Game 37: Green’s Debut

(Aimee Dilge/Times Leader)
(Aimee Dilge/Times Leader)

The season is only 36 games old and already the Yankees have had three players make their MLB debuts (Johnny Barbato, Luis Cessa, Ben Gamel). Tonight will feature their fourth MLB debut of the season as right-hander Chad Green gets the spot start in place of the injured Luis Severino. Green came from the Tigers with Cessa in the Justin Wilson trade over the winter.

What do you need to know about Green? Well, he’ll turn 25 next week, he was an 11th round pick out of Louisville in 2013, and he had a 1.22 ERA (2.12 FIP) in seven starts and 37 innings for Triple-A Scranton before being called up. Green is a low-90s sinker/low-80s slider/low-80s splitter guy. He’s credited the Yankees with helping him improve the slider, leading to that success in Triple-A this year.

So that’s the crash course on tonight’s starter. As for the Yankees overall, they are coming off a fantastic 7-3 homestand and tonight they begin a seven-game West Coast trip in Arizona. The bullpen figures to be short tonight, especially in the late innings. The deeper Green can pitch into the game, the better his chances of getting a W. Here is the Diamondbacks’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. LF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. RHP Chad Green

Pretty standard “Phoenix in May” weather in Phoenix today: low-90s and sunny. The Chase Field roof will be open, apparently. Tonight’s game will begin at 9:40pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game, assuming you’re planning to stay up.

Injury Updates: Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) took batting practice and did some running. Joe Girardi said the plan is to activate A-Rod off the DL on Thursday, the first day he is eligible to return … CC Sabathia (groin) will come off the DL and start Friday, Girardi confirmed. That’s the first day he is eligible to be activated. Ivan Nova will start Thursday on normal rest.

Monday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are out on the West Coast this week, which means we have to wait a few extra hours for baseball each day. Lame. This is the open thread until the game thread comes along a little later. ESPN is showing the Red Sox and Royals at 7pm ET, plus you have NBA and NHL playoff action on as well. Talk about whatever here.

5/16 to 5/18 Series Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Those uniforms make it look like their ankles are bleeding. (Presswire)
Those uniforms make it look like their ankles are bleeding. (Presswire)

It’s time for the first West Coast trip and the first interleague series of the season. This one is a seven gamer through Arizona and Oakland. The Yankees are visiting Chase Field for the first time since 2010 this week. Their starting pitchers for that 2010 series: A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Javier Vazquez. Seems like a lifetime ago. The Yankees have won two of three both times they’ve visited Arizona in the regular season. There’s also that whole 2001 World Series thing, but we don’t like to talk about that.

What Have They Done Lately?

The D’Backs have been pretty streaky lately. They have lost their last five games, but prior to that they won five straight, and prior to that they lost six straight and eight of nine. Arizona is 17-23 with a -19 run differential overall. After that busy offseason, they’re currently sitting in the NL West cellar.

Offense & Defense

Arizona’s offense has been about average so far in 2016. They’re scoring 4.38 runs per game — the NL average is 4.41 runs per game — with a team 97 wRC+ overall. (Their non-pitchers have a 103 wRC+.) Manager Chip Hale is without two of his best players: CF A.J. Pollock and RF David Peralta. Pollock has not played this year and is out long-term with a broken elbow. Peralta (96 wRC+) was just placed on the DL yesterday with a wrist issue. Peralta and especially Pollock are two of Arizona’s better players.

Goldy. (Jason O. Watson/Getty)
Goldy. (Jason O. Watson/Getty)

Their best hitter, of course, is 1B Paul Goldschmidt (117 wRC+), who is on the very short list of the best all-around players in the game. That 117 wRC+ is actually way down by his standards; Goldschmidt hit .309/.412/.556 (159 wRC+) from 2013-15. Beyond the big first baseman, the D’Backs have quality supporting pieces in 2B Jean Segura (123 wRC+), OF Yasmany Tomas (121 wRC+), 3B Jake Lamb (115 wRC+), and C Welington Castillo (123 wRC+). UTIL Brandon Drury (131 wRC+) has been pretty excellent as well.

SS Nick Ahmed (31 wRC+) is in the lineup for his glove, not his bat. UTIL Chris Owings (84 wRC+) is a middle infielder who has been playing center field. UTIL Chris Herrmann (128 wRC+) is the backup catcher who can also fill in at other places. OF Rickie Weeks Jr. (59 wRC+) — he added the Junior this season — and IF Phil Gosselin (72 wRC+) are the other bench players. The D’Backs called up veteran OF Michael Bourn just yesterday in the wake of the Peralta injury.

Both Goldschmidt and Ahmed are well-above-average defenders, and both Lamb and Segura are solid as well. The outfield is a mess right now though. Tomas is a straight up bad, Bourn’s legs are close to gone, and the other guys they’ve been sticking in the outfield (Drury, Owings) are playing out of position. Castillo’s good enough behind the plate. Not great, not terrible. Arizona’s infield defense is good. The outfield? Not so much.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (9:40pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. ARI) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (vs. NYY)
Ray has a connection to the Yankees. He was one of the players the Tigers sent to the D’Backs as part of the three-team trade that brought Didi Gregorius to New York prior to last season. The 24-year-old southpaw owns a 4.84 ERA (4.38 FIP) in seven starts and 35.1 innings this year, and aside from his strikeout rate (24.6%), his peripherals are not so good: 11.4% walks, 40.2% grounders, and 1.27 HR/9. Righties have hit him a lot harder than lefties both this year and throughout his career. Ray throws really hard, especially for a lefty. He sits in the mid-90s with his four-seamer and sinker, and has run the four-seamer up as high as 97.7 mph this season. A mid-80s slider is his top secondary offering. He’ll also throw a few upper-80s changeups and low-80s curves per start. Ray is a power pitcher all the way.

Green, meanwhile, is scheduled to make his Major League debut tonight. He came over from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade and is filling in for the injured Luis Severino. My guess is Green will be sent down following tonight’s game for either an extra reliever or another bench player (depends on the state of the bullpen). The Yankees have a short bench right now and that’s not ideal in an NL ballpark. CC Sabathia is coming back Friday and will assume this rotation spot. This is very much a spot start for Green.

Greinke. (Daniel Shirey/Getty)
Greinke. (Daniel Shirey/Getty)

Tuesday (9:40pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. ARI) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (vs. NYY)
The D’Backs gave Greinke a six-year contract worth $206.5M over the winter and they can’t be too thrilled with the super early returns. Greinke, 32, has a 5.26 ERA (3.61 FIP) in eight starts and 49.2 innings, mostly because he’s giving up a lot more home runs (1.09 HR/9) than usual. His strikeout (20.2%) and walk (5.5%) rates are fine, ditto his ground ball rate (47.2%). Lefties have historically had more success against Greinke than righties, but not by much. At his best, Greinke is an artist on the mound, painting the corners and locating with precision. No one in the game has better command, at least when Greinke is pitching like Greinke. His four-seamer and seldom used sinker sit around 92 mph, and he backs them up with upper-80s changeups and mid-80s sliders. He’ll also throw a few slow curves per start that will range anywhere from 65-75 mph. I’m basically ignoring Greinke’s stats right now. I still see him as one of the best pitchers in the world. He reminds me so much of Mike Mussina.

Wednesday (9:40pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. ARI) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (vs. NYY)
I’m totally cool with trading prospects for established big leaguers, but wow did the D’Backs give up a ton for Miller. Like an absurd amount. It looks even worse now that Shelby has a 6.94 ERA (6.85 FIP) in eight starts and 35 innings. He’s been fighting a weird mechanical issue that has been causing him to hit his hand on the mound during his follow through. It’s a little tough to see in this GIF, but some dirt kicks up from the mound when Miller’s hand hits:

Shelby Miller

Weird, right? He’s actually had to leave a few starts because his hand was cut up from the mound. Miller and Arizona’s pitching coaches have been working hard to get him to finish more upright all season. So far this season Shelby has more walks (14.2%) than strikeouts (13.6%), and he’s been both fly ball (39.3%) and homer (2.06 HR/9) prone. All throughout his career he’s been much more effective against righties than lefties. Miller, 25, is averaging 93 mph with his fastball and 89 mph with his cutter. His changeup lives in the mid-80s and his curveball in the upper-70s.

Bullpen Status

The back-end of Arizona’s bullpen is a microcosm of relievers today. Their three big late-inning arms are a failed starter, a guy with a history of arm problems, and a guy who started throwing submarine as a last resort to save his career. Relievers come in all shapes and sizes. Here is their current eight-man bullpen:

RHP Jake Barrett: 14 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 HR (0 pitches Sun., 0 pitches Sat.)
LHP Andrew Chafin: 13 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 16 K, 0 HR (0 pitches Sun., 0 pitches Sat.)
RHP Tyler Clippard: 16.1 IP, 17 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 16 K, 2 HR (3 pitches Sun., 0 pitches Sat.)
LHP Zac Curtis: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR (0 pitches Sun., 3 pitches Sat.)
RHP Randall Delgado: 21 IP, 26 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 8 BB, 19 K, 2 HR (0 pitches Sun., 0 pitches Sat.)
RHP Daniel Hudson: 17.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 K, 0 HR (10 pitches Sun., 24 pitches Sat.)
RHP Evan Marshall: 9.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 0 HR (0 pitches Sun., 20 pitches Sat.)
RHP Brad Ziegler: 16.1 IP, 19 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 8 BB, 10 K, 0 HR (12 pitches Sun., 0 pitches Sat.)

Marshall is a pretty incredible story. In Triple-A last August he took a line drive to the head and suffered a skull fracture. He needed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Marshall was able to work his way back and be a full participant in Spring Training. Incredible, isn’t it? Now here he is in the big leagues. Good for him.

Ziegler (submariner) is the closer and Clippard (failed starter) and Hudson (arm problems) are his setup men. Ziegler’s thing is ground balls (60.4%). Curtis was called up all the way from High-A a few weeks ago and he’s a left-on-left matchup guy. Delgado is the long man and everyone else slots in to the middle innings somewhere. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. The big three end-game guys probably won’t be available tonight.

Romine’s hot start allows the Yankees to be patient with Gary Sanchez

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s hard to believe that only a year ago, Austin Romine went unclaimed on waivers and seemed to be nearing the end of his time with the Yankees. Heck, it was only seven months ago that he looked like a candidate to lose his 40-man roster spot whenever the Yankees needed room. Romine’s time in the organization was about to come to an end after nine seasons.

Except it didn’t come to an end. The Yankees managed to hang on to Romine over the winter and he came to Spring Training as a backup catcher candidate. No one seemed to think he would actually win the job after Gary Sanchez‘s monster 2015 season, but the Yankees insisted he was in the mix, and eventually he did indeed win the job. Sanchez struggled in camp, Romine raked, and that was that.

“There was a lot of talk that (Sanchez would) be the backup, and we were encouraged with how he played last year, but it’s probably a guy trying too hard and trying to do too much,” said Joe Girardi last week when asked about Sanchez’s spring. “That happens all the time. The key is that you learn from that — like an Austin Romine did — and that you just go out and relax and be yourself.”

Six weeks into the regular season, it’s hard to think that decision could have worked out any better. The 27-year-old Romine is hitting .303/.324/.424 (104 wRC+) in limited time as Brian McCann‘s backup while Sanchez remains in Triple-A, playing every day to continue his development, especially defensively. Sanchez owns a .297/.345/.550 (163 wRC+) batting line with the RailRiders.

We spent so much time talking about keeping Sanchez down in the minors long enough to delay his free agency. Thirty-five days. That was the magic number. Thirty-five days in the minors in 2016 meant team control of Sanchez’s age 29 season in 2022. That’s a very long way off and no one has any idea what will happen between now and then, but 35 days? It was worth keeping Sanchez in the minors that long this year to gain that extra year of control.

Those 35 days have come and gone, and Romine has not given the Yankees a reason to make a change at backup catcher. On day 33 Romine went 3-for-4 with two doubles against David Price and the Red Sox while leading Nathan Eovaldi through eight innings of two-run ball. A few days later he started at DH because he’s been hitting so well. Romine was going to have to hit to keep his job. He’s credited his success to a change in his mental approach.

“I went home in the offseason and said I’m done not doing the best that I can,” he said to Laura Albanese last week. “You get passed up (for a job) by another catcher … It just makes me step back and realize what I needed to do, and that was hit. It comes down to the same thing. I’ve got to hit. I’ve got to show them I can hit up here, show them I can hit off big league pitchers and continue to show them I can catch.”

Romine has hit well and he has seemed to work well with the pitching staff, so much so that he’s essentially become Eovaldi’s personal catcher. The hitting success very well might be small sample size noise. That stuff happens. But Romine was going to have to hit in Spring Training to win a job and hit early in the regular season to keep that job, and he did just that. This is one of those cases where a small sample means a whole lot.

“Just being able to slow the game (down),” said Romine to Chad Jennings when asked what has made him successful this year. “I’ve been here. I’ve been in this situation before. I know how to prepare for hitting every four, five days. Being the backup catcher you get to play once a series, maybe. Being able to prepare myself to hit, going on a couple days now, it’s a hard thing to do. But it’s just being able to slow the game down.”

So now, with Romine emerging as serviceable backup catcher (if not more) rather than settling in a stopgap, the Yankees have some options. First and foremost, they have the option to remain patient with Sanchez and leave him in Triple-A. Not for service time reasons, but for developmental reasons. Sanchez is still only 23, remember. He’s 23 and still in need of refinement behind the plate. He can play everyday in Triple-A and work on things.

Also, Romine’s combination of strong play, cheap salary ($556,000), and years of team control (through 2019) means he may have some actual trade value. A year ago this guy slipped though waivers unclaimed. Any team could have had him and they all passed. Now, a year later, Romine is a productive big leaguer who seems to have turned a corner with his mental approach and preparation. And it helps that he plays the most premium position of all.

The Yankees have made a habit of trading backup catchers in recent years. They sent Chris Stewart to the Pirates for Kyle Haynes two years ago, Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for Justin Wilson one year ago, and this past winter John Ryan Murphy went to the Twins for Aaron Hicks. Can Romine bring back a Wilson or a Hicks in a trade? Nah, probably not. Cervelli was an established big league backup catcher and Murphy had a full year as a productive backup to his credit and is three years younger.

Romine for all we know is a guy who just had the six best weeks of his career. He’s appeared in 15 games and has 35 plate appearances. That’s it. I do buy his change in approach because he does look different at the plate. Romine is swinging at way fewer pitches out of the zone this year than he did in 2013 (36.3% to 31.4%), his only other extended trial in MLB, and his hard contact rate is up too (29.4% to 37.0%). For the first time, he looks like someone who knows he belongs.

For now, Romine has performed better than anyone could have reasonably hoped in the early going this season, and that’s great news for the Yankees. I get that people are eager to see Sanchez, I am too, but Romine has given the Yankees no reason to make a change. Two quality backup catchers is better than one, after all. At some point the Yankees will have to pick between the two. Right now they can be patient. There’s no urgency to make a decision because Romine had made himself in an asset.

Yankeemetrics: Light at the end of the tunnel? [May 13-15]

Chase "Mr. Clutch" Headley (AP Photo)
Chase “Mr. Clutch” Headley (AP Photo)

Raise the white flag
Friday’s pitching matchup between Chris Sale and Luis Severino looked like a complete mismatch on paper, and that’s how it played out in real time as the White Sox crushed the Yankees, 7-1, in the series opener.

Sale went the distance, dominated the Yankees lineup and moved to 8-0 with a 1.67 ERA this season. He also lowered his career ERA versus the Yankees to 1.17, the best mark against the Yankees by any pitcher in major-league history who has made at least five starts against the team.

Holding the Yankees to one run on six hits, Sale also became the first White Sox pitcher with a complete game win at Yankee Stadium since Jim Abbott on July 18, 1995. The last White Sox pitcher to allow one run or fewer in a nine-inning complete-game win at Yankee Stadium was Neil Allen in 1986.

Severino was removed in the third inning after surrendering seven runs, and fell to 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA in seven starts. The only other Yankees in the last 100 years to go winless in their first seven starts of the season, and lose at least six of those games, were Chien-Ming Wang (2009), Doyle Alexander (1982) and Stan Bahnsen (1969).

Two good to be true
The Yankees bounced back from Friday’s deflating loss with a 2-1 victory on Saturday afternoon, improving to 9-2 against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2013, their best record in the Bronx against any team over the past four years.

The win was also their first this season when scoring fewer than three runs; entering Saturday, the Yankees were 0-16 in those games, the worst record among all MLB teams.

Ivan Nova, making his second start of the season, was outstanding in giving the Yankees 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He’s now allowed one run or fewer in six of his seven starts against the White Sox, including all three at Yankee Stadium. His 2.42 career ERA versus Chicago is the best by a Yankee pitcher in the Wild Card era (min. 44 innings).

Dellin Betances relieved Nova in the sixth inning and struck out all four of the batters he faced. That’s the second time in his career he’s thrown more than an inning and punched out every guy.

He is the only Yankee pitcher in the last 100 years to have multiple outings like that. Two other active pitchers have two such games on their resume: Steve Geltz (Rays) and Kenley Jansen (Dodgers).

Milestone Man (mlb.com)
Milestone Man (mlb.com)

Don’t call it a comeback
Slowly, but surely, the Yankees are starting to dig themselves out of the massive hole they dug themselves into during the first month of the season. After taking the rubber game on Sunday afternoon against White Sox, the Yankees clinched their third series in a row and finished off a strong 10-game homestand at 7-3.

Carlos Beltran, hitless in his previous three games, broke out of that mini-slump in style with a towering home run in the sixth inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. It was also the 400th of his career, putting Beltran in rare company with some of baseball’s greatest sluggers. He is the:

  • 54th player in MLB history with 400 career homers;
  • eighth player to reach the 400-homer milestone in a Yankee uniform (Babe Ruth, A-Rod, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano);
  • fourth switch-hitter to reach the milestone (Chipper Jones, Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray);
  • third Puerto Rican in the exclusive club (Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez).

Beltran’s legacy is more than just homers, though, he’s one of the best all-around, five-tool players. There are now three players in major-league history with at least 400 homers, 75 triples, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases in a career: Beltran, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

While Beltran provided the biggest milestone moment of the game, Chase Headley delivered the decisive blow with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the seventh that broke a 5-5 tie. It was his fifth go-ahead hit in the seventh inning or later since his debut in pinstripes on July 22, 2014. That’s tied with A-Rod for the most go-ahead hits in the seventh inning or later among Yankees during that span.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 16th, 2016

Record Last Week: 5-2 (36 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 16-20 (137 RS, 159 RA, 15-21 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Diamondbacks (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Athletics (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Beltran’s milestone homer helps Yankees to 7-5 win over White Sox

The Yankees dug themselves a bit of a hole early this season, and if they’re going to turn things around, they were going to have to have a great homestand. They did exactly that. The Yankees beat the White Sox by the score of 7-5 on Sunday afternoon. They took two of three from the Red Sox, three of four from the Royals, and now two of three from the White Sox. Couldn’t ask for a better homestand. The Yanks have won eight of their last 12 games overall.

<3 (Elsa/Getty)

Take The Lead, Then Re-Take The Lead
Boy did this game drag. Neither starting pitcher was particularly sharp, so there were a lot of long at-bats and long innings early on. The score was 4-3 White Sox going into the bottom of the sixth, which is when the Yankees first rallied to take the lead. It all started with an error too. Brett Lawrie pulled Jose Abreu off the bag with a throw, allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to reach with one out.

With two outs and two strikes, Carlos Beltran came through with a clutch two-run home run to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. It just so happened to be his 400th career homer too. Beltran is the fourth switch-hitter in history to reach 400 dingers, joining Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones. He’s also only the fifth player with 400 homers and 300 steals. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, and Andre Dawson are also members of that club. Good company, huh?

Beltran’s homer gave the Yankees a lead that proved to be short-lived. Dellin Betances allowed a stupid BABIP fueled run in the very next half inning. Abreu and Todd Frazier pulled soft ground balls through the left side to put runners on first and second with no outs, then Melky Cabrera slapped a double the other way that was fair by maybe a foot. Probably less:

Melky Cabrera Dellin Betances

Bah. Baseball can be so stupid sometimes. The double tied the game 5-5 and set the White Sox up for a potentially big inning. The Yankees were in trouble.

The “save” in this game came in that seventh inning, if you ask me. The ChiSox had runners on second and third with no outs following Melky’s double, yet Dellin rebounded to escape the jam with a ground ball — the infield was in, so Frazier had to hold at third — and two strikeouts. Chicago could have conceivably scored two runs with outs that inning if some grounders or fly balls were well-placed. Betances stranded ’em. Well done.

The Yankees took the lead again the next half-inning. It all happened with two outs too. Didi Gregorius worked a two-out walk against Matt Albers, then pinch-hitter Chase Headley (!) came off the bench to rip a first pitch fastball into the right-center field gap for a run-scoring double. How about that? Headley went from having zero extra-base hits to having three in the last four games. Good times.

Headley’s double gave New York a 6-5 lead and later Brian McCann made it 7-5 with a solo home run against Nate Jones in the eighth. Andrew Miller struck out two in a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman struck out zero (wtf!?) in a perfect ninth. The White Sox did not have a base-runner following Melky’s game-tying double in the seventh. Some timely hitting and clutch bullpen work led to this win.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Tanaka Labors
For the second straight start, Masahiro Tanaka struggled on Sunday, though these struggles were different than the last time out. In his last start he got beat with the long ball. On Sunday the the White Sox strung together a bunch of hits and capitalized on some walks. Adam Eaton did hit a solo home run. The other three runs scored on singles with a combined exit velocity of about 150 mph.

Tanaka walked back-to-back hitters with one out in the second, then Avisail Garcia singled a run in with a ground ball through the left side of the infield. Following a pair of bloop singles in the fourth, Eaton laid down a squeeze bunt to score a run — he was thrown out at first on the play — and Austin Jackson followed with a bloop single to center. That whole inning was annoying. Three bloops and a squeeze bunt. Blah.

(Also, shout out to Eaton for the squeeze bunt. He went deep in his previous at-bat and the White Sox had runners on the corners with one out and the top of the order up. And Tanaka was very hittable. Playing for the big inning is for suckers.)

Aside from Eaton’s homer, the hardest hit balls against Tanaka did not score a run. Melky and Garcia were stranded after ripping doubles, and Frazier was stranded after whacking a hard hit grounder back up the middle. Starlin Castro did get to the ball, but he rushed the throw and wound up bobbling the transfer. Tanaka finished with four runs allowed on a season high eight hits and three walks. He fanned seven.

More than anything Tanaka struggled to get his splitter in the right spot. It was generally down — the splitter Eaton hit for a homer was decidedly not down — but too far down and in the dirt. Tanaka made it easy for the ChiSox to take the pitch Sunday. He threw 25 splitters and got only nine swings (36%) and four swings and misses (16%). Tanaka came into the game averaging 55% swings against the splitter and 24% whiffs.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Early Runs
The pitching line on Miguel Gonzalez would lead you believe the Yankees scored way more than three runs against him. He allowed five hits and five walks in only 4.2 innings. Gonzalez fanned one batter. The Yankees let him off the hook a few times, most notably leaving the bases loaded in the third. At least Castro beat out an infield single and Dustin Ackley drew a bases loaded walk with two outs to score two runs earlier that inning.

The Yankees scored their first run in a matter of four pitches in the first inning. Ellsbury reached on an infield single, Brett Gardner singled to put runners on the corners, then Beltran plated Ellsbury with a sacrifice fly. Ellsbury saw two pitches and the other two hacked at the first pitch they saw from Gonzalez. Hey, it worked, right? The Castro infield hit and Ackley walk drove in the team’s second and third runs of the afternoon.

Leftovers
Gregorius made what was probably the team’s best defensive play of the season in the sixth inning. It was certainly the most heads up and most athletic defensive play we’ve seen by a Yankee in 2016. Didi came off second base and had to jump to catch McCann’s throw on a steal attempt, but he still managed to reach down and apply the tag on Tyler Saladino while in midair. Check it out:

For the fourth time this season, Ellsbury reached on a catcher’s interference. There are 126 games to go, so the single season record is well within reach. What is the record, you ask? That would be eight by Roberto Kelly, who did it with the 1992 Yankees. Maybe if Ellsbury breaks the record the Yankees can trade him for the next Paul O’Neill?

Gardner had three hits and a walk on the afternoon. In fact, the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-19 (.421) with three walks, a hit-by-pitch, a double, two homers, two steals, six runs scored, four runs driven in, and one strikeout. That will work just fine, thank you very much.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and up to the minute standings, head over to ESPN. MLB.com is the place to go for the video highlights. Also don’t forget about our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading to the lesser coast for a seven-game road trip through Arizona and Oakland. They’ll play the first of three against the Diamondbacks on Monday night. That’s a 9:40pm ET start. Chad Green will make his Major League debut and start that game, the Yankees announced this afternoon. They’re going to start him now rather than wait for Luis Severino‘s next turn to come up to use the spot starter. Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi get an extra day of rest this way. Lefty Robbie Ray will be on the bump for the D’Backs.