Game 116: Paul O’Neill Day

The Yankees are looking for their fourth straight win and seventh in their last eight games this afternoon, but, before they play the Indians, they will unveil a plaque in Monument Park for Paul O’Neill. The team is not retiring his No. 21 and I wonder if that means it will be put back into circulation now that O’Neill is being honored. It would be weird to keep it off limits without retiring it.

Anyway, the two Paul O’Neill moments that stand out to me are the Paul O’Neill chant in Game Five of the 2001 World Series and his catch to end Game Five of the 1996 World Series. The chant in 2001 doesn’t really need an explanation. I still get goosebumps when I watch the video (above!). The catch in 1996 saved at least the tying run from scoring and likely the go-ahead run as well. O’Neill’s legs were banged up all series and it was painful just watching him move, but he was able to run down Luis Polonia’s line drive for the 27th out. Here’s the video.

There are plenty of other great Paul O’Neill moments, of course, and we’ll get to re-live some of them this afternoon. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12:30pm ET and you can watch all of it live on YES. The Yankees and Indians will then play their game at 1:05pm ET and you can watch that exclusively on Fox Sports 1. Here’s the channel finder, here’s the Indians lineup, and here’s the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Carlos Beltran
  5. 1B Chase Headley
  6. 2B Stephen Drew
  7. 3B Martin Prado
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. C Frankie Cervelli
    RHP Brandon McCarthy

The weather in New York is absolutely perfect right now. Couldn’t ask for a better day to spend at the ballpark. Enjoy the ceremony and the game.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (finger) tried to swing a bat today but it was “very painful.” The joint bothers him more than the cut. He remains day-to-day … Brian McCann (concussion) will see a specialist today and may be placed on the 7-day DL. Austin Romine is said to be the likely call-up candidate … Michael Pineda (shoulder) feels fine following yesterday’s rehab start and says he’s ready to return to the rotation. It’s not his call, however.

King: Yankees like Rusney Castillo at second base, want to talk contract

Via George King: Following Friday’s private workout at the team’s complex in Tampa, the Yankees want to talk about a contract with Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. They like him more at second base than in the outfield, which puts them in the minority. Castillo has experience both on the middle infield and in the outfield. The Yankees had scouts from several different departments at the workout.

“This guy could get $35M to $50M because of what (Jose) Abreu, (Yoenis) Cespedes and (Yasiel) Puig have done, but eventually somebody is going to be wrong about one of these guys,” said a scout to King. Another pointed out “the league he played in Cuba wasn’t great but there is momentum, who knows?”

Castillo, who hit against the rehabbing Preston Claiborne (shoulder) during the workout, has already been declared a free agent by MLB and unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, so he is free to sign at any time. He has also had private workouts with Phillies, Red Sox, and Cubs, plus the Tigers, Giants, White Sox, and Mariners have shown interest as well. Castillo has been billed a speedy leadoff hitter type with surprising pop.

Update: Brian McCann leaves game with mild concussion

11:31pm: Joe Girardi told reporters McCann will be re-evaluated tomorrow, which will determine if he needs to be placed on the disabled list.

10:18pm: McCann has been diagnosed with a mild concussion, though there really is no such thing as a mild brain injury. It’s unclear if he will be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list.

9:49pm: Brian McCann left tonight’s game for an unknown reason in the sixth inning. He took a hard foul tip to the face mask earlier in the game, but did stay in for another few innings. I supposed the Yankees could be playing it safe with him after taking a big lead. They do have catching depth in the minors, but losing McCann for any length of time would be pretty bad. Stay tuned for updates.

Yankees take series opener with unnecessarily close 10-6 win over Indians

Source: FanGraphs

I think we can all agree the 2014 Yankees like to do things the hard way, yes? They beat the Indians by the score of 10-6 in Friday night’s series opener, but they really had to work for it, especially in the later innings. Whatever. At 61-54, the Yankees are seven games over .500 for the first time all season. Let’s recap:

  • Five-Run First: The Yankees scored five runs and sent ten men to the plate in the first inning, and exactly three of them hit the ball out of the infield. Some sloppy infield defense and three Trevor Bauer walks fueled the rally, which included run-scoring singles by Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, and Martin Prado. Chase Headley drew a bases loaded walk. Carlos Santana flat out muffed a catch on a throw from shortstop at first base, and Jason Kipnis threw away a ball when he flipped it to second trying to turn a double play. Brett Gardner, the team’s best player, made the first and last out of the inning. Go figure. I missed innings like that so much. Everything went right.
  • Can’t Spell Esmil Without Smile: One run in five innings from spot starter Esmil Rogers? I’m pretty sure we all would have signed up for that heading into the game. I know I would have. The right-hander used fastballs and sliders to hold the Tribe to four hits and a walk in those five innings, and at one point he retired ten of 12 batters. Rogers struck out three and got seven of his other 12 outs in the air, which is fine given the team’s outfield defense. At this point, I think the Yankees could pull anyone out of the stands, slap pinstripes on him, and get a winnable start. What a job the staff has done of late.
  • Blown Open: Five runs in the first, five runs in the sixth. The Indians intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases for Beltran for whatever reason, and he unloaded on a John Axford hanging curveball for a grand slam. Ichiro Suzuki and Gardner drew walks earlier in the inning. The Yankees plated another run on another error later in the inning. They scored ten total runs thanks to a pair of five-run innings, and in those innings they hit a total of five balls out of the infield. Crazy.
  • No Easy Wins: It’s amazing how this team is allergic to easy wins. The five-run sixth gave them a nice and comfy 10-2 lead, right? Bring in Bryan Mitchell and let him bring it home, right? Nope. Shawn Kelley started the seventh, faced four batters, retired none, and left the bases loaded for Adam Warren. He served up a two-run double and a sac fly. The Indians answered the Yankees’ five-run sixth with a four-run seventh to make it 10-6. Sigh. Thankfully Warren, Rich Hill, and Dellin Betances navigated the eighth and ninth without much of a problem. Still sucks they even had to get into a game like this.
  • Leftovers: Derek Jeter‘s first inning infield single was the 3,430th hit of his career, tying him for Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time list. He won’t catch Tris Speaker (3,514) for fifth place, so he’ll eventually retire in sole possession of sixth place on the all-time hit list. Not bat at all … Brian McCann left the game with a mild concussion, and Frankie Cervelli joined Beltran as the only players with two hits. Gardner (double, walk), McCann (single, walk), Ellsbury (three walks), and Ichiro (single, walk) all reached base multiple times. Headley and Ellsbury were the only players without hits … the lineup had more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five) for the AL-leading 13th time this year. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles won and the Blue Jays lost, so the Yankees moved into second place in the AL East and are still five back of Baltimore. They are a half-game back of the Royals for the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 24.6%. The Yankees and Indians will play the second game of this series on Saturday afternoon (Brandon McCarthy vs. Corey Kluber), but first the team will unveil Paul O’Neill’s plaque in Monument Park. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch the ceremony and the game live.

DotF: Austin, Williams go deep in Trenton’s win

As always, the notes come first:

  • SS Yonauris Rodriguez made the Helium Watch section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. The Yankees signed him for $570k last year and he’s currently hitting .324/.444/.438 (159 wRC+) in the Dominican Summer League. After being billed as a glove-first player when he signed, Baseball America says “Rodriguez is a more advanced, more complete player than scouts were projecting him to be at this time a year ago.”
  • Apparently I missed this at some point recently, but the Yankees have released RHP Bruce Billings. I know this because Eric Stephen says he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers yesterday. Well then. Carry on.
  • Baseball America published their best tools surgery for both High Class-A and Low Class-A today. OF Aaron Judge appeared on both, grabbing Best Outfield Arm (High-A) and Best Power Prospect (Low-A). No other Yankees’ farmhands appeared in the surveys.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Columbus) tonight’s promotion was “What If” night, so they played as the Trolley Frogs instead of the RailRiders … Trolley Frogs lost the fan voting when the team changed named a few years ago

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Pineda strikes out seven in 4.1 innings in second rehab start

In his second rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, Michael Pineda struck out seven in 4.1 innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits and did not walk a batter. Fifty-two of his 72 pitches were strikes, and Donnie Collins says he sat 92-94 with his fastball. Pineda was scheduled to throw 70-80 pitches or so after throwing 58 pitches last time out. He’s been on the shelf since late-April due to a muscle problem in his back/shoulder.

Joe Girardi and the Yankees have hinted that Pineda could return to the rotation next week if this start went well. He lines up perfectly to replace Esmil Rogers, who made the spot start tonight in place of the injured David Phelps. The rotation has performed well of late, but obviously getting Pineda back would be huge. I’m sure it’ll be a day or two before we learn what the next step will be. He seems to be healthy and that’s the most important thing.

Game 115: Call Me Esmil

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. (Presswire)
Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would make a spot start for the Yankees and pitch important innings in August. (Presswire)

With tonight’s spot start, Esmil Rogers will become the 12th different pitcher to start a game for the Yankees this season. They last used that many starting pitchers back in 2008, when they used 13 different starters because of injuries and also because they used September to see what they had in Ian Kennedy and Alfredo Aceves once they were out of the race. The Yankees used either eight or nine different starters every year from 2009-13. Here’s the list, if you’re  interested.

Anyway, the Indians are in town to help wrap-up this homestand. They’ve kinda been hanging around the wildcard race these last few weeks — the Yankees are a half-game back of the Royals for the second wildcard spot and the Indians are 3.5 games back of the Yankees — so this series is pretty important for both teams. Unlike last year, when it felt like the Yankees had no business playing meaningful games in the second half, this team is definitely good enough to get to the postseason. They still have a lot of work to do though. Don’t let up after that big series win over the Tigers. Here is the Indians lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. 3B Martin Prado
  9. RF Ichiro Suzuki
    RHP Esmil Rogers

The weather in New York is pretty much perfect. Nice and sunny but not overwhelmingly hot or humid. Just a fantastic night for baseball. The game is scheduled to begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (finger) is still sore and can’t grip a bat. He did not take batting practice today and Joe Girardi labeled him as day-to-day … Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) felt good after playing catch from 60-90 feet today. He’ll stretch it out to 120 feet tomorrow then rest on Sunday.