Archive for Game Stories
Pretty much all you need to know about the current state of the Yankees is that in an extremely important game against the Red Sox, some guy named Matt Daley was their most effective reliever. The team’s failure to develop pitching was on full display as Boston pounded out nine (!) unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings, eight against the forgettable homegrown trio of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Preston Claiborne. Sure, the grand slam Boone Logan allowed to Mike Napoli to tie the game was the big blow, but the fact that he was unquestionably the best option in that spot tells you what kind of shape the bullpen is in.
The Yankees dropped the second game of this four-game series 12-8 despite leading 8-3 with nine outs to go. The pitching as a whole is completely shot, apparently worn down from carrying the team through the first four months of the season as they waited and waited (and waited) for offensive help. Andy Pettitte allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in six innings and it felt like a damn masterpiece, that’s how ineffective the rotation as a whole has been for the last month or so. Scoring eight runs on back-to-back nights and losing both games? Hah.
The offense was all over starter Felix Doubront, hanging six runs on him in just 3.2 innings. They only had three hits in those 3.2 innings, but the six walks Doubront issued did the trick. Just two of the final 14 men the Yankees sent to the plate reached base, and their final hit was Mark Reynolds‘ run-scoring single to end the fifth — Eduardo Nunez got caught in a run down between second and third for the final out on the play. As improved as the offense has been since getting Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson back, it still doesn’t match up with a Red Sox lineup that has zero easy outs. They simply don’t compare.
Anyway, MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. With the loss, the Yankees are now one game back of the both the Orioles and Indians in the loss column and will be either three games (Rays lose) or four games (Rays win) back of the second wildcard spot depending on the outcome of the late game. David Huff (lol) will look to stop the bleeding against John Lackey on Saturday afternoon. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the carnage live.
That was, without question, the worst loss of the season. Easily. Worse than any other two losses combined. And yet, it was one strike away from being the best win of the season at one point. Baseball is a son of a bitch. The Red Sox won Thursday’s series opener 9-8 in ten innings.
The Mother Of All TOOTBLANs
There is not one single reason the Yankees lost this game. It was a bunch of things. That is true of every game, really. It’s never just one thing. The biggest mistake to me was Alfonso Soriano getting picked off second base in the bottom of the ninth. Heck, he actually got picked off twice that inning. Craig Breslow had him picked off first base before Daniel Nava flubbed the throw and allowed Soriano to slide into second safely. After that is when he really got picked off. I have no idea what the hell Soriano was thinking — yes I do, he wanted to steal third so Curtis Granderson could score him with a sacrifice fly like they did in Tampa a few weeks ago — since the Yankees had the winning run in scoring position with Granderson at the plate and Alex Rodriguez on deck. That was an inexcusable mistake. I guess you can take the player out of the Cubs uniform but you can’t take the Cubs out of the player.
One Strike Away
As good as he’s been overall, this has not been a typical Mariano Rivera year. He’s been a little more hittable than ever before and his ability to paint the corner away on righties and inside to lefties hasn’t been as impeccable as it was all those years. At least that’s how it seems to me, I could be wrong.
Anyway, Rivera blew his sixth save of the season on Thursday — first time he’s blown that many since 2003 — after getting two quick outs and a two-strike count on Mike Napoli, who hit one of those poorly located pitches on the outside corner into right-center for a single. Pinch-runner Quintin Berry stole second and third on the same pitch thanks to a poor throw by Austin Romine and a poor block by Derek Jeter. Both screwed up. Romine short-hopped the throw and the Cap’n let it go right through his legs. Remember how I said some random September call-up would do something huge during his eleven-game stretch? Berry’s stolen base qualifies. Stephen Drew singled in the tying run after that and the save was blown.
For the second time on the homestand, Joe Girardi got burned by using Joba Chamberlain in a big spot. He had already used Preston Claiborne, David Robertson, and Rivera, so it’s not like he had a ton of options, but he again used his worst reliever in a big spot and paid for it. Joba retired the first man he faced before the wheels came off, as Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored on Shane Victorino’s single. Victorino should have been called out on a check swing for strike three, but first base ump Joe West disagreed. Considering the gift call the Yankees got when Vernon Wells stole third in the seventh inning (more on that in a bit), they really can’t argue.
After Chamberlain got Dustin Pedroia to fly out for the second out, Girardi brought in Boone Logan to … intentionally walk David Ortiz? What the hell was that about? Let Joba walk him so Logan can start fresh without having throw four balls. That was definitely one of Girardi’s weirdest calls. Seems like he originally intended to pitch to Ortiz but changed his mind after bringing in Logan. Very weird. Anyway, pinch-hitter Brandon Snyder flew out to center to end the inning, but the damage had been done. Logan should have started the inning or at the very least been brought in to face Ellsbury. I know the bullpen was short with Shawn Kelley unavailable, but I would have preferred Logan against Boston’s big right-handed bats over Joba against anyone. Second time on the homestand Girardi was burned by Joba in a big spot. It can’t happen again.
My least favorite managerial move is the whole “send the starter back out for no apparent reason so he can allow the leadoff man to reach base before bringing in a reliever” thing. It happens all the time. Girardi’s a big fan it seems. That move opened the door for the Yankees to make their massive but ultimately pointless six-run comeback in the seventh inning. Seriously, I would have much rather watched them lose this game 7-2 than the way they did.
BoSox manager John Farrell sent Jake Peavy out to start the seventh even though his pitch count was already over the century mark, the right-higher wound up putting the first two men on base to spark the rally. After Ichiro Suzuki‘s leadoff walk and Wells’ pinch-hit single — after which he stole third and was incorrectly called safe, replays showed he was out and it would have been the first out of the inning at first base while down five runs — Brett Gardner‘s singled in a run off lefty reliever Matt Thornton. Gardner’s been awesome in big spots, no? Jeter had a great at-bat to draw a walk and load the bases for Robinson Cano, who grounded into a fielder’s choice and narrowly beat out the double play. A run scored and the Yankees had men on the corners with one out.
With the hard-throwing Junichi Tazawa taking over for Thornton, Soriano poked a two-run single to right to beat the shift and make it a 7-6 game. Granderson hit a booming two-strike double off the right field wall that tied the game and would have allowed Soriano to score from first it hadn’t been hit so damn hard. Lyle Overbay picked up A-Rod following his strikeout with a ground ball two-out single through the right side that turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. For the second time in the last three games, the Yankees had mounted a huge comeback to turn a huge deficit into a small lead. It was awesome. Too bad it didn’t matter in the end.
Fooled No One
The Red Sox had something on Ivan Nova. Either he was tipping pitches or they just had one hell of a scouting report on the right-hander. They had no trouble laying off his curveball at all, like they knew it was coming. Didn’t even flinch. Nova threw 26 curves and do you know how many Boston’s hitters actually swung at? Seven. He had one swing-and-miss with the pitch, six taken for strikes, and 19 taken for balls. The curve was a complete non-factor, and when that happened, Ivan had to rely on his fastball against one of game’s best fastball hitting teams. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.
Nova threw 96 pitches in his four innings of work, including a ridiculous 47 pitches in the two-run third inning. The Red Sox ran him right through the grinder. Deep counts, long at-bats, foul ball after foul ball … they were just brutal. Nova had no way to combat them and the fact that he escaped four innings with just three runs allowed on five hits and two walks is a bit of a minor miracle. It could have been way worse. Hopefully this was just an off-night and not an indication teams are figuring out Nova is beatable if you lay off the curve.
The Yankees scored their first two runs on a Cano’s bases loaded double in the third and I have no idea how he hit that pitch as hard as he did. Peavy busted him inside with a cutter and somehow Robbie pulled his hands in, hit it off the label, and clubbed it off the top of the right field wall. It was maybe three feet from being a cheapie grand slam. Most batters have their bat broken and ground out weakly on that pitch. Cano somehow got enough wood on it for a double. Insane.
Because of Nova’s short outing, Girardi had to cycle through seven relievers. Preston Claiborne allowed three runs and all five men he faced to reach base while Adam Warren allowed a run and soaked up 2.2 innings. Cesar Cabral struck out the only man he faced with the bases loaded, so hooray for trial by fire. Cabral has struck out all three big league lefties he’s faced on ten pitches total. Robertson threw a perfect eighth, Rivera blew the save, Joba blew the game, and Logan retired the only man he faced. Seven relievers combined to throw 134 pitches in six innings.
Romine came into this game with a 24% success rate at throwing out base-stealers (a tick below the 26% league average), and he allowed two killer steals in the ninth and tenth. Chris Stewart, who is riding an 0-for-22 streak at the plate and stranded runners at second and third in the fourth, is out of gas and hasn’t had much success throwing out runners himself lately (22% since the All-Star break), but you have to think he would have given them a better chance in those spots. Then again, if Wells doesn’t pinch-hit, the six-run rally doesn’t happen.
The Yankees had ten hits as a team but Gardner and A-Rod were the only guys with multiple knocks. Jeter drew two walks and looked really bad in the field. Like barely mobile. He couldn’t turn a potential inning-ending double play in the fifth because he simply couldn’t cut in time to get to the bag. The team won’t ever move him off the position, but at age 39 and with all those recent leg injuries, it’s clear the Cap’n has no business playing short.
For the first time since May 1916 (!), the Yankees had six players successfully steal a base in a single game. That’s nuts. Ichiro, Gardner, A-Rod, Overbay, Wells, and Soriano did the honors. New York has stolen 23 bases (21.1% of their season total) in 13 games against the Red Sox (9.3% of their games) this year. They’ve run wild on Boston’s various batteries.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Depressing graph is depressing. For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats while the updated standings are at ESPN. The good news is that the Rays lost to the Angels, so the Yankees remain three back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. The bad news is that they haven’t made up any ground in three days now and games are still ticking off the calendar. The Orioles and Indians are tied with New York in the loss column but have played one fewer game. Cool Standings gives the Yankee a 14.3% chance to make the postseason. This loss was incredibly bad.
Same two teams on Friday night. Left-handers Andy Pettitte and Felix Doubront will meet in the second game of this four-game set. If you want to catch the game live — there are only nine home games left in the regular season, you know — RAB Tickets can get you in the door.
That was an unnecessarily stressful game. But, a win is a win is a win. The Yankees returned the favor and completed the sweep of the last place White Sox on Wednesday night, surviving a late-inning rally for the 6-5 victory.
Four In The Fourth
To give you an idea of how out of it the ChiSox are, they had three players make their big league debuts in this game. One of the three was starting pitcher Erik Johnson, who coughed up a solo homer to Robinson Cano in the first before striking out Ichiro Suzuki to escape a bases loaded jam later in the inning. He settled down briefly before the Yankees took him out behind the woodshed in the fourth inning.
That inning started innocently enough, with an Alex Rodriguez ground ball single back up the middle. Ichiro grounded back to the pitcher, but Johnson floated the throw over to first and Jeff Keppinger wasn’t able to scoop it out of the dirt. With runners on first and second with no outs, the Yankees turned Lyle Overbay loose in a 3-0 count and he came through with a run-scoring double. After Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner sliced a two-run triple into the left-center field gap for two more runs and a 4-1 lead. I have no idea how that ball went for three bases, the White Sox outfielders looked like they were running in slow motion. Don’t get he wrong, it was hit hard and sure extra-base hit, but it took them forever to retrieve the ball.
Cano brought in Gardner with an infield single later in the inning, capping off the four-run attack. Johnson threw a first pitch strike to just two of the first seven batters in the inning — Romine on the ground out and Cano’s first-pitch single. Everyone else was ahead in the count 1-0 or better at one point. Tough to live life that way, but that is what rookie pitchers do. They struggle to throw strikes and get hurt. The Yankees capitalized on Johnson’s throwing error and his general young pitcheritis.
A Better Sabathia
Much like Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday night, CC Sabathia probably would have gotten clobbered had he been facing a Major League caliber lineup on Wednesday. A pair of walks and a double gave the White Sox a first inning run, but Sabathia settled down and kept Chicago in check from the second through seventh innings. He did put a man on base in every inning but the seventh, however. To be fair, one base-runner came on an error and two others came with the bases empty and two outs. Not the end of the world, really.
The final line was three runs on five hits and four walks in 7.1 innings of work, with four strikeouts and eleven ground outs compared to six in the air. Sabathia wasn’t on the mound when the second and third runs scored. He also completed a full seven innings of work for the first time in five five starts and just the second time in ten starts. Seven innings used to be the minimum for this guy. The White Sox are the worst lefty hitting team in baseball and they didn’t exactly knock Sabathia around the park (lots of bloops, really), so maybe this is something he build off confidence-wise. He’s still clearly not the guy we’re used to seeing, but at this point CC just needs to give the team enough of a chance to win. Sabathia did that on Wednesday.
Almost Death By Bullpen
Despite the comfortable five-run lead, Girardi went to David Robertson to finish off the eighth because he needed some work. He had not pitched in four days and only pitched once in the last nine days. The rust showed, as Robertson allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base. Three singles and one walk to the unwalkable (career 5.2% walk rate) Dayan Viciedo turned a five-run lead into a one-run lead in a real hurry. An easy win suddenly became a nail-biter.
With the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first with two outs, Girardi didn’t screw around. He brought in Mariano Rivera for his first four-out save since July 2011. Mo struck out Alejandro De Aza looking on seven pitches to end the eighth inning rally before retiring the side in order on eight pitches in the ninth. Nice and easy. It would have been nice to get Rivera a night off, especially since they led by five runs at one point, but every win is important and I’m glad he aggressively went to his two best relievers in big situations. Robertson just had an off night.
It was an afterthought at the time, but Alfonso Soriano plated Derek Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning for what looked like a simple tack-on run. That eventually became the winning run given the ChiSox’s eighth inning rally. Jeter walked and moved to third on Cano’s single earlier in the inning. They had runners on the corners with one out and it could have been a huge inning, but Curtis Granderson lined a ball right at the first baseman for a double play. Sucks.
Once again, Cano led the offense with a homer and two singles while Gardner singled and tripled. Those two accounted for five of the team’s eight hits while A-Rod, Overbay, and Granderson (double) had the others. Jeter, Soriano, A-Rod, and Overbay each drew a walk. Johnson struck out just one batter — Ichiro to end the first inning rally — and the Yankees struck out just three times as a team.
Former Yankee C.J. Nitkowski covered for Suzyn Waldman in the WCBS 880 booth while she was away for the Jewish holiday, and while I didn’t hear any of the broadcast, he was supposedly excellent. Maybe he’ll fill in again at some point.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
See? The graph says the White Sox weren’t all that all close to coming back and winning the game. You had nothing to worry about. Anyway, for the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees have a one-game lead over both the Indians and Orioles in the loss column and, depending on the outcome of the late game, they’ll either be three games (Rays win) or two games (Rays win) back of the second wildcard spot. Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 18.3% at the moment.
The Red Sox are coming to town for an extended four-game weekend set. Needless to say, that will be an enormous series for the Yankees. Ivan Nova and Jake Peavy kick things off on Thursday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live. Only ten more home games left in the regular season, you know.
Best win of the season? I know I’ve said that like ten times before, but this is definitely up there. Top five at least, probably top three. There’s no shame in getting shut down by Chris Sale, he might be the best pitcher in the league, but the Yankees can’t afford to get shut down by anyone at this point. They waited Sale out before jumping all over the White Sox bullpen for a huge and dramatic and hugely dramatic 6-4 win on Tuesday.
Never Say Die
Like I said, there’s no shame in getting shut down by Sale. I do think he’s the best pitcher in the AL and one of the four or five best in all of baseball. For 7.1 innings, he completely befuddled the Yankees with mid-90s fastballs and silly backdoor breaking balls to right-handers that were just unhittable. The Bombers only had five hits against the ChiSox southpaw and two of them came from the last two batters he faced. The last was a booming opposite field double by Robinson Cano, just the third extra-base hit Sale has allowed to a left-handed batter this year (all doubles). Holy crap.
Those back-to-back hits to end Sale’s night paved the way for the eighth inning rally. The Yankees came into the frame down three runs and had runners at second and third with one out when Alfonso Soriano laced a single to center in an 0-2 count to score both runs. They were the 38th and 39th runs Soriano has driven in in 36 games since rejoining the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez followed that with a full count single to center to put runners at the corners for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson, who tied the game with a single to center against lefty specialist Donnie Veal to plate Soriano. The Grandyman laid off some real tough breaking balls down in the zone earlier in the at-bat.
It looked like the rally would be cut short when Mark Reynolds struck out for the second out — it was a tough eight-pitch at-bat, to his credit — but Eduardo Nunez picked him up by hooking a 1-1 fastball into the right field corner for a two-run double. I don’t even think the pitch was a strike; it looked to be off the plate both down and in. The only thing Nunez does exceptionally well is make contact, and that skill was on full display with his game-winning hit. It was only the team’s 12th biggest hit of the season by WPA (+.345), but WPA lacks context and can’t account for how big an impact a loss would have had on the team’s playoff chances. I don’t think the hit was a season-saver, but it was damn close.
New Routine, Same Result
If he had been facing any team other than the worst offensive team in the AL, Hiroki Kuroda would have gotten absolutely clobbered on Tuesday. The White Sox tagged him for four runs on seven hits and two walks in 6.1 innings, and several of their outs were hard hit as well. Perhaps the most damning number is ten. Chicago is the most impatient team in the league in terms of walk rate (6.7%) and pitches seen per plate appearance (3.74), but ten of the 28 batters they sent to the plate against Kuroda saw at least four pitches. He had a lot of trouble putting guys away.
Kuroda changed up his routine and skipped his between-starts bullpen in an effort to stay fresh — he was also pitching with an extra day of rest thanks to last Thursday’s off-day — but the results were the same. A lot of pitches leaking back out over the plate and a lot of damage. I’m guessing you wouldn’t feel any better if I told you this start actually represents the best of his last four starts, but it does. After carrying the team for pretty much the entire first half, the Yankees are winning in spite of Kuroda right now. Not because of him. He really needs to turn things around and soon.
Oh yeah, the Yankees scored their first run of the game when Vernon Wells stole home. You can see the video above (link in case the embed doesn’t work), but here’s the quick version: ChiSox catcher Josh Phegley threw down to second when Nunez attempted to steal with men on the corners. Wells took off as soon as the throw went to second and simply beat the return throw home. It’s a set play — the Yankees tried it a few weeks ago (I think in Texas against the Rangers?) and it didn’t work — and was a fantastic call considering the punchless Chris Stewart was at the plate with two outs. They wouldn’t have scored otherwise.
Six of New York’s nine hits came in the span of seven batters in that eighth inning. Derek Jeter and Nunez had two hits apiece, as did the Wells/Granderson right field spot. Brett Gardner went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and looked just awful at the plate, but he faced Sale all four times and gets a free pass from me. That dude is tough to hit, especially if you’re a lefty. Sale retired 17 of 20 at one point and stranded a leadoff double in the fifth. That was annoying.
Three relievers — Preston Claiborne, Boone Logan, and Mariano Rivera — combined to retire all eight men they faced following Kuroda. Just one of the final 15 White Sox to bat managed to reach base, and that was Alejandro De Aza’s seventh inning solo homer to knock Kuroda out of the game. He hit a ball just foul that had more than enough distance to leave the park earlier in the at-bat. Rivera reached 40 saves for the ninth time in his career, tying Trevor Hoffman for the most such seasons in baseball history.
According to Katie Sharp, this was the team’s eighth win at home when trailing entering the seventh inning, the most in baseball. Late-inning comebacks are awesome, but I’m hoping the Yankees don’t keep cutting things so close down the stretch.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Now that is a graph I can get behind. The box score and video highlights are available at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. The Yankees jumped over the Orioles and into third place in the AL East with the win. Depending on the outcome of the late game, they’ll either be two games (Rays lose) or three games (Rays win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Well within striking distance, which is pretty amazing when you consider where they were about a month ago. Cool Standings has their playoff chances at 18.7% at the moment.
The Yankees will go for the sweep on Wednesday night, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against rookie right-hander Erik Johnson. The September call-up will be making his big league debut. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the series finale live. Based on this game, there are plenty of seats still available.
The almost two-hour rain delay was worth the wait. The Yankees washed away the bitter aftertaste of Sunday’s loss by pounding the White Sox on Monday afternoon, taking the Labor Day matinee 9-1. They needed a stress-free win like this. Let’s recap:
- Huge Inning: When a team gives you six outs in an inning, you have to take advantage. The Yankees capitalized on three hilariously bad defensive miscues in the eight-run (!) fourth inning, their biggest inning of the season. They’d done six runs a few times before. The first seven batters in the inning reached base and I guess the big blow was Austin Romine‘s two-run single to that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. That’s when the lead became comfortable. Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano both doubled in runs while the ChiSox a) dropped a foul pop-up, b) failed to turn an inning-ending double play because they took their sweet time, and c) had a ball thrown into the outfield on another double play attempt. It was an ugly inning for the bad guys.
- Huff Enuff: For the third time in the last two weeks or so, left-hander David Huff was very impressive in long relief. He allowed one run (a solo homer by Paul Konerko) on five hits and no walks in 5.2 innings, striking out three and throwing a first pitch strike to 15 of 20 batters faced. Huff threw 62 pitches and started to fade late, but I think the Yankees have to start him over Phil Hughes in five days. Hughes hasn’t pitched well in a long time and Huff has earned a look. He might not be good for 100+ pitches, but that’s not a problem with the expanded rosters. The southpaw soaked up some serious innings and has quickly emerged as an important member of the pitching staff.
- The Two Yutes: Congrats to Cesar Cabral and J.R. Murphy, who successfully made their big league debuts in garbage time. Cabral threw a scoreless inning and struck out the two lefties he faced on three pitches apiece. Murphy’s hard-hit two-hop ground ball off the third baseman’s glove went for an infield hit. Congrats to both guys. They were the 51st and 52nd players used by the Yankees this year, setting a new franchise record.
- Leftovers: Hughes retired four of the five batters he faced before being knocked out by the rain delay … Gardner led off a third consecutive game with a double, then Derek Jeter doubled him in for the game’s first run. They were the only players with multiple hits … every Yankee had a hit except Curtis Granderson, who drew a walk and otherwise picked a good day to have a bad day … New York went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position even though just two of the final 16 men they sent to the plate reached base … Adam Warren wrapped things up with a scoreless ninth.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either three games (Rays lose) or four games (Rays win) back of the second wildcard spot. Their postseason chances sit 13.6% at according to Cool Standings at the moment. Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Sale will square off in the middle game of this three-game set on Tuesday night. Check out RAB Tickets for last minute deals.
This was exactly the kind of game the Yankees can’t afford to lose. Three-run lead with nine outs to go against one of your direct wildcard competitors? That’s one you have to nail down at all costs. Instead, the lead vanished before another out was recorded and the Yankees were down four runs before another two outs were recorded. New York dropped the series finale to the Orioles 7-3.
In hindsight, the decision to send Andy Pettitte out to start the seventh inning with no left-handed hitters in sight was a poor one. Mike Morse and Danny Valencia had both picked up hits off Pettitte earlier in the game, and sure enough they led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. Andy has been running out of gas around the 85-90 pitch mark lately and Joe Girardi wisely responded by having a quick hook the last few times out. Pettitte started the inning at 86 pitches and ended it at 93. He was cruising, but in hindsight letting a reliever start the inning fresh would have been the better move. Hindsight is cool like that.
Anyway, the usually excellent bullpen had its first real disaster
game inning in a long time at the worst possible time. Shawn Kelley took over for Pettitte and, in the span of four pitches, allowed a run-scoring single to the punchless Matt Wieters and a three-run homer to J.J. Hardy. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie that literally rolled across the top of the right field wall before a fan picked it up, but they all count the same. Just like that, Pettitte’s strong outing was erased and the Yankees were down a run.
But wait! There’s more. After Hardy killed Baltimore’s rally, Girardi went to Boone Logan, who started another fire. The switch-hitting Brian Roberts bunted his way on before the left-handed hitting Nick Markakis worked a nine-pitch walk. Here’s the situation the Yankees were facing after that:
- Four runs already in, turning a three-run lead into a one-run deficit.
- Runners on first and second with no outs.
- The middle of Baltimore’s order — the 2-3-4 spots — were due up.
That’s the ballgame right there, right? Instead of going to his best reliever (David Robertson), Girardi went to his very worst (Joba Chamberlain). I’m not sure when Joba re-entered the Circle of Trust™, but I guess it was after he threw 4.2 hitless and scoreless innings in his previous four outings. Ignore the 4.5 pitchers per plate appearance and equal number of walks and strikeouts (three apiece). Sigh. At least Robertson will be well-rested to protect the lead Phil Hughes doesn’t give them on Monday.
So what happened next? Pretty much what everyone expected. Adam Jones crushed the third of three straight hanging sliders for a three-run homer to dead center that essentially put the game to bed. Things looked promising for a second when Manny Machado popped up a bunt in foul territory for the first out, but lol no. Joba made sure the deficit was insurmountable. I know the Eighth Inning Guy™ has to pitch the eighth inning, but geez. If there was ever a spot for a team trying to climb back into the wildcard race to use its best reliever sometime other his designated inning, that was it. The Yankees got what they deserved for using Chamberlain in that spot considering their position in the standings. Bad process, bad results.
Off The Hook
Considering how terribly he pitched, Wei-Yin Chen was lucky to allow just three runs in his four innings of work. He walked five and allowed four hits (two singles and two doubles) in those four innings, and 54 of his 82 pitches (66%) were thrown with men on base. Vernon Wells bailed Chen out by looking at strike three — at least he didn’t do this, I guess — with the bases loaded to end the first. The left-hander was on ropes at the very start of the game and they let him off the hook. After Chen left the game, just four of the 19 men the Yankees sent to the plate reached base. Unlike New York’s bullpen, Baltimore’s took care of business.
Silver lining: Pettitte pitched well for the fourth straight start. He was charged with two runs in that seventh inning and once again showed an inability to pitch effectively beyond 85 pitches or so, but 85 pitches of this Pettitte is better than three of the five other guys in the rotation right now. Andy escaped a first and second, no outs jam in the third by getting three infield pop-ups from the first three hitters in the O’s lineup. That was easily his biggest mess aside from that seventh inning.
Although he did drive in the team’s second run with a sacrifice fly, Derek Jeter took another 0-for-4 (with three strikeouts) and has just one hit in his last 18 at-bats. That includes six strikeouts and nine ground balls. So, in those 18 at-bats, three balls left the infield. I know Jeter hasn’t played much this year and is coming off a major ankle injury, but he’s killing them right now. He’s hitting like most people expected Alex Rodriguez to hit when he came off the DL, to be frank.
Robinson Cano has been very hot of late but had his worst game in a long time, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and two ground outs to the right side. He struck out with a man on second and one out in both the first and third innings, as well as with two on and two outs in the fourth. Rough. Brett Gardner (two doubles and a walk) and Eduardo Nunez (single and a double) did a fair amount of damage, but the starting two through seven hitters went a combined 1-for-20 with three walks. The one was Alfonso Soriano‘s two-out single to plate the game’s first run in the third. Jeter’s sac fly and Gardner’s bases loaded walk accounted for the other two runs.
Joba managed to throw a scoreless eighth inning after throwing gas on the fire in the seventh. David Huff and Dellin Betances tag-teamed the ninth inning. After allowing five runs and two homers total in their previous 42.2 innings, the bullpen was charged with five runs and two homers in three innings in this game. Bullpen meltdowns happen, I get that. But that doesn’t make them any easier to swallow, especially at this point of the season.
Last, but certainly not least, A-Rod helped turn an inning-ending double play in the sixth. That’s notable because the Yankees had the shift on for the left-handed hitting Chris Davis, so Rodriguez made the turn at the second base bag like he was a shortstop. It was pretty neat. Been a long time since he turned a double play like that. A garden variety 4-6-3 double play that goes down as 6-5-3 because of where everyone was positioned.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. I hope you enjoyed seeing the Yankees in third place with only the two wildcard teams ahead of them while it lasted. The Orioles jumped back over New York and into third place, plus the Indians beat the Tigers, moving them into a tie with the Yankees. The Bombers are four back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 10.1%.
The ten-game homestand continues on Labor Day with the first of three games against the White Sox. Hughes and former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana get the ball on Monday afternoon. RAB Tickets can get you in the door on the cheap if you want to spend the holiday at the ballpark.
Playing a division rival in a tight race for a playoff spot? No problem, hand the ball to your ace. With CC Sabathia struggling and Hiroki Kuroda hitting a wall, Ivan Nova grabbed hold of the staff ace moniker with a brilliant performance in Saturday’s huge win over the Orioles. Let’s recap the 2-0 victory:
- SuperDuperNova: By Game Score (85), Nova’s three-hit shutout of the O’s was the best start by a Yankee since Sabathia last September (this game). All three hits were singles, and he also walked one and hit two batters with pitches. Nova got ten (!) swings and misses out of 38 curveballs while striking out five and getting eleven ground ball outs. Other than Chris Davis’ fly out in the ninth — Ichiro Suzuki admitted to trolling fans by acting like it was a homer — none of the eleven fly balls were scary. Nova was dominant against a very good offense. He was marvelous. What a turn around for him.
- Don’tcha Know: Nova needed to be great because the offense didn’t give him much room to work with. First inning doubles into the right field corner by Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead, and the score stayed that way until Cano plated an insurance run with a monster solo homer leading off the eighth. Two runs, that was it. Once again, Robbie was the man who made it happen.
- Leftovers: Really rough day for Derek Jeter, who went 0-for-4 and grounded into rally-killing double plays in the fifth and seventh innings … Cano, Gardner, and Lyle Overbay had two hits apiece while the other six hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-19. The one was a Curtis Granderson bloop double … Mark Reynolds drew the only walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Regardless of who wins tonight’s Rays-Athletics game, the Yankees will be four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. They jumped over the Orioles and into third place (by percentage points) in the AL East with the win and there are now no teams between New York and that second wildcard spot. That’s huge. Cool Standings gives them a 13.6% chance to make the postseason at the moment. Andy Pettitte will look to complete the sweep on Sunday afternoon against fellow southpaw Wei-Yin Chen. RAB Tickets can help get you in the door if you want to watch live.
You gotta win the first one before you can win ‘em all. The offense and the bullpen picked up a (once again) shaky CC Sabathia in the series opener of this all important series against the Orioles, carrying the team to an 8-5 win. Let’s recap:
- Yankee Killer I: In the span of five fifth inning pitches, the Yankees had more doubles (three) and homers (one) against Miguel Gonzalez than they had against him in any of his previous seven starts against New York. The righty completely unraveled and the result was a five-run inning that turned a two-run deficit into a three-run lead. Ichiro Suzuki‘s two-run homer and Robinson Cano‘s two-run single were the big blows. Gonzalez was charged with seven runs in four innings, the same number of runs New York scored against him in their previous four meetings combined. Seriously.
- Yankee Killer II: Sabathia is really, really bad right now. The O’s tagged him for five runs in 5.1 innings, raising his ERA to 7.38 since the All-Star break. He allowed two-out run-scoring singles to Chris Davis (fine), Manny Machado (argh), and Nick Markakis (wtf?) as well as a two-run homer to Danny Valencia (WTF!). Joe Girardi finally shortened the leash and pulled Sabathia after just 86 pitches because, simply, the bullpen was the far better option at that point of the game. I really hate what CC has become.
- Bullpen On Parade: Give Girardi credit, he knows these games are all proverbial must-wins and he didn’t screw around. He brought Shawn Kelley into the sixth inning and used David Robertson for four outs to secure the win. Four relievers (Boone Logan and Mariano Rivera got in on the action as well) retired ten of 13 batters faced and kept the Orioles at bay in the later innings. These guys will have to be nails down the stretch. Thankfully Preston Claiborne is only a few days away and will lend a hand.
- Leftovers: Cano (two singles), Mark Reynolds (double, two singles), Curtis Granderson (two singles), and Ichiro (homer, single) all had multiple hits while Alfonso Soriano launched a two-run homer. Alex Rodriguez singled in an insurance run in the eighth and Austin Romine doubled. Every Yankee had a hit except for Derek Jeter, who drew a walk … the Yankees made one out at third base and two at home plate, which is just brutal … Soriano stole third base for the third time in the last five games … Reynolds, who should play everyday over Lyle Overbay at this point, has back-to-back three hit games for the first time since August 2009 … the Yankees sent 37 batters to the plate and only one struck out: Jeter in the seventh.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are six games back of the Rays and five games back of the Athletics for the two wildcard spots, and they’re guaranteed to gain a game on at least one of them because they’re playing each other out on the West Coast. The Bombers did pickup a game on the Orioles (duh) and will do the same on the Indians as soon as the Tigers get finished blowing them out. Cool Standings has New York’s playoff odds at 9.4% at the moment.
Andy Pettitte Ivan Nova and Scott Feldman is your pitching matchup on Saturday afternoon. RAB Tickets can get you in the door.
If the fat lady hasn’t started singing yet, it might be time to get her warmed up. The Yankees were blown out 7-2 by the last place Blue Jays on Wednesday, dropping two of three in the series and four of six on the road trip.
Fatigue or regression or whatever can be cruel. Hiroki Kuroda, the usually ultra-reliable and crazy effective Hiroki Kuroda, got smacked around the park for the third consecutive start. Eight of the first dozen batters he faced on Wednesday reached base and six came around to score. There were softly hit singles, well-struck doubles, a monster homer, a two-run strikeout (more on that in a second) … a little bit of everything. The only common thread was Kuroda’s general inability to fool the Blue Jays hitters. They hit him hard.
The end result for Kuroda was seven runs (five earned) on five singles, three doubles, one walk, one homer, and one hit batsman on 99 pitches in five innings. With a) two long men in the bullpen, b) an off-day on Thursday, and c) September call-ups right around the corner, I thought Kuroda should have been out of game after the second inning. He was obviously laboring and I didn’t see the point to sparing the bullpen. Hiroki has clearly run into a wall and this was a good opportunity to give him a bit or a rest. No need to make him throw all those stressful pitches. Alas, Joe Girardi felt differently.
“You’re still a cheater A-ROID!!!” guy yells below the press box. “A cheater on first base!” Rodriguez yells back.
— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) August 29, 2013
I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my life and I can now say I’ve seen a two-run strikeout. That one wasn’t on the bucket list, believe it or not. Chris Stewart muffed a fastball right down the middle in the first inning, then compounded the problem when he hit the runner with the throw on his way to first. The ball ricocheted into foul territory and two runs scored. Two runs scored after a called strike three. Two*.
The Yankees had a small chance to get back into the game in the fourth, after Todd Redmond walked the first two batters of the inning. They scored one run on Alex Rodriguez‘s single and another on Mark Reynolds‘ booming double to left, but A-Rod was thrown out at the plate by a mile on the play. Replays confirmed third base coach Robbie Thomson waved Alex in. Maybe don’t send the 38-year-old with two bad hips down five runs? Instead of having runners on second and third with one out, they had a runner on second with two outs. Sucks.
Aside from that fourth inning, the Robinson Cano-less lineup did a whole bunch of nothing. Redmond struck out seven in 5.2 innings and the Yankees were held to five hits and four walks. Reynolds had three of those five hits while Derek Jeter and Rodriguez had one apiece. Brett Gardner drew two of the walks, Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano the others. Only three of the final 19 men they sent to the plate reached base.
Joba Chamberlain (two innings), Shawn Kelley (one out), and Boone Logan (two outs) wrapped things up in relief of Kuroda. I wasn’t paying attention in that eighth inning — did Girardi actually mix and match his relievers with a five-run deficit? Or was Kelley hurt? That would be the icing on the cake.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some much nerdier stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Athletics destroyed the Tigers again, so the Yankees are now six games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings gives them a 6.2% chance of making the postseason with 29 games to play.
The Yankees are off on Thursday and will open a hugely important three-game series against the Orioles in the Bronx on Friday night. That is legitimately the biggest series of the year, at least until the next series after that. CC Sabathia and Miguel Gonzalez will be your pitching matchup for the opener. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
For the first six or seven innings, the outcome of Tuesday’s game was secondary. Robinson Cano took a J.A. Happ pitch to the left hand in his first at-bat and had to leave the game at the end of the inning. Since it was a direct hit, it was easy to think the worst. Thankfully, x-rays were negative and Robbie is just day-to-day with a contusion. Add in the 7-1 beatdown of the Blue Jays and Tuesday was a win-win for New York.
Bombs Over Toronto
This was the best kind of game. The Yankees led 4-0 after just four batters thanks to some small ball (Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter) and a three-run long ball (Alfonso Soriano), which came one batter after Cano took the pitch to the hand. The homer was a bomb into the second deck down the left field line. No-doubter. Those were all the runs the Yankees would need, but they tacked on three more solo homers — Soriano, Mark Reynolds, and Alex Rodriguez — just to rub it in a little bit.
The 4-5-6 hitters drove the offense, going a combined 6-for-13 (.462) with three homers and two walks. Those three hitters? Soriano, A-Rod, and Curtis Granderson. The three guys who returned to the lineup a few weeks ago and added some much-needed thump. Soriano has eleven homers in 30 games with the Yankees, A-Rod has the same number of homers in 20 games (four) that the team’s replacement third basemen had in the first 112 games, and Granderson is sitting on a .412 OBP in 24 games since coming off the DL. Offensive production and lineup depth, glorious offensive production and lineup depth.
These last few starts have been very encouraging for Andy Pettitte. The veteran left-hander held Toronto to three singles, two doubles, and two walks in seven scoreless innings on Tuesday, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%). Andy ran into a wall around the 85-90 pitch mark in each of his previous two starts, so smart move by Joe Girardi to get him out of there with the big lead. Save some bullets for the tighter games next month.
With CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes stinkin’ up the joint twice every five days, the Yankees desperately needed Andy to right the ship and give the club a third quality starter alongside Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. Pettitte has now allowed five runs (two earned) in his last four starts and has a 2.95 ERA (~3.70 FIP) in his last seven starts. That’s huge. He may not be able to give the team 110 (or even 100) quality pitches anymore, but 85 or so pitches of Pettitte is much better than what they’re getting from any non-Kuroda/Nova starter at the moment.
Soriano’s second homer was the 400th homer of his career, making him the 43rd member of the 2,000-hit, 400-homer club. Add in 250 career steals and we’re down to just six players: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, A-Rod, Andre Dawson, Gary Sheffield, and Soriano. That’s some company right there.
Eduardo Nunez caught a spike and twisted his knee in the eighth inning, though he remained in the game long enough to bat in the top of the ninth. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter and Reynolds finished the game at second base. He actually made a really nice double play pivot at the bag on the game-ending double play. A-Rod to Reynolds to Lyle Overbay on the 5-4-3 double play. Just like they drew it up in Spring Training. Nunez is day-to-day.
Gardner (double, moved to third on wild pitch) and Jeter (single) put together the first run before the homerun bats showed up. Jeter went 2-for-5 with two identical hits back up the middle. Nunez singled off the bench after Cano left the game and Vernon Wells chipped in a single and a walk. Seven runs on a dozen hits and three walks is a pretty good day at the office.
Adam Warren allowed a run on five hits and a walk in the final two innings to close things out. The rookie right-hander has been pretty solid in long relief this year, but he’s now allowed 20 runs and 67 base-runners in 37.1 innings since the start of June. That’s bad.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Athletics mopped the floor with Justin Verlander and won a rain-shortened game, so the Yankees remain five back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. New York did gain a game on the Rays, Indians, and Orioles, however. So that’s good.
The Yankees and Blue Jays will wrap up this three-game series with the road trip-ending rubber game on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda and right-hander Todd Redmond is your pitching matchup.