Yankeemetrics: Disaster averted in Baltimore [Sept. 2-4]

(UPI)
(UPI)

Nightmare on Eutaw Street
It’s hard to think of a worse start to September baseball for the Yankees than the shellacking they endured on Friday night in Baltimore.

All the momentum they had piled up after an inspiring series win in Kansas City was suddenly gone after their deflating 8-0 loss to the Orioles. This was the worst shutout loss the Yankees have ever suffered at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992. The last time they had a shutout loss that bad in Baltimore was Sept. 9, 1991 at Memorial Stadium.

The Yankees fell behind quickly as the O’s hammered them early and often with all eight runs and four homers in the first four innings. This was the eighth game this year that the Yankees surrendered at least four longballs, the most such games in a season in franchise history.

Their punchless offense did little to counter the awful performance by the pitching staff, hitting just two singles in the third inning. Welp. It had been more than a decade since they played a game in Baltimore and had two hits or fewer: on August 5, 2006 Adam Loewen, Todd Williams and LaTroy Hawkins combined for a one-hitter in the Orioles 5-0 win. (Yes, that game really happened.)

Deja booooo
The Yankees’ September swoon continued on Saturday night as they were shut out for the second game in a row, 2-0, extending their recent stretch of miserable baseball in Baltimore. Following Saturday’s loss, they fell to 10-26 at Camden Yards since the start of 2013, their worst record at any American League ballpark in that span, and the worst mark by any AL team at Camden Yards over the past four seasons.

girardi sad
(Getty)

It was just a week ago that the Yankees scored an unthinkable 27 (!) runs in the first two games of their series against this same team (Orioles), and then they scored exactly zero runs in the first two games of this series. That’s baseball, folks.

The end result was their ninth game being shut out this season — four of which have come against the Orioles, who rank 12th in the AL in team ERA — and the eighth time they’ve been shut out in a game away from Yankee Stadium. Those eight road shutouts are the most they’ve suffered in a single season since 1973 when they somehow had 12 (!) of them.

For the second night in a row the Yankees’ bats were silenced as they finished with just four hits, all of them singles again. In the last 100 seasons, only once before had the Yankees been held scoreless with four hits or fewer — and no extra-base hits — in back-to-back road games versus the same opponent: the Kansas City A’s did it to them on Aug. 27-28, 1965.

Even worse is the fact that Saturday’s game marked the third straight time the Orioles had blanked the Yankees, dating back to a 5-0 loss in the final game of their matchup last week.

The 2016 Orioles are the eighth team in baseball history to post three straight shutouts against the Yankees, but just the second one to do it in the last 75 years. The rest of this group includes the 1973 White Sox, 1934 Tigers, 1929 Browns, 1913 Senators, 1909 Browns, 1908 Senators and 1906 White Sox.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Stayin’ alive
The Yankees kept their scant playoff dreams alive with a season-saving win on Sunday afternoon, avoiding the series sweep in what Joe Girardi deemed “the most important game of the year”.

After getting blanked in the first two games, the Yankees wasted little time in making sure it wouldn’t be a hat trick. They plated three runs in the first inning thanks to a couple RBI hits by Chase Headley and Austin Romine. And, mercifully, disaster was averted in Yankeeland.

We also get to trumpet our “If That Had Happened Yankeemetric of the Week” (cap-tip to Mark Simon for that name … he is also more famous for authoring an excellent Yankees book, which I guarantee you will enjoy if you are reading this post):

As noted above, the Orioles were the eighth team to post three straight shutouts against the Yankees. No team had ever allowed zero runs in four consecutive games versus the Yankees, and that statistical fact will remain intact in the record books … for now.

While the Bronx Bombers did manage to finally put runs on the scoreboard, their six hits were all singles for the third straight game. This is just the second time in the last three decades the Yankees went three games in a row without an extra-base hit; the other streak was May 13-16, 2000 against the Tigers and White Sox.

You have to go back even further to find the last time an opponent held the Yankees without an extra-base hit in three consecutive games within a series: the Orioles did it in September 1976.

The biggest outs of the game were recorded by Luis Severino, who took over for Pineda in the fifth inning with the Yankees clinging to a two-run lead, a runner on second base and no one out. He got himself into a bases-loaded jam but escaped without allowing a run, and then threw a perfect sixth inning to earn the win.

Here’s some fun with small sample sizes: In 11 1/3 innings as a bullpen arm, Severino has faced 40 batters. Just one of those guys has a hit (an infield single by Neil Walker on August 3), and nearly one-third (13) of them have struck out. He is the only pitcher in baseball this season that has faced at least 30 batters as a reliever, allowed zero earned runs and no more than one hit.

Yankeemetrics: The Great Escape [Aug. 29-31]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Too little, too late
The Yankees fleeting playoff hopes hit a speed bump on Monday night as their late-inning comeback fell short in Kansas City, losing 8-5 to Royals.

Following another confounding outing by Michael Pineda and another middle-relief implosion, the Yankees found themselves down seven runs after the seventh inning, and despite battling back to twice getting the tying run at the plate, they couldn’t get the decisive hit.

After a four-run rally in the eighth pulled the Yankees within three runs, Mark Teixeira grounded out to end the inning with a man on first and second. That predictable #RISPFAIL dropped his batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs to .100 (4-for-40), the third-lowest among all players with at least 40 at-bats this season.

Starlin Castro also had a chance to be the hero in the ninth inning when came up with two outs and two men on. Kelvin Herrera threw him three straight curves; Castro took the first two for strikes then whiffed on the third one in the dirt for the final out. Castro’s line on curveballs this season fell to 6-for-52 (.115), the second-lowest batting average against the pitch in MLB (min. 50 at-bats).

In what has become an all-too-familiar tale for a Pineda start, the enigmatic right-hander showed flashes of dominance but ultimately the results in the box score were disappointing. He got rocked early, giving up three runs on five hits in the first inning, then retired 15 (!) straight batters in the second through sixth innings, before being removed in the seventh after giving up singles to the first two men he faced (who both eventually scored).

Pineda’s struggles in the opening frame are nothing new; after Monday’s disaster, he was tied for the most first-inning hits allowed and the second-most first-inning earned runs allowed, and his 7.62 first-inning ERA was the second-highest in the majors (min. 20 starts).

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Just call him Chasen Houdini
The Yankees pulled off one of their most stunning and nerve-wracking wins of the season on Tuesday, edging out the Royals, 5-4, for a ginormous victory against one of the teams they’re chasing in the wild card race.

They were celebrating at the end of the game thanks to a clutch hit in extra innings by the oft-maligned Jacoby Ellsbury, and a remarkable Houdini act to seal the win by improbable closer Chasen Shreve.

Ellsbury drove in the game-winning run in the 10th with a two-out, bases-loaded infield hit. He improved to 6-for-11 (.545) with 12 RBI with the bases loaded this season, tied with Mike Trout for the best batting average in MLB (min. 10 at-bats).

Shreve notched his first career save after escaping a bases-loaded, one out jam in the bottom of the 10th by fanning Kendrys Morales on three pitches and then getting Salvador Perez to fly out to center.

Over the last 25 seasons, the only other Yankee pitcher to strike out a guy with the bases loaded while protecting a lead in extras was — unsurprisingly — Mariano Rivera. The G.O.A.T got Mark Reynolds to swing through strike three for the final out of a 6-5, 10-inning win in Arizona on June 23, 2010.

Lost in the drama of the final frame was another solid outing by Masahiro Tanaka, who was removed following the rain delay after throwing five innings of two-run ball with four strikeouts and no walks. He finished the month of August with a nearly flawless strikeout-to-walk ratio of 38-to-1 (!), with the lone walk coming on Aug. 24 against the Mariners.

Tanaka is the first Yankee pitcher since at least 1913 to complete a month with at least 35 strikeouts and no more than one walk. In fact, just three other major-league pitchers in that 104-season span have struck out 38 or more guys and walked one or fewer in a calendar month: Cliff Lee (54 K, 1 BB in Sept. 2013), Hisashi Iwakuma (39 K, 1 BB in July 2014) and Javier Vazquez (39 K, 0 BB in May 2005).

Trading an out for a win
It was deja vu for the Yankees on Wednesday as they enjoyed free baseball for a second straight night and again notched a huge win in extras. It marked the first time the Yankees have ever won back-to-back extra-inning games versus the Royals, and the first time they’ve done that versus any team since Sept. 21-22, 2012 against the A’s.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

With the win, the Yankees are now 22-9 in games decided by one run, the second-best record in MLB behind the Rangers (30-8!) this year. Their .710 winning percentage in one-run games would be the highest single-season mark in franchise history; the current record is held by the 1963 team, which went 36-17 (.679).

This time they rallied from a four-run deficit and finally took the lead in the top of the 13th when Brian McCann delivered a sac fly to left field, scoring Didi Gregorius to make it 5-4. It was the latest go-ahead sac fly by a Yankee since Bernie Williams lofted a walk-off fly out in the 13th inning against the Red Sox on May 3, 1995.

McCann’s heroics wouldn’t have been possible without an incredible performance by the bullpen. It was truly a team effort as six relievers combined for seven scoreless and hitless innings. This was the first time ever that the Yankees won a game where they used six different relievers who each got at least one out and allowed no hits.

How did we get this far into Yankeemetrics without mentioning Mr. Gary Sanchez? Let’s fix that. Despite going 1-for-5 on Wednesday, Sanchez still finished August with a .389 batting average and .832 slugging percentage in 24 games.

Over the past 100 years, two players in their age-23 seasons or younger have hit at least .375 and slugged over .825 in any calendar month (min. 100 plate appearances): Gary Sanchez and Joe DiMaggio in July 1937.

The Yankees should remain patient with Aaron Judge, but he has to make some adjustments too

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Last night, in his 14th big league game, Aaron Judge went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Judge started his career with seven hits — including two home runs — in his first 18 at-bats, which works out to a .389 batting average. Since then he’s gone 2-for-28 (.071) with 16 strikeouts, many of them on feeble swings.

It’s not entirely unexpected that Judge is having trouble in his early days as a big leaguer. I mean, most players do, but Judge’s history — he struggled his first few weeks in Triple-A too — and the fact he’s so damn big suggested an adjustment period was coming, and it has. Not everyone can come up and be Gary Sanchez right away, unfortunately. Judge has some things to work on.

“It’s part of the maturing process,” said Joe Girardi to Brendan Kuty a few days. “As I said, with Aaron, it’s a big strike zone he has to cover. He doesn’t know how pitchers are going to approach him. I believe he’s going to make the right adjustments. We might see some strikeouts but I think he’s going to make the adjustments and be very productive.”

Brian Cashman said Judge would take over as the everyday right fielder when he was called up, and that has been the case. He’s started 13 of 15 games since being called up, and there’s no indication Girardi will start sitting him regularly anytime soon. That’s good. The Yankees should remain patient with Judge because he’s very talented and needs to play to continue his development.

At the same time, Judge has adjustments to make, and that’s something he has to do on his own. The hitting coaches can help him, but they’re only coaches, not miracle workers. Ultimately the onus falls on Judge to make the adjustments. It seems he is being really passive at the plate at the moment, like he’s waiting for the perfect pitch until he’s forced to protect with two strikes.

Here, via the incredible Baseball Savant, is every fastball Judge has taken for a called strike in his brief time with the Yankees:

Aaron Judge called strikes

There are some borderline calls that went against Judge there, no doubt, but there’s also more than a few fastballs right down the middle that he took for a strike. I know I’ve seen Judge take some pitches I thought he should have offered at. Various YES announcers (Paul O’Neill for sure) pointed this out as well. Judge has been letting some hittable pitches go by.

Now let’s look at Judge’s swing and contact rates. We are still talking about a small sample size here, so we shouldn’t take these numbers as an indication of what he’ll do going forward. This is just a record of what Judge has done in his 53 plate appearances so far. MLB averages are in parenthesis:

Zone Swing Rate: 55.1% (63.9%)
Out of Zone Swing Rate: 35.6% (30.5%)

Zone Contact Rate: 81.6% (86.5%)
Out of Zone Contact Rate: 48.9% (62.2%)

Judge’s contact rate on pitches both in and out of the strike zone are below the league average and that’s not all that surprising. He’s always been a guy who swings and misses and he probably always will be. The zone contact rate is the more important number there, and Judge is on par with guys like Kris Bryant (82.6%) and Mark Trumbo (81.4%), so he’s below-average, but not “he’ll never be productive at this rate” below-average.

The swing rates are more interesting, especially the zone swing rate. Judge is swinging at way fewer pitches in the strike zone than the average player. In fact, among the 152 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, only five have a lower zone swing rate than Judge: Matt Carpenter (54.3%), Curtis Granderson (52.8%), Martin Prado (52.4%), Ben Zobrist (52.3%), and Jayson Werth (51.7%).

Those are five pretty good hitters, so it’s possible to swing at this few pitches in the zone and still be productive, but three of those five are very high contact hitters. Granderson and Werth will swing and miss a bunch, though they make up for it with their power. (Or did in their primes.) That’s the type of hitter Judge will be. He’s not going to be a contact machine like Prado or Zobrist. His size won’t allow it.

These days we’re conditioning to think taking pitches and working the count is a priority each at-bat, and while it’s good to make the pitcher work, the ultimate goal is to get something good to hit. If that comes on the first or second pitch, so be it. Judge has been letting a few too many hittable pitches go by, either because he’s guessing wrong or wants to work the count or something else.

Whatever it is, there’s an adjustment that has to be made. The current passive version of Judge, the guy who seems to be down 0-2 in the count as soon as he gets in the batter’s box, is going to have a hard time being productive. The good news is Judge has shown the ability to make adjustments in the minors. Triple-A pitchers worked him over last year, so he altered his stance (bigger leg kick, lowered his hands) to compensate, and positive results followed.

“I’m just going to stick to my routine. It’s part of the game,” said Judge to Kuty, in typical boring YankeeSpeak. “You’re going to have the ups and downs, but try to stick to your routine. You’re going to have those days where you’re 0-for-4 and days where you’re 4-for-4. Can’t get too excited or too down. Stick to your routine and everything will work out.”

Guys this size tend to get stereotyped as lumbering meathead sluggers who grip it and rip each pitch. That’s not really Judge. He’s a better pure hitter than he gets credit for and he has very good baseball aptitude. He’s shown the ability and willingness to make adjustments, which will serve him well going forward. When pitchers give him a pitch in the zone and a chance to extend his arms, Judge has to take it. He’s been passing on too many of those opportunities so far.

Yankeemetrics: No sweep for you [Aug. 26-28]

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Mr. Unstoppable
One of the most incredible starts to a career continued on Friday night with Gary Sanchez extending his unprecedented assault on big-league pitching in the series opener. He added three more hits, including a double and a homer, and drove in four runs to lead the Yankees to a 14-4 blowout win.

Sanchez is setting the record books ablaze every time he steps the plate as his feats are reaching epic proportions and every at-bat becomes must-see television for Yankee fans everywhere. At this point in his record-breaking spree, it’s just easier to recap with bullet points, so here we go:

  • By hitting his 10th homer on Friday, all of which have come in August, Sanchez broke the Yankee rookie record for homers in a calendar month. The previous mark of nine was set by Joe DiMaggio in August 1936 and later tied by Tom Tresh in August 1962.
  • He became the third-fastest player in MLB history to reach 10 homers, behind only Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (21 games earlier this year) and Red Sox infielder George Scott (21 games in 1966)
  • The three-hit, four-RBI performance also pushed his career totals in those stats to 31 and 20, respectively. The only Yankee to reach 30 career hits faster than Sanchez was Joe DiMaggio (16[!] games in 1936); the only Yankees to reach 20 career RBI faster than Sanchez were Hideki Matsui (20 games in 2003) and DiMaggio (21).
  • Where Sanchez truly stands alone in baseball history is his unique combination of elite hit and power tools: He is the first player in major-league history to compile at least 10 homers and 30 hits this early into his career (22nd game).

And we’ll finish this section with a #FunFact, because why not? Sanchez is the youngest Yankee catcher with at least three hits, three runs scored and four RBI in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on Aug. 3, 1948 against the Tigers.

Sanchez is not human
On Saturday, this Sanchez kid officially zoomed past the basic level of historic and entered the upper realm of absurdity. Since we’re beginning to run out of words to describe Sanchez’s mind-boggling pace, I’ll just put this GIF here instead:

on fire

Yup, he did it again. Sanchez homered for the 11th time this season, fueling another pinstriped offensive explosion as the Yankee routed the Orioles, 13-5. With his 370-foot blast to right-center in the fourth inning, he became the fastest player in the history of major-league baseball to reach the 11-homer mark, doing so in his 23rd career game.

All 11 of his homers came since his recall in early August, making this not just an unbelievable career-opening run, but also one of the best power-hitting months by any young player in recent memory. To the bullet points again:

  • Sanchez is the third Yankee ever to hit at least 11 homers in any month in his age-23 season or younger, joining Mickey Mantle (12 in August 1955) and Joe DiMaggio (15 in July 1937).
  • The rookie phenom is also the youngest big-league catcher since Johnny Bench in 1970 to go yard 11-plus times in a month.
  • And Sanchez is the first American League player in his age-23 season or younger to pile up at least 11 homers and 30 hits in a month since Alex Rodriguez (11 homers, 36 hits) for the Mariners in August 1999.

Sanchez wasn’t the only Yankee with a monster game. One of the guys he shared the spotlight with was Starlin Castro, who repeatedly destroyed the baseball on Saturday as he went 4-for-6, scored three runs, stole a base and drove in three runs.

Only one other second baseman in franchise history has enjoyed such a productive night at the plate — at least four hits, three runs, three RBI and a steal: Alfonso Soriano had a game with those numbers on April 8, 2002 against the Blue Jays.

Overall, for the second time in two games against the Orioles, the Yankee bats punished Orioles pitching — in record-breaking fashion. Coupled with Friday’s offensive fireworks, this is the first time since at least 1913 (and likely ever) that the Yankees have scored at least 13 runs, gotten 18 or more hits, and went deep at least three times in back-to-back games.

(AP)
(AP)

The Sunday Letdown
Nothing lasts forever, right? The Orioles somehow managed to cool off the torrid bat of Gary Sanchez and the streaking Yankees, blanking them, 5-0, on Sunday afternoon. For the seventh time this season the Yankees were going for a three-game sweep … and for the seventh time they failed to complete it.

The lack of three-game sweeps might be an odd stat, and sweeps are not “easy,” but it does speak to the inconsistency — and an inability to go on an extended season-changing run — that has plagued this Yankee team since day one. (Though, to be fair, they do have two four-game sweeps.)

The Orioles did manage to keep Sanchez from sending a ball over the fences, but the young slugger’s power binge was merely tempered. He still finished with two hits, a single and a double, in four at-bats, giving him a whopping 19 extra-base hits in the big leagues.

Only two major-league players in the last century had that many hits for extra bases this early into their careers (24th game): Mandy Brooks had 22 for the Cubs in 1925 and DiMaggio had 19 for the Yankees in 1936. Oh, and he now has more than twice as many multi-hit games (10) as hitless games (4) among the 22 contests he has started in pinstripes.

The fact that Orioles starter Kevin Gausman shut down the Bronx Bombers’ surging bats is hardly surprising given his dominance of them this year. After throwing seven scoreless innings on Sunday, he now owns a 0.98 ERA across four starts versus the Yankees. The last pitcher to finish a season with a sub-1.00 ERA in four-or-more starts against the Yankees was Angels lefty Chuck Finley in 1996 (0.57).

Yankeemetrics: Babe Sanchez does it again [Aug. 22-24]

(AP)
(AP)

Gary is Good
Despite the superhuman feats of a scorching-hot Gary Sanchez, not to mention a two-dinger night from the streaky Starlin Castro, the Yankees still managed to lose the opener in Seattle, 7-5. It snapped their eight-game winning streak at Safeco Field, which was tied with the White Sox (2011-12) for the longest by any opponent at the ballpark.

Sanchez added yet another chapter to his Baby Bomber tale, crushing two more home runs to bring his total to eight in 19 career games. He is the first Yankee to hit at least eight homers before playing in his 20th big-league game, and just the fourth American League player in the last 100 seasons to do it. The others? Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays), Alvin Davis (Mariners) and George Scott (Red Sox).

The right-handed hitting Dominican also added a single, giving him 54 total bases since his debut in the bigs. Only one other Yankee has compiled at least 50 total bases this early into his major-league career (first 19 games), and you might have heard of him before: Joe DiMaggio.

Starlin Castro was Sanchez’s co-star on Monday night, going deep twice for his first multi-homer game in pinstripes. Castro and Sanchez became the first Yankees age 26 or younger to each hit at least two homers in the same game since September 23, 1973, when Ron Blomberg and Otto Velez did it in a 9-1 rout against the Indians.

Castro and Sanchez’s numbers became a mere footnote in history and not part of a winning effort when Anthony Swarzak served up a hanging slider to Mike Zunino, who deposited the pitch into the right-field seats to give the Mariners a 6-5 lead.

In his postgame press conference, Girardi said that he went to Swarzak “because of his slider,” an interesting comment given these stats:

  • Eight of the 10 homers that Swarzak has allowed this season have come off his slider
  • Opponents are slugging .682 (!) off Swarzak’s slider, the highest mark among the 150-plus pitchers that have thrown at least 200 sliders this year
(USA Today)
(USA Today)

An old guy steals the spotlight
On a day when the lineup’s young superstar was mortal, the Yankees got masterful performance from the rotation’s elder statesman, CC Sabathia, and beat the Mariners, 5-1, to even the series at a game apiece.

Sabathia, mired in a miserable 11-game stretch during which he posted a 6.78 ERA, was brilliant as he delivered a vintage performance to help stop the Yankees two-game losing streak. He fired seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in what was his best outing since mid-June.

While Sabathia’s dominant effort might have been surprising given his recent struggles, it shouldn’t have been given his history of pitching extremely well in the Pacific Northwest. Overall, he’s 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 career starts at Safeco Field, the second-best ERA among the 51 pitchers than have made at least 10 starts at the ballpark.

He’s also a perfect 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.961 WHIP in six starts at Safeco as Yankee. Going back 100 years, that ERA is the second-lowest mark any Yankee pitcher has posted at any ballpark where he’s made at least five starts. The guy atop the list is Mel Stottlemyre, who had a 1.25 ERA in nine starts at Anaheim Stadium from 1966-73.

Sanchez didn’t go yard in this game but he still maintained a near-record-breaking pace to start his career by going 1-for-4 with a walk. His 26 hits as a major-leaguer are tied with Bob Meusel for the third-most by any Yankee (since at least 1913) in his first 20 MLB games. The only others with more are Joe DiMaggio (37!!) and Oscar Azocar (28).

(AP)
(AP)

The Gary and Tanaka Show
The Yankees shut out the Mariners, 5-0, in the rubber game of this series thanks to the amazing and unprecedented — yet somehow predictable — performances by Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees’ underrated ace spun another gem, tossing seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 3.11. The only “blemish” was a third-inning walk to Seth Smith, the first free pass he’d issued since July 27.

That snapped a streak of four straight starts with at least 25 batters faced and zero walks, the longest by a Yankee since David Wells in 2003. Tanaka also saw his fantastic run of three straight games with at least eight punch outs and no walks come to an end, which was tied for a major-league record.

Tanaka is now up to five starts of at least seven scoreless innings pitched, the most among all American League pitchers. Entering Thursday, Tanaka was third among AL starters in strikeout-to-walk ratio, third in FIP, sixth in innings pitched, sixth in WHIP and seventh in ERA. He is the only AL pitcher ranked in the top-7 in each of those categories this season. And, oh yeah, he’s tied with Corey Kluber for the league lead in fWAR (Fangraphs version of Wins Above Replacement).

Sanchez wasted little time in continuing his homer barrage as he crushed a mammoth 420-foot shot into the left-center field seats on the first pitch he saw, his franchise-record ninth home run in 21 career games. His light-tower power is crazy: He’s now hit more 400-foot homers (seven) than every other Yankee this season except for Starlin Castro (11), and remember, Sanchez has only been a full-time player since August 3.

Gary added another double in the fifth inning, giving him 15 extra-base hits as a major-leaguer. The only Yankee to reach 15 career extra-base hits faster (in terms of games) than Sanchez was that DiMaggio dude again.

The Mariners soon learned their lesson — DO NOT PITCH TO THE KRAKEN — and intentionally walked him in each of his final two plate appearances.

The last Yankee to receive multiple intentional walks in a game within his first 21 career games was Joe Gordon in 1938. Sanchez is also youngest Yankee with at least two intentional walks and two hits in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on July 22, 1947.

And lastly, just for fun, Sanchez is the first Yankee catcher to be intentionally walked twice in a game since John Flaherty on June 15, 2004. Yes, Flash was batting eighth in an Interleague game in Arizona. The manager was not drunk.

Teixeira and McCann have accepted their reduced roles, and that’s important

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are a team in transition, as they like to say, and that transition involves playing young kids over established veterans with some serious credentials. It’s an obvious move to make but not necessarily an easy one. There are egos to be managed in the clubhouse, and an unhappy veteran can make things uncomfortable for a rookie trying to find his way in the show.

“I think it’s difficult if the players are about them, but if the players are about the team and winning, I think they buy in, they understand and they do their job,” said Joe Girardi to Mark Feinsand. “It’s really important, because when they’re willing to mentor, it really helps our young players. It does a lot for the clubhouse, too; the importance of the clubhouse staying together and understanding that we’re still in this and we’re fighting.”

Alex Rodriguez has been pushed out the door, but Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann remain with the Yankees, only with reduced roles. Teixeira has started only one of the last four games and three of the last eight games. McCann hasn’t caught a game in ten days now and he’s been relegated to full-time DH duty. He’s not a part-time player, but he kinda is. Teixeira and McCann are in new and unfamiliar roles.

I can’t imagine these new roles feel like anything but a demotion for those two. How could they not? Teixeira went from batting in the middle of the order and playing every single day to playing two or three times a week. McCann has been a starting catcher in this league since he was 21. Suddenly that has been taken away from him and he’s being asked to DH, something he’s never done regularly before.

“I’m getting used to it. When all you know is catching, it’s just a new routine. I’ve got to find a routine to work for me,” said McCann to Dan Martin. McCann’s situation is very different than Teixeira’s. Teixeira is retiring after the season and he doesn’t have to worry about his future as a player. McCann has two years left on his contract and right now he might not be sure what the future has in store for him. Will he be a full-time DH? Will he be an everyday catcher again?

So far McCann has done nothing but praise Gary Sanchez — “I haven’t seen a young catcher this good since I’ve been in the big leagues. He’s fun to watch play, and his ceiling is extremely high,” he said to Martin — the kid who has taken his job. That’s not really a surprise though. McCann came to the Yankees with a reputation for being a team first player and we’ve seen exactly that in his three years in pinstripes.

Teixeira has been a team first guy as well, and one of the reasons the Yankees aren’t planning to trade him this month is his leadership and willingness to mentor young players. Brian Cashman and the Yankees value that leadership more than anything they could realistically get in return for Teixeira, which at this point might be a player to be named later or cash. Teixeira is like an extra coach now.

“I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with (Tyler Austin). I’ve known him for a few years in Spring Training, but first base is new to him. I was in his shoes my rookie year, learning on the job. I’ve really enjoyed talking to him about the ins and outs of playing first,” said Teixeira to Feinsand and Martin. “I try to do as much as I can with Tyler or any of these young guys that are here … It might be different if I was still gonna be around and not retiring, but I understand these guys need to play.”

This could have become a very uncomfortable situation, especially after A-Rod was shown the door. The Yankees made it abundantly clear they are ready to move on from the veterans and play the kids, even if it means eating a ton of money to cut a guy loose. That couldn’t have made Teixeira and especially McCann feel too secure. It would be completely natural to wonder if you’re next in that situation.

Instead, the Teixeira and McCann demotions have been a non-factor. If anything, they’ve been a positive because Teixeira is working with the young players and McCann has been productive in his new role (.286/.423/.429 as the full-time DH). We’ve seen other instances around the league where veterans were unhappy about losing playing and made a big stink about it. Teixeira and McCann have done the opposite of that. They might not love losing playing time (who does?), but they’ve handled this professionally, and that’s important. They’ve helped foster a positive environment for the kids to develop.

“I told Joe when I decided to retire, ‘Literally whatever you want me to do, if it’s playing every day, once a week or once a month, I’ll do whatever you want to do,” said Teixeira to Feinsand. “I’ve done everything I want to do in this game. Because of that, it makes this process easier. If I play once a week, I’m going to be really excited about that one game I play. Those guys definitely need to play.”

Yankeemetrics: And the kids shall lead them [Aug. 19-21]

(AP)
(AP)

Torre-yes?!
The rookies continued to shine, while the underrated ace delivered yet another gem, and the Yankees opened their final West Coast trip of the season with a strong 7-0 win over the Angels on Friday night.

Gary Sanchez’s record-breaking feats have become commonplace since his call-up a few weeks ago, and Friday night’s superb 3-for-4, two-double performance was no exception. Through Friday, 10 of Sanchez’s 21 hits as a major-leaguer had been for extra-bases, putting him in elite company at this point in his career.

The last Yankee to compile 10 or more extra-base hits within his first 16 MLB games was a fella by the name of Joe DiMaggio, who went 30-for-73 (.411) and had 10 doubles, a triple and two homers in the first 16 games he played as a rookie in 1936.

Sanchez had an unlikely Baby Bomber co-star, with the diminutive Ronald Torreyes contributing a 4-for-4 night. He had a double and a homer in his first two at-bats, matching the number of extra-base hits he had in his previous 72 at-bats, dating back to the third game of the season he played on April 13.

It was also a most unlikely performance from a guy hitting at the bottom of the order. The only other non-pitcher in franchise history to have at least four hits, three runs scored and two RBI in a game from the No. 9 spot was Juan Rivera on Sept. 27, 2003 against the Orioles.

Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Angels lineup, surrendering just five singles over 7 ? scoreless innings while striking out nine with no walks. It was his third straight game with at least eight strikeouts and no walks, the first Yankee pitcher since at least 1913 to put together a streak like that.

His effective mix of low-90s fastballs, nasty sliders and darting splitters was key in helping the Yankees stop their mini-two-game slide heading into this series. Tanaka is now 6-1 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts following a Yankee loss, and the Yankees are 9-2 in those games.

Through Friday’s slate, 167 major-league pitchers had made at least five starts after a team loss this season. Tanaka’s 1.85 ERA ranks first among that group.

(AP)
(AP)

Cessa makes strong first impression
The Angels — and Angel Stadium — had become somewhat of a kryptonite for the Yankees over the past decade. From 2005-15, the Angels were the only AL team that the Yankees had a losing record against (45-49) , and their 16-30 record in Anaheim was easily their worst at any AL ballpark in that span.

The script has been flipped in 2016, though, as the Yankee improved to 6-0 against the Angels in 2016 following Saturday’s 5-1 win. With only one game remaining in the season series, they clinched their best single-season winning percentage in franchise history against the Angels. The previous high-water mark was a 10-2 (.833) record in 1980.

The youngsters led the way again with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez combining to drive in three of the five runs and Luis Cessa pitching brilliantly in his first major-league start.

Sanchez opened the scoring with a two-out solo homer in the first inning, his sixth time going deep in the majors. The only other Yankee to hit six homers within his first 17 career games was Shelley Duncan (2007).

Judge’s two-RBI single in the sixth inning gave the Yankees a nice 5-0 cushion, continuing his success in key situations so far in his brief big-league career. It’s a very small sample size, but so far Judge hasn’t been fazed by the pressure: he’s 5-for-13 (.385) with men on base, 3-for-6 (.500) with runners in scoring position, and 6-for-12 (.500) in medium/high-leverage at-bats.

Cessa became the latest Yankee newcomer to take a turn as the star performer, tossing six-plus scoreless innings with three hits allowed and five strikeouts. He is just the second Yankee in the last two decades to pitch at least six scoreless innings and win in his first career start, joining Jose Contreras in 2003.

The elusive third win
After outscoring the Angels 12-1 in dominating the first two games of this series, the Yankee bats went limp in the finale on Sunday afternoon, getting blanked 2-0. Amazingly, the Yankees have yet to sweep a three-game set this season (although they do own a pair of four-game sweeps).

ellsbury catch
(AP)

The loss snapped a seven-game win streak over the Angels dating back to last season, which was tied for their longest win streak in the history of this series (they also won seven in a row spanning the 1980-81 seasons).

The Yankees wasted a strong performance by rookie Chad Green, who took the loss despite throwing six innings of one-run ball. He is the only Yankee starter ever to lose a game against the Angels while allowing no more than one run and five baserunners. In fact, no Yankee had done that against any team in nearly two years (Michael Pineda on Sept. 5, 2014 vs. Royals).

The Yankees miserable trend of failing to hit in the clutch continued as they went 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. They are now batting .228 with RISP this season, which would be their worst mark since 1969 (.224).