Archive for Game Stories
The Yankees delivered some bad but not at all unsurprising news this afternoon. Derek Jeter‘s season is over due to lingering left ankle soreness, and he won’t return even if the team manages to claw its way into the postseason. I know as well as anyone that Jeter wasn’t exactly productive when he did play this year, but losing him is still a big blow in the grand scheme of things. No one wants to see Eduardo Nunez or Brendan Ryan in the lineup on a daily basis, especially in important late-season games. That’s what we’re stuck with, however. Here’s the lineup that will face right-hander Scott Feldman:
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- RF Curtis Granderson
- 3B Mark Reynolds
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Brendan Ryan
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is left-hander Andy Pettitte. He’s been excellent in his last six starts (1.75 ERA), and with Ivan Nova coming back to Earth, Andy is the team’s best starter at this very moment. The Yankees need him to come up big tonight.
It is crazy hot in Baltimore, with temperatures in the low-90s and humidity that makes it feel like 100+. That’s mid-August weather, not mid-September weather. The important thing is that there is no rain in the forecast. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Roster Update: Ryan has joined the team, obviously. Jim Miller was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot.
Considering everything that’s going on in the wildcard race, this was the biggest and most important game of the season for the Yankees. They were six outs away from being essentially buried in the standings, but they instead rallied for four runs in the eighth and held on for the 7-5 win on Tuesday.
Homers Extra-Base Hits
For the first time in exactly four months, the Yankees recorded eight extra-base hits in a game. Seven of the eight led to runs too, with the only exception being Brett Gardner‘s double to leadoff the game. Go figure. Alex Rodriguez — he looks fantastic at the plate, doesn’t he? — started a) the scoring with a booming two-out double into the gap to score Chris Stewart all the way from first in the third inning, and b) the four-run rally in the eighth with a leadoff double into the left field corner. The Yankees had just three hits between A-Rod‘s doubles, including solo homers by Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but that eighth inning rally was pretty close to a season-saver. A temporary season saver, at least. Losing another game to direct wildcard competitor would have pushed the Yankees even further back in the race with another day ticking off the calendar. That would have been bad. Robinson Cano plated A-Rod with a single up the middle to tie the game in the eighth before the really big bats showed up. Soriano hit an opposite field two-run bomb to give New York a two-run lead, then Curtis Granderson and Reynolds hit back-to-back doubles into the left field corner for another insurance run. In the span of 14 pitches, the Yankees went from down one to up three that inning. Most important inning of the season? To date, yes.
A Comedy Of Errors
The Orioles did the majority of their damage in the four-run fifth, an inning that featured way too much defensive hilarity by New York. The inning started when Eduardo Nunez pulled Reynolds off first base on J.J. Hardy’s infield single, but to be fair, it was a very tough play in the hole. I’m not sure he would have gotten him even with a perfect throw. Nunez is pretty terrible on defense but that was far, far from a routine play. It happens.
Later in the inning though, Nunez threw away a slow infield chopper by Henry Urrutia to allow a run to score and put men on the corners with no outs. This one wasn’t routine either but it is a play a big league shortstop should make. Replays showed the throw beat Urrutia but was simply too wide for Reynolds to catch while keeping his foot on the base. The next batter hit a fly ball to left to score another run, though it appeared Soriano’s throw would at least make things close at the plate had A-Rod not cut it off near the pitcher’s mound for whatever reason. The throw might have been off line and I kinda sorta get keeping the trail runner from advancing to scoring position, but it sure looked like there was a chance to get the runner out at the plate. Alas.
Those two (or three of you want to be hard on Nunez) defensive mistakes led to the first two Baltimore runs of the inning. The other two scored when Ivan Nova hung — like, put it on a tee hung — a curveball that Chris Davis hit out to dead center for his 49th homer. It was a no doubter and Nova’s only real mistake of the inning. At the end of the night, Ivan allowed those four runs in six innings of work while throwing only 79 pitches (46 strikes). More on that seemingly quick hook in a second.
Shawn Kelley allowed a run in the eighth inning thanks to a walk, two wild pitches, and a sacrifice fly. Replays showed J.R. Murphy‘s throw beat Davis to the third base bag on the second wild pitch, but David Adams simply whiffed on the tag. Adam Warren tossed a perfect seventh and Mariano Rivera retired all four men he faced without a ball leaving the infield. It’s the third time in his last four appearances that Rivera was asked to record more than three outs in a save situation. He’s retiring in a few weeks one way or the other, so Joe Girardi might as well get his money’s worth down the stretch.
The Yankees struck out 12 times as a team for the second straight game, the first time they’ve done that in back-to-back games since August 2003. A-Rod, Soriano, and Reynolds had two hits apiece and they were all extra-base hits. In fact, those three guys went a combined 6-for-13 with three doubles and three homers. Pretty awesome. Gardner, Cano, Granderson, Nunez, and Stewart had one hit each. Cano drew the only walk, just his second free pass in his last 23 games. Ben’s not gonna have to eat that hat, you guys.
Manny Machado made a rather hilarious (rookie?) mistake during that eighth inning rally, but the Yankees did all their damage before that and didn’t really take advantage. With Reynolds on second following his double, Ichiro Suzuki hit a little tapper back out in front of the plate that Matt Wieters picked up and threw to third. Machado caught the throw, stepped on third, then fired over to first … except there was no force at third. Reynolds was correctly called safe and Ichiro beat out the fielder’s choice. That was a hoot.
The 2013 season in a nutshell: the Yankees won a big game and lost three players to injury. A-Rod (hamstring), Nova (triceps), and Austin Romine (concussion) were all removed with injuries. Joe Girardi didn’t seem too concerned about A-Rod and Nova, but a concussion is a serious injury and they’ll proceed carefully with Romine.
Number milestones: Rivera’s save was his 42nd of the season and 650th of his career. The first number has some neat symbolism, the second … man that’s a lot of saves. The most all-time, I hear.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox beat the Rays, so the Yankees are three games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. They Indians lost as well, so New York is one back of both the Tribe and Orioles. Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 11.7% with 17 games remaining.
The Yankees and Orioles are just halfway through this four-game set. Andy Pettitte and right-hander Scott Feldman will be the pitching matchup in the third game on Wednesday night.
This eleven-game stretch against the Red Sox and Orioles (and Red Sox again) is the most important stretch of the season, and the Yankees have responded by going 1-4 in the first five games. Somehow that 1-4 record makes them look better than they’ve actually played too. Monday’s loss pushes New York to four back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with just 18 games to play. It doesn’t get much closer to being done, folks.
Two Dingers, Nothing Else
I thought it was an excellent decision on Joe Girardi‘s part to stick Alex Rodriguez in the second spot of the lineup with Derek Jeter‘s sore ankle forcing him to the sidelines. Too many top of the lineup at-bats were being wasted on low-OBP guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells. A-Rod went into Monday’s game at .286/.380/.448 (130 wRC+) and left it at .294/.384/.477 (138 wRC+) after going 2-for-4 with a first inning solo homer to the opposite field. I think his at-bats — laying off pitches out of the zone, working the count, etc. — are the best on the team. Perfect choice for the two-hole.
Unfortunately, the Yankees managed nothing off Chris Tillman after A-Rod’s dinger. Well, nothing until Lyle Overbay led off the eighth with a solo homer to right. In between dingers, Tillman retired 20 of 22 batters faced — 14 in a row at one point — and completely befuddled New York with a big-breaking curveball and a fading changeup that made his low-90s fastball look like the low-100s. At least that’s what I assume based on the swings the Yankees were taking against him. The Bombers did close to zilch at the plate on Monday but give credit where it’s due: Tillman was pretty great.
Quantity But Not Quality
It’s kinda sad that on September 9th, CC Sabathia allowed four runs in 7.1 innings and his ERA went down. Of course only three of those four runs were earned, but still. Sabathia’s crash-and-burn act will be a huge reason why the Yankees miss the postseason, assuming they actually do miss the postseason. I hope they don’t.
The Orioles had seven hits against the New York southpaw, including three leadoff doubles. Two of the three came around the score while the third featured a vintage Sabathia-esque strike out the side performance to escape the jam. He walked two and struck out six, getting six outs on the ground compared to ten in the air. Seventy-one of his 117 pitches were strikes. The Yankees desperately needed length from their starter on Monday and that’s exactly what they got. Unfortunately, like most of Sabathia’s starts this season, the overall performance wasn’t good enough.
Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter got into a Showalter-initiated shouting match after the first inning because the Yankees thought Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson was stealing signs and/or location. Maybe he was, I don’t know. Either way, Girardi was chirping at him during the inning before Showalter came out of the dugout. The two had to be separated by their coaches and the umpires. Kinda silly but whatever.
A-Rod, Brett Gardner, and Eduardo Nunez had singles in addition to the two homers and that was it. Five hits total. Zero walks and a dozen strikeouts, tying their fourth highest strikeout total in a nine-inning game this season. The 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 0-for-12 with three strikeouts. The 8-9 hitters went 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Woof.
Adam Warren was the only pitcher used in relief of Sabathia, and he managed to record two outs while throwing just two strikes out of five total pitches. The rest of the bullpen got a much needed night off.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats while ESPN has the update standings. Cool Standings gives the Yankees a 6.6% chance to make the postseason.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, in the second game of this four-game set. Ivan Nova and Miguel Gonzalez is your pitching matchup. Hopefully the offense shows up.
Do you know what is completely ridiculous? Despite Sunday’s walk-off win over the Red Sox, the Yankees got absolutely demolished these last four days — every one of New York’s flaws were not-so-gently exposed by a clearly superior Boston team — and yet, they did not lose any ground in the second wildcard race. They came into the four-game series three back in the loss column, and that’s exactly where they sit right now. They’re lucky the Rays forgot how to win out on the West Coast.
I’m not sure what positive can be taken from Sunday’s game other than the actual win in the standings. Hiroki Kuroda had his best start in about a month, holding the Red Sox to two runs in six tough innings. He threw a season-high 117 pitches and really had to battle. Boston wore him out. I guess a non-disaster start is a positive. Shawn Kelley rebounded from a triceps issue throw a scoreless inning, but he did put the tying run at third base in the process. Robinson Cano stayed hot with three hits, including the big two-out, two-run double in the fifth inning. Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez also had two hits apiece. Ichiro scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch (!), which felt like the only possible way that run was coming in to score.
Now, the bad news: Mariano Rivera blew another save, his seventh of the year and fifth in his last eleven save chances. It was another location mistake, the kind we aren’t used to seeing from Mo, and Will Middlebrooks took advantage with a game-tying solo homer out into the short porch. Considering the magnitude of both this game and every game left this year, I thought Joe Girardi was absolutely right to send Rivera out for two innings. He’ll have the rest of his life to rest in a few weeks and it just didn’t work out. Should the Yankees replace Mo at closer given his recent struggles? No way, especially not with David Robertson out with a shoulder issue. His recent blow save-itis is (very) troubling, but there’s no one on this team I’d rather have out there with a one-run lead in the ninth. Not in a million years.
I think all the recent base-running mistakes and ill-timed bunts are an indication the Yankees, or at least some of them, are pressing given the tight race and all of that. I mean, Mark freaking Reynolds tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt with two on and no outs in the second inning against Jon Lester, a left-handed pitcher. Curtis Granderson tried to bunt for a base hit to beat the shift against a right-hander in the early innings a) with two outs and no one on, and b) with two on and no outs in recent days as well. More than a few players — Alfonso Soriano on Thursday night, most egregiously — have run into outs on the bases. A little “don’t try to do too much, stick to your game, blah blah blah” reminder might be in order.
Sorry I don’t have a more detailed recap, but I was busy running around for most of the day and mostly Gameday’d it on my phone. Considering how awful the first three games of the series went, I can’t say I was heartbroken over missing this one despite the win. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Like I said, the Yankees remain three games back of the Rays in the loss column for that second wildcard spot. Both the Indians and Rays are one game up on New York as well. Cool Standings gives the Yankees a 10.1% chance to make the postseason with 19 games to go. CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman open the four-game set in Baltimore on Monday night.
The Yankees have let the Red Sox come into their building and just about push them out of the playoff picture this weekend. New York’s skeleton crew pitching staff stood no chance against a Boston lineup that was still ridiculously deep and dangerous even though like, three regulars were resting. The Sawx have a better offense, a better rotation, a better bullpen, a better bench, better young players, better veterans, better pretty much everything. Except facial hair. They are a truly ugly team. Anyway, let’s recap the 13-9 shellacking:
- Huffed Out: So it turns out three long relief appearances against a last place teams wasn’t a sign David Huff had turned a corner. The Red Sox pounded the left-hander for nine runs on eight hits (only two singles) in just 3.2 innings on Saturday, which is only slightly worse than what he had been doing for the Indians in recent years. Amazing they a) managed to replace Phil Hughes with an even worse pitcher, and b) actually started Huff in a very important September game against a division rival.
- Generic White Guys: Overall, three Yankees pitchers threw 174 total pitches, allowed 13 runs on 14 hits, and got only ten and swings and misses. The just called up Jim Miller was terrible, allowing three runs in 1.1 innings. Brett Marshall spared the rest of the injured riddled staff by allowing one run — the obligatory Mike Napoli homer, of course — in 4.1 innings. He’s been the pitching bright spot in this series, sadly.
- Nine Runs Wasn’t Enough: For the first time in AL history (!), a team scored at least eight runs in three straight games and lost all three. That team was the Yankees. They scored nine runs on Saturday, including four in the sixth against a tired John Lackey. Lyle Overbay (one-run single), Robinson Cano (one-run single), Ichiro Suzuki (one-run double), Brett Gardner (two-run double), Derek Jeter (one-run single), Alfonso Soriano (one-run single), and Mark Reynolds (two-run double) did the damage. New York was down nine runs before the offense did anything meaningful. Too little, too late.
- Leftovers: The Yankees have allowed at least nine runs in three straight games for the first time since June 2002, when all three of those games were played in Coors Field … Gardner was the best offensive performer of the day, going 2-for-3 with a walk … the Yankees actually went 7-for-18 (.389) with runners in scoring position and scored five of their nine runs with two outs … Curtis Granderson laid down a bunt in an effort to beat the shift with a man on and nobody out in the second inning. That’s silly. Swing the damn bat that early in the game.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the standings. The Yankees are now two back of the Orioles in the loss column and could be two back of the Indians as well if they beat the Mets. Depending on the late game, New York will either be three back (Rays lose) or four back (Rays win) of the second wildcard spot with 20 games to play. Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 7.4%. Running out of time (and pitchers). Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Lester is Sunday afternoon’s pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
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.