Yankeemetrics: The last-place curse (Aug. 20-23)

Rare celebration against the Indians (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Rare celebration against the Indians (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Cy Tomlin
This might have been the most boring game of the season, until Joe Girardi got himself ejected in the ninth inning and the Yankees’ rally fell just short, sending them to a 3-2 loss to the Indians in the series opener.

Josh Tomlin held the Yankees to just two hits and one run in seven innings, becoming the first Indians pitcher to give up no more than two hits in at least seven innings pitched at Yankee Stadium since Bartolo Colon on Sept. 18, 2000. Of course, Tomlin entered this game with a 11.57 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium, the fifth-highest by any pitcher with at least two starts at the ballpark.

Cy Carrasco
The Yankees lost their second in a row to the last-place Indians on Thursday, which gave them a 1-4 record vs the Tribe this season and guaranteed they’d lose the season series. Combined with their 3-4 record against them last year, this is the first time that they Yankees have lost the season series to the Indians in back-to-back seasons since 1968-69.

Carlos Carrasco became the latest Indians pitcher to silence the Yankee bats, striking out 11 guys in 6 2/3 innings. He’s the only Indians starter in the last 100 years with that many strikeouts in fewer than seven innings pitched against the Yankees. The last pitcher on any team to do that to the Yankees was the Rays’ Matt Moore on Sept. 22, 2011.

Carrasco has now allowed one run in 18 2/3 innings pitched over three starts in the Bronx against the Yankees in his career. That’s the fewest runs allowed by any visiting pitcher in his first three major-league starts at Yankee Stadium (old or new).

Welcome to the club
It’s amazing what a little run support will do … Luis Severino finally earned his first career win, throwing six innings of three-hit, one-run ball on Saturday afternoon as the Yankees beat the Indians, 6-2.

The Yankees had scored a total of two runs when he was on the mound in his first three starts combined. And then Brett Gardner matched that total with one swing of the bat, hitting a two-run homer in the first inning.

Brian McCann extended the lead with a solo shot, giving him 75 RBI this season, the seventh time in his career he’s reached that number. The only other catchers in MLB history with at least seven 75-RBI seasons within their first 11 major-league seasons are Bill Dickey, Johnny Bench, Ted Simmons, Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza.

This is the second time in four games Severino has pitched at least five innings and allowed no more than three hits. Here’s the list of Yankee pitchers besides Severino with two starts like that within their first four career games in the last 100 years: Dave Righetti and Johnny Broaca.

Babe Lindor
This habit of losing to cellar-dwellars might really come back to haunt the Yankees. They dropped another game to the Indians on Sunday and are now 14-15 vs last-place teams this season; the Blue Jays are 16-11 against last-place teams and the Orioles are 23-7.

Dellin Betances took the loss when he allowed a tie-breaking homer to Francisco Lindor — the first homer that Betances had ever given up to a player batting left-handed. He had faced 302 lefties in his career before Lindor’s eighth-inning blast.

Lindor finished the season with a .433 batting average (13 for 30) in seven games against the Yankees. Over the last 100 years, the only players in their age-21 season or younger to have a higher batting average (min. 25 at-bats) against the Yankees are Claudell Washington (.452 in 1976) and Alex Rodriguez (.434 in 1996).

Brett Gardner reached a milestone in this game, becoming the sixth Yankee with 200 career stolen bases. He’s also just the second player in franchise history to get 200 steals within his first eight seasons, joining Hal Chase, who racked up 243 steals in his first eight seasons from 1905-12.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 24th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (34 RS, 30 RA)
Season Record: 68-55 (585 RS, 518 RA, 69-54 pythag. record) 0.5 GB in ALE, 5.5 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: vs. Astros (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Braves (three games, Fri. 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 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?

DotF: Gamel, Sanchez have big games in Scranton’s win

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — he’s hitting .332/.379/.545 with 13 doubles, six triples, and five homers in his last 46 games … jeepers
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder & LF Jose Pirela: both 0-4, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 4-4, 2 R, 2 2B — slump’s over
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Austin Romine: 1-3, 3 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 66 of 99 pitches were strikes (67%) … easily his best outing a Triple-A and it came at a good time, their bullpen has been taxed due an extra innings game and the recent shuttling
  • RHP Andury Acevedo: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 25 of 39 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

Yanks lose Sabathia, lose 4-3 to Indians on Andy Pettitte Day

Yuck. Sunday afternoon started with the Yankees retiring No. 46 and dedicating a plaque in Monument Park in honor of Andy Pettitte, but the fun stopped there. They dropped the thoroughly disappointing series finale to the Indians by the score of 4-3.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Bum Knee
The Yankees, who are already thin on rotation depth, lost their leader in innings pitched Sunday afternoon. CC Sabathia exited the game with right knee pain in the third inning, after allowing two runs on a Carlos Santana two-run home run. It was a no joke homer. CC missed out over the plate with an 88 mph nothingball and Santana hit it into the visitor’s bullpen in the first inning. Statcast says it traveled 430 feet.

Sabathia walked four batters in 2.2 innings and looked out of sorts all afternoon. It was clear from the get-go this was going to be an ugly start. His velocity was down even compared to his other starts on normal rest, and Sabathia struck out just one batter, the last one he faced. He threw the pitch, got Yan Gomes to swing and miss, then trainer Steve Donohue came out and Sabathia left the game. It was not good. The Yankees are running out of rotation caliber arms.

A Missed Opportunity
With no outs in the third inning, the Yankees had two runners on base and a 3-0 count on No. 3 hitter Carlos Beltran. They needed the Indians to make an error to score that inning. Beltran swung at the 3-0 pitch and hit it to the warning track for the first out. He hit it well, but Trevor Bauer leads the AL in walks and had thrown six of his last seven pitches out of the zone. Odds of him throwing three strikes before one ball were low. Not sure I like swinging 3-0 there.

Jacoby Ellsbury advanced to third on Beltran’s fly ball, then scored on Brett Gardner‘s stolen base attempt. Gomes made a high throw to second, the ball deflected off Fransisco Lindor’s glove at the apex of his jump, and hopped away from the infield. Ellsbury was able to trot in for the run. Brian McCann and Greg Bird both struck out looking to strand Gardner at second. That inning went from potentially great to a letdown in a hurry. Huge moment in the early innings.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Bullpen Marathon
Once Sabathia was out of the game, Joe Girardi did that thing where he uses his entire bullpen in reverse order of his trust in the relievers. Nick Rumbelow replaced Sabathia and was charged with a run in two innings. A Chase Headley throwing error set the rally up in the fifth — Headley made a poor throw but Bird won’t see an easier hop the rest of the year, it was right at his chest and he whiffed — before Gardner and John Ryan Murphy teamed up for a damage-limiting double play.

The Tribe had runners on the corners with no outs, Santana hit a lazy fly ball to left, and Gardner was able to throw Mike Aviles out at home. Murphy did a great job coming out in front of the plate to catch the throw, then leaning back to apply the tag in one motion. Pretty slick play. Rumbelow intentionally walked pinch-hitter Jason Kipnis, then Branden Pinder came in and walked the next two batters, the second with the bases loaded. That was the run charged to Rumbelow. Blargh.

Pinder allowed a single and walked another batter in the sixth, but did not allow a run. He got two quick outs in the seventh before allowing a triple to Abe Almonte. Next up on the trust depth chart: Chasen Shreve. He struck out Jerry Sands to end the inning. All things considered, one run in 4.1 innings from the soft part of the bullpen is pretty good. The Indians had a ton of base-runners — 16 in the first six innings! — but never broke it open.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Comeback
The Yankees didn’t get much of anything going against Bauer after that third inning. He retired eleven of 13 batters after that inning and it wasn’t until the seventh that New York had any kind of serious threat. The game-tying rally started with a Stephen Drew walk — he fell behind 0-2 and came back to draw the walk — and continued with an Ellsbury double to right with one out. They were in business.

Between the walk and the double, Alex Rodriguez pinch-struck out for Murphy, which was a weird decision. Girardi gave up the DH with that move, and it was only the seventh inning of a two-run game. Plus he had a short bench because Mark Teixeira‘s banged up. Oh well, I guess we wouldn’t complain if A-Rod homered. Anyway, Gardner struck out for the second out of the inning, then Beltran blooped a game-tying ground rule double to left.

Prior to Ellsbury’s double, the Yankees were hitless in ten at-bats with men in scoring position. Ellsbury’s double was smoked to right field but Beltran’s double was the definition of “hit it where they ain’t.” It was just beyond the reach of the outfielder and just inside the foul line. Perfectly placed. That was the big hit the Yankees were struggling to get earlier this series.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Letdown
Once the game was tied, Girardi went to Dellin Betances in the top of the eighth, and he promptly walked the No. 9 hitter on four pitches. That’s okay! Only because McCann threw the pinch-runner out trying to steal second. Phew. Unfortunately, Lindor tomahawked a 3-2 fastball into the short porch for a go-ahead solo home run. The pitch was up in the zone but Dellin usually gets away with it. Not against Lindor though. Man is that kid impressive. The Indians took the 4-3 lead.

The Yankees did get a runner on base with one out in the eighth, but Didi Gregorius flew out and Drew stuck out on three pitches in a non-competitive at-bat. It was pathetic. Took two breaking balls for called strikes then swung over a pitch that nearly hit him in the foot. The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, though Ellsbury should have walked. Home plate ump Tom Woodring called what should have been ball four strike three. His zone was brutal all day:

Tom WoodringLeftovers
The Yankees had five hits total. Ellsbury singled and doubled, Beltran doubled, and both Headley and Bird singled. They did draw six walks though, including three by Gardner and two by Drew. Gregorius had the other walk. The offense went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and geez, I don’t even remember eight at-bats with men in scoring position. Seems like a lot.

Justin Wilson tossed a scoreless ninth after Betances gave up the go-ahead run. Andrew Miller was warming up as well, but apparently down a run is less important than tied, so Wilson pitched. Six Yankees pitchers combined to walk ten (!) batters in nine innings. It’s the first time they’ve walked ten in a nine-inning game since June 2010.

And finally, the Yankees went 2-5 against the last place Indians this year, and four of the losses were by one run. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. They’ve done a really bad job of beating up on bad teams. That is a big reason why the AL East lead disappeared.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can find the box score and video highlights here and here, respectively. Here are the updated standings and postseason odds, as well as our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The four-game series with the Indians is finally over. The Astros are coming to the Bronx next for the final series in this ten-game homestand. Nathan Eovaldi and Scott Feldman will be the pitching matchup Monday night. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want catch any of the three games against Houston at Yankee Stadium.

Update: CC Sabathia exits Sunday’s start with right knee pain

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)
(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

2:41pm: Sabathia left the game with right knee pain and will have an MRI, the Yankees announced. That’s the knee with the degenerative condition Sabathia has had surgically repaired three times — including a season-ending clean out procedure last summer — and drained twice already this season. Not good news.

2:12pm: CC Sabathia left Sunday afternoon’s start with an unknown injury in the third inning. He struck out Yan Gomes, walked around the mound slowly, then Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to talk to him. Sabathia didn’t lobby to stay in the game or throw any test pitches. He went right to the clubhouse. Here’s the video.

One thing we’ve learned about Sabathia in recent years is that he will pitch hurt. He pitched with a bone spur in his elbow a few years ago, has pitched through on and off knee trouble throughout his career, and even pitched through a Grade II hamstring strain two years ago. For Sabathia to leave like that, he must really be hurt.

The Yankees have not yet announced any sort of update on Sabathia, so stay tuned. Michael Pineda (forearm) is due to come off the DL on Wednesday and Bryan Mitchell is making progress after being hit in the face by a line drive, so the team can fill the rotation spot. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. We’ll see.

Game 123: Andy Pettitte Day

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees retired No. 20 and dedicated a plaque in Monument Park in honor of Jorge Posada, and today they’ll do the same for Andy Pettitte. No. 46 is officially coming out of circulation. This weekend honoring two all-time great Yankees continues today with Andy Pettitte Day.

Pettitte is arguably the best starting pitcher in franchise history and I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t love Andy. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in strikeouts (2,020) and is third in innings (2,796.1), wins (219) and pitching WAR (51.6). Andy is certainly the team’s best starter during the expansion era, if nothing else.

Hall of Famer? I’d say Pettitte is borderline at best. He is a five-time World Series champ and was a rotation stalwart during the most recent Yankees dynasty, but his candidacy will be hurt by his performance-enhancing drug ties. Either way, Andy’s going into Monument Park, and deservedly so. Monument Park was built for guys like Pettitte.

Just like yesterday, fans have been asked to be in their seats by noon for the pregame ceremony, though the actual ceremony probably won’t start until 12:15pm or 12:30pm ET or so. YES will have the whole thing, as always. As for this afternoon’s game, here is Cleveland’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a bit cloudy in New York today and there is some rain in the forecast, but not much. Nothing that will ruin the ceremony or cause a postponement. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the ceremony and the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (leg) did some light running and took batting practice for the first time since the foul ball. It seems unlikely he will play tomorrow … Bryan Mitchell (face) threw a bullpen session. He could make a minor league rehab appearance next, then come off the DL … Alex Rodriguez is healthy. Joe Girardi said he is trying to “refresh” him with two straight days off.

Roster Update: Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment a few days ago, has been unconditionally released. He’ll probably hook on somewhere and serve as an extra lefty bench bat in September.