Archive for Game Stories
The dream of 0-162 is still alive. The Yankees dropped their second game of the season on Wednesday night, losing 3-1 to the Astros. Houston is 2-0 for the first time in eleven years. Really glad the Yankees are taking advantage of his soft early-season schedule, you guys.
Who Needs Runs When We Have Each Other?
Believe it or not, the Yankees had a bunch of chances in this game. They just couldn’t capitalize on any of ‘em. Their only run scored on a double play (more on that in a bit) and they stranded a runner on second in the third, a runner on first in the fourth, runners on the corners in both the fifth and sixth, and runners on second in both the seventh and eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury flew out and grounded out to end the third and fifth inning rallies, respectively.
The Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the biggest RISPFAIL came in the eighth, after Carlos Beltran led off the inning with an opposite field double. The next three batters, the 4-5-6 hitters, all struck out. Brian McCann went down on five pitches, Mark Teixeira on four pitches, and Alfonso Soriano on six pitches. Matt Albers got eight (!) swings and misses out of the 15 pitches he threw those guys. I don’t even.
The early-season offensive ineptitude reminds me of the 2002-ish through 2008 Yankees, who never seemed to hit in April. I remember there used to be columns written pretty much every year about trading for Ken Griffey Jr. to improve the offense. Eventually those teams hit and hit a ton, and I suspect this offense will do the same at some point. Right now though? These last two games have been a hot mess. When Brian Roberts (3-for-4 on Wednesday) has been your most productive hitter, you’ve got issues.
Death By Dexter
Poor Hiroki Kuroda. He must have feel 2013 never ended. The Yankees gave their ace only 3.19 runs of support per start last season, the third lowest among qualified starters. They couldn’t buy a run for him on Wednesday* even though he held up his end of the bargain. Kuroda held the Astros to two runs on three hits and one walk in six innings, striking out five. He got seven ground ball outs and six fly ball outs.
* Well, they did score the one run. Wouldn’t want to sell them short.
Unfortunately, all three of those hits were extra-base hits, including a solo homer by Dexter Fowler to lead off the game. Two innings later, he tripled to center and scored on Robbie Grossman’s ground out. Fowler’s killed the Yankees these last two games. Four total hits, all for extra bases. Kuroda pitched around a Grossman one-out triple in the sixth, his final inning. Two triples and homer with no other hits allowed. It’s the first time a pitcher has done that since … Felix Doubront against the Yankees last September. Lame.
Aside from some long at-bats, Kuroda looked like vintage Hiroki Kuroda, mixing sinkers with splitters and sliders and whatever else he has in that bag of tricks. I chalk the long at-bats up to early-season rust. Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings before the game that they plan to treat Kuroda like Andy Pettitte this year, meaning they won’t push him deep into the game or much beyond 100 pitches. That’s why his night ended at six innings and 91 pitches. Sounds like a plan to me.
So about that run-scoring double play? It was Yangervis Solarte‘s first career at-bat. He pinch-hit for Kelly Johnson against the left-handed Kevin Chapman with runners on the corners and no outs in the seventh. Yeah, it scored a run, but that double play took the wind right out of the Yankees’ sails. I know he had a great spring, but Solarte isn’t exactly a weapon off the bench. He shouldn’t pinch-hit for anyone in a big or semi-big spot.
David Phelps really doesn’t look right. He was sitting 87-88 mph all spring and he was throwing max effort to hit 90 in this game, giving up a solo homer and putting two other guys on base in his 1.1-inning outing. Phelps missed more than two months with a pair of forearm strains in the second half last season and I dunno, he doesn’t look so hot right now. Maybe keep him out of close games for a little while. Matt Thornton (one ground out, one intentional walk) and Shawn Kelley (ground out) cleaned up Phelps’ mess in the eighth.
Roberts and Brian McCann (2-for-4) combined for five of the team’s seven hits. Beltran (double) and Brett Gardner (single) had the others. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Derek Jeter each drew a walk. Teixeira built upon his strong Opening Day by going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Soriano looks like a mess right now and has gone 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in each of the first two games. He did miss a ton of time of camp with the flu, so maybe he’s just behind. Same with Ellsbury and his calf. Maybe.
The Astros had a pre-game ceremony for Jeter before the game, giving him a set of golf clubs and a pair of fancy cowboy boots. Former Yankees (and Astros) Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were both on hand. The Astros then came out of the dugout to give Jeter a standing ovation before his first at-bat, which was kinda weird considering they still have another game tomorrow.
Adam Warren has warmed up in each of the first two games, and given how Girardi always makes sure his guys are rested, he might not be available tomorrow. He’s almost certainly a better late-inning option over the current version of Phelps. That reminds me: don’t forget about our Bullpen Workload page now that the season has started.
If you’re looking for a good omen, the Yankees have been held to two runs or less in their first two games of the season for the first time since … 1998. That turned out okay.
Hilariously, the Yankees will try to avoid being swept (!) by the Astros (!!!) on Thursday night. That’s another 8pm ET start. Those are the worst. Give me 7pm or 10pm, nothing in between. Ivan Nova and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer will be the pitching matchup.
See what happens when you designate Eduardo Nunez for assignment? You lose to the Astros on Opening Day. The Yankees dropped their first game of the season 6-2 on Tuesday, and it sure looked like the score would be much more lopsided early on. Losing on Opening Day really sucks, especially to an awful team like the Astros, but that doesn’t mean it’s a harbinger for the rest of the season.
Which Trend Continued?
Coming into Tuesday’s start, CC Sabathia had a history of terrible Opening Day starts and an awful 2013 season in the rear-view mirror. Which trend continued in the first game of the 2014 season? I hope it was just the former but eh, it was probably the latter. The Astros roughed Sabathia up for six runs on eight hits (four for extra-bases) and one walk in six innings, forcing him to throw 50 pitches in the first two innings. That’s … a lot. The details of his 99 pitches:
- 47 fastballs, averaging 89.7 mph.
- 22 changeups, averaging 84.3. Some more separation from the fastball wouldn’t hurt.
- 30 sliders, averaging 80.8 mph.
- Nine swings and misses and 15 foul balls, including six with two strikes.
Sabathia showed the same problems as last year, meaning he struggled to put guys away — the Jason Castro at-bat in the first inning was a perfect example, Sabathia used to eat up lefty hitters but instead Castro fouled off two two-strike sliders before driving in a run with a fielder’s choice — and his command was terrible, especially in the first two innings. The evidence:
Those are the homers hit by Jesus Guzman (left) and L.J. Hoes (right). Both pitches were pretty much belt high, right over the plate. You can get away with that when you’re throwing 93-95 mph. But at 88-91 mph? Not as often. Just for the record, Guzman hit his dinger off a fastball, Hoes hit his off a changeup.
Anyway, the Yankees were down six-zip after the second inning and while Sabathia settled down wonderfully after that — he retired 12 of the final 15 men he faced — it doesn’t matter how many lineup additions you make over the winter down that many runs. It’s tough to come back and win that game, even against Scott Feldman and the Astros. Sabathia did not give the Yankees much of a chance on Opening Day and, unfortunately, he really didn’t do much to suggest he will be more productive than last season. Hopefully things go better in five days.
New Lineup, Just Like The Old Lineup
Four new regulars, including seven new starters from Opening Day last year, but the result did not change. The 2014 Yankees offense paid homage to the 2013 Yankees offense by playing just like them, being held to two runs on five singles, one double, and three walks. They didn’t have a runner reach third base until there were two outs in the seventh, and 19 of the first 22 men they sent to the plate made outs.
The Yankees rallied for two runs in the eighth — Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira both went the other way for RBI singles — but their best chance to realistically get back in the game came on inning earlier, when Feldman started to run out of gas. Teixeira singled with one out then Brett Gardner (hit-by-pitch) and Brian Roberts (walk) reached to load the bases with two outs. Astros manager Bo Porter went to Kevin Chapman, his only lefty reliever, to face Kelly Johnson, who hit a weak ground ball back to the pitcher to end the rally.
I thought maybe that Johnson at-bat would have been a good opportunity to use Frankie Cervelli as a pinch-hitter against the lefty. It burns the backup catcher, but Cervelli has always hit lefties and the left field porch at Minute Maid Park is tiny. If there was ever a time to take a shot at making this a game, that was probably it. That said, it is the first game of the season and the score was so lopsided that sticking with Johnson was fine. Nothing wrong with showing some confidence in him there.
It wasn’t until Feldman was out of the game that the offense put up a fight, so perhaps the Houston right-hander was just sharp in the season-opener. Eight of the final 15 Yankees reached base — six of eight reached at one point — but by this point, the deficit was just too big. Alfonso Soriano really killed them, striking out to end the fourth with two men on base and grounding into a double play to end the eighth with two on. At -0.084 WPA, he’s the easy goat.
Dealin’ Dellin and the Vidal Nunos
It might not seem like a big deal with three long relievers on the roster, but Sabathia did save the bullpen some by following up those disastrous first two innings with four scoreless ones. The Yankees open the year with 13 games in 13 games and you know they want to take it easy on Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda if at all possible. Saving the bullpen a few innings was a silver lining to an otherwise forgettable game.
Dellin Betances was electric in the seventh, facing the top three hitters in Houston’s lineup and completely overwhelming them. He struck out Dexter Fowler on five pitches, struck out Robbie Grossman on three pitches, and got Jose Altuve to ground out weakly to second base on the second pitch. Betances topped out at 99.3 mph (!) according to PitchFX. Dynamite. Vidal Nuno faced four batters in the eighth, striking out three and getting a weak ground ball that slithered passed Derek Jeter and Johnson. Too bad we can’t erase those first two innings, the pitching was pretty excellent after that.
Jeter’s final Opening Day started with a hit-by-pitch. He took a Feldman fastball off what initially looked like the left wrist, but replays showed it got him off the left forearm. That woulda been some way to start the season, wouldn’t it? Jeter struck out looking in his second at-bat, grounded back to first in his third at-bat, then slashed a Jeterian single to right field in his fourth at-bat. The same hit we’ve seen about a couple thousand times these last 19 years.
The Yankees played some hilariously sloppy defense in the first inning, particularly on Castro’s fielder’s choice. Teixeira fielded it cleanly and tried the cut runner down at home, but he threw the ball in the dirt and it bounced to the backstop. After McCann picked it up, he tried to get the runner at third base, but instead airmailed the throw into left field. Gardner did a good job backing up the play and preventing the runner from scoring. Teixeira was clearly trying to do too much in his first game after such a long layoff. He’s gotta take the out at first there.
Carlos Beltran picked up the team’s first hit of the season, singling to left field on a soft line drive with one out in the fourth. He also slide head-first into first base down six runs in the eighth inning. Silly. I know he wants to win and help his new team and all that, but he’s asking to get hurt by doing that. Ellsbury went 0-for-4 with a walk, McCann went 1-for-4, and Teixeira went 2-for-3 with a walk. Johnson doubled with two outs in the ninth for the team’s first extra-base hit of 2014.
Same two teams Wednesday night, though that one is an 8pm ET start. Stupid time zones. Hiroki Kuroda and Jarred Cosart will be the pitching matchup for that one.
The Yankees aren’t going to the postseason, but this game almost dragged on long enough to have they playing in October. The 2013 season ended with a 5-1 win over the Astros (in 14 innings!) and a sweep in Houston. Let’s recap the last victory of the year:
- Shutdown Bullpen: Considering how terrible the bullpen was at times down the stretch, it’s kinda funny they turned in one of their best efforts of the season on Sunday. Six relievers combined to retire of 27 of 30 batters faced in nine scoreless innings. They struck out a dozen. Dellin Betances was particularly impressive (four strikeouts in 2.1 perfect innings), as what Matt Daley (two strikeouts in two perfect innings). David Robertson closed out the season with a perfect frame.
- Late Rally(ies): Let’s just say the Yankees didn’t show much urgency at the plate in this game. There were a lot of quick outs in the first seven innings and understandably so. Everyone wanted to go home. Eduardo Nunez (double) and Curtis Granderson (single) didn’t get the memo, apparently, and combined to create the trying run in the eighth. The two teams remained tied at one until the 14th, when Mark Reynolds hit a mammoth homer to left center to
put everyone out of their miserygive the Yankees a one-run lead. Nunez doubled in two runs later in the inning and J.R. Murphy singled in another to give the club some more breathing room. Five of eight batters reached base in the 14th after five of the previous 22 batters reached.
- Almost Historic: One more strikeout. That’s all the Yankees needed to set a new franchise single-game strikeout record. Instead, they tied the club record by whiffing 19 Astros in the 14 innings. They also struck out 19 Blue Jays in 2001 (17 innings) and 19 White Sox in 1987 (15 innings). The franchise record for a nine inning game is 18 strikeouts, done twice before — Ron Guidry’s game in 1978 and a combined effort just two years ago.
- Leftovers: For the 17th time this year, the Yankees did not draw a single walk. That ties the franchise record set in 1919 and 1971 … Nunez led the way with three hits but Granderson, Brendan Ryan, and Zoilo Almonte had two apiece … David Huff struck out a career-high-tying seven while allowing one run in five innings … the Yankees struck out 16 times themselves (David Adams five times all by himself), one shy of the franchise’s all-time record. They’ve struck out 17 times on three occasions, most recently in 2010.
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, check out FanGraphs. For the final standings, go to ESPN. With the season over, it’s time for hot stove talk and rumors and trades and whatever else the next four and a half brings. I do think the Yankees will be busy this winter and I do think there are some front office-level changes coming, particularly on the player development side. We’ll see. Thanks for sticking around this season. It was a blast.
The four-game losing streak that everyone forgot about is over. The Yankees won their third-to-last game of the season on Friday night, holding on for a 3-2 win over the last place Astros. Let’s recap the meaningless victory:
- Spotted Start: Before the game, Joe Girardi said he was hoping to get about 50 pitches and three innings out of spot starter Adam Warren. He gave him 64 pitches and five shutout innings. Warren allowed just two singles and a walk in those five innings, and he retired each of the last nine men he faced. Can’t do much better. Assuming he doesn’t pitch on Sunday, Warren finishes the season with a 3.39 ERA and 4.32 FIP in 77 mostly long relief innings. Gotta think he’ll get a look as a starter in Spring Training. Nice season, Adam.
- Three-Run Fourth: You can tell this was a late-season game between two teams eliminated from postseason contention because the two starters threw a combined 67 pitches to record the first 18 outs. That’s barely an average of 100 pitches per 27 outs. The Yankees didn’t make any offensive noise until the fourth, when four straight batters reached base to drive in three runs. Robinson Cano singled, Alfonso Soriano walked, Mark Reynolds singled (one run), and David Adams doubled into the right field corner (two runs). Just enough runs to show they tried. That’s all you need in a game like this.
- Last Look?: I really hope that was Joba Chamberlain‘s final appearance as a Yankee, but I fear he will get into Sunday’s game. Joba allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base, including a booming two-run double to center and a line drive single to right on his first two pitches of the game. He then walked the bases loaded before escaping on a fly ball. What a waste of talent.
- Leftovers: Following Adams’ double, 17 of the final 19 Yankees made outs. The two exceptions were Soriano’s sixth inning double and Reynolds’ ninth inning single … Preston Claiborne walked the leadoff man in the eighth but retired the next three guys in a row … David Robertson retired all three men he faced in the ninth for the save as angry fans chanted for Mariano Rivera. Hey, I’d be bummed too … Eduardo Nunez went 0-for-4 and saw seven total pitches.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. It’ll be Pettitte vs. Clemens — Andy Pettitte vs. Paul Clemens, no relation to Roger — in game two of this season-ended three-game set on Saturday. Andy will be making the final start of his career (for the second time). That’s a night game. Just had to sneak one more Saturday night game in before the end of the year, huh? Thanks, baseball gods.
It was only a matter of time. The Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday night when the Indians beat the White Sox, but to make sure everyone knew they meant business, the Bombers lost 7-3 to the Rays a few minutes later. That they weren’t mathematically eliminated until Game 158 is something of a small victory, I suppose. This team had no business staying in the race as long as it did.
End Of An Error
With a blown call at third base and a(nother) quick hook by Joe Girardi, Phil Hughes‘ time with the Yankees came to an unceremonious end in the third inning. At least I think it did. I suppose there’s always a chance they could re-sign him, but nah. He allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk in two innings plus three batters before hand-holder David Huff came in to replace him. Hughes threw 35 of 51 pitches for strikes and got seven swings and misses. It was his 14th start (out of 29) of fewer than five innings, the most ever by a Yankee in a single season.
Philbert ends the season with a 5.19 ERA and 4.49 FIP in 145.2 innings. That’s the fewest number of innings thrown by a pitcher who made at least 29 starts in a season in baseball history. By seven innings too, so it ain’t all that close. Hughes ends his time with the Yankees with a 4.54 ERA in 780.2 innings, which is the third highest in franchise history by a pitcher who threw at least 500 innings in pinstripes. Only A.J. Burnett (4.79 ERA in 584 IP) and someone named Hank Johnson (4.84 ERA in 712.2 IP) were been worse. His 1.29 HR/9 is the highest in franchise history (min. 500 IP), just ahead of Dennis Rasmussen (1.28 HR/9 in 597.1 IP) and Burnett (1.25 HR/9). So long Phil, thanks for 2009.
Three Token Runs
The “just enough” offense showed up for Wednesday’s meeting with David Price. The Yankees scoring one run on Robinson Cano‘s booming double to left and another on Eduardo Nunez‘s solo shot against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who otherwise cruised through seven innings. He held New York to those two runs on six hits and no walks, and he didn’t even go to a single three-ball count on any of the 27 batters he faced. Price struck out eight and recorded 16 of his 21 outs on the infield. He’s really good, in case you forgot.
The Yankees scored a third run on Lyle Overbay‘s bases loaded walk in the eighth and could have really made it interesting, but they left the bases loaded. Nunez and Cano were their only players with multiple hits while Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, and Chris Stewart were the only starters who failed to reach base. Price retired the final ten and 15 of the final 17 men he faced. The Bombers went on a nice little offensive run after adding Soriano, A-Rod, and Granderson to the lineup last month, but that has dried up of late. They’ve scored just 28 runs in their last eleven games now.
The whole Hughes/Huff tandem starter thing blew up for the first time, as Huff got rocked for four runs on five hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. He gave up back-to-back homers to Evan Longoria (three-run shot) and David DeJesus. It is the first homer DeJesus has hit against a left-handed pitcher since August 6th. Of 2011.
The rest of the bullpen was okay, I guess. Cesar Cabral allowed a single to pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings while Preston Claiborne allowed a solo homer to Longoria and a single to Delmon Young. Matt Daley (one out), Cabral (1.1 innings), David Robertson (one inning), and Claiborne (one inning) retired nine of the 12 men they faced.
Cano’s first inning double was his 40th of the season. It’s his fifth straight year of 40+ doubles and seventh such year of his career. That ties Lou Gehrig for the most in franchise history. Todd Helton and Albert Pujols are the only other active players with seven years of 40+ two-baggers.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. As you know, this will be the first time the Yankees have missed the postseason since 2008 and only the second time since 1993, not counting the strike season.
The first meaningless game at Yankee Stadium since October 3rd of 1993. That’s the last time the Yankees played a home game after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It will also be the final home game of Mariano Rivera‘s career. Ivan Nova and Alex Cobb is the starting pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the Mo’s last ever game in the Bronx in person.
Tuesday night’s Mariano Rivera bobblehead fiasco was perfectly symbolic of this current soon-to-be-officially-eliminated Yankees team. Something went wrong and the organization was completely unprepared for it, so they slapped together a quick fix devoid of any real planning and hoped for the best. The Yankees in a nutshell.
I spent the fourth through ninth innings in line for the bobblehead — after waiting about an hour to get in the door in the first place — so I can’t really talk about the game all that much. I did see Hiroki Kuroda get knocked around in the first inning (again), and, from what I understand, a bunch of guys hitting in the middle of New York’s lineup after being released by real contenders because they weren’t good enough made outs in big spots with men on base. The Yankees in a nutshell.
The bobblehead thing was a complete disaster. Apparently the truck carrying the bobbleheads to Yankee Stadium broke down, so they had to hand people vouchers when they walked through the door. Then, in about the second inning, they announced the bobbleheads could be picked up at Gate Two. One location for 18k bobbleheads. I got on line near the Lobel’s stand in right field and it snaked all the way up the ramp, around the grandstand, then back down the ramp. We were on line for more than two hours.
The staffers directing traffic weren’t much help and were rude more often than not. I heard more than a few of them tell people they were welcome to cancel their season tickets if they were unhappy. Great sales pitch, eh? At least attendance didn’t drop this year or anything. The Yankees didn’t make an announcement about giving people free tickets or anything after they missed the game waiting on line and I don’t expect them to. Customer service has never been their strong suit.
Anyway, go to MLB.com for the box score and highlights. One more Yankees loss or one more Indians win will officially eliminate the Bombers from postseason contention, so expect it to happen soon. Phil Hughes will make what is almost certainly his final start as a Yankee on Wednesday night. David Price will be on the bump for the Rays.
A lot of goodbyes were said on Sunday. The Yankees celebrated Mariano Rivera‘s career with a pre-game ceremony that lasted a good 50 minutes, Andy Pettitte made the final start of his career at home in Yankee Stadium, and the Yankees waved goodbye to their already tiny playoff chances with a 2-1 loss to the Giants. What a day.
First the first five innings, it looked like we were in for a storybook day. Pettitte took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth inning before things came crashing down. Someone named Ehire Adrianza hit a poorly located 2-2 pitch out to left field for a solo homer that broke up the no-hitter and the shutout in one fell swoop. Adrianza’s first career homer erased the 1-0 lead New York was nursing since the third inning. Ehire Adrianza. Seriously.
Aside from the homer, Pettitte was marvelous in the penultimate start of his career. He held the Giants to a single, a double, and a walk in seven innings plus one batter. He struck out six, got nine ground ball outs compared to six in the air, and recorded all but two of his 21 outs on the infield. After Angel Pagan flew out to left field to start the game, none of the next eleven San Francisco batters hit the ball out of the infield. Andy has been spectacular of late and was at his best on Sunday. He walked off the Yankee Stadium mound to a thunderous ovation and came back out for a curtain call for the final time in his career. What a stud.
Prior to the game, the Yankees honored Rivera by retiring his number (and re-retiring #42 for Jackie Robinson) and having Metallica play a live rendition of Enter Sandman. They also gave him a bevy of gifts, including a $100k donation to his charity. A few hours later, they handed him a one-run deficit and asked him to keep them in the game. Mo did just that.
Doubles by Pablo Sandoval (off Pettitte) and Tony Abreu (off David Robertson) gave the Giants a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning. They also had a man on second with one out. Joe Girardi brought on Rivera for the five-out appearance, and he pitched out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out. A single to center and rare error by Robinson Cano — his shuffle pass to Brendan Ryan on a potential double play ball was in the dirt — put men at first and second with no outs in the ninth, but a pop-up to second (Buster Posey) and a double play (Hunter Pence) ended the threat. Rivera cut right through San Francisco’s two best hitters to escape the jam.
It’s disappointing the Yankees didn’t hand Mo a save opportunity on his special day, but no one will remember that anyway. Seriously, you’ll forget about that in about a month. We’ll all remember the pre-game ceremony though, the pre-game ceremony and the nearly two-decades of dominance. The Yankees aren’t going to the playoffs, so Rivera’s career is ending in exactly one week. No more Enter Sandman, no more cutter, no more understated handshake with the catcher following a job well done. An era is coming to an end, folks. The Yankees will never be the same.
Hate You, Offense
The Bombers scored their only run of the game on a Mark Reynolds solo homer. I thought it was a pop-up off the end of the bat — he might have missed the sweet spot, I didn’t see a replay — but the ball kept carrying and carrying and carrying into the visitor’s bullpen. It was definitely a welcome but unexpected outcome based on my read off the bat. Unfortunately, the Yankees didn’t score after that. They did have their chances though.
Eduardo Nunez led off the seventh inning with a single, and he moved up to second on Ryan’s single one batter later. With Yusmeiro Petit nearing the end of his effectiveness, Girardi lifted Chris Stewart for pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay against the tiring right-hander. Giants manager Bruce Bochy responded by bringing in lefty specialist extraordinaire Javier Lopez, prompting Girardi to pinch-hit for the pinch-hitter. Out went Overbay, in came Vernon Wells. The result really didn’t change though. Wells struck out and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a strikeout of his own. Inning over.
In the eighth, the Yankees put runners at second and third with no outs thanks to an Alex Rodriguez single and a Cano double. Pinch-runner Zoilo Almonte probably would have been able to score from first on the double had the ball not hit the sidewall and deflect out to Pence in right field. Alfonso Soriano followed with a hard-hit grounder to third that Nick Noonan bobbled but recovered quick enough to throw out Almonte at home. The rookie froze on the play and broke for home late. It was obvious he should have stayed at third, but alas. Nunez followed with a single to shallow left and Cano was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Two runners thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning of a one-run game. Don’t deserve to win if you do that.
Cano (three), Nunez (two), and Ryan (two) all had multiple hits while A-Rod and Reynolds chipped in one apiece. Ichiro and Soriano drew walks. The Yankees struck out eleven time as a team, including two by Ichiro, two by A-Rod, and three by Curtis Granderson. Yusmeiro Petit? Really?
Robertson got a ground ball out before allowing what amounted to the game-winning double by Abreu, but I’m not sure why Girardi bothered to go to him if he was willing to use Rivera for multiple innings. Just seems kinda weird. Mo can get five outs down a run with a man on second but not six outs in a tie game with a man on second? Weird.
Pettitte took the undeserved loss and fell to 10-11 on the season, so if he doesn’t win his final start against the Astros next weekend, Andy will finish with a losing record for the first time in his career. He went 14-14 in 2008, the only time he finished with even a .500 record.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now four games back of the second wildcard spot with six games left to play. Cool Standings gives them a 1.3% chance to make the postseason and the tragic number is down to just three. They’re done with a capital DONE.
The Yankees are off on Monday and will open the final home series of the season on Tuesday night against the Rays. Maybe the Bombers can play spoiler and make Tampa a little miserable in the final week of the year. It’ll be Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Moore in the first game. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live. It’s Mariano Rivera bobblehead day, you know.
I wish every game would be that easy. Ivan Nova and some early runs helped the Yankees to a stress-free shutout win over the defending World Champion Giants on Saturday afternoon, a game that took a tidy two hours and 32 minutes. Pretty awesome. Let’s recap the 6-0 win:
- Ivan Rebounds: The last few weeks have been tough for Nova, and not coincidentally, he has been battling some triceps soreness. He rebounded to throw his best game of the month on Saturday, chucking his second complete-game shutout in his last five starts. Nova threw only 108 pitches while striking out seven and limiting the Giants to six hits. Twenty-one of his 27 outs came on the infield, including 14 ground ball outs. San Francisco did not have a batter reach third base and only two made it as far as second base. Nova was dominant. Great to see him bounce back after a few tough starts.
- Keep The Line Moving: This was like, the most textbook and cliched offensive game ever. The Yankees scored their first couple runs with an extended rally before pulling away late with homers. I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few announcers say that’s the right way to win. Anyway, the 7-8-9 hitters loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning before the 1-2-3 hitters drove them all in. Ichiro Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly to plate Mark Reynolds (single), Alex Rodriguez drove in Brendan Ryan (single) with a ground out, then Robinson Cano plated Chris Stewart (walk) with a single through the hole on the left side of the infield. Textbook. Or so I’m told.
- Pull Away: Like I said, the Yankees went to long ball to put the game to bed in the middle innings. Eduardo Nunez swatted a two-run dinger off Ryan Vogelsong in the fourth inning — it was a bomb, gone off the bat — before Alfonso Soriano tacked on a solo shot in the sixth. He said his sore thumb was sapping his power last week, but that’s now two homers in two games for him. Guess the thumb is feeling fine.
- Leftovers: Am I the only one who is still surprised any time Ryan fields a ball to his left? We haven’t seen too many Yankees shortstops make those plays in recent years, so it’s a shock to the system … Cano was the only Yankee with multiple hits but only Ichiro and A-Rod failed to reach base. They each drove in a run with a productive out … Cano is three doubles away from his fifth straight 40+ double season and seventh of his career. That would tie Lou Gehrig for the most such seasons in franchise history.
- Winning Season: The win was the team’s 82nd of the year, clinching their 21st consecutive winning season. That is the second longest such streak in history, trailing only the 1926-1964 Yankees. Thirty-nine straight years. Yeah, the current squad still has a long way to go to match that. Geez.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the rest of the day’s games, the Yankees will be either three games (Rangers or Indians win) or two games (Rangers and Indians both lose) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with seven to play. Andy Pettitte and Yusmeiro Petit (!!!) is your pitching matchup for the series finale on Sunday afternoon, which is Mariano Rivera day at Yankee Stadium. If you want to catch the game and festivities live, head to RAB Tickets.
It’s too bad the Yankees are so far out of the playoff race, otherwise this game would have been all kinds of awesome. They got big performances from two important players and rallied late for a 5-1 win over the defending World Series champs. Let’s recap:
- Record-Setting: The Yankees were poised to blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning of a tie game before the totally unclutch Alex Rodriguez saved the day. He clubbed his 24th career grand slam off former Yankee George Kontos with two outs in the inning, turning a 1-1 game into a much more comfortable 5-1 game. It also broke a tie with Lou Gehrig atop the all-time grand slam list, meaning A-Rod has now hit more bases loaded homers than anyone in history. Pretty cool. And a big hit too.
- Stepped Up: There’s a good chance New York would be sitting in a playoff spot right now if CC Sabathia had a typical CC Sabathia season. He’s been awful this year, but he did turn in one of his best outings of the year on Friday night. Sabathia held the Giants to one run in seven innings (and one batter), striking out seven and allowing ten base-runners total. Just two of the final 12 men he faced reached base. It wasn’t a vintage dominant Sabathia outing, but he was effective and that’s something we hadn’t seen in a long time.
- Leftovers: Alfonso Soriano got the Yankees on the board with a Yankee Stadium cheapie solo homer in second. He had two hits and a walk … props to Eduardo Nunez for two stellar defensive plays at third base (no seriously), one charging a ball and another fielding a tough hop … Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki had singles while Ichiro also drew a walk … David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined to retire five of the six batters they faced. The only blemish was a Robertson walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcomes of the other games, the Yankees will be either three games (Rays and/or Rangers lose) or four games (Rays and Rangers both win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with eight to play. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 4.4%. Ivan Nova and Ryan Vogelsong is your pitching matchup Saturday afternoon. Check out RAB Tickets if you watch to catch the fourth-to-last home game of the season (and Rivera’s career) in person.
So it turns out a miraculous four-run inning to squeeze out a one-run win against a last place team wasn’t a sign of good things to come. The Yankees followed up Wednesday’s dramatic come-from-behind win with a total dud on Thursday, a 6-2 loss that destroys the already small chance they had of making the postseason.
The Binder Fails
I guess it’s pretty fitting the Yankees playoff hopes were effectively killed by their biggest recent player development failure. With a two-run deficit in the seventh inning of the most important game of the season, Joe Girardi inexplicably allowed Joba Chamberlain to pitch to the middle of the Blue Jays lineup. Three batters later, it was a five-run deficit thanks to a mammoth three-run homer by Adam Lind that landed somewhere in Beaverton. The pitch might as well have been on a tee. It was a cookie.
I don’t know if Girardi is naive or oblivious to Joba’s performance or what, but it’s inexplicable he was on the mound in that situation. Not only did he have him start the inning against the heart of the order, but Girardi didn’t even go to a left-hander to face Lind and Colby Rasmus once the first two batters of the inning reached base. Naturally, Cesar Cabral replaced Joba after the homer and struck out the only two lefties he faced. Cabral has now whiffed five of the seven lefty batters he’s faced as a big leaguer. Too bad he didn’t get a chance to fact Lind earlier in the inning. Managers catch a lot of unnecessary grief, but Girardi absolutely failed to put his team in the best position to win the game. No doubt about it.
The Wall Is Unforgiving
All things considered, three runs in six innings is a pretty good outing for Hiroki Kuroda. If you watched the game though, you know he was damn lucky to finish the night with a pitching line that good. There were a ton of loud outs and lucky breaks — 1-2-5 double play in the first inning, anyone? — along the way that prevented things from getting out of hand, particularly early in the game. A better offensive team (or the Blue Jays with a healthy Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion) would have done much more damage than three runs in six innings on Thursday.
Kuroda allowed those three runs on eight hits and four walks, and nine of those 12 base-runners came in the first three innings. He’s been having serious trouble early in his starts before settling down in the middle innings lately, and that’s exactly what happened in this game. The wrap-around 9-1-2 portion of Toronto’s lineup did most of the damage against Kuroda, going a combined 6-for-8 with two doubles, one homer, and one walk. Hiroki has now allowed 33 runs (6.37 ERA) and 71 base-runners (1.68 WHIP) in his last seven starts.
Remember when the Yankees hit ten homeruns in the four-game series against the Orioles last week? Things were going so well power-wise that Brendan Ryan even hit a homer in the series opener against the Red Sox. The power well dried up after that — the Yankees went 48 innings (!) between that Ryan homer and their next long ball, which Curtis Granderson hit in the sixth inning on Thursday’s game. The solo homer was their first run of the game and their eighth in the last five games. What can you do? Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to great pitchers like Todd Redmond.
The Yankees did mount a spirited but ultimately futile rally in the ninth inning, loading the bases with one out before the dynamic duo of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay ended things with a pair of weak ground outs. Wells did drive in a run with his grounder, but who really cares. At least they went down with a fight, I guess. If they’re not going to make the postseason, at least be watchable. That’s all I ask at this point.
Prior to that ninth inning mini-rally, the Yankees had just four hits and one walk in the first eight innings of the game. Robinson Cano and Chris Stewart both doubled, Granderson homered, Alfonso Soriano singled, and Wells walked. That was it for eight innings. Cano singled while A-Rod and Soriano drew walks in the ninth.
The non-Joba portion of the bullpen allowed just one of the seven batters they faced to reach base. Cabral, true to his lefty specialist form, walked the right-handed Moises Sierra. He struck out the two lefties, Matt Daley got a routine fly ball from the only man he faced, and David Phelps got two ground outs and one fly ball in a perfect eighth inning. Too bad Joba screwed it all up.
If you care about such silliness, the loss guarantees the Yankees will not win at least 90 games for only the second time since 2001. They won 89 games in 2008 and will certainly finish with less than that this year.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some other stats while the updated standings are at ESPN. The Yankees will remain three games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column, assuming the Rangers hold on to beat the Rays. Cool Standings gives New York a 3.1% chance to make the postseason, and remember, that’s the optimistic system.
After ten games and eleven days on the road, the Yankees are finally coming back to the Bronx. The final homestand of the regular season — and Mariano Rivera‘s career — starts with three games against the defending World Champion Giants this weekend. Former Cy Young Award winners/current back-end starters CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum kick things off Friday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of the team’s final six home games live.