Sabathia and the Baby Bombers led Yankees to 6-2 win over Red Sox

That was a much-needed win. Much-needed and really important. This is the final series of the season with the Red Sox and the last chance for the Yankees to control things in the AL East race. The Yankees won Thursday’s series opener 6-2. They’ll do it all over again Friday.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Big Man Does Big Things
Was it an easy start for CC Sabathia? No way. He had to grind. The big man still turned in yet another quality outing Thursday night, holding the Red Sox to one run on four hits and five walks in six innings. He struck out six. The run was kinda dopey too. Mookie Betts was narrowly safe at second base on what would’ve been an inning-ending double play. Alas. (He was originally called out, but the play was reviewed and overturned.)

The difference between this game and the three games against the Indians? The first inning. The Indians scored in the first inning in all three games. The Yankees were playing from behind all series. On Thursday, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the first inning on an error — Sabathia’s throw on Eduardo Nunez‘s bunt pulled Greg Bird off the bag — and two walks, so it looked like another first inning lead for the other team.

Fortunately Sabathia escaped with two strikeouts. He caught Xander Bogaerts looking at a perfect backdoor slider, then got Rafael Devers to swing through a slider to end the inning. Sabathia had words with Nunez after the inning because he didn’t like the bunt. Not the first that’s happened this year. The Red Sox are testing Sabathia and his balky knee with bunts and he keeps yelling at them. Me? I think if you’re healthy enough to pitch, you’re healthy enough to be bunted against.

Anyway, Sabathia made four starts against the Red Sox this season, and in those four starts he held them to three earned runs in 26 innings. That’s a 1.04 ERA. Also, Sabathia has a 2.73 ERA in his last 15 starts and 83.1 innings. And when he starts after a Yankees loss this season, Sabathia has a 1.45 ERA and the Yankees are 9-1 in those ten games. My man. Give this dude one-year contracts until he hangs up the spikes.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Kids Shall Lead Them
After the Red Sox took their 1-0 lead in the third inning, it was the young building block players who helped the Yankees fight back. Gary Sanchez answered Boston’s run in the top of the third with a solo homer the other way to right field in the bottom of the third. Even with the short porch, it’s not often you see a right-handed hitter hit a ball to right field and know right away it’s gone. Sanchez’s power is unreal.

Two innings later Sanchez gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead with one of those “it’s a line drive in the box score” base hits. Singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks put runners on the corners with one out, and Sanchez’s pop-up should’ve been caught for the second out. It barely left the infield. Instead, Nunez overran it a bit, and had to reach back to catch the ball. Catch the ball he did not. It fell in for a charitably scored base hit and Gardner scored the go-ahead run.

Sanchez did some big things on the other side of the ball too. For all the bitching and moaning about the passed balls, Sanchez has an elite arm behind the plate, and he used it to throw out Andrew Benintendi trying to steal second base to end the top of fifth. It was a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Love those. And as much as I love Sanchez singers, I could watch that man throw lasers to second base all damn day.

gary-sanchez-throw

In no universe was a 2-1 lead going to stand up in a Yankees-Red Sox game, so the Yankees added a bunch of an insurance runs, which is always appreciated. Bird swatted his second home run in as many days in the sixth inning, this one a two-run shot to right field. Eduardo Rodriguez’s first pitch of the inning: Chase Headley double. Eduardo Rodriguez’s second pitch of the inning: Bird homer. Efficient!

The Yankees added another insurance run on a Didi Gregorius single in the sixth, and yet another insurance run on a Bird single in the seventh. That gave them a 6-1 lead. The Yankees did blow a bases loaded, no outs opportunity in the seventh inning, and that stunk. Gardner lined into a double play and Hicks flew out. That was annoying. At least the Yankees added four insurance runs after taking a 2-1 lead.

Lock It Down
I am completely and totally cool with the way Joe Girardi used his bullpen Thursday night. This is a very important game and although 6-1 is a nice lead, it’s not insurmountable. Girardi used David Robertson for the seventh and eighth innings — he pitched around a leadoff walk and his own error when he fumbled a potential 1-6-3 double play ball in the eighth — and he tossed two scoreless innings on 24 pitches. Robertson used to throw 24 pitches in one innings. He’s gotten more efficient.

In the ninth, Girardi went to Dellin Betances with the 6-1 lead for two reasons. One, he wanted to nail down the win. And two, Betances had not pitched since last Saturday, and when Dellin goes too long between appearances, his control vanishes. Sure enough, he loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning on a walk and two hit batsmen. Never easy. Betances also walked in a run with one out, allowing the Red Sox to bring the tying run to the plate.

Thankfully Betances popped up Betts and got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to hit a harmless fly ball to left field to end the game, stranding the bases loaded. Never easy. But! It had been a long time since Betances last pitched, and if you’re going to use him after a long layoff, you’d prefer it to be in a game like this, with a big lead. You know those walks and free baserunners are coming. Anyway, I have zero problem with Girardi using Robertson and Betances the way he did in this game. Exactly what I would’ve done.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Leftovers
Great night for the offense. The Yankees had 14 hits and four walks, and every starter reached base twice. Two hits for Gardner, two hits for Hicks, two hits for Sanchez, two hits for Starlin Castro, two hits for Headley, two hits for Bird. Aaron Judge had two walks and Gregorius and Frazier each had a hit and a walk.

The Yankees went 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position, which means a) they hit .333 in those situations, and b) they also didn’t get The Big Hit ten times. Stupid RISP stats. The two biggest RISPFAILs were leaving the bases loaded in the fifth (Judge flew out) and in the seventh (Gardner line drive double play and Hicks fly out). Put 18 men on base and you’re bound to strand some.

Bird went 2-for-4 with the home run and is now 6-for-18 (.333) with two home runs in six games since coming back from the disabled list. He was 6-for-60 (.100) with one homer in 19 games before the injury. Bird swung through some hittable fastballs in the first two games of the Indians series, but he looks awfully dangerous at the plate right now. Calm, confident, disciplined. A productive Greg Bird would be so, so huge the rest of the way.

Good night for the defense. Sanchez threw out Benintendi trying to steal, and both Hicks and Judge had outfield assists. Hicks threw out Benintendi trying to stretch a single into a double, and Judge deked Devers on Hanley Ramirez’s single in the sixth. The deke got Devers to hold thinking Judge would catch the soft line drive, then Judge threw to second for the force. Very nice.

Brutal night for second base umpire Greg Gibson. He had two calls reviewed and overturned in the same inning, and it appeared he would have another call overturned later in the game, but the replay crew said it was inconclusive. I think it was a mercy call to avoid embarrassing Gibson. New rule: if an umpire has two calls overturned in one game, he has to go back to umpire school for a crash course and an eye exam.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game set is just getting started. The Yankees and Red Sox will be back at it Friday night in the second game of the series. Sonny Gray and Doug Fister are the scheduled starting pitchers.

No Merritt to this performance: Yankees get swept after a 9-4 loss to the Indians


Source: FanGraphs

So much for winning a game in this series at all. The Yankees suffered another listless loss n the second game of the doubleheader as they got swept by the Indians. They are now five games behind Boston in the AL East standings and have only a 1.5 game lead in the first AL Wild Card spot. Not what you want, folks! Following Mike’s example, we’re also doing it bullet-point style for this recap.

  • Another bad first inning: The game did not start too promisingly for the Yankees. Francisco Lindor singled off Jordan Montgomery to begin the top of the first and Austin Jackson worked a walk. A hitter later, Edwin Encarnacion squared an RBI single to center to make it 1-0 Indians. Carlos Santana followed it up with a double that bounced off the third base bag to drive Jackson in. With runners on second and third, Yandy Diaz hit a single to left to drive both of ’em in to make it 4-0. Not ideal at all. The Indians ended up batting around and Montgomery threw 42 pitches. All kinds of yikes here. Montgomery managed to last through four innings, which feels miraculous given that he spent half of his pitch limits in the first inning.
  • Bird is the word: The Yankees got a run in the bottom of the second thanks to… Greg Bird! Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks got on base with a single each and Bird followed it up with one of his own to make it a 4-1 game. Fast forward to bottom of the ninth, well after Indians lefty Ryan Merritt was out of the game, with Todd Frazier (walk) and Hicks (single) on base, Bird crushed an inside fastball into the right field seats for a three-run homer. Not a lot of things to get excited about in today’s games but man, it is nice to see Bird hit in the majors. His 4 RBI’s today raised his season total up to 9. Hopefully this game gets things going for him because, with major bats slumping in the lineup, the Yankees need someone to step up.
  • Post-Monty: After Montgomery departed, Joe Girardi put in Chase Shreve in the top of the fifth to keep it a three-run game. However, Encarnacion immediately made it a four-run game with a massive solo home run into the left field seats. That was 2012-16 all over again, watching Encarnacion jog around the Yankee Stadium bases with an invisible parrot on his arm. Shreve surrendered another in the sixth. Erik Gonzalez doubled to lead off the inning. After Lindor grounded out, Jackson hit a deep fly into the center that bounced off Hicks’ reaching glove and resulted as an RBI double. It’s been that kind of a game. 6-1 Tribe. But wait, we’re not done there. With Caleb Smith pitching, the Indians tacked on three more on a Yan Gomes two-run HR in the seventh and a Lindor solo dinger in the eighth. Okay, it’s over.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA. It was not a great display of baseball from the Yankees for the past three games, to say the least. Gotta hope that they turn it around quickly starting tomorrow because the Red Sox are coming to town for a four-game set. CC Sabathia will be on the mound against Eduardo Rodriguez tomorrow at 7:05 pm EST.

Indians 2, Yankees 1: Sometimes two runs are too many to overcome


Source: FanGraphs

Well so much for winning two games in one day. The Yankees dropped the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader despite allowing two whole runs. Can’t ask your pitchers to do much more than that, especially at cozy Yankee Stadium. The final score was 2-1 Indians. We’re not writing two full recaps in one day, so let’s bullet point this one:

  • A Bad First Inning: Two runs (one earned) in five innings plus one batter against a first place team? Hard to complain about that from your fifth starter. Jaime Garcia allowed both runs in the first inning on three singles and a pretty terrible Gary Sanchez passed ball. Cutter right down the middle and Sanchez couldn’t catch it. If it makes you feel better, the run would’ve scored anyway when the next batter singled. (Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, blah blah blah.) Garcia’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. He got batter-to-battered in the sixth, when he walked the only man he faced. A perfectly cromulent outing otherwise.
  • One Run & Done: Pretty miserable showing for the offense. They scored their lone run against Trevor Bauer in the third inning, when Didi Gregorius looped a double the other way to drive in Aaron Hicks. Hicks drew a walk, moved up on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice, and moved up again on Trevor Bauer’s wild pitch. Bauer had one 1-2-3 inning, the fourth, so the Yankees had some baserunners. Brought just the one in though. The Yankees were so desperate for offense they gave Tyler Olson — Tyler Olson! — a free out with a sac bunt in the seventh. You will be surprised to learn it didn’t work. The final eight batters they sent to the plate made outs.
  • Leftovers: Eight batters, seven strikeouts for Chad Green …  Tommy Kahnle pitched around a walk and a ground ball single to get his four outs … every starter reached base at least once except Greg Bird and Jacoby Ellsbury. Hicks and Chase Headley were the only Yankees to reach twice though. They each had two walks … Bird went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and swung threw several meaty fastballs, and that’s no good.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Indians will play the second game of the doubleheader pretty soon. The grounds crew will touch up the infield and starters Jordan Montgomery and Ryan Merritt will warm up, then they’ll get started.

Severino outdueled by Kluber in 6-2 loss to Indians

The old saying is every team is going to win 50 games and lose 50 games each year, and it’s what they do in the other 62 games that defines the season. This felt like one of those 50 losses. A generally unremarkable game all around in which the Yankees never really felt in control. It happens. The Indians won the series opener 6-2 on Monday.

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

Good Sevy or Bad Sevy?
Was this a good start or a bad start for Luis Severino? I can’t quite tell. On one hand, four hits and nine strikeouts in 6.2 innings is pretty great. On the other, three solo homers and three walks isn’t. The three walks went to three consecutive batters in the fourth inning too. I can’t imagine Severino, who went into this start with a 6.5% walk rate, has had many three-walk innings this year.

Anyway, the home runs were the real problem, because duh. Severino was able to limit the damage with solo homers, so I guess that’s good, but giving up a homer to Jose Ramirez immediate after the Yankees took the lead against Corey Kluber really stunk. So did allowing the go-ahead shot to Carlos Santana in the seventh. All three homers were kinda deflating. Ramirez hit one in the first to give the Indians a quick lead with Kluber on the mound, then Ramirez tied the game right after the Yankees took the lead, and then Santana broke the tie in the seventh. Blah. The dinger pitch locations:

luis-severino-home-runs-indians2

Three pitches up in the zone. Ramirez (in the first) and Santana really reached out to hook an outside pitch into the right field seats, so credit to them for that, but yeah. Severino left three pitches up and paid the price. Prior to Monday’s start Severino had allowed four home runs total in his previous eight starts and 50 innings. Then the Indians got him for three homers in one game. Go figure.

Severino’s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. Meh. The fourth run was stupid. Bradley Zimmer roped a one-out single in the seventh, advanced to third on a Starlin Castro error — he straight up missed the throw from Gary Sanchez on Zimmer’s steal attempt — then scored on an Adam Warren wild pitch. Threw a 55-foot fastball. The Yankees gifted the Indians three bases and a run there. Sloppy. Anyway, if this is a bad start for Severino now, he’ll be just fine.

Two Run Against Kluber
Hey, that’s two more runs than I expected the Yankees to score going into the game. Kluber is outrageously good. Easily the best right-handed pitcher in the American League in my opinion, and arguably the best pitcher in the league regardless of handedness. Chris Sale is almost certainly going to win the Cy Young, but man, Kluber is awesome too. He went into this game with a 2.65 ERA (2.56 FIP) in 152.2 innings. Dude is a monster.

And yet, the Yankees still managed to scratch out two runs against Kluber in his eight innings. Chase Headley got the Yankees on the board and tied the game 1-1 with a third inning solo homer. Hanging breaking ball and Headley crushed it. A rare mistake from Kluber, that was. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead on Todd Frazier‘s two-out, two-strike ground ball single in the fifth. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled as the previous batter to set that run up.

Kluber started the sixth inning by walking Aaron Hicks — that was Kluber’s only walk of the night — and that was it. The Yankees never had another baserunner. Twelve up, twelve down to end the game. Only three of those final 12 batters hit the ball out of the infield. Three hits and one walk for the Yankees all night. Headley’s homer, Ellsbury’s double, Frazier’s single, Hicks’ walk. That’s all the offense. Kluber will do that to a team.

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

About The Bullpen
A few things about the bullpen. One, David Robertson was warming in the seventh inning, when the score was tied 2-2. Then Severino gave up the homer to Santana and the Indians took a 3-2 lead, and Robertson sat down. Warren came in. What’s the thinking behind not going with Robertson, who was already warm and will probably have to pitch tomorrow just to get work, to keep it a one-run deficit, and instead going with the struggling Warren? Down one run is more dire than a tie game!

Two, why not use Aroldis Chapman at some point? Joe Girardi keeps saying they have to get Chapman right and they do, so why not use him, say, with the Yankees down 4-2 in the ninth? Seemed like a pretty good opportunity to get him some action. Between this game and Sunday’s blowout win, I think the Yankees blew some recent opportunities to get Chapman some work in lower leverage spots to help him right the ship. Those are the situations he should be pitching now. Now extra innings of a tie game like Friday night.

And three, the bullpen has now allowed a run in nine of the last ten games. For real. The one exception is Caleb Smith‘s two scoreless innings Sunday. Warren has struggled of late, so has Tommy Kahnle and even Chad Green, plus Robertson had that ugly meltdown against the Tigers in the brawl game. I’m pretty confident Warren and Green will figure things out, less so Kahnle because his history of walking guys is too scary to ignore, but the damage has already been down. The bullpen has allowed a run in nine of the last ten games. Gross.

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

Leftovers
Warren allowed the runner he inherited from Severino to score, then allowed a run of his own on Austin Jackson’s solo home run in the eighth. Chasen Shreve allowed a ninth inning run on a walk (Santana) and a double (Zimmer). It’s one thing to fall behind 3-2 following the Santana homer. It’s another when the bullpen lets that 3-2 deficit swell into a 6-2 deficit. You’re better than that, dudes.

The three Yankees hits came from the 7-8-9 hitters, which means the 1-2-3-4-5-6 hitters went a combined 0-for-22 with the Hicks walk and seven strikeouts. Sanchez did reach base when Giovanny Urshela got a little too cute and threw away a barehanded play at third, though the Yankees couldn’t get him home. I have a hard time getting worked up about the offense stagnating against Kluber (and Cody Allen).

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Tuesday night, in the middle game of this three-game series. Jaime Garcia and Trevor Bauer are the scheduled starting pitchers. Not-so-bold prediction: runs will be scored.

Tanaka, comedy of errors boost Yankees past Mariners, 10-1

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

This one really got out of hand quick. A cavalcade of errors by the Mariners in the bottom of the first put the Yankees ahead for good and gave them breathing room en route to the series win. That breaks a skid of 10 straight losses in rubber games and they did it without needing the backend of their bullpen.

Fly like an E-6

The game was wild from the start. The Mariners took a 1-0 lead after a half inning after stringing three hits together,(more on that later), but the Yankees quickly fought back with plenty of help from the lackluster M’s defense.  Lackluster is putting it lightly. Let’s go to the play-by-play.

pbp

(1) After Starlin Castro doubled, Gary Sanchez lined a single into left field. It was easily going to score Castro, but former Yankee Ben Gamel let the ball get through him and roll towards the auxiliary scoreboard. That gave Sanchez second base and

(2) Jean Segura may have had the worst first inning of his career. He made an out to start the game and this was his first of three (!) errors as he misplayed Didi Gregorius‘ pop-up. It was an easy ball and should have easily been Andrew Albers’ second out. Instead, bases loaded with one away.

(3) Chase Headley bought off three 0-2 pitches before grounding one right to Kyle Seager. It was going to easily be an out at third base, if not a 5-5-3 double play, but Seager couldn’t corral the ball. He just needed to come up with the ball and take a few steps to his right for an easy force, but alas, it was one of those days for the Mariners’ defense.

(4) Todd Frazier struck out with the bases loaded, something he seems to have done a few too many times this series. But the Mr. Clutch Jacoby Ellsbury got his third hit with runners in scoring position of the last two days, lining a ball into left-center field.

And that’s when everything went haywire for Segura.

It easily scored two runs, but Segura dropped the throw in by Gamel, committing his first error of the play as Headley ran home. The Mariner shortstop tried to catch Headley at home but his throw got by Mike Zunino, allowing Ellsbury to reach third. Ronald Torreyes knocked him in with a bloop single.

That’s all five errors. Aaron Hicks made two outs in the inning and had an error in the top of the first, although it didn’t cause the one run to score. And it was nowhere near the worst first inning for anyone. That’s got to be a tie between Segura and Albers, who had to get five outs against a potent Yankees lineup.

It was the first time since July 1977 that a team made five errors in one inning. What a mess!

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

Back to Ace Tanaka

Four batters into the game, Tanaka seemed like he may be heading towards a tough one, allowing hits to Yonder Alonso, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, the last one an RBI double. However, he rebounded with a strikeout of Kyle Seager before inducing a fly out to escape further damage.

After that, he pitched with a lead and did so quite well. He had only two 1-2-3 innings (2nd and 7th inning) but had some of his best stuff. His breaking pitches were doing exactly what he wanted as he struck out 10 batters. He allowed just three fly outs compared to eight ground-ball outs. That’s precisely what he needs to do.

The Cruz strikeout was his only one looking while the rest were swinging. He ran into trouble in the fifth with back-to-back singles before falling behind 3-0 on Segura. He threw two straight four-seamers for strikes before getting him to whiff on a slider. Two groundouts to the right side later and he was out of trouble, still leading 7-1.

Tanaka’s ERA is down to 4.69 and he has a 2.92 ERA in his 11 starts. In that stretch, he’s struck out 79 batters in 71 innings. He’s making his early season hijinks look more and more like a fluke than a permanent step back.

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

Leftovers

Starlin Castro is back in full force. As the DH, he went 4 for 4 with a double in four plate appearances. He got things started in the first and knocked in a run in the third with a bloop single. He didn’t get a chance for a fifth hit as Greg Bird pinch hit for him in the seventh with the bases loaded. Bird came through with a two-run single.

The Yankees’ other run came on a Headley sac fly with the bases loaded that turned into a double play. Sanchez got caught off second base not expecting the cutoff and was gunned down in a 8-3-6 DP.

Nearly everyone got in on the party. Ronald Torreyes had three hits and is now batting .302 on the season. Sanchez and Ellsbury had two hits each while Aaron Judge (double), Hicks, Gregorius and Bird each had one. Judge had two walks while Sanchez and Frazier had one each. Headley had the sac fly and another line drive that nearly got over Gamel’s head.

Frazier made an error to start the sixth, but Tanaka got the Mariners in order with two strikeouts and an easy grounder afterward.

Caleb Smith pitched two easy innings out of the bullpen in relief of Tanaka and was the only reliever for the Yankees. Only needed 20 pitches to do so while striking out one. Perhaps the best he’s looked in his limited appearances this year.

Joe Girardi was ejected in the third inning after the umpires bungled a clear interference play. With a runner on first and one out, Robinson Cano hit an easy double play ball to Headley, who turned to throw Segura out at second. Segura clearly stepped out of the baseline to try and block the throw before continuing to slide towards Gregorius to break up the double play. Headley dropped the ball at first. Take a look at the play.

The umps reviewed it but kept the call on the field, leading to Girardi’s ejection. Segura interfered with the play twice and it was baffling how the play wasn’t ruled a double play. Tanaka struck out Cruz looking right afterwards, so it wasn’t a huge deal. Still, a bad call leads to Girardi’s second ejection in four games.

Lastly, this is the first time the Yankees have scored 10 runs this season without hitting a home run. How about that?

Box Score & Standings

Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, the MLB.com for the video highlights. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page.

Up Next
The Yankees will continue their 10-game homestand with a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians on Monday night. It’ll be a marquee pitching matchup with AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber faces Luis Severino in a 7:00 start. And they’ll begin play Monday just 2.5 games back of Boston, which was swept by Baltimore.

Yankees 6, Mariners 3: Pickles cuts up Seattle in Bird’s return


Source: FanGraphs

Nice bounceback win for the Yankees following that frustrating loss Friday night. The Yankees received some timely hits from Jacoby Ellsbury and great pitching from Sonny Gray, which is exactly why they brought him in. To halt losing streaks. Saturday afternoon’s final score was 6-3.

I only caught the last inning of Saturday’s game — not even, I caught the last four outs or so — so I can’t talk too intelligently about the game. Here are some assorted notes instead.

1. Pickles spears the Mariners. One run, three hits, one walk, seven innings. Nine strikeouts too. The good version of Gray is pretty excellent, is he not? I know it’s Carlos Ruiz, but I’m not going to sweat one solo homer across seven innings from any starter, especially in a game at Yankee Stadium. Through five starts Gray is sitting on a 2.70 ERA (3.46 FIP) in 30 innings with the Yankees. He has a 3.26 ERA (3.35 FIP) on the season overall. The Yankees got themselves a good one.

2. Ellsbury did a thing! Playing time has been hard to come by for Ellsbury the last few weeks — and that’s on him, if he’d played better earlier this season, he’d be playing more in the second half — though when he has played, he’s had a tendency to make some noise. On Saturday he drove in his team’s first run of the game with a single, and then drove in their second, third, and fourth runs with a three-run home run into the short porch. That was a two-out rally too. Two-out single by Greg Bird, two-out walk by Chase Headley, two-out three-run homer by Ellsbury. In a perfect world, Ellsbury would be 1996 Tim Raines the rest of the season, that high-end fourth outfielder who seems to do something every time he finds himself in the lineup.

3. Bird returns. Greg Bird is back! Hooray for that. I didn’t get to see any of his at-bats, so that stinks, but 1-for-2 with two walks and 22 pitches seen sure looks like the good version of Greg Bird to me. Statcast tells me he got the benefit of the doubt on few borderline calls …

greg-bird-mariners

… but who cares. Those will even out over the course of the season. Bird has military caliber discipline at the plate, so when he’s laying off those borderline pitches, that’s a good thing. You know he feels like himself at the plate. The Yankees went into Saturday’s game with 183 runs in the second half, ninth most in the AL and 16th most in MLB, so the offense really needs a shot in the arm. Hopefully Bird can provide that.

Also, what the heck was that send by third base coach Joe Espada on Ellsbury’s single to open to scoring? I watched the highlight and, uh, that’s bad. Bird is not fleet of foot, and this was literally his first game back from ankle surgery. I guess Espada was hoping Ben Gamel would make a poor throw? Otherwise I’m not sure what that send was about.

* * *

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Mariners will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon — that’s another 1pm ET start — when Masahiro Tanaka and Andrew Albers will be on the mound. That’s the kind of game a true division contender should win at this point of the season. Tanaka has been pretty great his last 12 starts (3.38 ERA and 3.65 FIP) and Albers was pitching in an independent league last year. Yeah.

Minor League Update: I’m out of town and don’t have time for a full DotF tonight. Here are the box scores. Most of the games today are night games, so they haven’t even started as of this writing.

Yankees come together as a team after brawl with Tigers to lose 2-1 to Mariners


Source: FanGraphs

Well, if nothing else, maybe this will put an end to the ridiculous notion that Thursday’s brawls with the Tigers would spark the Yankees and get them to rally together. They lost Thursday’s game after the brawls and they lost Friday’s game too. The final score was 2-1. The Yankees looked completely helpless against the Mariners.

I alternated between watching Friday’s game on my phone and listening to the radio, plus I missed big chunks of it, so I can’t do a full recap. Instead, here are some notes and observations.

1. These baserunners are made for stranding. This game was lost when the Yankees left the bases loaded three times. Three freaking times. They did it in the third (Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez flew out), in the fourth (Todd Frazier struck out), and in the eighth (Frazier struck out). The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and it was a total team effort. Eight of the nine players in the lineup had an at-bat with runners in scoring position. Only Didi Gregorius did not. A medium deep fly ball scores a run in the third and fourth innings, when the Yankees had a man on third and less than two outs, and they couldn’t do it. Impressively terrible showing by the offense.

2. You don’t need 50 seconds to ask for that replay. How in the world does that Gregorius slide at third base not get challenged in the eighth inning? Didi made a terrible baserunning play. He broke from second base on a ground ball hit in front of him. It looked like he was thrown out at third, but replays showed he managed to avoid the tag with a fantastic slide. And yet, no challenge was made. Joe Girardi said after the game it took too long (50 seconds, to be exact) to get the thumbs up from replay guy Brett Weber, which is why the play was not challenged.

That is complete and total crap. Eighth inning of a tie game, and you’re talking about a bang-bang play that would’ve put the go-ahead run at third base with one out. That’s an insta-challenge. I’ve been harping on these for a while. On plays that important and that just close, just challenge it. Who cares about the team’s challenge success rate? Have them look at it. The difference of that play:

  • Successful challenge (runners on the corners, one out): 77.1% win probability
  • No challenge (runner on first, two outs): 57.8% win probability

The Yankees did end up needing their challenge in the 11th inning to overturn the egregiously bad out call on Brett Gardner‘s stolen base, though the game could’ve been over long before that. Maybe the Yankees waste that opportunity anyway given how poorly they performed with men in scoring position. Probably would have. But man, letting that play go unchallenged is awful. Just awful. A bang-bang play in which the go-ahead run was thrown out at third base in the eighth inning is one of these situations where waiting even 30 seconds for the replay guy to chime in should not happen. Use those challenges. You don’t get bonus points for a high success rate.

3. Chapman is a disaster. An unmitigated disaster. After allowing one home run to a left-handed batter in his first six-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Aroldis Chapman has now done it twice in the last month. This time Yonder Alonso turned around a 100 mph fastball like he knew it was coming for the game-winning home run. And he probably did know it was coming because Chapman throws fastball after fastball after fastball. Thirteen fastballs and one slider Friday. Fourteen pitches and zero swings and misses. Chapman was booed off the mound, which is funny, because Hal Steinbrenner said one of the reasons the Yankees signed him was how pumped up fans were when he entered the games last year. Sound logic.

4. Sabathia is still a boss. On the bright side, CC Sabathia is still the man. Seven innings of one run ball. Five hits, one walk, six strikeouts. Only 94 pitches too. Sabathia allowed a solo homer to Mike Zunino and that’s it. The big man passed Mike Mussina for sole possession of 19th place on the all-time strikeout list Friday night. Awesome. Sabathia is forever cool with me. Damn shame the Yankees wasted this outing.

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Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Mariners will continue this series Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1pm ET start. Hooray for baseball on Saturday afternoons. Sonny Gray and Yovani Gallardo are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a full DotF tonight and I won’t all weekend, so here’s the box scores and here’s the short version: 3B Miguel Andujar had a single and a walk, LF Billy McKinney had a single and a double, RHP Domingo German struck out eight in 6.1 innings of one-run ball, LHP Stephen Tarpley allowed his first run of the season, SS Kyle Holder had four hits, RHP Freicer Perez allowed one hit and one run in six innings, RHP Trevor Stephan struck out six in 2.2 innings, and LHP Justus Sheffield tossed two scoreless innings in his first rehab game back from the oblique injury.