Tanaka rusty yet effective in return; Yankees beat Blue Jays 5-2

Source: FanGraphs

All things considered, Sunday afternoon’s 5-2 win over the Blue Jays might have been the most important game of the Yankees’ season as Masahiro Tanaka returned to the rotation after more than three months on the shelf. He and his right elbow are mighty important to the team going forward. Let’s recap series-winning win:

  • The Return: Tanaka’s return went as well as we could have reasonably expected. He was rusty, particularly with his location, but he didn’t shy away from his splitter or slider (or curveball) and it didn’t look like he was holding anything back, so to speak. Didn’t seem tentative at all. Tanaka ended the day right at 70 pitches (48 strikes, six swings and misses) and his pitching line was fine (5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K), though the performance is secondary to his health. With the caveat that they have to see how he feels in the coming days, Sunday’s return was overwhelmingly positive for the Yankees and Tanaka.
  • Three Taters: The Blue Jays scored a quick first inning run on two singles and a double play, but the Yankees answered right back with a Brian McCann solo homer in the bottom half of the inning. The score remained 1-1 until the fifth inning, when Brett Gardner unloaded on a Drew Hutchison pitch for a solo homer. It was his 17th (!) of the season. Back-to-back doubles in the seventh by Gardner and Derek Jeter created New York’s third run, then the fourth and fifth came off the bat of McCann, who hit his second homer of the game as the next batter. I declare it the most aesthetically pleasing homer of the 2014 season. Here, watch. All three homers were bombs. No doubters.
  • Bullpen: Weirdly, the Yankees’ least effective reliever on the afternoon was Dellin Betances. He allowed a run on a single (Jose Reyes), two stolen bases, and another single (Edwin Encarnacion). Encarnacion’s was off the wall, one of those “he hit it so hard it was a single” jobs. Adam Warren replaced Tanaka in the sixth and stranded a runner with two strikeouts, then threw a perfect seventh as well. His last two outings have been very good. David Robertson pitched around a two-out walk to close out his 38th save. Really hope he gets to 40 for no reason in particular.
  • Leftovers: Gardner made #toomanyhomers history. His solo shot was the 15,000th homerun in Yankees history, easily the most among the 30 clubs (Giants are second with 13,984) … the Yankees hit three homers as a team for the first time in nearly a month, since the makeup game in Kansas City. It’s only their eighth 3+ homer game of the season … Gardner, Jeter, McCann, and Ichiro Suzuki all had two hits apiece. The rest of the lineup went 0-for-16. McCann, Chris Young, Chase Headley, and Frankie Cervelli (two) had the walks.

The box score and video highlights are at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. At this very moment, the Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot with seven games to play. Their elimination number is five and FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 0.2%. Big Mike Pineda and Wei-Yin Chen will be on the bump for Monday night’s series opener against the Orioles. There are only four home games left in the season/Jeter’s career, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.

Game 155: Tanaka Returns

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

After more than three months on the shelf, Masahiro Tanaka returns to the rotation this afternoon. The treatment for his partially torn ligament is complete, so the elbow is as healthy as it’s going to get. This afternoon’s start — as well as his next start in five days — is about testing the ligament in game action. It still might blow out and require Tommy John surgery. If it does, the Yankees want it to happen now rather than next April.

The Yankees are out of the postseason race — they are still mathematically alive, but they’re an extreme long shot — so results don’t matter this afternoon. If Tanaka gets rocked, fine. It’ll suck, but whatever. The healthy of his elbow is the most important thing. If he comes through the start feeling strong and the ligament holds up, then it’s a major win in the grand scheme of things. The Yankees could certainly use some good injury news after these last two seasons. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. DH Derek Jeter
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. LF Chris Young
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Francisco Cervelli
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Not the best weather for Tanaka’s return — it’s overcast and humid as hell, plus there is some scattered rain in the forecast throughout the day. Hopefully nothing that causes any kind of delay. The last thing the Yankees need is Tanaka’s first game back to be cut short by the weather. This afternoon’s game will start at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Updates: Joe Girardi said Derek Jeter will play every game the rest of the season, even if he only starts as the DH … Carlos Beltran (elbow) will not have his surgery until after the season, though it remains unclear if he will be healthy enough to play this last week … Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring) wants to play again this season, even if the team is eliminated … Chaz Roe was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Tanaka, who was activated off the 60-day DL.

Sabathia nominated for Roberto Clemente Award, Beltran nominated for Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award

CC Sabathia has been selected as the Yankees’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. It is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Here are the 30 nominees. Derek Jeter won the award in 2009 and Carlos Beltran won it last year.

In other news, Beltran is one of six players nominated for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, the MLBPA announced. The award is given annually to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” Mariano Rivera won it last year. Beltran is up against Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche, and Anthony Rizzo. Congrats to both Sabathia and Beltran. It’s a honor just to be nominated for awards like this.

Bad sixth inning sends Yanks to 6-3 loss to Jays

Source: FanGraphs

The little three-game winning streak was fun while it lasted. A rough sixth inning sent the Yankees to a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. Let’s recap:

  • Answer Back: Toronto scored a quick run in the first inning but the Yankees rallied to take a 2-1 lead by the fourth. Brian McCann singled in Derek Jeter in the third after Jeter reached on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Then, an inning later, Frankie Cervelli singled in Chase Headley. They had first-and-third with two outs thanks to singles by Headley and Ichiro Suzuki. Five of eight Yankees reached base against Marcus Stroman at one point spanning the third and fourth innings.
  • Meltdown: After allowing the first inning run, Chris Capuano kept the Blue Jays off the board for the next four innings. Then things completely unraveled in the sixth. A walk (Jose Bautista), an infield single (Edwin Encarnacion), and another walk (Dioner Navarro) loaded the bases with no outs, which usually means bullpen time. Instead, Capuano remained in the game to serve up a two-run ground-rule double to Danny Valencia, erasing the lead. He also stayed in to allow a long sacrifice fly to John Mayberry Jr., stretching the deficit to 4-2. Either Joe Girardi got caught off guard and didn’t have a reliever ready or he gave Capuano way, way too long of a leash at that point in the game.
  • Late Innings: The Jays tacked on some runs with a Bautista solo homer in the seventh and then a walk, a wild pitch, and a single in the ninth. The insurance runs ultimately did not matter even though Jeter doubled in Brett Gardner in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees did manage to bring the tying run to the plate that inning, but Brendan Ryan struck out and Chris Young flew out. Hard to believe Ryan was allowed to hit in that spot even with Carlos Beltran hurt. Zelous Wheeler or John Ryan Murphy would have been better options. Oh well.
  • Leftovers: Jeter scored the 1,920th run of his career, breaking a tie with Alex Rodriguez and moving him into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time runs scored list … Gardner snapped an 0-for-27 slump with his first inning double. He had another hit later in the game … Ichiro (two), McCann, Headley, Cervelli, and Stephen Drew had their other hits. Headley drew the only walk … Chase Whitley and David Phelps allowed the insurance runs. Esmil Rogers and David Huff threw a scoreless inning each.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees are 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot with only eight games to play. Their elimination number is five and FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 0.2%. All eyes will be on Masahiro Tanaka in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. He is returning to the mound after missing three months with a partially torn elbow ligament. Drew Hutchison is starting for the Jays. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you watch to catch that game or any of the other four final home games of the season/Jeter’s career live.

Carlos Beltran unavailable due to nagging elbow discomfort

Carlos Beltran was unavailable for today’s game due to continued discomfort in his elbow, Joe Girardi told reporters. I figured he was unavailable as soon as Brendan Ryan was allowed to bat for himself as the tying run in the ninth inning. Girardi said it is “possible” they will shut Beltran down for the remainder of the season. Makes sense. Get the surgery over now.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for this gorgeous Saturday night. Pretty great weather in New York these last few days. The Mets are playing tonight, MLB Network will air a regional game later on, and there’s a ton of college football on as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Update: Mark Teixeira leaves game with sore wrist

6:16pm: Teixeira left the game with soreness in his right wrist, the Yankees announced. He is being evaluated by team doctor Dr. Ahmad.

5:41pm: Mark Teixeira left this afternoon’s game for an unknown reason in the fifth inning. I assume he’s hurt. Teixeira missed a game with soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist last week and someone told me he was flexing his wrist during one of his earlier at-bats this afternoon. I didn’t see it myself though. Stay tuned for any updates.