Blue Jays pound Nova, sweep doubleheader with 10-7 win in nightcap

Source: FanGraphs

That was an embarrassment. If there was any doubt the Blue Jays are the far superior team, they showed it Saturday, sweeping a doubleheader in Yankee Stadium and doing it convincingly. The Yankees were blown out 10-7 in the second game Saturday night. The game did not feel as close as the score indicates. No siree. The Blue Jays are 8-1 in the Bronx this season and have outscored the home team 57-26. Let’s recap with bullet points:

  • NoNoNova: Back-end guys like Ivan Nova are always hurt the most by Tommy John surgery because they have the smallest margin for error and can’t afford to lose anything. Nova’s command was never great, but now it’s nonexistent, and the Blue Jays tagged him for six runs in just 1.2 innings Saturday night. Ten of the 15 batters he faced reached base. Nova’s up to 19 runs and 36 base-runners in his last 17.2 innings. He’s getting worse as he gets further away from elbow reconstruction, not better.
  • Comeback Attempt: Not that it matters, but could Alex Rodriguez really not play the second game of the doubleheader? Put Brian McCann at first and A-Rod at DH given the magnitude of the game? It’s not like Alex had to run hard in the first game. Whatever. Anyway, the Yankees didn’t pick up their first hit until John Ryan Murphy‘s infield single leading off the fifth. They didn’t get a hit on a ball to the outfield until Brett Gardner hit a three-run homer four batters later. That cut the deficit to 6-3 and suddenly we had ourselves a ballgame. The Yankees scored another run in the sixth on Didi Gregorius‘ double, but Chris Young (popup) and Jacoby Ellsbury (line out) stranded runners at second and third.
  • Pull Away: One half-inning after the Yankees got the tying run into scoring position, the Blue Jays scored four more runs to put the game out of reach. Chris Capuano deserved better — he threw three scoreless innings after Nova with a 33-minute rain delay mixed in — than to be charged with four runs on two ground ball singles, a walk, and an infield single. The infield single was lol-worthy and led to two runs. I can’t even explain it. Branden Pinder then came in, gave up some line drive singles to Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, and that was that. Fin.
  • Leftovers: Gardner hit a garbage time three run homer in the eighth. He hit three homers on the day and is the first Yankee to homer in both ends of a doubleheader since Andruw Jones against the Red Sox in 2012 … Ellsbury went 0-for-10 with a walk in the doubleheader and is down to .259/.321/.352 (87 wRC+) on the season … the Yankees actually had 13 hits, including two each by Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Murphy, and Gregorius … and finally, the YES booth said the Yankees have never not won the division in a season in which they once had a four-game lead. The 2015 Yankees, of course, have turned their seven-game lead into a 4.5 game deficit in a touch more than six weeks.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains 19 at this very moment, though that could change pending the outcome of the Twins game. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Blue Jays wrap up this mess of a four-game series Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Masahiro Tanaka and R.A. Dickey on the hill. If Tanaka can’t save them, no one can.

Yankees let important game slip away, drop first game of doubleheader 9-5 to Blue Jays

Source: FanGraphs

The chances of an AL East title keep getting smaller and smaller. The Yankees dropped their most important game of the season (to date!) on Saturday afternoon, losing 9-5 to the Blue Jays in eleven innings. Toronto is now 7-1 at Yankee Stadium this year. Gross. Let’s recap with bullet points, because there’s no way I’m writing two full recaps on a Saturday:

  • Small Mike: The Yankees gave Michael Pineda a two-run lead and a three-run lead, but it wasn’t enough. Three home runs did him in — Jose Bautista and Ben Revere hit solo shots, then Edwin Encarnacion hit a game-tying two-run shot in the fifth. All three landed in the first or second row, but they all count the same. Four runs on six hits and two walks in 5.1 innings for Pineda. The Yankees are now 19th in rotation ERA (4.31) and 23rd in innings (805.1). Amazing they are where they are with this starting staff.
  • Early Lead: The ball was flying in the Bronx and the Yankees built their early lead with the long ball. Brett Gardner hit a solo homer in the first, Chase Headley hit a solo homer in the second, then Alex Rodriguez lifted a two-run shot in the fourth. Gardner’s was a bomb into the second deck while Headley and A-Rod took advantage of the short porch. They had a 2-0 lead after two and a 4-1 lead after four. The Blue Jays had them right where they wanted.
  • Blown Chance: Dellin Betances served up a go-ahead solo homer to Bautista in the eighth inning, but the Yankees did battle back. Jacoby Ellsbury and Gardner starting the eighth with walks, then Ellsbury moved up on a wild pitch. Gardner did not and that’s probably a good thing — if he moves up, Brian McCann probably gets nothing to hit. Instead, McCann singled to tie the game. A-Rod loaded the bases with a walk and the Yankees were in business. But then Headley popped up to second and Greg Bird was robbed of a single by Cliff Pennington’s great sliding stop. Really great play. Bases loaded, one out, bottom of the eighth … no runs. Rough.
  • Given Away: The Yankees lost this game more than the Blue Jays won it. After Andrew Miller retired all six men he faced, Joe Girardi turned to Bryan Mitchell to start the 11th. He’s been really shaky since getting hit in the face, and, sure enough, his inning went walk, hit batsman, walk, strikeout. In came Chasen Shreve, who walked pinch-hitter Russell Martin on four pitches to force in the winning run. Revere then singled in an insurance run. Then Shreve walked Josh Donaldson and Bautista to force in two more runs. Four runs in an inning in which the Blue Jays had one hit. Yankees relievers walked five (!) and hit one batter. Excruciating.
  • Leftovers: A-Rod was lifted for a pinch-runner following his walk in the eighth, which was weird. The most important run was at third and they lost Alex’s bat in a close game. It burned them when Dustin Ackley grounded out with a runner at second to end the tenth in A-Rod’s spot. This game will not go down as Girardi’s managerial Mona Lisa … Gardner and McCann went 5-for-9 (.555). The rest of the lineup went 5-for-33 (.152) … there have been 13 homers in this series so far, and apparently the new Stadium record is 20 for a single series … how about that FOX broadcast? Think John Smoltz still hates the Yankees and Yankee Stadium or nah?

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains 19. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages as well. The Yankees and Blue Jays will begin game two of their doubleheader in just a few minutes. Ivan Nova and Marcos Stroman will be on the mound.

Blue Jays hammer Severino, take series opener 11-5 from Yankees

That was rough. Geez. The Blue Jays walked into Yankee Stadium and pushed the Yankees around in the series opener Friday night, winning the game 11-5. A thorough beatdown, to be sure. The Blue Jays are now 6-1 in the Bronx this year, outscoring the Yankees 36-14 in the seven games.


Putting The No In Severino
It was obvious early on Luis Severino didn’t have it. His command was atrocious. Pitches were up in the zone first and foremost, and when he missed, he missed out over the plate. The Blue Jays are way too good and won’t let a pitcher with bad command off the hook, no matter how hard he throws. Severino’s command problems led to a five-run first inning for Toronto, including a pair of two-run home runs.

The first homer was on a high fastball after Severino went from 0-2 to 3-2 against Josh Donaldson, who is so clearly going to win the MVP at this point. The second two-run homer was another bad fastball, that one belt high on the inner half to Justin Smoak. Justin Smoak! Between the two homers Edwin Encarnacion smashed a doubled off the wall and Troy Tulowitzki drove him in with a hard-hit ground ball single. Everything was hard hit. Everything.

Severino gave up five runs in the first inning after allowing five runs total in his previous 24.1 innings. He struggled through a scoreless second inning, didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced in the third inning, and was done. Brutal outing. Severino faced 16 batters and nine reached base. His strike total (41 strikes in 71 pitches, or 58%) doesn’t tell you how bad his location was. Everything was up and/or out over the plate. It was bad.

Young pitchers are going to have bumps in the road, that’s just the way it is, and unfortunately Severino had his first bad start as a big leaguer in the Yankees’ most important game (until tomorrow!) since 2012. That 2.04 ERA wasn’t going to last forever, but damn, did it have to disappear all at once? What awful timing for a dud.


Catch Up, Fall Behind
Every single time the Yankees managed to scratch out a run, the Blue Jays answered right back. Brendan Ryan doubled and Brett Gardner later drove him in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning to cut the deficit to 6-1. Then Edwin Encarnacion smashed a two-run home run into the second deck in left field (!) off Chris Martin to make it 8-1 in the fourth.

In the bottom of the fourth, Didi Gregorius laced a two-out single to right to score Carlos Beltran. Beltran and Chase Headley singled earlier in the inning, and Beltran aggressively took third on a deep fly ball. It looked like he would have been thrown out had Tulowitzki not cut it off. That made it 8-2. Russell Martin then hit a solo homer off Andrew Bailey in the top of the fifth to negate Didi’s run and make it 9-2.

Two innings later Gregorius came up with another big hit, this one a three-run dinger into the second deck in right field. LaTroy Hawkins threw a cement mixer slider and Gregorius missed none of it. Gone off the bat. Headley reached on an error and Greg Bird singled earlier in the inning to set up the three-run dinger. That made it 9-5 and suddenly we had a little bit of a game. Then Martin hit a two-run homer off Chasen Shreve in the next half-inning. 11-5 Blue Jays. Womp womp.

Severino was pretty bad Friday, but the bullpen was a disaster. Martin, Bailey, Shreve, Caleb Cotham, and Branden Pinder combined to allow five runs on ten hits in eight innings. At least they didn’t walk anyone. (Five strikeouts.) The Yankees do have a 13-man bullpen thanks to September call-ups, but I have no idea why Joe Girardi opted to use five different relievers the day before a doubleheader rather than use one long man for multiple innings. Weird.


Alex Rodriguez had his worse game of the season, going 0-for-4 with four ugly strikeouts. He saw 25 pitches, swung times 17, and missed eight times. Yikes. The Blue Jays buried him with breaking balls. With Mark Teixeira done for the season, the Yankees need A-Rod to be a force in the middle of the lineup, and he just hasn’t been that since the start of August.

Gardner has been slumping the last few weeks but he had a good game, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a hard-hit sacrifice fly. Gregorius had his two hits while Ellsbury, Beltran, Headley, Bird, and Ryan had one hit apiece. There was just the one walk. The Yankees had one base-runner after Didi’s sixth inning homer. That was Gardner’s leadoff single in the seventh. That’s it.

Shreve allowed three hits, including the two-run homer to Martin, in two-thirds of an inning. He’s really hit a wall of late. Twenty-nine of the last 70 batters he’s faced have reached base (.414 OBP), five on homers. Turns out asking your bullpen to get 12 outs a game day after day early in the season might wear out the middle relief in the second half.

And finally, a fan seated near the Blue Jays dugout fainted in the sixth inning and play had to be halted as emergency personnel helped him out. The Yankees said the guy is doing well and he was brought to the hospital as a precaution. Still scary though. Glad he’s okay.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can find the box score and video highlights for the game here and here, respectively. Here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains 19. The Yankees are now 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East, which is their largest deficit since April 17th (three games), the tenth game of the season. Anyway, make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Let’s play two! The Yankees and Blue Jays will play a single-admission doubleheader Saturday. Michael Pineda and Marco Estrada will start the first game at 1pm ET, then Ivan Nova and Marcus Stroman will start the second game roughly a half-hour after the first game ends. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch the doubleheader live. One ticket, two games. Not a bad deal.

Defensive miscues doom the Yankees in a 5-3 loss to Orioles

This series, not only the game, could have gone much better for the Yankees but it didn’t turn out that way. New York dropped the series finale against Baltimore tonight for a brutal series loss at home. CC Sabathia looked good for most of the game but errors doomed his night while the lineup – besides Carlos Beltran – couldn’t punch the runs in. New York dropped the battle of the late innings 5-3 with offense coming up empty-handed against Ubaldo Jimenez, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton. The bullpen allowed a couple runs that spelled doom.

(Source: Getty)

Death by defense, the CC Sabathia story

CC didn’t benefit from the defense in the first. With Nolan Reimold on at first, Sabathia induced a grounder to second from Gerardo Parra that should have been an easy double play. But Stephen Drew misplayed the bounce and only had time to throw the runner out at first. Later in inning, with two outs, Chris Davis drove Reimold in with a bloop single to right that Beltran also misread. 1-0 Orioles. Definitely not types of plays you want to see from a team trying for a division title.

From second to fourth innings though, Sabathia looked very good. Remember, he was doing decently before knee injury shelved him in late August. (3.80 ERA in 4 starts in August) In those three innings, Sabathia allowed only three baserunners and struck out three. He’s definitely not the guy he used to be but that will do.

In the fifth, Sabathia got himself into a jam. Dariel Alvarez reached with a walk and Reimold followed it up with a single. After Parra moved both runners up with a sac bunt, Sabathia got a huge strikeout against Manny Machado. I thought, at that point, things would go swimmingly for New York for rest of the game. Unfortunately for CC he drilled Chris Davis to load the bases, which prompted Joe Girardi to bring in Adam Warren to close out the fifth. Sabathia wasn’t happy about it but with pitch count at 85 and a righty hitter (Jonathan Schoop) coming up, Joe didn’t want to take too many chances.

Warren did his job against Schoop – he induced a grounder to Chase Headley that should have ended the inning but his throw tumbled mid-air like changeup and went through Drew’s legs. However, that doesn’t excuse Drew of his error either – it looked definitely catchable for any ML infielder. Baltimore scored two on that miscue and made it a 3-3 tie game.

September Beltran, the step before October Beltran

Beltran made up for misreading the fly ball by hitting an oppo-dinger off of Ubaldo Jimenez. He squared up a fastball on the outer edge of the strik ezone and quite frankly, I was surprised that it carried so much. Old man’s still got it.

One-man army. (Source: Getty)

Beltran drove in two more runs in the third. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Beltran drilled a slider inside to make it 3-1 Yanks. Three RBI for the old man and they turned out to be the only runs for the Yanks tonight.

To remind you how good he’s been – since May 1, Beltran has hit for a .878 OPS (prior to the game). After tonight’s game, he has a 123 wRC+ with an isolated power just below .200 (.199 to be precise) for the whole season. That contract isn’t looking too grim anymore!

Faltering in late innings, again

Warren held on his own pretty well in the sixth and seventh innings. Meanwhile, the Yankee offense came up with almost zilch against Ubaldo Jimenez. Dustin Ackley did hit an oppo-double in the seventh for his first Yankee hit but New York came up empty-handed. In top of eighth, with one out and 2-2 count against Steven Pearce, Warren hung a curve right up the zone. Pearce did not miss any of it and sent the ball to the visitor’s bullpen to give Baltimore a 4-3 lead.

Yankee offense went three-up, three-down against Darren O’Day in the bottom eighth. New York allowed another run in the ninth with Chris Davis’s RBI ground-rule double with two runners on. 5-3 Orioles. In the bottom ninth, Beltran, Brian McCann and A-Rod got completely handcuffed by Zach Britton to finalize a loss – a swift end to a disappointing night.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

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

Source: FanGraphs

Yankees will have the Blue Jays on a four-game series at home. Needless to say… very, very crucial, right? Youngster Luis Severino will take the hill against David Price. Now that’s a matchup.

Yankees waste Tanaka’s gem, fall 2-1 to Orioles

Yuck. The Yankees wasted one of their best starting pitcher efforts of the season and let the guy in the Orioles lineup you can’t let beat you, beat them. Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck. The final score in Tuesday’s disappointing loss to Baltimore was 2-1. New York is now 21-23 in one-run games this season. That wasn’t the plan.

(Steven Ryan/Getty)
(Steven Ryan/Getty)

Wasted Effort
The Yankees needed an ace-like performance Tuesday night and that’s exactly what Masahiro Tanaka delivered. (Despite the best efforts of the defenders on the right side of the infield.) Tanaka limited the Orioles to one run — Ryan Flaherty hit the #obligatorysolohomer, a line drive shot into the short porch — in eight innings, walking one and striking out ten. He allowed six hits, two of which didn’t leave the infield. Dominant.

Tanaka threw 69 of 104 pitches for strikes — he threw eight balls in the first three innings! — and generated 22 swings and misses, tying a career high set last season. (His previous 2015 high was 17 whiffs.) He recorded strikeouts with four different pitches: four-seamer, two-seamer, slider, and, of course, the splitter. Baltimore’s right-handed batters went a combined 1-for-14 (.071) with five strikeouts. They had no chance. Tanaka dominated. What an effort by the unquestioned staff ace.

(Steven Ryan/Getty)
(Steven Ryan/Getty)

Offensive Offense
The Yankees scored their lone run on Alex Rodriguez‘s leadoff solo home run in the sixth inning, the half-inning after Flaherty took Tanaka deep. A-Rod answered right back with his 30th dinger of the year. How about that? Thirty dingers for A-Rod. The lead lasted five pitches. Unfortunately, Alex’s home run was their final hit of the game. The blast ended Gausman’s night and the O’s bullpen retired 12 of 13 batters faced. A sixth inning walk by Chris Young was the only base-runner. The final eleven Yankees made outs. None hit the ball out of the infield.

All told, the Yankees had six hits and two walks. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Brendan Ryan, and A-Rod all had one single in addition to Alex’s homer. Young and McCann drew the walks. The Yankees had three at-bats with runners in scoring position and they had zero runners make it as far as third base. Just A-Rod on his homer. That’s all. The 5-6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 1-for-18 (.056) with six strikeouts. Brutal. The Yankees now have six hits or less in four of seven games this month. That ain’t gonna cut it.

Game Over
Chris Davis came into the series having hit 21 home runs in his previous 44 games. He’s probably the best pure power hitter in baseball right now, or at least one of the top three, and the Yankees lost because Chasen Shreve threw Davis a 2-0 fastball leading off the ninth inning. It wasn’t a horrible pitch location …

Chasen Shreve Chris Davis

… but Davis is so strong it doesn’t even matter. He put the bat on the ball and it carried out to left field. The ball just flies off Davis’ bat. Geez.

Anyway, Shreve was in the game to get the left-on-left matchup, yes, but he was in there mostly because neither Dellin Betances nor Andrew Miller were available given their recent workloads. Also, Adam Warren is needed in the rotation now too, so the bullpen was extra short on reliable relievers. The Yankees opted not to add any pitching at the deadline and now the staff is stretched thin. This was the risk they assumed.

Ryan made a brilliant diving stop at third base to turn a 5-4-3 double play in the seventh. It was unreal. The video is embedded above in case you missed it. Ryan can’t hit but boy can he field. Considering Matt Wieters followed the double play with a double off the wall, Ryan might have saved two runs there. Crazy.

The right side of the infield, meanwhile, was a total mess despite not being charged with an error. Both Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew cut in front of each other on ground balls and couldn’t make the play. Greg Bird ranged too far off the bag not once, but twice, again resulting in base-runners. Woof. Bird’s been really shaky at first. The drop-off from Mark Teixeira is staggering. Somehow none of those miscues led to runs.

Shreve ended up allowing three hits in his inning of work, but just the one run. He’s allowed 26 of 65 base-runners to reach base since the start of August (.400 OBP). Shreve’s coming back down to Earth at a very unfortunate time. I’m not going to blame him for giving up a homer to Davis, it happens, but this underscores the team’s lack of reliable pitching depth at the moment.

And finally, Bird went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Gausman, his former high school teammate. Bird battled, he had a six-pitch at-bat and a five-pitch at-bat, but Gausman got the best of him. I’m guessing these two will be matching up for a few more years to come.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game as well as the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot did drop to 19 because the Twins lost to the Royals, so hooray for that. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Orioles will wrap up this three-game series Wednesday evening, when CC Sabathia makes what will hopefully be a triumphant return to the rotation. He’s spent the last 15 days on the DL with another knee issue. Ubaldo Jimenez will be on the bump for the O’s. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any of the five remaining games on the homestand.

Bird’s late blast gives Yankees 8-6 win over Orioles

Source: FanGraphs

Another day, another come from behind win. The Yankees fell behind early Monday afternoon but used the power of the longball to beat the Orioles 8-6 on Labor Day. They’ve won 16 of their last 24 games. It’s a holiday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • A Tale of Two Mikes: That was an awful start and a great finish by Michael Pineda. He allowed four runs in the second inning — his three outs were a bunt, a miraculous play at the plate (thanks Didi!), and a screaming line drive at Chase Headley — including three on Jonathan Schoop’s three-run homer. Pineda made a really bad 0-2 pitch to Schoop. Spun right out over the plate. But, after the second inning, Big Mike retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, and the two base-runners were a walk and an infield single. Four runs in six innings kinda stinks, but Pineda did a great job settling down and keeping the O’s at four.
  • Comeback: The Yankees scored their first inning run on some well-placed bloops, including Chris Young‘s single that barely left the infield. They went big after that. Headley stole a run in the third — he caught Adam Jones napping on a routine fly ball and was able to tag up and advance to second before scoring on Young’s double — then Alex Rodriguez solo homered in the fifth. A few batters later, John Ryan Murphy went opposite field for a two-run go-ahead dinger. Greg Bird drew a walk to set it up. Wei-Yin Chen faced 26 batters and ten reached base (.385 OBP).
  • Let’s Go Flying: The 5-4 lead evaporated in the seventh inning on Manny Machado’s solo homer to dead center off Justin Wilson. Machado will do that. He’s a stud. The Yankees answered right back though. Carlos Beltran walked leading off the seventh, Young followed with a single, then Greg Bird whacked a three-run home run off lefty specialist Brian Matusz to give New York an 8-5 lead. Came on an 0-2 pitch too. Bird hit it like he knew it was coming.
  • Door Closed: Dellin Betances, who has now pitched or warmed up eight of the last ten days, had a no contact inning in the eighth. Three walks, three strikeouts. The last strikeout came on a 3-2 hanging curveball Caleb Joseph swung through. Dellin needs a few days off. He looks like he’s running on fumes. Andrew Miller got the ninth inning, allowed a run when Chris Davis singled in Steve Pearce, but otherwise nailed down his 32nd save in 33 chances. Never easy.
  • Leftovers: Every starter had at least one hit. The 5-6-7 trio of Young, Bird, and Murphy went a combined 6-for-11 (.545) with a walk, a double, and two homers. They drove in seven of the eight runs … Wilson, Betances, and Miller put six runners on base in two innings. That doesn’t happen often … the Yankees are now sitting on 9,990 career wins as a franchise. Ten more to 10,000. They’ll be the eighth franchise with that many wins. (The others have been around much longer. New York’s .569 winning percentage is by far the best in baseball history.)

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is now 20, so Jorge Posada is in the sidebar. Now here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and O’s continue this series Tuesday night. Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman will be the pitching matchup. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other five games left on the homestand.

Yankees rally from behind for 6-4 win over Rays in series finale

That was a Good Win. Things did not look good early in Sunday’s game against the Rays, but the Yankees rallied from behind to beat Tampa and their ace Chris Archer. The final score was 6-4.

Oh yeah. (Presswire)
Oh yeah. (Presswire)

Back-To-Back & Back In It
Not surprisingly, the Yankees got completely shut down by Archer for the first five innings. He’s excellent, and he also seems to have New York’s number. Archer came into this start with a career 1.78 ERA in eight starts and 55.2 innings against the Yankees, including a 1.54 ERA in five starts and 35 innings at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had just two base-runners in the first five innings against Archer: a Chase Headley walk and a Jacoby Ellsbury single, both in the third inning. That’s it.

The sixth inning is when the game turned around. Ellsbury started the inning with a one out soft line drive single to right, then Carlos Beltran worked a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate. That was pretty clearly their best chance to get back into the game. It was now or never, probably. Archer started Brian McCann off with four straight balls … except the fourth ball was called a strike because of the silly 3-0 autostrike that always seems to pop up at the worst times.

McCann should have walked. Thankfully, he didn’t. The next pitch was middle-middle fastball — Archer missed his spot big time — and McCann hammered it into the right field bleachers for his career-high 25th home run. It was a no-doubter off the bat. It had the good sound and everything. Suddenly, the game was tied 3-3. One pitch later, it was untied. Alex Rodriguez lifted Archer’s very next pitch the other way and into the second row of the right field seats for a solo homer and a 4-3 lead. One dinger is good. Back-to-back dingers is way better.


Just Good Enough
In his last six starts, Ivan Nova has allowed 23 runs and 49 base-runners in 33.1 innings. The Yankees have won two of those six games. Sunday afternoon Nova allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in six innings against Tampa, serving up a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier and a jam-shot run-scoring single to Logan Forsythe. The homer was an awful pitch, a quad-high hanging curveball Kiermaier yanked into the short porch, but the Forsythe single was just baseball being stupid. Nova jammed him real good …

Ivan Nova Logan Forsythe

… and it found grass. So it goes. Nova had just one 1-2-3 inning (the fourth) and the Rays got a runner into scoring position in every inning but the second, fourth, and fifth. (Kiermaier hit his homer in the second though.) It could have been a lot worse had the Rays not gone 1-for-7 (.143) with runners in scoring position with Nova on the mound. (Forsythe’s jam shot was the one.) Every fan thinks their team sucks with runners in scoring position, but the Rays really do suck with runners in scoring position. They ranked 27th in baseball with a .236 AVG in those situations coming into the day.

Anyway, Nova is what he is at this point. A serviceable starter who both frustrating and occasionally brilliant, though since Tommy John surgery there’s been a lot more frustration than brilliance. That’s not surprising. It usually takes a while for guys to get back into their groove following elbow reconstruction. Nova’s not coming out of the rotation, and for now starts like this seem to be the best case. Not a disaster, not great. Winnable.


Up To The Bullpen
One run lead after six innings? Time to go to that bullpen. Joe Girardi called on Justin Wilson to start the seventh and he struck out the side … except McCann couldn’t hang on to Daniel Nava’s foul tip for the third out. He almost had it. Couldn’t stop it from hitting the dirt though. Such is life. Nava then smacked a double into the left-center field gap to extend the inning.

As expected, Girardi went to Dellin Betances to face Evan Longoria with the runner on second and two outs in the seventh. Dellin walked Longoria then got Grady Sizemore — still can’t believe Sizemore is hitting cleanup for a kinda sorta contending team in 2015 — to ground out harmlessly to third to end the inning. Exhale. Betances went back out for the eighth, gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera, hit James Loney with a breaking ball, then got an inning-ending double play from Kiermaier. Exhale again.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, so they still had a 5-4 lead after Asdrubal’s homer. They added another run in the eighth too. Didi Gregorius helped create both. He singled in the seventh, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an error. In the eighth he laced a single back up the middle with the bases loaded and one out. Steve Geltz walked himself into trouble in the eighth, then Didi got the big hit against a funky lefty. Pretty awesome. He’s come such a long way in a short period of time.

Andrew Miller came on for the ninth inning with the Yankees up 6-4. J.P. Arencibia flew out to the right field warning track, Joey Butler struck out, Mikie Mahtook singled, Longoria singled, Mahtook moved to third a wild pitch, then Brandon Guyer struck out. Never easy. Miller is 31 for 32 in save chances this year. Fun Fact: Mahtook is the kid the Rays selected with the first round draft pick the Yankees forfeited to sign Rafael Soriano a few years ago.


Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Brett Gardner, Headley, and Stephen Drew. Gardner hit the ground ball that led to Forsythe’s error and the insurance run in the eighth, and Headley drew a walk. Drew bobbled an error on a ground ball. Not a great afternoon for him.

Ellsbury, A-Rod, and Gregorius each had two hits. Greg Bird doubled immediately after A-Rod’s homer, so he Yankees managed three straight extra-base hits off Archer. They had five walks and five strikeouts as a team. The Yanks have 19 games with at least as many walks as strikeouts this year, fifth most in the league.

And finally, the Yankees are now 10-6 against the Rays this season. This is the first time they have won the season series against Tampa since 2009, if you can believe that. That 2009 season was a good one. Let’s do that again.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game and the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is 22 as of this writing, so Roger Clemens is in the sidebar. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are done with the Rays and the Orioles are coming to the Bronx next. The two teams kick off their three-game series with a Labor Day matinee on Monday. Michael Pineda and Wei-Yin Chen will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other six games on the homestand live at Yankee Stadium.