Archive for Game Stories
Even though the rest of the AL is trying to gift wrap them a wildcard spot for the Yankees, the Yankees just don’t seem willing to take it. They lost their fourth straight game on Tuesday night, getting shut out 2-0 by R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays. They aren’t going down with much of a fight. The tragic number is down to nine.
One Run Is One Too Many
For the last three or four weeks, Andy Pettitte has been the Yankees’ very best starting pitcher. With Hiroki Kuroda hitting a wall and Ivan Nova coming back to Earth, it is even all that close really. Pettitte has been spectacular and on Tuesday night he held the Blue Jays to just one run — a monster solo homer by Colby Rasmus off a hanging breaking ball in a two-strike count — on a season-high 110 pitches across 6.2 innings. What more could the Yankees possibly want from the oldest starter in baseball?
With the 6.2 innings of one-run ball, Pettitte has now pitched to a 3.06 ERA (3.34 FIP) in his last 64.2 innings and eleven starts. That dates back to the end of the seven-start streak in which he allowed at least four runs each time out. Remember that? Right after the came off the DL following the lat strain? Andy looked like he was done for a good two months but now looks like he has plenty left in the tank. If the Yankees don’t make the postseason — which looks incredibly likely with each passing day — it won’t be because Pettitte pitched poorly down the stretch. The poor guy has done everything in his power to keep the team in the race.
The Yankees managed to leave five men on base in the first two innings. They put three men on base in the final seven innings. Mark Reynolds struck out with the bases loaded to end the first and Alex Rodriguez grounded out to short to end the second before Dickey settled down and retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. It didn’t help that all five base-runners in the first and second inning reached with two outs — maybe start a rally with zero or one out next time? could be cool? — but still. The Yankees could have put this game to bed early but didn’t.
After those first two innings, just three of the final 24 batters New York sent to the plate reached base. Reynolds singled to center in the fourth, Curtis Granderson reached on an error by the second baseman in the eighth, and Lyle Overbay singled to right in the ninth. Just five of those final 24 batters actually hit the ball out of the infield on the fly. Five! No one made it beyond first base after the second inning. After scoring at least five runs in nine of their first 13 games this month, the Yankees have scored three runs total in their last three games. Sorry, you ain’t winning anything like that.
Bad Bullpen Is Bad
Literally two pitches after Pettitte walked off the mound, Shawn Kelley allowed a solo homer to Rajai Davis (Rajai Davis!) to give Toronto the insurmountable two-run lead. Kelley has now allowed six runs on 14 base-runners in his last five innings of work. He did miss a few days with a triceps issue during that stretch, which perhaps explains the poor performance. Too bad that excuse doesn’t change the standings.
David Robertson would have allowed a run in the eighth had Adam Lind unhitched his trailer before running the bases. He singled off the right field wall with two outs before Anthony Gose doubled into the left-center field gap. A great relay series by Alfonso Soriano and Brendan Ryan cut Lind down at the plate. Props to J.R. Murphy for receiving the throw and applying the tag. Kelley and Robertson combined to allow three of the six batters they faced to reach base, and all three hit the ball hard.
Underrated moment of the game that ultimately didn’t mean anything: Granderson’s sliding catch to rob Brett Lawrie of a run-scoring bloop single in the fifth. Davis would have scored from second easily with two outs but Granderson managed to reel the ball in. It was a pretty big play at the time. Go Curtis.
Soriano had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double in the first inning. Granderson, Robinson Cano, Overbay, and Reynolds had singles while Overbay and Chris Stewart drew walks. Granderson reached on the error. That’s it, that’s all the offense. The Yankees struck out at least 12 times for the third time in the last eight games.
This was New York’s tenth shutout loss of the season. It’s the first time they’ve been shut out that many times since that magical 1991 season. Ten shutouts? Really? Good grief.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are four games back of the two wildcard spots in the loss column with only eleven games to play. Think the Steinbrenners can get an advance on that luxury tax money they’re going to save next year so they can buy a miracle?
Same two teams on Tuesday night, when the Phil Hughes/David Huff tag-team gets the ball against left-hander J.A. Happ. The Yankees haven’t won a game since the last Hughes/Huff start. Clearly the team should use tandem starters for all five rotation slots.
This was a bloodbath. The Red Sox toyed with the Yankees this weekend before finally blowing them out of the water 9-2 on Sunday night. This looked like a big league team against a Triple-A team. Furthermore, the Yankees were officially eliminated from the AL East race with the loss. It’s wildcard or bust. That’s a nice little twist of the knife.
Ivan The Mediocre
Remember when Ivan Nova was a bright spot, giving the Yankees high-quality innings every five days? That seems like a long time ago. Nova lasted just four innings against the Red Sox for the second time in a week, though this time he only needed 88 pitches and not 97. Boston punished him for five runs (four earned) on six hits, four walks, and one hit batter while striking out just two. His night would have been a lot, lot worse had the bullpen not worked some magic after inherited a bases loaded, no outs jam in the fifth.
Since dominating for close to two months, Nova has now allowed 18 runs in 36 innings (4.25 ERA) across his last
two six starts. Perfectly serviceable but not what the Yankees need. They need him to be better but this really isn’t Nova’s fault; he didn’t build the pitching staff. Anyway, Ivan has reportedly been dealing with some triceps tightness in recent weeks and hopefully that is why his performance has slipped lately. He wasn’t going to sustain that pace all season, but it would be nice if he finished the year well so there’s at least something the Yankees could feel good about rotation-wise.
After going a month between games with one or fewer run scored, the Yankees came dangerously close to doing it in back-to-back games. They drew first blood in the very first inning and needed a big hand to get it done. Curtis Granderson worked a leadoff walk before moving all the way to third when Clay Buchholz threw away a pickoff throw. It was a throw a better defensive first baseman probably reels in, but whatever. Alex Rodriguez plated Granderson with a ground out and that was pretty much it for the night. At least until the game was out of reach.
The Yankees had has many double plays (three) as runners who reached second base over the final eight innings of the game. Buchholz was nice enough to walk four batters (plus one more by the bullpen) but New York only had five hits — singles by Alfonso Soriano, A-Rod, Ichiro Suzuki (two), and Brendan Ryan — and only one was actually well-struck (Soriano’s). The final seven and 14 of the final 18 players they sent to the plate made outs. Aside from the garbage time run in the ninth, they went down without much of a fight.
Pretty much the only highlight of this game for the Yankees was Adam Warren‘s escape job in the fifth inning. Nova allowed the first four men of the inning to reach base and Warren inherited a bases loaded situation with no outs, but he got through it without allowing a run thanks to two strikeouts and a routine fly ball. Warren allowed two runs and got just one out in the sixth inning, but you know. Small victories. Oh, and Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect garbage time inning. Hooray.
Remember when Vernon Wells stole home a few weeks ago because rookie catcher Josh Phegley threw to second when Eduardo Nunez broke towards towards second? The Red Sox pulled the same trick on Chris Stewart in this game. He threw to second and not only did the run score, but the throw was so bad the runner at second was safe. Stewart also committed his 11th passed ball, the second most in baseball behind J.P. Arencibia. Arencibia has to catch a knuckleballer, remember.
Mike Zagurski, who pretty much looks like a left-handed Joba Chamberlain, made his first appearances as a Yankee and extended the franchise record to 56 players used this season. Amazingly, of those 56, there are only about 10-12 guys you would legitimately want on the team going forward. I’m not joking. Look at this cast of characters.
The Red Sox won the season series 13-6 and are the first team since the 1976 Orioles to win 13 games against the Yankees in a single season. Boston outscored them 120-84 in the 19 games. Complete dominance.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. Both the Rangers and Rays lost — they have the same record and sit in the two wildcard spots — so the Yankees remain four back in the loss column with only 12 games to play. They’re three games back of the Indians and have the same record as the Orioles. Cool Standings gives New York a 6.5% chance to make the postseason.
The Yankees get a much-needed off-day on Monday before heading to Toronto for a quick little three-game series against the Blue Jays. Andy Pettitte and R.A. Dickey will be the pitching matchup in Tuesday night’s series opener.
I can’t be the only one who goes into these games against the Red Sox thinking the Yankees have very little chance of winning, right? The Yankees just aren’t in the same class. Not offensively, not on the mound, not in the field, and certainly not when it comes to developing homegrown players. Saturday’s loss was not really a bloodbath but it was just another example of Boston’s obvious superiority. Let’s recap the 5-1 loss:
- Sad-bathia: Things were looking up for CC Sabathia after he threw a perfect first inning on seven pitches. Then 13 of the next 27 batters he faced reached base. Six singles, three doubles, four walks, two sac bunts, and one sac fly led to five total runs in the second through fifth innings to put this game out of reach. Sabathia has now allowed 59 runs in 71 innings across his last 12 starts, and opponents are hitting .307/.369/.486 against him during that time. Brutal.
- The Grandy Can … : … but no one else can. Curtis Granderson was the only player who did anything noteworthy at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Robinson Cano drove him in with a ground ball after the three-bagger. Offensive Catalyst Brendan Ryan slapped a single through the right side and both Alex Rodriguez and J.R. Murphy drew walks — Murphy was the only one of the final 13 batters to reach base. That’s it. That was the day for the offense. Non-Granderson hitters went a combined 1-for-26 with the two walks and five strikeouts. Three of those five whiffs were Lyle Overbay vs. Jon Lester. No Brett Gardner, no Alfonso Soriano, so chance.
- Leftovers: This game lasted only two hours and 42 minutes, so at least it was quick … Joba Chamberlain walked two and got a lucky line drive double play in his inning of work before Matt Daley struck out two in a perfect ninth … the Yankees were held to just one run (or less) for the first time in 27 games … they allowed at least five runs for the eighth time in their last eleven games … the bullpen was not charged with a run for the first time in five games. The last time that happened was the series opener against the Orioles, when Sabathia went 7.1 innings and Adam Warren recorded two outs in the road loss … the Yankees have lost 70 games for the first time since 2008 and second time since 2000.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some nerd 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 a wildcard spot. If the Athletics hold on to win, the Rangers will be tied with the Joe Maddon’s club in the standings. The Yankees could be chasing Texas and not the Tampa soon. Ivan Nova, who is coming off his triceps problem, will start Sunday’s series finale against Clay Buchholz.
The only way the Yankees were going to win Friday night’s series opener against the Red Sox was if Hiroki Kuroda threw a masterpiece and/or the offense scored like, 12 runs. The bullpen is a total disaster right now, so much so that even the good relievers are worn down and less effective than usual. With Mariano Rivera and David Robertson unavailable, the Bombers had little chance to win a close game. Boston took the opener 8-4. Let’s recap:
- Bad, Then Good: The chances of a Kuroda masterpiece went right out the window in the first inning, when the Red Sox scored four runs thanks to four hits (three in two-strike counts) and a walk. It looked like this one would be over early, but to Kuroda’s credit, he rebounded and did not allow another run while pitching into the seventh. He threw 101 pitches overall and only generated four swings and misses. Kuroda has struggled big time these last few weeks, particularly early in starts. This was just another example. The Yankees were playing catch-up right from the get-go.
- All For Naught: New York has shown a knack for digging out of multi-run holes of late, and they managed to erase that four-run deficit thanks mostly to Robinson Cano, who had four hits including the game-tying two-run double. It would have been a three-run go-ahead double if Alex Rodriguez had more than one good hamstring. Brendan Ryan (!) hit a solo homer in the third and Lyle Overbay had a sacrifice fly in the sixth that would have been a two-run double had Shane Victorino not been so damn good defensively. The Yankees did squander some opportunities in the middle innings though, mostly because the bottom half of the lineup was a joke.
- Blownpen: Like I said, the bullpen is a Three Mile Island-level disaster right now. Joe Girardi had to send Kuroda back out to start the seventh because a) he was cruising, and b) there was no reliever he could trust. Victorino’s leadoff single promptly ended Kuroda’s night. Cesar Cabral plunked David Ortiz before Preston Claiborne walked Jonny Gomes to load the bases with no one out. Claiborne managed to strike out Daniel Nava by doubling up on his changeup, which was a rather gutsy move. Unfortunately he left a fastball up to Jarrod Saltalamacchia that turned into the game-losing grand slam. Predictable.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had eight hits total, including four by Cano and two by Ryan. Not sure relying on Brendan Ryan to provide offense is a sustainable strategy … the 5-6-7 hitters (Overbay, Eduardo Nunez, Ichiro Suzuki) needed 34 pitches to go 0-for-11 with a sac fly … Matt Daley chucked a scoreless eighth, but not without allowing an extra-base hit … and finally, it has to be pointed out that Boston’s four-run rally in the eighth was started by Nunez muffing a ground ball at third base. It was hard hit, no doubt about it, but it was hit right at him and a play a big league third baseman should make. This guy just can not play anymore. These games are too important and he doesn’t do enough (anything?) to help. Start Mark Reynolds at third and Ryan at short. End of story.
MLB.com has the score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays, Indians, and Orioles all won, so the Yankees are now three back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and one back of Cleveland. They’re tied with Baltimore and one up on the Royals. Cool Standings gives them a 14.7% chance to make the postseason. CC Sabathia and Jon Lester will be the pitching matchup on Saturday afternoon.
After getting torn apart by the Red Sox last weekend and losing the first game of this series to the Orioles, the Yankees needed to win these last three games to more or less save their season. They did just that. New York won their third straight over Baltimore thanks to some ninth inning heroics/defensive hilarity. Thursday’s final score was 6-5.
The No-Hit Shortstop Who Saved The Season
(Alternate Heading: Where Are Your One-Run Game Gods Now?)
When Derek Jeter had to be shut down with continued left ankle soreness, the Yankees went out and acquired Brendan Ryan to help out at shortstop for the duration of the regular season. Ryan is as good a defender as you’ll find, but the man can’t hit. He can’t hit at all, but on the rarest of occasions he will actually get on base. Ryan made his bi-weekly contribution to the offense in the ninth inning by lacing a leadoff single to right field in a 5-5 game. Whenever this guy does something at the plate, the Yankees have to take advantage. Take advantage they did.
Chris Stewart attempted to sacrifice Ryan into scoring position did, but it was a bad bunt and Jim Johnson had plenty of time to throw to second to get the lead runner. Too bad he threw the ball into center field. The Yankees actually caught a break when Ryan stumbled rounding second because he would have been out at third by a mile had he tried to advance on the play. Curtis Granderson bunted the two runners up for the middle of the order, but neither Alex Rodriguez nor Alfonso Soriano had to actually swing the bat to get the go-ahead run in. Johnson uncorked a (very) wild pitch that went to the backstop and allowed Ryan to score easily from third. A-Rod was intentionally walked and Soriano grounded into an inning-ending double play, so the insurance run(s) was never brought home, but they did get the first run in and that was most important. Brendan Ryan, offensive spark plug. How about that?
Bullpen On Parade
Any time the starter is lifted after three effective innings (more on that in a second), it’s going to take more than a few relievers to piece together the final 18 outs. David Huff took over for Phil Hughes and allowed just one run in three innings of work. The run was a solo homer by Nick Markakis, which ended Huff’s evening. Adam Warren replaced him and allowed two of the four men he faced to reach base before Cesar Cabral retired pinch-hitter Mike Morse for the final out of the seventh. That’s 12 of the 18 outs right there. Outs 13-15 didn’t go so well.
Fresh off an 18-pitch outing on Wednesday after missing about a week with shoulder tendinitis, David Robertson got the ball in the eighth and completely imploded. Manny Machado led off the inning with a solo homer … except Soriano made a fantastic jumping catch to bring the ball back. Defensive play of the Yankees season kinda stuff. I had no idea he still had ups like that. After Robertson struck out Chris Davis for the second out of the inning, four straight Orioles reached base. Adam Jones singled, Markakis singled, then Danny Valencia jumped all over a first pitch fastball for a game-tying three-run homer. Robertson went from having a three-run lead with the bases empty and two outs to giving up the game-tying dinger in the span of ten pitches. That happened fast.
After the Yankees retook the lead in the ninth, Joe Girardi gave the ball to Mariano Rivera for the third straight day and fourth time in five days. Mo had to be running on fumes — he threw two innings on Sunday, 1.1 innings on Tuesday, and one inning on Wednesday. Can’t imagine there was much fuel left in that 43-year-old tank. The ninth was no problem though; Rivera retired the side on ten pitches without a ball leaving the infield. He actually looked better than he did on Wednesday, or at least his command seemed to be a little more fine. There were nothing out over the plate, everything was on the corners. It was a welcome sight. As important as these games are, it’s hard to think Mo will be available on Friday.
When it was announced Hughes would start this game over Huff, I figured Girardi would have a quick hook. And he should have had one. Hughes has been pretty awful all season and these games are all incredibly important. I just didn’t think the quick hook would come as soon as it did, after Eduardo Scissorhands muffed a routine ground ball to lead off the fourth inning. It was mighty quick. Remember, Girardi let Hughes face Davis (!) with a man on base and two outs the prior inning. He was good enough to pitch then but not good enough after getting a routine grounder to start the next inning? Weird.
Anyway, Hughes allowed just one Stewart-assisted run in three full innings of work, so it was basically the same outing Huff gave them in relief. The run was Stewart-assisted because, as usual, he was unable to keep a ball in the dirt in front of him. Yes, technically it’s a wild pitch, but at some point it would be nice if he got all defensive catchery and actually kept one of those in front of him and prevented the runner from moving up 90 feet. It seems like every ball in the dirt scoots away from Stewart and allows the runner to advance. It’s annoying. Phil struck out three, walked none, and allowed three singles while throwing 50 pitches in those three innings. Short but sweet, as the kids call it.
The Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a pair of two-run hits. Mark Reynolds swatted a two-run dinger in the second inning, then Vernon Wells drove in two with a bases loaded single in the third. Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen settled in after that and retired 13 straight before Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer with one out in the seventh to end Chen’s evening. The Bombers hit ten homers in this four-game series after hitting ten homers in July. Like, the whole month.
Girardi rearranged his defense in the late innings, replacing Wells with Ichiro Suzuki in right and sliding Reynolds from first to third to replace Nunez. Lyle Overbay came in at first. Yes, Reynolds took over for Nunez defensively. The worst part: it was the right move. Both guys are terrible with the glove but Nunez is actually worse. Hard to believe. Because that’s not funny enough, Eduardo was allowed to hit for himself in the previous inning, showing how little faith Girardi has in Ichiro at the plate.
Because Stewart is not infuriating enough, he struck out on two strikes in the second inning. He took the first pitch of the at-bat for a ball, fouled off the second pitch, then swung and missed at third for what he thought was strike three and walked back to the dugout. You’d think a catcher would be especially cognizant of the count, right? Even while batting just out of habit, no? Embarrassing.
Last, but unfortunately not least, the Yankees lost Brett Gardner to a left oblique strain in the very first inning. He apparently hurt himself on a check swing and will head for an MRI tomorrow. Considering how tricky obliques are, this could very easily be a season-ending injury. That would be a major, major blow.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays managed to beat the Red Sox, so the Yankees remain one back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. They’re four back of the Rangers for the first wildcard spot, in case you’re wondering. The Indians clobbered the White Sox and are tied with New York in the loss column. The Orioles are tied with the Royals and one back of the Yankees and Indians. Five teams within three games for that second wildcard spot. Craziness. Cool Standings gives New York a 22.9% chance to make the postseason at the moment.
This four-game series if finally over. The Yankees are heading up to Boston for a three-game weekend series with the Red Sox, which will hopefully look nothing last last weekend’s series. Hiroki Kuroda and John Lackey kick things off on Friday night.
The Yankees might not qualify for the postseason when it’s all said and done, but these games right now definitely have a playoff feel to them. Nerve-wrackingly awesome. Some ninth inning heroics gave the Yankees their second straight come from behind win over the Orioles on Wednesday night, this one by the score of 5-4.
That’s Why He’ll Make The Big Bucks
Might as well start from the end. The score was tied at three heading into the ninth inning, and with both David Robertson and Shawn Kelley having already been used, the Yankees were in the danger portion of their bullpen. Robinson Cano, who could be (but unlikely is) playing his final games in pinstripes, made the second tier bullpen dreck a moot point. He got a hold of a hanging Tommy Hunter changeup for a solo homer to center field to leadoff the inning, giving New York a late lead in a hugely important game. Someone is going to pay Robbie a ton of money in a few weeks because he can change a game like this in an instant. Huge homer.
That wasn’t the end of the inning, though. Curtis Granderson whacked a triple off the center field wall — I seriously thought it was a pop-up off the bat, I have no idea how it carried all the way to the wall — before Lyle Overbay plated the insurance run with a two-out infield single (!) off a left-hander (!!!). It was a well-located ground ball into the hole between shortstop and third base, and he barely beat the throw to first. I thought Joe Girardi should have pinch-hit for Mark Reynolds one batter earlier — you need contact with a man on third and less than two in the ninth inning of a one-run game, so someone like Ichiro Suzuki or Eduardo Nunez would have been a better option — but Overbay picked him up following a three-pitch strikeout. That run turned out to be rather important.
Pitch Count? What Pitch Count?
It looks like the plan to limit Andy Pettitte to 85-90 pitches is a thing of the past with less than three weeks remaining in the season. Girardi let Pettitte throw a season-high 109 pitches in 6.1 effective innings on Wednesday, his seventh straight start (ninth out of the last ten) with three runs or fewer. The Orioles did touch him up for nine hits and one walk — he put the leadoff man on base four times in the seven innings he started — but three well-timed strikeouts and two double plays limited the damage. Vintage Andy, really.
Chip, Chip Away
The Yankees have trailed at some point in each of their previous four wins, and this game made it five straight. The Orioles were up 3-1 when New York started to chip away in the fifth … well, they didn’t exactly chip away, they more or less broke out the sledgehammer and knocked down the whole wall. Granderson hit a solo homer onto Eutaw Street to make it a 3-2 game in the fifth, then one inning later Alex Rodriguez tied it up with a solo homer to right field. They were both bombs.
After ARod touched home, he turned to 2 guys behind home plate who were heckling him as well & did the “zip your lips” pose and blew a kiss.
— Kris Jones (@RavenManiac) September 12, 2013
After recording four stress-free outs for the save on Wednesday, Mariano Rivera allowed a run on back-to-back two-out hits in the ninth. That’s why the insurance run Overbay drove in with his infield single was so big. Rivera has been shaky these last few weeks but the Yankees are going to rely on him this next 2+ weeks. A lot. I expect to see a a few more saves of more than three outs before it’s all said and done.
In his first game back from a shoulder issue, Robertson allowed two singles in a scoreless eighth inning. The first was a legit single, the second was more of a ground ball that scooted under Brendan Ryan‘s glove. More on that in a sec. Robertson escaped the jam and gave the middle of the lineup a chance to do damage in the ninth. Kelley relieved Pettitte and got two outs while facing one batter thanks to a caught stealing. Chris Stewart made a real nice throw and Nate McLouth got a poor jump.
The Yankees scored their first run without the benefit of a hit. Brett Gardner led the game off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a ground ball, then scored on a ground ball. Three of the team’s six hits were solo homers and two others were Granderson’s triple and Overbay’s infield single. Cano singled to center for the other hit and Gardner drew their only two walks. That’s it, that’s all the offense. It was just enough, thankfully.
Ryan’s debut in pinstripes was mostly nondescript. He did make one real nice play ranging to the the second base side of the bag for an out, but he also whiffed on the ground ball to his right in the eighth. Ryan was there, he just lifted his glove too early. He also went 0-for-4 at the plate and struck out on a pitch that hit him in the back foot. That’s pretty much the Brendan Ryan experience right there.
The win was Girardi’s 557th as Yankees manager, moving him past Billy Martin and into sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time wins list. Ralph Houk is fifth all-time with 944 wins, so it’ll be a while before Girardi jumps over someone else.
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 again, so the Yankees are now just two games back of Tampa in the loss column for the second wildcard spot. Two! They’re tied with both the Orioles and Indians in the loss column but ahead by percentage points. Cool Standings has New York’s playoff chances at 20.8%. They haven’t been that (relatively) high in a long, long time.
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.