the second out. Still one more to go with the bases loaded. Smoak was apparently paying attention during Pillar’s at-bat, because when Parker again tried to steal a first pitch strike with a curveball, Smoak gave it his A-swing and drove the ball out to deep left.

Off the bat, I thought it was a line drive at Gardner, and I was just hoping it was close enough for him to catch it. I’m getting really bad at reading balls off the bat, it seems. The ball carried all the way to the wall, and there was definitely an “oh gosh that’s going out” feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watched Gardner race back to the wall. The game ended with one of the best catches of the season. Take it away, Brett:

I don’t know if that was the prettiest defensive play of the season — in fact, I know it’s not — but dammit, that was easily the biggest defensive play of the season. Saved the game and kept the Yankees close in the postseason race. Smoak hit that ball mighty hard, much harder than I thought, and Gardner was able to make the catch even though the ball rolled up his damn glove and had to be snow-coned. Here’s the slow motion replay:

Brett Gardner catch

I love and hate this team so much.

Leftovers
The Yankees only had seven hits as a team, but three were home runs and another was a triple, so it all worked out. Sanchez, Castro, and Judge had the singles. McCann, Austin, and Headley had the dingers. Gregorius had the triple. Ellsbury drew two walks while McCann and Austin drew one each. Austin looks really comfortable at the plate right now. Glad to see it.

Seven relievers combined to throw 113 pitches in 3.2 innings. That’s 10.3 pitches per out. Warren threw 44 in 2.1 innings and Betances threw 40 to get one out, so I reckon we won’t be seeing those two for a few days. Clippard will be the closer du jour for a little while. Not so fun fact: three of those seven relievers (Pazos, Layne, Heller) did not retire a batter. Argh.

The Yankees caught a break in the ninth inning. Encarnacion should have been awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call — the replay made it crystal clear — but the umpires missed it. It’s not a reviewable play either. That would have loaded the bases with no outs. Of course, Encarnacion singled in a run later in the at-bat, so it’s not like the non-call saved New York’s bacon.

The Yankees have finally (finally!) won a series against the Blue Jays. They’d lost six straight series to Toronto dating back to last year, and they’d also lost five straight home series to the Blue Jays dating back to 2014. It was not a pretty win and it was certainly not stress-free, but at least now that monkey is off their back.

And finally, the Yankees are now 72-65 and a season-high seven games over .500. They’re 20-13 since they gave up on the season and traded away some of their best players at the deadline. Also, the Yankees are now only 4.5 games back of the AL East lead. They haven’t been that close since April 27th.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. For the video highlights, go to MLB.com. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the un-annotated win probability graph, which does not accurately reflect how much I nearly puked:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Time to sweep these mofos. The rest of the AL East never bothered to bury the Yankees and now it’s time to make them sweat it out. Bryan Mitchell is scheduled to start Wednesday’s finale and make his 2016 debut after breaking his toe covering first base in Spring Training. Marcus Stroman will be on the bump for the Blue Jays. There are only 14 home games left this season, and RAB Tickets can get you in the door for all of them.

Ellsbury and Tanaka lead Yanks to 5-3 win over Blue Jays


Source: FanGraphs

For only the fourth time in 14 tries since last season’s trade deadline, the Yankees managed to beat the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium. Wins against Toronto have been tough to come by for more than a calendar year now. The final score was 5-3 on Monday afternoon. It’s Labor Day, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Ellsburied: One day after riding the bench in what Joe Girardi called the most important game of the season, Jacoby Ellsbury came out and swatted a two-run home run in the first inning Monday. He then singled in the team’s third run of the day two innings later. Ellsbury went 3-for-4 and drove in three of the Yankees’ five runs. Nice way to respond after sitting out Sunday.
  • Tanaka Grinds: I thought Masahiro Tanaka looked too strong in the first inning. He was on extra rest and he only threw 71 pitches last time out because of the rain delay, so maybe that was it. His two-seamer was running all over the place, so much so that he couldn’t locate it consistently. The Blue Jays jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on a double and a single in the first, but Tanaka was able to settle down, limit the damage, and retire 18 of the next 23 batters he faced. He allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks in 6.1 innings. It wasn’t easy, but Tanaka was able to take the ball into the seventh.
  • Insurance Runs: The Yankees led 3-1 after Ellsbury’s run-scoring single in the third, and while a two-run lead is nice, it’s hardly comfortable against the Blue Jays. Thankfully Tyler Austin came through with a two-out, two-run double off the wall in the fourth inning. That stretched the lead to 5-1. Toronto can score runs in a hurry, so the game was hardly over, but at least now the Yankees had some breathing room.
  • Survive the Bullpen: Bringing Jonathan Holder into the game to face the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup in his second MLB appearance was not Girardi’s finest move. Holder walked Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson to load the bases in the seventh, then Ben Heller came in and gave up the two-run single to Edwin Encarnacion to cut the lead to 5-3. Maybe go with the experienced guys over the kids against hitters that good next time, Joe. Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances closed the door in the eighth and ninth after it got interesting.
  • Leftovers: Austin seems to be coming around. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles … Aaron Judge, meanwhile, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. This is getting painful. At least he robbed a near homer without jumping … Didi Gregorius went 0-fot-4 with two strikeouts and has been slumping for a week or two now … Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro had one hit each while Chase Headley and Austin Romine each drew a walk … the Orioles won, so the Yankees remain 3.5 games back of the second wildcard spot.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Blue Jays continue this three-game series with the middle game Tuesday night. Luis Cessa and Aaron Sanchez are the scheduled starters. There are only 15 home games left this season, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want catch any of them live.

Yankees avoid the sweep, salvage series with a 5-2 win over the Orioles

In what Joe Girardi called “probably the most important game of the season,” the Yankees came out and took control of Sunday’s series finale early against the Orioles. They won 5-2 to salvage the series. The Yankees went 7-5 during this 12-game stretch against the Mariners, Royals, and Orioles, three teams they’re competing against for the second wildcard spot.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three Early Runs
The Yankees were not only shut out Friday and Saturday, they were also shut out by the Orioles last Sunday at Yankee Stadium as well. They hadn’t scored a run against the O’s in 27 innings. Twenty-seven innings! Yikes. And they very nearly blew a run-scoring opportunity in the first inning too. Brett Gardner and Rob Refsnyder started the game with walks, but Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro followed with strikeouts against Wade Miley. Sigh.

After the last two games it was easy to assume the worst as soon as Sanchez and Castro struck out. They’ve been the team’s two hottest hitters the last four weeks or so. Miley is pretty terrible though, so not all hope was lost. Chase Headley was able to get a run home with a little jam shot bloop to shallow left, then a wild Austin Romine appeared with a well-placed ground ball through the left side of the infield …

Austin Romine

… to score two more runs. Phew. The Yankees went from being on the verge of wasting a rally to scoring their first three runs of the weekend in the span of six pitches. Headley’s two-out infield single — Chris Davis failed to make the scoop on Manny Machado’s spinning throw — in the third inning gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead. Refsnyder singled to start the frame, moved to second on Sanchez’s walk, then moved to third on Castro’s double play.

A Grind For Pineda
You could tell right away this game was going to be a tough one for Michael Pineda. The first three batters of the game made solid contact — Adam Jones and Machado sandwiched singles around Pedro Alvarez’s line out — and Pineda had to work hard to strike out Mark Trumbo and Davis to strand the runners. He then started the second inning by walking Steve Pearce after jumping ahead in the count 0-2. Blargh.

Pineda’s only 1-2-3 inning was the third. He put the leadoff man on base in every other inning. By my unofficial count, he threw 54 of his 87 pitches from the stretch, or 62%. I have no idea what the league average is, but 62% seems bad. Pineda finally allowed a run in the third after Trumbo walked and Davis singled with no outs. Pearce hit a grounder to Headley at third, and while it looked like he could have gone home, he opted for the 5-4-3 double play. Unfortunately the ball was hit a little too weakly and Pearce beat it out at first.

With a four-run lead and the Orioles very capable of hitting the ball out of the park, I’m totally cool with going for the double play there. The Yankees did everything perfectly — Headley fired the ball to second and Castro’s turn was quick — yet Pearce beat it by about half-a-step. It happens. Even if Headley cuts the runner down at the plate, Pineda’s looking at two on with one out, and that’s scary. Try to avoid the big inning. A Jones single and an Alvarez run-scoring double ended Pineda’s afternoon in the fifth inning.

The total damage: two runs on five hits (four singles, one double) and two walks in four innings plus two batters. Pineda did strike out four, including three with runners in scoring position. It was not a great start, but you know what? We’ve seen several Pineda starts like this one blow up and get out of hand. This one didn’t. He got some key strikeouts and Joe Girardi’s appropriately short leash limited the damage.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Five Innings From The Bullpen
As soon at it became clear the Yankees would use Severino in relief in September, I think we all kind of assumed he would step in as the guy who bridged the gap between the starter and the usual late-inning relievers. If that means throwing two or three innings, fine. Severino was starting in Triple-A and is stretched out, so he’s good for multiple innings. A multi-inning fireman is a really nice weapon.

Severino was brought in to put out the fire in the fifth inning, after the double by Alvarez scored a run. Girardi summoned the young right-hander to face the middle of the O’s lineup with a runner at second and the tying run at the plate. The save stat is kinda stupid. Severino was asked to get the three biggest outs of the afternoon in that fifth inning. That was a save situation. He had to protect the lead against the middle of the lineup.

It was not the prettiest inning — Severino went to a 3-2 count on Machado, Trumbo, and Davis — but the end result was minimal contact and no runs allowed. Severino struck out Machado, walked Trumbo, walked Davis to load the bases, then struck out Pearce for the second out of the inning. Yeesh. Thankfully Matt Wieters rolled over on a ground ball the end the threat. Severino’s 24th pitch was the first one the Orioles put in play.

The Yankees were nursing a 4-2 lead and they still had 12 outs to go. Severino went back out for the sixth, retired the side in order, then gave way to Tommy Layne for the left-on-left matchup against Alvarez leading off the seventh. Layne got Alvarez and Adam Warren got Machado and Trumbo. Davis led off the eighth with a single literally off Tyler Clippard; it looked like it hit him in the back or triceps. I’m not sure. Either way, he stayed in the game.

Clippard was able to fan both Pearce and Wieters before Dellin Betances came in for the stress-free four-out save. Two strikeouts, a soft grounder, and a hard-hit fly ball Jacoby Ellsbury ran down. All told, five relievers combined to hold the O’s to one hit and two walks in five innings, and the one hit was the infield single that hit Clippard. Severino, Clippard, and Betances each fanned a pair. The bullpen came up huge a few times on the this road trip and they did it again Sunday afternoon.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
The Yankees scored an insurance run in the top of the ninth thanks largely to Mark Trumbo, who is not a right fielder but plays one on TV. He misplayed a Tyler Austin fly ball into a two-base error — I think Trumbo might have lost it in the sun, though he did get some leather on it — and Austin came around to score after a bunt (Ronald Torreyes) and a sac fly (Gardner). That gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead.

Headley was the only player on the roster with multiple hits. Refsnyder, Romine, Austin, and Aaron Judge had one each. The Yankees drew a whopping seven walks as a team, though only two came around to score. Gardner and Sanchez had two each. Seven walks is not a season-high but the Yankees have only had one game with more; they drew eight against the Indians last month.

Obscure stat alert: the Yankees now have three players with eight saves for the first time in franchise history. Betances, who is 8-for-9 in save chances since taking over as closer, joins Andrew Miller (nine) and Aroldis Chapman (20) in the team’s 8+ saves club. Those three have 38 of the team’s 40 saves in 2016. Chasen Shreve and Chad Green have the other two. You knew that, I’m sure.

And finally, Severino’s two innings and 38 pitches of relief almost certainly take him out of the running for Wednesday’s start in place of the injured Green. Bryan Mitchell lines up to start that day, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees went with an old school bullpen game now that rosters have expanded. We’ll see.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. The Yankees are now 3.5 games back of the second wildcard spot with 27 games to play. Here’s the win probably graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The road trip is over and the Yankees are heading home for a ten-game homestand. It’s the second-to-last homestand of the year, you know. Ten games at home, eleven on the road, six at home. That’s it. That’s all that’s left. Masahiro Tanaka and R.A. Dickey will be on the mound in Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays. That’s a 1pm ET start. Labor Day matinee. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any of the other 15 home games left on the schedule.

Orioles 2, Yankees 0: Gausman dominates (again) and Yankees get shut out (again)


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees came to Baltimore knowing this is their biggest series of the season to date. They’ve responded by being shut out in the first two games. Only six total hits too. And two were infield singles. The Yankees have actually been shut out in three straight games by the Orioles dating back to last weekend’s series at Yankee Stadium. Good job, good effort. This final score was 2-0. It’s Saturday night and it’s a holiday weekend, so this one is getting bullet points:

  • Strong Sabathia: Two runs (one earned) in six innings against the O’s in Camden Yards? CC Sabathia did his job. Aaron Judge bobbled a broken bat single in the fourth inning, allowing the first run to score, then Adam Jones hit a solo homer into the first row in the fifth. Sabathia allowed six hits and walked two in his six innings. He only had one strikeout and did have to battle through some innings, but, at the end of the day, two runs in six innings against that offense in that park is really good. Sabathia deserved better.
  • Cy Gausman: For the fifth time this season, the Yankees were completely shut down by Kevin Gausman. They’ve scored three runs total in 33.2 innings against him, and two of the three were driven in by a guy who was forced into retirement. The Yankees had their best chance to score in the fourth, when a walk (Jacoby Ellsbury), an infield single (Gary Sanchez), and a hit-by-pitch (Didi Gregorius) loaded the bases with one out. Starlin Castro then struck out on a 3-2 pitch way out of the zone (surprise surprise) and Brian McCann flew out weakly (surprise surprise) to end the threat. Gausman has a 0.80 ERA against the Yankees and a 4.41 ERA against everyone else in ’16.
  • Leftovers: Sanchez, Castro, McCann, and Chase Headley had the team’s four hits, all singles … Ellsbury and Judge drew the only walks … Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard both pitched into and out of trouble in their scoreless innings … the Yankees have been shut out in three straight games by the same team for the first time since 1973 (White Sox). They’ve also been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since last season and only the second time this century.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Orioles wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. It’s pretty much a must-win if this team wants to remain relevant a few more weeks. Michael Pineda and Wade Miley are the scheduled starters.

Yankees get walloped in Baltimore, lose 8-0 to Orioles

(Getty)

To put it succinctly, this game was not good. An 8-0 loss is, surprisingly enough, the worst ever shutout loss for the Yankees at Camden Yards. The lineup managed only two hits total while Chad Green exited early with a right elbow pain. No bueno. Aside from the fact that Jonathan Holder had a pretty nice debut inning, let’s forget this game happened.

Green = hurt

After a hit-or-miss first in which he loaded the bases but also struck out the side and allowed no runs, Green allowed the first run of the day in the second. He allowed a double to J.J. Hardy (which Jacoby Ellsbury got a bad jump to start with but I don’t think he was getting there anyway) and two batters later, an RBI single to Adam Jones to give O’s a 1-0 lead.

A batter later, Pedro Alvarez hit a fastball right down the middle for a 424 ft two-run homer. 3-0 Orioles. After walking Manny Machado, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius saw something wrong with Green. Joe Girardi immediately took him out and replaced him with Nick Goody. Yikes. Goody didn’t fare that well either. He gave up a dingers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo back-to-back. The Yankees allowed six runs after two outs, which is not what you want.

Losing Green is a bummer. He’s still a young guy but has shown flashes of brilliance in several starts. I think he can he a long-term ML pitcher but if this injury turns out to be a serious one – fingers crossed that it’s not – it could throw a wrench into the progress.

(Getty)

Bullpen arms = brought inĀ 

As I mentioned, the Yankee bullpen had to absorb tons of innings after Green left after only 1.2 IP. Goody came in and promptly allowed back-to-back jacks. The following inning was kinder to Goody – a scoreless frame with a strikeout and a double allowed. He doesn’t strike me as a potentially dominant ML relief guy. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff and is frequently guilty of leaving pitches up to be prone to homers. Sure, he can develop and fix some of the bad habits but I don’t see a high ceiling in him.

Kirby Yates came in the fourth and took care of two innings. Like Goody, he was pretty ho-hum mediocre. While striking out two in two frames, he also allowed a two-run dinger to Manny Machado, making it 8-0 in the bottom of fourth.

The silver lining of the game happened in the sixth. Jonathan Holder, who had an incredible season in minors (13.9 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 with 1.65 ERA across three levels), made his ML debut. Against the first hitter faced in ML – Adam Jones – Holder made it look rather easy by striking him out swinging with three fastballs. Not so shabby. He also went on to retire Alvarez and Machado to make it a clean 1-2-3 inning. I have no idea how good of an ML reliever he could be but YankeeSource guy thinks he has a ceiling of David Robertson. Any comparison to a guy like D-Rob warrants some kind of skepticism but hey, drink the kool-aid while it’s cold.

After Holder, Luis Severino and Blake Parker came in and each pitched a scoreless one. Nope, I don’t have a take about Severino being a bullpen arm long-term. He sure does look better there right now but he’s still too young to give up being an ML starter.

Leftovers

The Yankees had two hits the entire game. One of them was a Brett Gardner leadoff single in the 1st (he went on to be picked off almost immediately) and another was an Ellsbury single in the third that put their only runner in RISP all game. They did work Dylan Bundy for four walks but failed to threaten anything major.

To be fair, Bundy is a talented young guy and is capable of shutting down lineups. He will be pain in other AL East teams’ sides for a long while as long as he’s healthy.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


Tomorrow is another day. CC Sabathia will take the mound against Kevin Gausman, who will look to give the O’s the series win. For now, enjoy this incredible photo of Camden Yards at dusk today by Patrick Smith of Getty Images.

(Getty)

Yanks rally from down 4-0, outlast Royals 5-4 in 13 innings

Man, what an amazing and unexpected win. The Yankees were down 4-0 in the blink of an eye Wednesday night, but the pitching staff went into lockdown mode and gave the offense not only a chance to tie the game, but win it in extras. The final score was 5-4 Yankees in 13 innings. They managed to take two of three from the red hot Royals in Kansas City. What a game. What a series.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Cessa Settles Down
Luis Cessa‘s worst Major League start was, in a way, also his most impressive. This was the first time he faced some real adversity. He dominated a weak Angels lineup in his first start, then got a ton of run support against the Orioles in his second start. This was an important game, and right away, Cessa put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole. He hung a first pitch curveball to Kendrys Morales that went for a two-run home run in the first inning.

A two-base error by Chase Headley and a double by Alcides Escobar gave the Royals a 3-0 lead in the second, then, in the third, Eric Hosmer poked a solo home run just inside the foul pole to the opposite field. Cessa didn’t even make a bad pitch. It was a changeup right where Gary Sanchez wanted it. Hosmer just went out and got it. The Yankees were down 4-0 after three innings and Cessa was looking shaky as hell. The only pitch he had working was the changeup. He couldn’t locate anything else.

The bullpen was a little short thanks to Tuesday night’s rain delay and extra innings affair, so Joe Girardi couldn’t afford to pull Cessa early. He had to stick with him and get some length, and to Cessa’s credit, he settled down and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced. One of the two baserunners was an infield single. No, Cessa was not good overall (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR), but he didn’t completely melt down either. He stopped the bleeding and gave the offense a chance to get back into the game. Way to grind it out, Luis.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Rally To Tie
Through five innings the Yankees could only muster three singles and one double against former Yankee Ian Kennedy. They did put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner both flew out to end the rally. It seemed like one of those nights for the offense. They were down early and weren’t going to be able to get anything going. We’ve seen that happen enough this season.

But! The Yankees did not go quietly. They rallied for three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh to tie the game 4-4. The big blow in the sixth inning was Starlin Castro‘s booming two-run home run. Kennedy gave up a ton of long fly balls all night, balls that probably would have been home runs at Yankee Stadium, and it wasn’t until the sixth inning that he paid for one. No. 19 of the season for Castro, extending his career high.

Hicks played a huge role in the team’s fourth run of the game. He worked a one-out walk to end Kennedy’s night, then went first-to-third on Gardner’s bloop single. It looked like it might drop in no man’s land, but who knows with Kansas City’s outfield defense. Hicks read it well and was going first-to-third all the way. Jacoby Ellsbury drove him in with a sacrifice fly to tie the game. (One pitch earlier, Cheslor Cuthbert came up just short on his diving catch attempt on Ellsbury’s foul pop-up. Huge.)

(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

No Runs SLWPHB
For at least one series, the good version of Chasen Shreve returned. He recorded the final two outs of Tuesday’s nail-biting win, and in this game he chucked two scoreless innings in relief of Cessa. A scoreless seventh and a scoreless eighth. He cut right through the top and middle of the lineup too. Man, getting 2015 Shreve back these last few weeks would be huge. The Yankees need all the help they can get in the middle innings.

The two bullpens traded zeros until the 13th inning. Guys named Brian Flynn and Blake Parker and Brooks Pounders and Matt Strahm all saw action. Parker almost gave it up in the 11th on a walk, a hit batsman, and two stolen bases, but Paulo Orlando lined out to Castro to end the inning. That was pretty dicey. Ben Heller, who looked like a deer in the headlights Tuesday, threw with conviction in the bottom of the 12th and got three quick ground outs. Much, much better Ben.

The Yankees blew a bases loaded, one out opportunity in the top of the 12th, partly due to some bad luck. Sanchez ripped a line drive towards left, but Cuthbert was standing right there. Mark Teixeira swung at ball four (via Brooks Baseball) …

Mark Teixeira Chris Young

… and grounded out to end the inning. Blah. At least Chris Young gave the Yankees another chance in the 13th. Didi Gregorius singled and Castro doubled to start the frame, then Brian McCann got the run in with a two-strike sac fly. After all of that, the Yankees led 5-4 in the 13th. Unfortunately Aaron Judge struck out and Gardner grounded out, so no insurance runs scored. One-run lead it is.

Dellin Betances came on for the 13th inning save opportunity, and as he tends to do, he looked like he had no idea where the ball was going. Betances walked Cuthbert to start the inning, which is bad for many reasons. Most notably because he’s easy to steal against and the middle of the order was coming up. Things were looking ominous until Hosmer hit a tapper back up the middle that Dellin fielded between his damn legs and turned into a 1-6-3 double play. I mean, what?

Dellin Betances

Morales hit a slightly scary but ultimately routine fly ball to right to end the game as the very next batter. The bullpen: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K. The Royals’ last hit was Salvador Perez’s infield single in the sixth. Their last hit to the outfield was Perez’s one-out single in the third. Shreve, Parker, and Heller in particular came up huge. The Yankees were long overdue for a “random relievers thrown five scoreless innings” game, and those three did it. Bravo.

Leftovers
The Yankees went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and of course the one hit didn’t even score a run. It was Gardner’s single in the 12th, which advanced Headley to third. Third base coach Joe Espada threw up the stop sign with one out, which made sense because Orlando has a strong arm. No one could have known Orlando would airmail the third to the backstop. Alas.

All told the Yankees had eleven hits, including three by Castro and two each by Gardner and Headley. Starlin was a monster in August. He hit .313/.333/.571 in the month. Drove in 24 runs in 28 games too. McCann and Hicks were the only starters without a hit, but McCann had the game-winning sac fly and Hicks playing a big role in the game-tying run. Contributions up and down the lineup.

And finally, in case you missed it earlier, Hicks left the game with a right hamstring strain. He hurt himself busting it down the line on a ground ball. Remember to never hustle, kids. The Yankees didn’t say anything about the severity of the injury. I imagine an MRI is forthcoming.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head on over to ESPN. The Yankees are only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. Amazing. MLB.com is the place for the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the absolutely ridiculous win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are done in Kansas City and now they’re heading to Baltimore for yet another important series against a wildcard competitor. But first: a much-needed off-day. The Yankees don’t have a game Thursday. When the series at Camden Yards starts Friday, Dylan Bundy will be on the mound for the O’s. For some reason the Yankees have all three of their starters for the weekend listed as TBA. Okie dokie. Friday is Chad Green‘s spot, for what it’s worth.