A walk-off passed ball? That’ll do! Yanks beat Rangers 2-1

(Getty)

The Yankees faced the Rangers four times and they actually split the series. Heck, if it weren’t for rain on Monday, they could’ve taken 3 out of 4. Michael Pineda allowed a leadoff HR to start the game but that was just about all the damage he allowed. Didi Gregorius‘ HR tied it and bullpen held on to keep it 1-1. New York won in the bottom of ninth on a passed ball with runners on second and third. The final score Thursday afternoon was 2-1 Yankees.

Big Mike!

Pineda allowed three hard hit balls to start the game. Lovely. They resulted in a HR (by Shin-Soo Choo), a line out to Aaron Hicks (by Ian Desmond) and a single (by Nomar Mazara).

The next sequence, however, was a bit different. Pineda struck out Adrian Beltre and walked Prince Fielder, but ended the frame with a strikeout of Rougned Odor. Pineda had a sublime second inning. All three batters he faced – Jurickson Profar, Mitch Moreland and Robinson Chirinos – struck out swinging. The strikeouts continued to pile up in third, as he punched out Choo and Desmond. Mazara followed up with a first-pitch ground out so the K streak ended at six. Bum!

All in all Pineda had a superb outing, striking out 12 in 6 IP while allowing only one run. He has a 2.75 ERA in last 6 starts, which is good! I know his overall season basic stats are still not great (3-7 with a 5.24 ERA) but some of his peripherals are pretty darn great. For instance: He leads AL in swing-and-misses, per James Smyth of YES Network. He’s behind guys like Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Noah Syndergaard for the ML top swing-and-misses, which is something. When Pineda’s on, he can absolutely blow hitters away. Just frustrating that he’s much more prone to mistakes than those guys.

(Getty)

One dinger, not much else

The Yankees faced A.J. Griffin earlier in the year and, well, they didn’t do much. He pitched eight innings of one-run ball en route to a 10-1 Rangers win back in April 26. Overall, they didn’t do much today either, scoring one off him in five inning while striking out eight times. That one run, by the way, came in a form of red-hot Didi Gregorius solo dinger.

In the bottom fifth, with Rangers still leading 1-0, Griffin struck out Chase Headley to begin the frame. Gregorius worked the count full and got a 85-mph slider on the inner part of the zone. Didi hit it high and the ball eventually sailed out to the right field seats for a solo tater. Statcast had the batted ball velocity of 93 mph, which is not exactly the hardest-hit ball for a homer but still, it had the distance. 1-1 tie.

With June almost over, let’s look at Didi’s nice month. Prior to today’s game, he’s hit for a .337/.369/.510 line with 10 XBH’s in 98 AB’s, which is great. His overall slash line? .290/.320/.435, good for a 100 wRC+. I’ll take that from him all season long.

(Getty)

A walk-off… passed ball?

The Yankees had a leadoff runner on to start the ninth after Headley drew a walk versus Tony Barnette. The next hitter, Didi Gregorius, last night’s walk-off HR hero, proceeded to bunt him over for a sacrifice. Many watchers, including David Cone in the broadcast booth, weren’t a fan of that move. I wasn’t a fan of it either – Barnette seemed to be having a hard time throwing strikes so yes, let’s give away an out! Anyways, Hicks also worked a five-pitch walk against Barnette, setting up a one-out, runners on first and second situation for Starlin Castro.

Castro followed it up with a weak ground out to first, which at least pushed both runners up to second and third. Next up was Jacoby Ellsbury. Most Yankee fans were praying for a base hit of sorts to end the game. However, it was Rangers catcher Chirinos’ mistake that won it for New York.

On a 1-1 pitch, Barnette threw a slider that was meant to catch the strike zone on a backdoor but it just missed slightly. Chirinos, in effort to frame it, kept his glove a bit high and closed it as the ball passed right below. As I mentioned, Barnette had some trouble throwing strikes in the inning and probably needed all the helps to get some calls. However, this particular pitch ended up like this …

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 5.06.16 PM

… and it trickled to the back. Headley immediately bolted home and was called safe by the HP ump Alan Porter. 2-1 Yankees. What an ending. Also, pretty notably, the Yankees faced a team with best AL record and earned a split. Now they are back to the seemingly-inevitable .500 mark (39-39).

Leftovers

After Pineda’s outing, Girardi plugged in the No Runs DMC equation to keep the game at 1-1 tie. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman each tossed a scoreless inning, striking a total of four in three innings while allowing two hits. Ho-hum. I know it’s very much an acceptable outcome but why am I a bit underwhelmed?

Carlos Beltran actually played today! After being shelved Tuesday with a hamstring tweak, Beltran came off the bench in the seventh inning to pinch hit for Ronald Torreyes with two outs and a runner on. Jake Diekman ended up walking him and Ellsbury to get the bases loaded. That would’ve been a nice situation for Gardner to come through but he grounded out to second to end the frame. Oh well.

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees play at San Diego tomorrow so there will be no DH, which also lowers the chance of Beltran being in the starting lineup, as Girardi said in postgame. Oh well. But with a 39-year old guy, better safe than sorry.

Yankees lose Beltran and get shut down by Hamels in a 7-1 loss to the Rangers

I don’t know to make this one sound any better than it was besides saying “at least there wasn’t any three-hour rain delays tonight!” (Poor Mike) Okay, back to the sadness. The Yankees ran into one of the hottest pitchers in AL in the month of June and lost their best hitter very early in the game. CC Sabathia pitched well but everything pretty much fell apart in the eighth to make the win virtually unattainable. Last night, the Yankee offense at least showed some life. Tonight, offense was minimal. The final score was 7-1 Rangers.

(Rick Schultz/Getty Images)

Hard Luck CC

One of the more frequently-stated lines of the night was “CC pitched better than his line indicates” and it’s because it’s true. Sabathia had tough luck more than one way tonight. Not only did he not get support from his lineup, but also he was charged for six earned runs in seven innings. If you didn’t watch the game, trust me – he did much better than that.

CC wasn’t too sharp in the very beginning though. The Rangers struck in the very first inning. Ian Desmond got on first with a single and Adrian Beltre followed it up with a homer to the opposite field to make it 2-0 Rangers in the first inning. From then on though, Sabathia was just dealing.

From the second to seventh inning, he allowed only three baserunners and, of course, no runs. According to Brooks Baseball, he topped out at 94.3 mph, which is a good sight. He was hitting 93 mph in the eighth inning against Shin-Soo Choo, so it’s good to see that velocity maintained late as well. Speaking of which, that eighth inning spelled doom for not only CC but also the team.

Sabathia hit Choo with a pitch to start the eighth inning. On a 0-2 count, nonetheless. Desmond followed it up with a single on a grounder that deflected off of Sabathia. If these two outcomes were different, Sabathia could’ve had a nice line to exit with tonight. However, Beltre followed it up with a sharp single that deflected off Chase Headley‘s glove and trickled into center. Choo scored to make it 3-0 Rangers. Prince Fielder followed up with a double down the right field line that scored Desmond. Sabathia exited with a 4-0 deficit and once Anthony Swarzak allowed inherited runners to score, the big lefty was charged with six earned runs. Welp. Life ain’t fair.

Sabathia had a final line of 7 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s and 1 HR allowed. His ERA rose from 2.71 to 3.17. Man, that’s rough.

Handcuffed Bats

(Getty)

Cole Hamels had been on a roll prior to tonight’s start. In the month of June, the lefty had pitched to a 1.82 ERA in five starts. But fear not, maybe guys like Carlos Beltran can make something happen! Except he exited the game early after hitting a single. In the first inning, Beltran drilled a liner that reached the left field wall that looked like a sure double. However, he stopped at first. He is not a fast guy but it seemed like he could have easily taken second. Joe Girardi and athletic trainer Steve Donohue came out to examine him and Beltran soon exited. Not ideal!

The Yankees had a chance in the fourth with one out and runners on first and second. Didi Gregorius hit a bloop single that barely missed Rougned Odor’s glove, and Chase Headley followed it up with a soft grounder for another base hit. The next batter, Aaron Hicks, hit a hard liner to left but it was right towards 3B Beltre. The third baseman caught it and doubled Didi off at second. Ouch. Two very soft hit balls set up the chance but once a guy hits it hard, the entire inning gets wiped away. Story of this team’s season.

Besides the first and fourth innings, uh, not much there to highlight besides that. Hamels pitched seven scoreless. The lefty threw to a 7.0 IP, 6H, 1BB, 7 K line – neat and tidy if you are a Rangers fan. RAB may have New York Rangers fans but probably zero Texas Rangers readers. So uh, a yucky showing by the Yankee bats.

A Run!

As soon as Hamels departed the mound, the Yankee lineup immediately abolished the shutout. Jake Diekman, a hard-throwing lefty, came into relief in the bottom of the eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a double to lead off and advanced to third on a Rob Refsnyder fly ball to right. A-Rod followed it up with a sac fly to center to drive Ellsbury in. A run! Sound the (moral) victory alarms! The Rangers still led 7-1, a score that would never change.

Leftovers

As mentioned before, Anthony Swarzak came into the eighth inning to somehow make a no out, runners on second and third situation better. Well, I’ll tell you what, Swarzak ain’t David “Houdini” Robertson. He ended up allowing both runners to score and, in fact, he added an earned run of his own! After starting the eighth with a 2-0 deficit, Yankees got out of the inning trailing 7-0.

Conor Mullee, who was called up earlier today, got the call to take care of the garbage time ninth inning. I don’t know how you saw it, but I thought he looked pretty darn good tonight. He struck out Choo and Desmond swinging and retired Beltre with a fly ball.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


Will the Yankees get a win this four-game series? They will have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound versus Nick Martinez for the Rangers on Wednesday.

Yanks lose to Mother Nature, Rangers 9-6 in series opener

Boy, it’s easy to tell which team is in first place and which team is trying to trick itself into believing it’s a contender, isn’t it? The Yankees blew a multiple leads Monday night, including a one-run ninth inning lead after waiting out a 215-minute rain delay. Brutal. The final score was 9-6 Rangers.

Whatever works. (Presswire)
Whatever works. (Presswire)

Pride, Power, Singles
The Yankees had 12 hits through the first six innings and all 12 were singles. Mark Teixeira, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley strung together hits for a second inning run to the tie the game 1-1, then Aaron Hicks plated a second run with a ground out. In the third, the Yankees blooped their way to another run, this one giving them a 3-2 lead. The hardest hit ball of the inning (by far) was Brett Gardner‘s leadoff line out. Ian Desmond made a nice sliding catch in center.

After Gardner’s line out, Carlos Beltran blooped a single to center, Brian McCann drew a walk, Teixeira blooped another single to center, and Starlin Castro blooper yet another single to center to score the run. It was pretty much a typical Starlin at-bat. Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez fed him soft stuff away, Castro hacked at it, and he managed to loop this pitch …

Starlin Castro Chi Chi Gonzalez

… into center to drive in a run. Go figure. That seems to be a Castro specialty.

Four more singles in the fifth inning created two more runs. Gardner and Beltran started the inning with back-to-back singles, then McCann lined a ball off the wall in right-center field. It was one of those “he hit it so hard he held himself to a single” singles. It actually looked like it had a chance to go out off the bat, but it stayed in the park and hit the wall. Still drove in a run. Gregorius came through with a clutch two-out single to score another run later in the inning. That made it 5-4 Yankees.

Ivan’s Last Stand?
You know, there’s no real reason to think the Yankees will pull Ivan Nova from the rotation, but if they aren’t at least considering it after Monday night, I’m not sure what else they need to see. On a night Chad Green dominated (again) for Triple-A Scranton, Nova allowed four runs in five innings to an admittedly great Rangers team. He’s now allowed 31 runs and 67 baserunners in his last seven starts and 39 innings. Yikes.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Desmond, the second batter of the game, swatted an opposite field solo homer to open the scoring. Nova has managed to allow at least one homer in all ten starts this season, and man, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing. The last Yankee to allow a homer in ten straight starts was (who else?) Phil Hughes back in 2012. He did it in 12 straight. The real back-breaker Monday night was Shin-Soo Choo’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the fourth. Nova was one strike away from stranding the bases loaded, but nope.

Following Monday’s game Nova is now sitting on a 5.32 ERA (5.05 FIP) in 69.1 innings. He had a 5.07 ERA (4.87 FIP) in 94 innings last year, so he’s basically been the same guy. Ivan’s first three or four starts this year were better than anything he did last year, but man, he is not good. Guys like Nova, who don’t have good command or a reliable third pitch, seem to suffer the most following Tommy John surgery. Maybe this is just who he is now?

A Rainy End
Nova was able to eke through five innings, and the Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, meaning they were one inning away from handing their big three relievers a lead. The middle innings have been a nightmare all season, but journeyman Richard Bleier came in and retired the side in order in the sixth. He did allow two hard-hit at ’em balls, but hey, outs are outs. It was nice to see a non-big reliever toss a 1-2-3 inning for once.

Dellin Betances carved up the side in the seventh — he’s retired all 12 batters he’s faced in his last four outings — and Andrew Miller allowed a solo homer to Rougned Odor in the eighth. It was a bomb into the second deck too. Can’t say I expected the lefty to do that against Miller. Luckily Teixeira tacked on an insurance run with a cheap Yankee Stadium homer to right in the previous half-inning. The lead was 6-5 after Odor’s homer.

Now, it was raining for most of the game, but for the most part it was a light rain they could play through. It started to get more intense in the seventh, then even more intense in the eighth, and then even more intense in the ninth. The Yankees were up 6-5, Aroldis Chapman started the ninth in a legitimate downpour, and he walked the leadoff man on five pitches. It was light hitting No. 9 hitter Robinson Chirinos. Annoying!

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Chapman then fell behind the next batter 3-1, which prompted Joe Girardi to come out of the dugout and complain about the conditions. The umpires got together and decided to put the tarp on the field. The Rangers were pissed and rightfully so. They pitched through similar conditions in the bottom of the eighth, yet the rain didn’t become a problem until Chapman walked a batter and fell behind another. I’d be pretty angry about that too.

Following what was officially a three hour and 35 minute rain delay (!), Kirby replaced Chapman at 2:15am ET and inherited the runner on first and the 3-1 count to the runner at the plate. Not ideal! I know everyone was hoping the game would be called. Yates was able to come back from the 3-1 count to fan Choo, which was huge. He had no margin for error and was able to get the out anyway.

Home plate ump John Tumpane was giving Yates a nice wide strike zone, yet he managed to plunk both Desmond and Nomar Mazara in 1-2 counts to load the bases. Sure enough, Yates went to a 1-2 count on Adrian Beltre, and thankfully he didn’t hit him. He served up a two-run single instead, giving the Rangers a 7-6 lead. Yates then hit Prince Fielder, because why not, and gave up a two-run single to Elvis Andrus. That gave Texas a 9-6 lead.

Leftovers
The Yankees put 20 runners on base in nine innings and somehow only scored six runs. I guess that’s what happens when only two of your 16 hits go for extra bases. Teixeira hit the homer and Gregorius had a double as well. Every starter had a hit except Hicks. What does Ken Singleton say, there’s always someone who doesn’t get invited to the party in games like this? That was Hicks.

Gardner (two), Beltran (three), Teixeira (three), Castro (two), and Gregorius (three) all had multiple hits. Teixeira’s gone deep in back-to-back games after going nearly two months without a dinger before the knee injury. Ellsbury, Beltran, McCann, and Headley drew the team’s four walks. Didi and Ellsbury stole bases too. The Yankees went 5-for-19 (.263) with runners in scoring position.

And finally, just because the ninth inning wasn’t absurd enough, the Rangers challenged Castro’s leadoff infield single in the ninth inning. At 2:39am ET. The call was upheld and he was safe. The Yankees brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but alas, the rally fell short. I look forward to this one being blamed on the rain and not the crappy roster.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game series is just getting started. The Yankees and Rangers will be play the second game Tuesday night, when veteran lefty aces CC Sabathia and Cole Hamels are on the mound. The Yankees won’t play another home game until July 15th after this series, so head on over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of these next three games live.

Yankees can’t finish sweep, instead get embarrassed 7-1 by the Twins

That was maybe the single worst game of the season, which is really saying something. It had it all. An ineffective starter? Check. Minimal offense? Also check. A leaky bullpen? A third check. That was not a fun baseball watching experience. The Yankees lost 7-1 to the Twins on Sunday to again fall to .500 on the season. They’re 37-37. This team is mediocrity defined.

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

Nate’s Homers
Nathan Eovaldi‘s home run problem has gone from annoying to alarming. He came into the season with a career 0.63 HR/9 and 7.1 HR/FB% in 614.1 innings. It was 0.58 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB% in 154.1 innings last year. That’s not a small sample! Eovaldi showed a legitimate home run suppressing skill prior to this season, and that skill has totally disappeared this season, and especially of late.

Eovaldi went into Sunday’s start with a 1.45 HR/9 and 17.1 HR/FB% in 80.2 innings this season. After allowing four homers to the Twins, including back-to-back-to-back (!) blasts in the sixth inning, those numbers are now 1.77 HR/9 and 21.3 HR/FB% in 86.2 innings. The 17 homers he’s allowed are a career-high — his previous career high was 14 in 2014 — and in his last five starts, he’s allowed ten homers in 26 innings. Yikes.

Having watched these last five starts, it’s pretty clear the homers are all the result of location problems. He’s not getting unlucky with Yankee Stadium cheapies on well-located pitches. When Eovaldi has missed, he’s missed right out over the plate …

Nathan Eovaldi home runs

… and hitters are just way too comfortable in the box against him. For a guy who throws 100 mph regularly, that should not be the case. Why has Eovaldi’s location been so poor of late? I have no idea. It wasn’t always this bad. Maybe he’s a mechanical mess or maybe he’s pitching through some sort of injury. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Whatever it is, it’s a huge problem and it needs to get fixed. Eovaldi’s either going to help the Yankees back into contention or get traded as part of the rebuild. It’s hard to see a middle ground. And unless he gets this homer issue corrected and soon, Eovaldi won’t help the Yankees contend and he won’t fetch much in return. Along with Luis Severino being a disaster earlier this season, Eovaldi’s homers are the biggest big picture concern for the Yankees in 2016.

Cy Duffey
What a miserable performance by the offense. You have to give Tyler Duffey credit, of course. He pitched well and deserves all the praise he gets, but we’ve seen the offense disappear far too often this season to think Sunday was just a bad day. Duffey took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Aaron Hicks broke it up with a double to right. Their second and only other hit of the game was Mark Teixeira‘s garbage time solo homer in the eighth. It was his first homer in 43 games and 165 plate appearances.

The Yankees won two of three this weekend but scored only eight runs against a Twins team that came into the series on pace to allow 913 runs (!!!) this season. The last team to allow that many runs was the 2008 Rangers (967). Furthermore, three of those eight runs were unearned, and one of the five earned runs scored when Eduardo Escobar botched an inning-ending grounder Saturday. (Yes, that run was earned.) I can’t remember the last time the Yankees had an offense this boring and ineffective. Even the 2013 offense wasn’t this unwatchable.

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

Leftovers
Luis Cessa (five outs), Richard Bleier (one out), and Kirby Yates (three outs) came out of the bullpen after Eovaldi. Cessa and Yates allowed solo homers. Cessa is stretched out and I’m not sure why Joe Girardi didn’t just leave him in for the final three innings. Getting Bleier, a 29-year-old rookie with almost certainly no long-term role with the Yankees, work shouldn’t be a priority. He was brought in for the left-on-left matchup in a game the Yankees were losing 6-0.

The two hits — Hicks’ double and Teixeira’s homer — was the team’s only baserunners on the afternoon. No walks, no hit-by-pitches, no catcher’s interferences, nothing. I count only three three-ball counts among the 29 Yankees to bat. They saw five pitches total in the ninth inning too. That was very much a “let’s just get this over with and swing at everything” inning.

The Yankees allowed six homers in a game for the first time since September 2012, when the Orioles got them. The Twins hit six homers in a game for the first time since July 2007, when they did it to the White Sox. The Yankees have been out-homered 95-76 this season. Gross.

And finally, the Yankees went 6-5 during this eleven-game stretch against the Rockies and Twins. The hope was they would pad their record and get over .500 for good during these eleven games, but lol no. Their postseason odds went from 16.6% to 13.4% during the eleven games, per FanGraphs.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The party is over. The Yankees just finished an extended stretch against some of the worst teams in baseball, and now one of the best is coming to the Bronx for a four-game series. The Rangers, owners of the best record in the AL t 49-27, will be in town this week. Ivan Nova and a man named Chi Chi Gonzalez will be on the mound Monday night. That’s the last home series before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch one of those four games live.

Pineda’s strong start, Minnesota’s mistakes allow Yanks to rally for a 2-1 win over Twins

The wins don’t come as easily as they once did, but the Yankees again beat the Twins on Saturday afternoon, this time by the score of 2-1. They’ve won five of six games against Minnesota this season and are back over .500 at 37-36. The Yankees have spent a grand total of six days over .500 in 2016.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Big Mike‘s Big Game
By any measure, this was Michael Pineda‘s best start of the season. He held the Twins to one run on two hits and a walk in six innings while striking out eight. Pineda threw 94 total pitches and got 14 swings and misses, including eight whiffs on 16 swings against his slider. That is: good. The one run came on a Brian Dozier solo homer, which was nothing more than a poorly located 3-1 fastball in the second inning. Eh, it happens. Dozier has some pop.

Pineda has now allowed ten earned runs in his last five starts and 30 innings. He had a 6.92 ERA (4.67 FIP) through his first ten starts of the season, and he’s since been able to lower that to a 5.51 ERA (3.88 FIP) through 15 starts. Progress! Last month there was talk about sending Pineda to the bullpen or the minors and it wasn’t undeserved. He was awful. Pineda’s reportedly corrected some things mechanically with the help of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, and now he’s pitching much more like the Michael Pineda the Yankees hoped to see in 2016.

Two-Out Rally To Tie
The game started so well for the Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner opened the first inning with a single and a walk, respectively, but the middle of the order couldn’t drive them in. They couldn’t even advance them another base. Ervin Santana settled down and retired nine straight after that, and it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Yankees were finally able to break through and tie the game 1-1.

That fifth inning rally took place with two outs, when Ellsbury, Gardner, and Carlos Beltran strung together three straight hits to score the run. Ellsbury singled in a hitter friendly 2-0, Gardner singled in a pitcher friendly 1-2 count, and Beltran singled in a hitter friendly 3-1 count. Santana made some location mistakes that inning and paid. He was still able to hold the Yankees to one run on six hits and two walks in six innings. Annoying!

Battle of the Bullpens
For a while no one wanted to win this game. After Brian McCann‘s leadoff single in the sixth, Mark Teixeira hit what should have been a tailor made 6-4-3 double play ball. Instead Eduardo Escobar bobbled it and everyone was safe. Big break! Starlin Castro then banged into a 5-4 double play that wasn’t too far away from being a 5-4-3 triple play. It looked like it had a chance off the bat. The Yankees didn’t score after Escobar’s misplay anyway.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Alex Rodriguez led off with an infield single (!) of all things. Pinch-runner Aaron Hicks was held up by third base coach Joe Espada on McCann’s single into the right field corner, though he would have scored because the throw went into second base. I understand the hold — runner at third with no out in the eighth inning of a tie game? no reason to push it — but it looked like a missed opportunity.

Teixeira followed with a strikeout and we were all waiting for the inning-ending double play to kill the rally. Castro kinda sorta obliged, hitting a chopper to Escobar for what should have been a 6-4-3 twin killing. Except Escobar misplayed the short hop and got zero outs on the play. Hicks scored to give the Yankees the 2-1 lead. The Yankees tried to blow that rally there — McCann was thrown out at the plate trying to score an insurance run on Chase Headley‘s sac fly later in the inning — but the Twins wouldn’t let them. Minnesota Twins baseball, folks.

Leftovers
With the score tied in the late innings, Joe Girardi went to his big three relievers again, and they combined to allow one baserunner in three innings. That was Joe Mauer’s two-out single against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Dellin Betances struck out one, Andrew Miller struck out two, and Chapman struck out one. Those guys didn’t throw many pitches the last two days (Miller leads with 26 pitches), but Girardi doesn’t like to use his relievers three days in a row, so it’s possible none of the three will be available in the series finale Sunday. We’ll see.

Teixeira went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his first game back from the knee injury. He wasn’t tested with any tough plays in the field. Gardner had three hits while Beltran and McCann had two each. Ellsbury, A-Rod, and Didi Gregorius had base hits as well. The Yankees had ten hits and all ten were singles. This was the team’s first win without an extra-base hit all season. They were 0-6 in such games prior to this one.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN again for the updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will try to wrap up this three-game sweep Sunday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Tyler Duffey are the scheduled starters. There are five games left on this homestand, the final homestand before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of those five games live.

Yankees come from behind for 5-3 win over Twins in series opener

There’s nothing quite like a game against the Twins to make you feel good about the Yankees, is there? The Yankees rallied from behind to beat Minnesota in game one of their three-game series Friday night. The final score was 5-3. New York is, once again, a .500 ballclub. They’re 36-36. It would be cool if they got over .500 and stayed over this time.

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

A Shaky Tanaka Start Is Still A Quality Start
For only the fifth time in his 15 starts this season, Masahiro Tanaka allowed more than two runs Friday night. He allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings and it definitely could have been worse; Tanaka stranded a leadoff double in the second inning and runners on first and second in the third inning. The first inning was his only 1-2-3 inning.

There has been plenty of talk this season about Tanaka’s performance on normal rest versus his performance with an extra day of rest, and for good reason. He’s pitched way better with an extra day (like most pitchers). Tanaka was making this start with two extra days of rest thanks to the off-days Monday and Thursday, and I wonder if he was a little too strong because of it. He was up in the zone a lot and wasn’t commanding his fastball as well as he usually does.

Either way, Tanaka struck out a season high tying seven batters. He generated 14 swings and misses as well, though that’s nothing special by his standards. He’s had 14+ whiffs in eight of his 15 starts. This was one of those “he’s not at his best but he’s still good enough to win” games for Tanaka. He bent a little but did not break. Tanaka’s one of those guys who doesn’t have disaster games. Even when he’s bad, he’s still pretty good.

Come From Behind
The Twins took a 2-0 lead on Eduardo Nunez‘s third inning single, and the Yankees answered right back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Romine reached on error before being erased on Brett Gardner‘s fielder’s choice. Carlos Beltran doubled into the left field corner to score Gardner, then Alex Rodriguez pulled a ground ball single through the left side of the infield to score Beltran.

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

Watching the play live, I thought Beltran was going to be out at the plate. Luckily Robbie Grossman’s throw was well off-line, allowing Carlos to score and A-Rod to take second base. This was just the Twins being the Twins. Lefty Tommy Milone faced six hitters that inning and four of the first five saw a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count. Beltran was the lone exception, and that was only because he doubled on the first pitch. Bad teams find a way to lose, and the Twins and Milone found a way to let the Yankees back into the game that inning.

Minnesota took a 3-2 lead in the fourth thanks to a walk (Byung-Ho Park), a double (Kurt Suzuki), and a ground out (Byron Buxton). The Yankees again answered right back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth. They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk (Chase Headley), a bunt single (Didi Gregorius), and a Joe Mauer error (Aaron Hicks). Romine plated the first run with a sac fly, then Rob Refsnyder came through with two-out single to score the second run, giving New York a 4-3 lead.

Game Over
Once Tanaka got through six innings, it was time to turn things over to the big three relievers. They retired all nine batters they faced. Dellin Betances struck out one and threw an 88.7 mph curveball, which is a) nuts, and b) not even his fastball curveball of the year. He threw an 89.4 mph bender in his last appearance. Andrew Miller fanned one in the eighth.

Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth and holy crap, that was easily his most dominant outing of the season. He threw eleven pitches, all of them for strikes, and ten of the eleven clocked in at 101.3 mph or above. The one “slow” pitch was the 91.1 mph changeup he threw to end the game. Here’s his pitch-by-pitch velocity, via Brooks Baseball:

Arodlis Chapman velocity

That changeup looks like he dropped the mic and walked off the stage. It was a ridiculous inning. Chapman’s fastball averaged 103.2 mph and topped out at 104.3 mph on the night. It was the first time he hit 104+ since last August. The weather is starting to warm up and it looks like Aroldis is really starting to cut it loose. That was a fun inning.

Leftovers
Gardner and Gregorius went 1-for-9 combined — the one was Didi’s bunt single — but man, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Gardner nearly beat out an infield single in the first and later hit two line drives right at infielders for outs. Gregorius sent a ball to the right field warning track and pulled a would-be double just a few inches foul. Those two had way better swings than the 1-for-9 would lead you to believe.

Every starter had a hit except Gardner and Romine, though Romine had the sac fly, which was well struck to deep left field. It looked like it had a chance to go out off the bat, but alas. A-Rod was the only player with two hits. Hicks swatted a solo homer in the bottom of the eight for a much appreciated insurance run. I’m sure that felt good against his former team. It was Hicks’ third homer of the season overall and his first against a lefty.

And finally, the Yankees struck out only six times as a team. It was their 31st game with six or fewer strikeouts this season. Only the Angels (38), Giants (36), and Athletics (33) have more. The offense hasn’t been great this year, but the Yankees don’t get enough credit for putting the ball in play as much as they do. Their team 18.5% strikeout rate is fifth lowest in MLB this season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, you want to go over to ESPN. MLB.com is the place to go for the various video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Twins will continue this three-game series Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1:05pm ET start. Hooray for that. Michael Pineda and Ervin Santana are the scheduled starters. This is the last homestand before the All-Star break, so if you want to catch tomorrow’s game or any of the other five games on the homestand, head over to RAB Tickets.

Castro’s walk-off homer gives Yanks 9-8 win over Rockies

Finally! After three games plus another six innings or so of looking helpless against the Rockies, the Yankees rallied from a four-run deficit late Wednesday afternoon to earn a 9-8 walk-off win. Both clubs erased four-run deficits. It was New York’s second walk-off win of the season.

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

Taking Advantage, For Once
I couldn’t tell you how many times this season I’ve written that the Yankees had a bunch of opportunities to score runs, but failed to take advantage. They’ve gone through some big time slumps with runners in scoring position, such as their 0-for-10 effort Tuesday night. More than anything, the lack of offense has led to the team’s sub-.500 start to the season. They’ve wasted too many chances overall.

The Yankees did take advantage of a prime run-scoring opportunity in the second inning Wednesday, when the Rockies gift-wrapped the bases loaded with no outs. Jon Gray sandwiched walks to Brian McCann and Didi Gregorius (!) around a Starlin Castro single. It was a ground ball single shortstop Trevor Story probably should have stopped even though he had to dive. I thought he was going to reel it in and was surprised when he didn’t.

Chase Headley wasted zero time capitalizing on the bases loaded opportunity. He unloaded on Gray’s first pitch fastball and hit a grand slam — the Yankees’ first grand slam of the season, I should add — into Monument Park in dead center. Swinging at the first pitch immediately after a walk tends to annoy some people, but that first pitch is often the best one to hit because the pitcher wants to get ahead in the count. Headley put a hurting on Gray and gave the Yankees a quick 4-0 lead.

Sabathia’s Bad Day
The Rockies answered back with two runs in the top of the third and it was at least somewhat CC Sabathia‘s fault. Nick Hundley knocked a single to center, then when No. 9 hitter Brandon Barnes laid down a bunt, Sabathia rushed the throw and airmailed first base. Bunting down four runs isn’t the smartest move, but it worked out that time. The bad throw gave Colorado runners on second and third with no outs, and Charlie Blackmon made Sabathia pay for the error by blooping this pitch …

CC Sabathia Charlie Blackmon

… into shallow center for a two-run single. One of the two runs was unearned. What can you do about that? It was a very good two-strike slider down and away, yet Blackmon just threw his bat at the ball and it fell in. So it goes. Baseball can be a jerk like that sometimes. That cut the lead to 4-2.

That 4-2 lead lasted only another half-inning. The Rockies hung a three-spot on Sabathia in the fourth thanks to a walk (Story), a single (Mark Reynolds), and a three-run homer (Hundley). CC missed with a two-strike cutter — he was trying to bust Hundley inside but caught too much of the plate — and paid. It was only the third homer Sabathia has given up this season. That 0.3 HR/9 wasn’t going to last forever, not in Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia finished the afternoon having allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. He had allowed six runs total in his previous seven starts, and this was the first time all year he allowed more than three earned runs in a start. Sabathia was bound to have a bad start at some point. It happens. He’s still sitting on a 2.71 ERA (3.45 FIP) through 12 starts and 69.2 innings.

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

Battle of the Bullpens
The middle of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is shockingly bad. This staff invokes memories of the mid-2000s Yankees, who had a bullpen that was basically Mariano Rivera and a bunch of guys no one ever wanted on the mound. Anthony Swarzak replaced Sabathia in the fifth and immediately allowed a run-scoring double (Story) and a two-run homer (Ryan Raburn) to give the Rockies an 8-4 lead.

Thankfully, the middle of the Rockies bullpen is somehow worse than the middle of the Yankees bullpen, so the Yankees were able to put four runs on the board in the seventh. Carlos Beltran‘s three-run dinger was the biggest blow, but Didi’s two-out, two-strike single tied the game 8-8. Gregorius has been so, so good of late. It was a perfect piece of hitting the other way for the game-tying hit. Perfect. Just perfect.

Rob Refsnyder struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning — it was a pretty crummy at-bat, strike three was a check swing on a pitch at his eyes — and the Yankees wasted an Ellsbury leadoff double the next inning. Brett Gardner popping up a bunt didn’t help matters, but you know, the guy had reached base three times already (and four times Tuesday) and he came into the game hitting .365 in June. Ellsbury’s scoring on any single. Let Gardner swing the bat you nincompoops.

Anyway, Castro took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the ninth, sending Jason Motte’s second pitch of the game out to left field for a leadoff walk-off home run. It was gone off the bat. Had the good sound and everything. Castro hasn’t been great this year, but he’s showing more power than ever before, and we saw it there. The walk-off tater was his tenth home run of the season. He hit eleven last year, 14 the year before, and ten the year before that.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Not to be forgotten moment: Gardner throwing Blackmon out at the plate in the first inning. Blackmon started the game with a single, moved up on D.J. LeMahieu’s bunt, and was waved around on Nolan Arenado’s single to left. It was an aggressive send — it was a hard-hit single that got to Gardner quickly — and Gardner made the throw. Blackmon was out by several feet. Saved a run.

Not to be forgotten scary moment: Sabathia rolled his right ankle delivering a pitch in the fifth inning. He stumbled a bit and the first thought was his knee — how could it not be after his injuries? — but replays showed it was his ankle. Sabathia stayed in the game after talking to trainer Steve Donohue and whatnot. That was scary. Losing Sabathia to an injury would have been no fun. He went for x-rays and they came back negative, by the way.

The trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman tossed three perfect innings and struck out two each. They were going to pitch because they needed the work, but once the Yankees tied things up in the seventh, it made their appearances more meaningful. I know no manager would use Betances in the fifth, but man, Dellin pitching with a four-run deficit in the seventh while Swarzak pitches with a one-run deficit in the fifth makes no sense.

The Yankees put 19 runners on base and drew a season-high tying seven walks. Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Refsnyder, and everyone in the starting lineup had a walk except Ellsbury, Alex Rodriguez, and Castro. One day after going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, they went 4-for-11 (.364) in those spots in this game, but one of those four was an infield single that didn’t score a run. Go figure.

And finally, we saw another catcher’s interference, and believe it or not, it was not Ellsbury. Refsnyder did it in the seventh, ahead of Beltran’s three-run homer. There have now been 22 CI in baseball this season. Six Ellsbury, one by Refsnyder, and 15 by the other 29 teams combined.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings while MLB.com is the place to go for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload or Announcer Standings pages either. Here’s the wild win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees have yet another off-day Thursday, their third in the last ten days. The homestand resumes Friday night with the first of three against the Twins. Masahiro Tanaka and finesse lefty Tommy Milone are the scheduled starting pitchers. If you want to catch that game or any of the other six games on the homestand live, check out RAB Tickets.