Archive for Game Stories
Three losses in four games was not part of the “crawl back into the postseason picture” plan, especially since it could have very easily been four losses in four games. The Yankees lost just their second game of the season to the Blue Jays on Monday night, dropping what felt like a lopsided 5-2 contest.
No Chance To Win Every Fifth Day
After two straight quality starts, Phil Hughes went back to being one of the very worst pitchers in all of baseball on Monday night. He allowed five runs in 4.2 innings of work, though, to be fair, one run scored when Kevin Pillar managed to bloop a two-out single to center on a pitch that was basically in the dirt. Another one or two came across after Ichiro Suzuki dropped a hard-hit but very catchable fly ball in right. Still, Hughes was awful. Seven hits, three walks, three strikeouts, couldn’t get out of the fifth awful. Awful. AwPhil.
Journeyman left-hander David Huff picked up the rest of the bullpen with some high-quality long relief after that, holding the Blue Jays to one walk and no hits in 3.1 scoreless innings. He struck out five and recorded eight of his ten outs on the infield. Between this game and last week’s relief appearance, Huff has held Toronto to one hit in 8.1 scoreless innings in his last two outings. That’s pretty awesome. Unsurprisingly, Joe Girardi was non-committal when asked if Huff would take Hughes’ spot in the rotation. That decision wasn’t going to be made in the five minutes between the 27th out and the post-game interview. The Yankees obviously should consider it though.
Oh Yeah They Only Scored Two Runs
Regardless of what happened on the mound, it’s really hard to win when you only score two runs. The first run was all about Brett Gardner‘s speed. He drew a walk to start the game, moved up to second on a passed ball, moved over to third on Derek Jeter‘s slow ground ball to short, then scored on Robinson Cano‘s grounder to second. Hooray smallball, I guess. Alex Rodriguez created the second run with one swing — he hit a solo homer to right to leadoff the fifth. For the fourth straight game, the Yankees scored no more than three runs.
The Bombers had a chance to really blow this one open in that fifth inning, after A-Rod homered. Two singles (Ichiro and Gardner) and a walk (Jeter) loaded the bases with two outs for Cano, exactly the guy the Yankees wanted at the plate. Robbie’s been killin’ the ball lately, and he hit one of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleballs really hard … just not hard enough. The inning ended on a loud fly ball to deep center field. Cano was picking on the wrong part of the park. Alex’s blast knotted the game at two, but after that inning, just three of the final 15 men they sent to the plate reached base.
Jeter’s return was mostly forgettable. He went 0-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and a double play at the plate while not being tested with anything more than a routine play at shortstop. Jeter did see 20 pitches in four at-bats though, which is nice. The Yankees lacked team plate discipline and the willingness to work the count for the first four months of the season. They’ve gotten that element back in recent weeks, at least somewhat.
Two round number milestones in this game. First, A-Rod’s homer was the 650th of his career, making him the fifth player in history to go deep that many times. He was also the fifth player to homer 649 times, but that’s besides the point. Second, Gardner’s fifth inning single was the 500th hit of his career. A whole lot of players have done that. Still pretty cool though. Congrats to both.
Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano both singled and stole bases. Soriano swiped third for the second straight game. Austin Romine also singled and walked. He’s up to .233/.280/.322 (63 wRC+) on the year, which is pretty amazing considering how terrible he was prior to the All-Star break (-2 wRC+!). The kid needs to play everyday. Every single day.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, MLB.com is the place to go. FanGraphs and ESPN have some other stats and the updated standings, respectively. The Athletics beat the Tigers, so the Yankees are again five games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 7.6%. It’s getting late early, folks.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, the middle game of the three-game set. Lefties Andy Pettitte and J.A. Happ will match up for the second time in less than a week.
A loss on Sunday would not have eliminated the Yankees from postseason contention, it only felt like it would have. Dropping three straight to a division rival who also happens to be one of the teams you’re chasing at this point of the year is pretty close to a disaster. The Yankees walked the tightrope in the series finale against the Rays before eking out the extra innings win. The final score was 3-2 in eleven.
I’m still out of town and didn’t see a single pitch of the game — it’s rather liberating, I recommend taking a weekend away from baseball every so often — but this looks like a classic “shaky but made a pitch when he had to” start for Ivan Nova. He walked six (one intentional) and has now put 46 (!) men on base in his last four starts and 27 innings. That’s way too many. Alfonso Soriano created the winning run with a double to left before stealing third, a ballsy move that helped win the game. Curtis Granderson, who was quietly been awesome since coming off the DL, plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.
Two questions: One, why didn’t Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit for Lyle Overbay against the lefty pitcher with two outs and two on in a one-run game in the sixth? Winning has to take priority over getting A-Rod a full day of rest at this point. Besides, he’ll have plenty of time to rest when he gets suspended after the season. Two, using Shawn Kelley for one batter was really foolish. Ideally David Robertson would have finished off the seventh before pitching the eighth, allowing Kelley throw a full inning (or more) later in the game. Oh well, Robertson did go two innings though. Still some weird managerial decisions there.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles pounded the Athletics, so the Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 10.9%. The Bombers open a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday, when Phil Hughes gets the ball against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
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Roster Update: Preston Claiborne will be sent down to clear a roster spot for Derek Jeter on Monday, which is preposterous. If the Yankees are trying to win, they have no business keeping Joba Chamberlain over Claiborne or anyone else in that bullpen. I assume Claiborne will go to High-A Tampa since their season ends on September 1st, allowing the team to circumvent the ten-day rule and bring him back on the 2nd. Hopefully the Yankees come to their senses and decide to keep him over Joba at some point in the next 24 hours.
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Minor League Update: All of the box scores are available right here. 1B Greg Bird drew a walk — he’s two away from a hundred with seven games to play — and RHP Jose Campos threw two scoreless innings of relief. Not much else happened. Triple-A Scranton was officially eliminated from postseason contention with their loss.
It’s gut check time. The Yankees beat the crap out of the Blue Jays this week to climb to within striking distance of a wildcard spot, but now it’s time to face an actual good team. A playoff caliber team, even. The Rays are one of three teams — more if you consider how close the AL East and AL West division races are — the Bombers are currently chasing for that second wildcard spot. New York comes into the series five back of Tampa.
Despite what is usually a strong pro-Yankees crowd — Tampa is the team’s home away from home, remember — Tropicana Field hasn’t been too kind the Yankees these last few years. They did take two of three at the Trop back in May, but otherwise they’ve won just six of their last 21 games in the ballpark dating back to 2011. Thankfully, that means nothing now. It has no bearing on how the Yankees will perform this weekend. Here’s the lineup that will face right-hander Chris Archer:
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Curtis Granderson – Joe Girardi said he’ll be the primary DH going forward
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano – prefers to play the outfield, hence Granderson at DH
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 1B Mark Reynolds — Lyle Overbay was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is the Ace in America, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
It’s hot and humid with on-and-off rain all day in St. Petersburg, so I guess it’s a good thing the Trop has a roof. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and can be seen on My9. Enjoy.
Four wins in three days? Four wins in three days! Against the Blue Jays too, the offseason champiohahaha! Nevermind. The Yankees won their fifth straight game and their tenth in their last dozen games overall on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, the three hour and thirty-two minute rain delay didn’t exactly jibe with my schedule, so I missed a huge chunk of this game. All the action, really. I left after the blown call on Alex Rodriguez‘s would-be infield single in the fourth and returned when Boone Logan bailed out Shawn Kelley in the seventh. Missed all the scoring in the 5-3 victory.
Aside from the actual win in the standings, the most important thing to come from the game was Andy Pettitte and his second straight Pettitte-esque start. He held Toronto to just a solo homer in six innings, allowing four hits and three walks against three strikeouts. Andy walked a few more batters than usual, both otherwise it looked like typical Pettitte and that’s a very positive sign. The Yankees need at least one of their underperforming starters to step up down the stretch, and right now it looks like Andy will be the guy.
The most notable play on offense was Vernon Wells‘ single/sac fly/double play/blown call. I can’t explain it, so just watch the video. The end result was the go-ahead run after Curtis Granderson‘s solo homer tied it earlier in the inning. Eduardo Nunez plated two big insurance runs with a tomahawk single to center in the sixth inning. The Yankees only had four hits in the game — the Blue Jays pitching staff did them a big favor with six walks. Aside from the Granderson homer, every runner who scored for New York originally reached on ball four.
Mariano Rivera was unavailable due to his recent workload, meaning Joe Girardi had to mix-and-match his way through the seventh and eighth innings before handing the ball to closer du jour David Robertson. Kelley allowed two runs and four of six batters faced to reach base before being bailed out by Logan, who whiffed Adam Lind for the final out of the seventh. The just called up Preston Claiborne fired a scoreless eighth before Robertson threw a perfect ninth. He went to a three-ball count on all three batters faced, naturally.
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN the updated standings. With the win, the Yankees are now just 3.5 (!) games back of the second wildcard spot, four in the loss column. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 15.4%. They were at 1.8% as recently as August 7th, just to give you an idea of how much progress they’ve made lately. The Yankees are off to Tampa for three ridiculously important weekend games. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against rookie right-hander Chris Archer in Friday night’s series opener.
This was a game that, earlier in the season, the Yankees probably find a way to lose. It’s the kind of game that is won with one swing of the bat, know what I mean? A dramatic late-inning homer and a patchwork pitching staff helped the Yankees to a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, their fourth straight win and ninth in their last 11 games.
David Justice Would Be Proud
R.A. Dickey was really, really good in this game. The Yankees got to him for two runs early on, but the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner went on to retire 14 of 15 batters faced at one point from the third through eighth innings. The only base-runner was a walk and just one of those 15 batters actually hit the ball out of the infield. Dickey shut them right down with his unusually hard knuckleball. He was awesome …
… until hanging a 1-0 knuckler to Alfonso Soriano with a man on-base and two outs in the eighth. Soriano clobbered the pitch out to right for a no-doubt, go-ahead two-run homer that simultaneously snapped an 0-for-17 skid. As you might remember from his first stint in pinstripes, Fonsy has a knack for being an all-or-nothing hitter. He was all and not nothing on Wednesday night, helping the team to another win with another monster homerun. This guy, man. Tell me this isn’t Justice-esque. You can’t do it. It’s uncanny.
Tuesday’s doubleheader meant the Yankees had to use a spot starter at some point before Sunday, so they decided to get it out of the way early and give their older starters an extra day of rest in the process. Adam Warren got the nod after a solid 4+ months of long relief work, and he gave the team three innings and 61 pitches of two-run ball. He allowed four hits — including a monster solo homer by the utterly powerless (career .070 ISO) Josh Thole — and two walks while striking out four. If nothing else, it was much better than his first (and only other) career start last summer.
Once Warren was done, hero of the game David Huff got the ball and managed to throw five scoreless innings of one-hit ball. The one hit was an infield single on a Baltimore chopper. He did walk more batters (four, one intentionally) than he struck out (two), but who cares at this point? The Yankees just need outs. Strikeouts, ground outs, loud outs, lucky outs … just outs and Huff was getting them. With a short bullpen due to the doubleheader, he gets a well-deserved win for his 70 pitches of work. What was I rambling about following the doubleheader? Unexpected contributions, baby. I hope they vote Huff a full playoff share.
Congrats to Ichiro Suzuki for picking up his 4,000th professional hit with a solid line drive single to left in the first inning. His teammates all came out of the dugout to congratulate him afterwards. Pretty cool moment. Ichiro joins Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,189) as the only other players in the professional 4,000 hits club. Obviously 1,278 hits in Japan do not equal 1,278 hits in MLB, but it’s still a great accomplishment. Just a ridiculous number of hits. Congrats, Ichiro.
Despite pitching in both ends of the doubleheader, Mariano Rivera did indeed come on for the save following Huff’s five innings and Soriano’s two-run homer. He allowed a double to Rajai Davis with one out only to immediately pick him off second base. Davis, who you know by now is as aggressive as anyone on the bases, was taking too big of a lead — especially in a two-run game with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, geez — and Robinson Cano snuck in behind him to apply the tag. Mo threw just 11 pitches and earned two saves and a win in the span 30 hours or so.
Austin Romine was robbed of an extra-base hit by Kevin Pillar in the second, though he did get a sacrifice fly for his trouble. It wouldn’t have been a homer, but Pillar jumped to catch the ball near the very top of the left field ball. Romine went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in addition to allowing two stolen bases and making a throwing error. Curtis Granderson singled in the other run and drew a walk while Cano stayed hot with a single and a double. He was on second for Soriano’s homer. Eduardo Nunez singled and had the only other hit of the night.
After the game, Huff pointed out that he faced a whole bunch of the Toronto hitters in Triple-A this year, so he had a comfort level and knew out to approach them. He last faced their Triple-A squad in the start immediately before being called up last week, and three of the nine hitters in the Buffalo lineup that night played for the Blue Jays in this game. One of those weird things no one ever thinks about — having a history with a player dating back to the minors.
I don’t know what it is, the Blue Jays are allergic to playing the Yankees at full strength. It took just a few innings for Jose Bautista to hurt his hip and land on the DL in the first game of the doubleheader, and in this game Jose Reyes got ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the second. Home plate ump Ted Barrett have him plenty of rope, long enough for Reyes to spike his helmet into the ground. That led to the ejection and ultimately helped the Yankees. Thanks, Jose.
And lastly, Jayson Nix‘s season likely to came to an end when Dickey hit him with the knuckleball in the second inning. He went for x-rays and the Yankees confirmed he suffered a fractured left hand. Mark Reynolds replaced Nix at third base, and it’ll be interesting to see how they fill the roster spot going forward.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For the other stats and standings, go to FanGraphs and ESPN, respectively. The Yankees are now four (!) games back of the Athletics in the loss column for the second wildcard spot. They shaved three games off their deficit in the last week or so. New York is five back of the Red Sox in the AL East and with this win, their season run differential is back to an even zero. Cool Standings gives them a 12.9% chance of playing in October.
The Yankees will go for the ultra-rare four games in three days sweep on Thursday afternoon, when Andy Pettitte gets the ball against fellow left-hander J.A. Happ. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the homestand-ending matinee.
Two games, two wins, one day. That’s pretty rad. A few hours after coming back from a four-run deficit in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays, the Yankees came back from a much more modest one-run deficit (twice) before walking off with a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
Remember what I said earlier about needing unexpected contributions to make a serious run at a playoff spot? This game is exactly what I was talking about. Toronto southpaw Mark Buehrle, who has been mostly awful against the Yankees in his long career, held New York in check for the first 6.2 innings before surrendering a game tying solo homer. Who hit the homer? Utility infielder Jayson Nix. Contribution: Unexpected.
Nix didn’t stop there though. Two innings later, with the winning run on third, he provided the walk-off single to left against another veteran left-hander, this time Darren Oliver. Mark Reynolds deserves props for setting up the rally with a leadoff walk, as does pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki for stealing third with one out. An Eduardo Nunez sacrifice bunt was mixed in there as well. Between drawing a two-out walk in advance of Chris Stewart‘s go-ahead homer in Game One and both the game-tying homer and walk-off single in Game Two, Nix had one helluva day at the plate. This guy, man. He’s just a baseball player. That’s what he is.
Phinally, A Good Start
These last few weeks and months have been pretty disastrous for Phil Hughes, so bad that the Yankees had won just four (!) of his previous 16 starts coming into Tuesday night. Most of that was his fault, of course. It’s not like Phil has been lights out this year. Needless to say, getting six innings of two-run ball — no homers! — out of him in the second game of the doubleheader was a pleasant surprise.
Rajai Davis created the first run with his legs while Vernon Wells contributed to the second with his defense. Davis singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Wells was unable to cut off a Munenori Kawasaki gapper that rolled to the wall for a triple in the fifth. Obviously the ball into the gap is on Hughes, but I surprised to see it get all the way to wall. A sac fly brought home Kawasaki later in the inning.
All told, Hughes allowed the pair of runs on six singles, one triple, and two walks in those six innings of work. He struck out six and, get this, generated eight ground ball outs compared to four in the air. What the hell is that about? The eight ground ball outs tie a season-high, which Hughes has done on three other occasions. By Game Score (54), it was Phil’s best outing in six second half starts. Fair to call this an unexpected contribution? I think so.
Is there anything more enjoyable to watch than a locked in Robinson Cano? After a 4-for-4 showing in the afternoon, Cano went 2-for-4 in the nightcap and plated the Yankees’ first run with a two-strike, two-out single to left in the third. He also made a few stellar defensive plays on balls hit up the middle. When Robbie gets hot, he gets best hitter in the world hot. That’s what he is right now.
How about Austin Romine? He went 3-for-3 with a double and scored the team’s first run on Cano’s single. One of Romine’s two singles was off the wall and maybe two feet from being a homer to right as well. It was one of those “he hit it so hard he was held to the single” jobs. Between Stewart in the first game and Romine in the second, New York’s catchers went 4-for-7 with a double and a homer on Tuesday. Unexpected contribution? Unexpected contribution.
Unsung hero: Preston Claiborne, who was with the team for the day as the doubleheader’s 26th man. He replaced Hughes with a man on first and no outs in the seventh, then retired five of the six men he faced to chip in two scoreless innings with a short bullpen. Romine threw out an attempted base-stealer for the other out. Those were two pretty big innings to bridge the gap between the Hughes and Mariano Rivera, who tossed a scoreless ninth. Mo pitched in both ends of the doubleheader.
Cano, Nix, and Romine combined for seven of the club’s eight hits. The four through seven hitters went 0-for-13 with two walks — one intentional and one unintentional. Alex Rodriguez had his worst game since coming off the DL, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a rally killing double play in the eighth. After being outrageously hot last week, Alfonso Soriano is suddenly in an 0-for-15 slump. As you probably remember from his first stint in pinstripes, Soriano is insanely streaky. He’ll come out of it soon enough.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some nerdier stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either five games (Athletics lose) or six games (Athletics win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. New York did, however, move passed the Royals in the standings with the two wins, so there are only three teams ahead of them in the race now. If the Angels manage to beat the Indians, they’ll move ahead of Cleveland by percentage points as well. Cool Standings has the Yankees postseason odds at 10.5%. Progress. Glorious progress.
Same two teams on Wednesday night, the middle day of this four-game, three-day series. Adam Warren is making the spot start in place of Andy Pettitte — the Yankees need to use a spot starter at some point in the next four days because of the doubleheader, so they’ll get it out of the way and give the veteran starters an extra day of rest in the process. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be on the bump for Toronto. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
That was simultaneously the most amazing and most infuriating game of the season. Pretty much classic Yankees-Red Sox, really. The Bombers walked away with a tense, hard-fought, and stressful 9-6 win that had you writing them off before being reeled back in. What a game.
The Hit-By-Pitch That Turned The Season Around?
People don’t like Alex Rodriguez. Fans don’t like him, the Yankees front office certainly doesn’t like him, opposing players don’t like him … heck, I’m sure some of his own teammates don’t like. It’s understandable at this point. Ryan Dempster, however, was the first to take matters into his own hands.
Dempster threw the first pitch of the second inning behind A-Rod‘s legs. The second was inside around waist-high, the third inside and knee-high. The fourth time was a charm I guess — Dempster planted one right in Alex’s ribs. It was oh so obviously intentional. Here are the first and fourth pitches. I’m sure you can figure out which is which:
So clearly intentional and yet … nothing. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora warned both benches and that was it. Dempster remained in the game. To no one’s surprise, Joe Girardi was furious. He stormed out of the dugout and get into a pretty heated yelling match with O’Nora, eventually being ejected. He appeared to call Dempster a big pussy before walking off the field as well, so that was cool. The two benches cleared but there weren’t any punches or anything like that, just a bunch of standing around.
The plunking and arguing and all that made it easy to forget that hey, the Yankees had a leadoff base-runner. Once things settled down, Curtis Granderson following the plunking with a hustle double down the right field line, then Eduardo Nunez plated A-Rod for the team’s first run of the night with a single back up the middle. Lyle Overbay brought home Granderson with a single to second. Dempster may have gotten his message across, but he blew his team’s two-run lead in the process.
C(onsistently) C(rappy) Sabathia
After two good but not great starts, CC Sabathia struggled big time against the Red Sox on Sunday. He allowed two runs after loading he bases with one out in the first, another on a David Ortiz ground out in the third, two more on Stephen Drew sacrifice fly and Will Middlebrooks solo homer in the fourth, and another when he walked Daniel Nava with the bases loaded in the fifth. The final tally was six runs allowed on seven hits (three doubles, one homer, three singles) and five walks in 5.1 innings. Yuck.
Sabathia now ranks 79th out of 89 qualified pitchers with a 4.83 ERA this season. The Yankees are unlikely to make to the postseason and CC’s rapid descent from ace to fringe starter — he zoomed right passed mediocre, he’s pitching like a sixth starter right now — is a huge reason why. I don’t know if it’s physical or mechanical or something else entirely. It’s a major problem going forward though and he club needs the big left-hander to figure out just what the hell is going wrong. With each disaster start that passes, I am a little less confident he’ll figure it out.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
The Red Sox piled on Sabathia pretty well and took a 6-3 lead into the sixth inning when (who else?) A-Rod led off the frame. Dempster didn’t throw at him this time, but he probably would have been better off planting another one in his ribs because Alex launched a monster solo homer to dead center to bring his team to within two runs. He clapped his hands will trotting around first and took a second to point to the sky when he reached home, two things I can’t ever remember seeing him do before. A-Rod enjoyed that one, no doubt.
The Yankees did not stop there. They loaded the bases with one out on singles by Nunez and Overbay before Chris Stewart drew a walk. That was the end of the line for Dempster, who was replaced to get the left-on-left matchup against Brett Gardner. Rookie southpaw Drake Britton has been pretty good in limited time for Boston, but he made a huge mistake pitch in an 0-1 count and Gardner crushed it out to center field. I thought it was gone off the bat, but ultimately it was just short of the wall. A bases-clearing triple that turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead did the job just fine though.
By WPA (+.325), Gardner’s triple was the team’s 14th biggest hit of the season. That definitely doesn’t feel right given the context of the game, something WPA doesn’t take into consideration. I don’t know if it was the biggest hit of the year, maybe A-Rod’s homer was considering everything went on earlier in the night, but it’s certainly in the conversation. That was so incredible.
Bullpen On Parade
It’ll get lost in everything else that happened in the game, but big ups to the bullpen for keeping the Red Sox off the scoreboard after Sabathia left the game. Shawn Kelley cleaned up a two on, one out jam in the sixth with a strikeout and a ground ball before giving way to Boone Logan for the seventh. Logan struck out David Ortiz and coaxed a double play out of Jarrod Saltalamacchia after walking Jonny Gomes. David Robertson allowed a two-out double to Middlebrooks in the eighth but otherwise struck out the side. His curve was as good as it’s been all season — he was dropping it in for strikes and buried it in the dirt for swings and misses.
The three-run lead in the ninth fell on the shoulders of Mariano Rivera, who had not pitched since blowing his third consecutive save opportunity last Sunday. Two weak ground outs make it look like the inning would be a breeze, but Ortiz beat the shift with a single before Gomes drew a walk. Just like that, the tying run was at the plate. Saltalamacchia put a good swing on an outside cutter, but laced it right at Alfonso Soriano for the 27th out. I don’t know if Mo was off because he’s been off of late or because he was rusty after six days of inactivity, but at the end of the day, he did his job. This one was a nail-biter right to the end, but major props to the four relievers for taking care of business.
The Yankees scored two tack-on runs in the late innings. First, pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds singled in a run with two outs in the seventh after the lefty Franklin Morales was brought in to face Overbay. Amazing what happens when you have a legit platoon partner for Lyle. Stewart knocked a ground ball single through the left side in the ninth for the team’s ninth and final run. Every run counts in Fenway, no lead is ever safe. The Yankees know that first hand.
Every starter had at least one hit except for the scorching hot Soriano, naturally. He took an ugly 0-for-6. Yuck. Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki had two knocks apiece while Cano, A-Rod, and Nunez had three each. Granderson doubled, Overbay singled, and Stewart singled and drew the only walk. The Yankees went 4-for-4 in stolen base chances — two by Nunez, one by Nix, one by Granderson. They ran wild on Salty all weekend. Nunez left the game with tightness in his hamstring, which he apparently felt after the second steal. They’ll know more about the injury on Monday.
The Yankees never did hit a Red Sox batter as retaliation for A-Rod, which I’m sure will be spun into some kinda “see, the Yankees hate A-Rod!” narrative. What’s wacky though is that the Sawx hit three (!) more Yankees after the benches were warned. None were intentional — they were all offspeed pitches that got away — but still. What’s the point of the warning? Are we just ignoring the rules now? Amazing (and inexcusable) how the Red Sox hit four Yankees and the only person to get ejected was the Yankees manager.
Anyway, Dempster wimped out and tried to play the hit-by-pitch incident off as trying to establish the inner half after the game. He’s a real tough guy, you see. Man enough to throw at baseball’s easiest target but too chicken to admit it. Manager John Farrell dealt the same crap during his in-game interview. It was rather hilarious watching him stumble with his words while lying through his teeth. These guys took it upon themselves to defend the honor and integrity of baseball and managed to look like complete buffoons in the process.
Girardi, meanwhile, continued to stand up for his embattled third baseman at a time when everyone wishes he would just go away. The Yankees and MLB may be out to get A-Rod, but Girardi has his back to the very end. Joe killed it after the game. His post-game press conference is worth a watch whenever it goes up on the YES Network’s site.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Now that is a fun graph. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are six back in the loss column in both the AL East and second wildcard race. Cool Standings says they have an 8.3% chance of making the postseason. Here’s what I have to say about that.
The Yankees will enjoy a well-earned off-day on Monday before welcoming the Blue Jays to town for four games in three days. Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Esmil Rogers, and Mark Buehrle are all scheduled to start during Tuesday’s doubleheader. I’m just not sure who’s starting the day game and who’s starting at night. We’ll find out soon enough. Check out RAB Tickets for … well, tickets.
Unfortunately, the Yankees aren’t going to score double-digit runs every game. The offense and defense faltered in Saturday afternoon’s 6-1 loss to John Lackey and the Red Sox. Let’s recap:
- Bad Timing: With a Game Score of 37, Hiroki Kuroda picked an unfortunate time to have his second worst non-injury-shortened start of the season. His fielders and the umpires didn’t help him out, but Kuroda did allow a career-high eleven hits and a season-high tying five runs in 5.2 innings. With better defense and proper calls, it’s probably more like three runs in six innings, which is still a notch or two below his recent work. Eh, what can you do. Kuroda’s been too good this year to get worked up about one subpar outing.
- Grounded: Lackey had a vintage Chien-Ming Wang outing on Saturday. He struck out just one batter in 6.2 innings, but recorded 15 ground ball outs and just two in the air. The top three hitters in the lineup — Brett Gardner, pinch-hitter Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and Robinson Cano — went a combined 0-for-12 with an infield single and eleven ground ball outs. That’s rough. Their best chance to score came in the second, when the Yankees loaded the bases but failed to score. An Alfonso Soriano base-running gaffe and Chris Stewart in general sabotaged the inning.
- Leftovers: For exactly one batter in the fourth inning, Kuroda led the AL with a 2.27 ERA. The next batter singled in a run … Adam Warren threw 57 pitches across two innings, so it’s unlikely he’ll be available to start one game of Tuesday’s doubleheader … Soriano had two more hits and Lyle Overbay had three … Eduardo Nunez drew a pair of walks … the Yankees stole two bases in three attempts and have clearly been picking on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s weak arm these last two games.
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the up to the minute standings, go to ESPN. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either six games (Athletics lose) or seven games (Athletics win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. CC Sabathia and Ryan Dempster is your pitching matchup for the series finale on Sunday night.
Well look at that, The O’Neill Theory worked. The Yankees came out swinging on Friday night, taking a big early lead against the Red Sox before pouring it on again late. That was a wholly satisfying game. Let’s recap the 10-3 win:
- Right Power!: New additions Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds gave the Yankees all the runs they would need in the first three innings. Soriano plated a run with an infield single to short in the first, Reynolds drove in a pair with a two-run homer in the second, and Soriano tacked on three more with a mammoth three-run homer in the third. The Bombers were up six runs before making their seventh offensive out.
- Dandy Andy: For the first time in eight starts, Andy Pettitte did not allow a first inning run. For the first time in two months, Pettitte looked really sharp. He held the high-powered Sawx to one run on three hits in the first six innings before running out of gas in the seventh, ultimately finishing the night with three runs (all unearned thanks to Eduardo Scissorhands) allowed in 6.2 innings. Andy struck out five and recorded 17 of his 20 outs on the infield. That was a very encouraging outing.
- Blown Open: The Red Sox closed the gap to four runs in the eighth, but the Yankees blew it open late with three runs in the ninth. Five singles — including three straight by the 7-8-9 hitters with two outs — did the damage. New York had double-digit hits for the fourth straight game (first time since last April) and 15+ hits for the third time in those four games. They scored double-digit runs for the third time in four games as well. Safe to say the offense is clicking on all cylinders. It’s glorious.
- Shaky ‘Pen: Although they did not allow a run, four relievers combined to put five men on-base in 2.1 innings of work. Shawn Kelley struck out the only man he faced to escape Pettitte’s jam in the seventh, but David Robertson was bailed out by an at ‘em ball double play in the eighth. Joba Chamberlain couldn’t record three outs with a seven-run lead in the ninth. It took all of six hours for the dumb decision to demote Preston Claiborne in favor of Joba to have an on-field impact. David Huff had to clean up the bases loaded mess and end the game. Those last few innings were more interesting than they needed to be considering the score.
- Leftovers: Soriano became the first Yankee with four straight 3+ hit games since Johnny Damon in August 2006. He also tied a big league record with 18 RBI in a four-game span … Brett Gardner, Nunez, Alex Rodriguez, Reynolds, and Chris Stewart all had two hits as well … Robinson Cano singled and walked … the DH was the only lineup spot without a hit, but Vernon Wells and Curtis Granderson did draw one walk apiece … Michael Kay and Ken Singleton absolutely crushed it while discussing union rights, David Ortiz, and other performance-enhancing drug stuff in the fourth inning. Best inning of the year from the booth.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees climbed to within six games in the loss column for the AL East lead, if you’re still holding out hope for a division title. Depending on the outcome of the late game, they’ll be either five games (Athletics lose) or six games (Athletics win) back of the second wildcard spot. Cool Standings has their playoff chances at 9.1%. Hiroki Kuroda and John Lackey is your pitching matchup for Saturday afternoon’s FOX broadcast.
Well, sweeping a four-game series is tough to do regardless of opponent, but winning the first three games before dropping the fourth is a tough pill to swallow. The Yankees lost a winnable 8-4 game to the Angels in Thursday’s series finale.
Phil Goes Phive
For the first time in four starts, Phil Hughes actually completed five innings of work on Thursday afternoon. He even tacked on a sixth inning for good measure. Three runs on six hits, a walk, and a hit batsman in six innings represents Phil’s best start since early-July, which is far too long to go between acceptable starts. That’s what this was, acceptable. Not good, not bad. In the middle. Tolerable. Not good enough to feel good about and not bad enough to cost Hughes his job.
The Yankees were in the game until the eighth inning, two innings after Phil had been removed, when the Angels broke things open against an ineffective Boone Logan. I always pay extra attention to what happens after a pitcher stays in the game after issuing an intentional walk, and sure enough Logan followed the free (free) pass to Mark Trumbo with an unintentional walk to the unwalkable (5.4 BB%) Hank Conger and a grand slam to the powerless (.061 ISO) Chris Nelson. I swear, hitters have like a .900 OBP against pitchers who stay in the game immediately after an intentional walk. It seems to throw everything off. Nelson’s slam — his second homer of the game/season — put this one to bed.
Blown Early Chances
After scoring 25 runs in the previous two games combined, the Yankees turned eleven hits and one walk in 6.2 innings against starter C.J. Wilson into just one run. They had two men on-base in the second, the bases loaded in the third, and two on in the fourth, but only got the one run out of it. Vernon Wells made three outs in two plate appearances to help kill the various rallies, including an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
The good news, despite the lack of runs, is that Alfonso Soriano (4-for-5), Robinson Cano (3-for-5), Alex Rodriguez (2-for-5), and Curtis Granderson (1-for-3 with two walks) continue to perform well in the batters’ box. Brett Gardner tripled to help create the first run, Eduardo Nunez singled twice, and Austin Romine picked up another hit to extend his little hot streak. Four runs on 18 total base-runners kinda sucks, but if they continue getting men on-base like that, the runs will come. Keep up that pace.
The Yankees did make some noise in the ninth inning, scoring three runs thanks to a Cano single and a Wells two-run double. They had the tying run on deck at one point, which is pretty good considering they opened the frame down seven runs. This means The O’Neill Theory is in effect for the next game, right? Too bad we never bothered to keep track of that to see if it holds true.
Shawn Kelley (one inning) and Joba Chamberlain (one-third of an inning) both allowed a run while Adam Warren tossed a scoreless frame. Kelley’s base-runner reached on a bloop double to shallow center when Gardner made a rare bad read and broke back on a ball he should have come in on, then scored on Nelson’s grand slam off Logan. Rough way to get charged with a run, but that’s life.
Isn’t it amazing how, 120 games into the season, the Yankees still don’t have a viable platoon partner for Lyle Overbay? He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and three feeble at-bats against Wilson, lowering his season line against southpaws to .200/.246/.305. Yuck.
Mike Scioscia used four pitchers to get the final four outs with a seven-run lead. Of course, it went from a seven-run lead to a four-run lead during that time. Perhaps the two issues are related.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has the other stats and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are six back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with four teams still ahead of them. That’s a lot of ground to make up in 42 games. They’ll need a lot of help.
The Yankees are off to Boston for a three-game weekend set against the Red Sox. Left-handers Andy Pettitte and Felix Doubront will start the series off on Friday night.