Mariners 3, Yankees 2: RISPFAIL continues as Yanks drop fourth straight

Baseball is stupid and I hate it. The Yankees once again put a small army of runners on base Saturday afternoon — 16 in nine innings, to be exact — but were unable to cash in. The Mariners did all they could to give the Yankees the game the last two days. Instead, New York has now dropped four straight. Saturday’s final score was 3-2 in favor of the Fightin’ Canos.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Oh This Again
The only thing more excruciating than leaving runners on base is not having runners on base in the first place. The Yankees had a ton of guys on base Saturday, just like they had a ton of guys on base Friday. Felix Hernandez, arguably the greatest pitcher of his generation, walked a career-high six in five innings. The Yankees put at least two runners on base in all five of his innings.

The result? One run. That came in the third inning, when Carlos Beltran drove in Mark Teixeira from first base (!) with a booming double to right-center field. That’s what it takes to score a run right now. Teixeira chugging around from first on a double. Think about that. If not for that, Hernandez might have been able to navigate five scoreless innings even though he was far from his best. Far, far from his best.

In fact, like Nate Karns on Friday night, Felix leaned heavily on his offspeed stuff to pitch his way out of jams Saturday. PitchFX says he threw 20 fastballs out of 106 total pitches. Twenty! And that came after Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. told Shannon Drayer he wanted Felix to throw more fastballs going forward. Here is Hernandez’s pitch selection Saturday, via Brooks Baseball:

Felix Hernandez pitches

Karns threw 43% fastballs Friday and Felix threw 19% fastballs Saturday. I’d say Seattle’s game plan is bury the Yankees with offspeed stuff, but Karns threw 51% fastballs in his only other start of the season, and Felix threw 44% fastballs in his first two starts. This is kinda who they are now, offspeed heavy pitchers. What they did against the Yankees isn’t totally out of the ordinary.

Either way, the Yankees could not take advantage of all those base-runners. They even put men on base against the bullpen — Beltran took Nick Vincent deep in the seventh inning for the team’s only other run — and the go-ahead run was on base in the ninth inning. M’s closer Steve Cishek allowed singles to Beltran and Starlin Castro to put runners on the corners, but Chase Headley grounded out to end the game. So it goes.

Perhaps the biggest at-bat of the game aside from Headley’s in the ninth was Austin Romine‘s in the second inning. The Yankees had runners on the corners with one out, and Romine popped up Felix’s first pitch changeup to the shortstop. Felix was battling his control and I get wanting Romine to take a pitch or two, but the pitch was super hittable …

Felix Hernandez Austin Romine

… and he just didn’t hit it. I don’t care who is on the mound and who is at the plate. You can’t not swing at a pitch like that simply because you want to drive up a guy’s pitch count. The Yankees aren’t going to walk themselves out of this offensive slump. Romine got a good pitch to hit and just didn’t hit it. That’s baseball. It’s a game of failure. Romine didn’t get the run in, which he could have done with an out, and didn’t get it done.

The total damage: two runs on ten hits and six walks in nine innings. The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and eight of the nine players in the starting lineup batted at least once in those situations. Teixeira was the only starter who didn’t see an at-bat with a runner(s) at second and/or third. The Yankees have put 29 men on base in their last 18 offensive innings. If they continue doing that, they’re going to score runs. A lot of them. It’s just not happening right now.

The One Bad Inning
For the second straight start, CC Sabathia looked like a competent big league pitcher Saturday. He did put a runner on base in each of his first four innings, but it was only one runner per inning, and Sabathia stranded them all. CC fanned four of the first eleven men he faced too. He was doing exactly what the Yankees want him to do at this point of his career: keep them in ballgames.

Things unraveled in the fifth inning and it would have been worse if not for some heads up defense by Didi Gregorius. Leonys Martin had already homered leading off the inning to tie the game, then Luis Sardinas made it to second base with one out on a single and a ground out. With Sardinas on second, Ketel Marte slapped a soft grounder to Gregorius, who threw to third to get Sardinas when he made too wide a turn at the bag. Marte is crazy fast and was going to beat out the infield single. Smart play by Didi to get the lead runner instead.

Immediately following that, Robinson Cano knocked a single back up the middle that, incredibly, allowed Marte to score all the way from first. Jacoby Ellsbury can take the blame for that one. Marte’s aggressiveness caught him completely off guard in center field. Look at how he approached the ball, then hesitated before throwing home:

Jacoby Ellsbury Ketel Marte

That is a man who expected the runner to stop at third. Ellsbury told Bryan Hoch he thinks he would have been able to throw Marte out at the plate had he not double clutched the throw, and maybe he’s right, but Jacoby has not thrown a runner out at the plate since 2011, so you’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical. Either way, Marte scored and the Mariners took a 2-1 lead.

Nelson Cruz, the next batter, drove in Cano with a double inside the third base bag and down the line into the left field corner. That gave Seattle a 3-1 lead and ended Sabathia’s afternoon. I’m not sure why Sabathia was left in to face Cruz if his leash was that one batter. Righties hammered CC last season and Cruz hit 84 homers from 2014-15. Sabathia can face Cruz with the Yankees down one but not Franklin Gutierrez down two? I thought Cano should have been his last batter.

Sabathia’s final pitching line looks worse than he pitched, I feel: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. His first four innings were solid and I think we’d all take that version of Sabathia all season long. Things fell apart in the fifth — thanks in part to Ellsbury — so the one bad inning bug bit CC again. Every starter has seemed prone to that the first two times through the rotation.

Leftovers
The bullpen was spectacular. Johnny Barbato got four outs while Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller tossed a scoreless inning each. Those four combined to allow three hits and strike out eight. Betances and Miller each struck out the side. Miller did so on ten pitches. He looked razor sharp. As dominant as he’s looked at any point as a Yankee. It was silly.

Brett Gardner had two hits, Castro had three hits, and Beltran had four hits. Carlos homered and doubled twice. He’s been the team’s most consistent hitter in the super early going. Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is down to .103/.235/.207 (32 wRC+) on the season. He’s in the middle of an 0-for-19 slump. I will be pretty surprised if Beltran and A-Rod do not flip lineup spots Sunday.

The Yankees stole three bases overall. Two by Castro and one by Headley. Headley has three steals he already. He stole zero bags last season. Headley also committed his first throwing error, airmailing first base on a routine grounder. It was bound to happen at some point. His throwing has looked way better this season overall.

And finally, for some reason Ellsbury stayed glued to first base after reaching on an error with two outs in the eighth. The Yankees were down one and Gardner saw five pitches, yet Ellsbury never tried to steal. I do not understand.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game. Now here are the updated standings, if scoreboard watching in April is your thing. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here is the ol’ WPA graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will try to salvage this mess of a three-game series Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma will be on the mound. Those two were teammates with the Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2007-11, you know. Pretty cool. RAB Tickets can get you into the ballpark for that game or any of the other six games remaining on the homestand.

Saturday Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the afternoon and evening. The Mets are playing right now and MLB Network will air a regional game later tonight. You’ve also got the NBA and NHL playoffs throughout the day. (The hockey Rangers are playing right now.) Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

Game Ten: The Quest For The Big Hit Continues

:\ (Elsa/Getty)
:-/ (Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees did a lot of good offensively last night, namely putting 13 men on base, but the big hit never came and they were held to one stupid little run. After scoring 27 runs in the first three games of 2016, the Bombers have scored only 16 runs in the six games since. Eight of those 16 came in one game.

Felix Hernandez will be on the mound for the Mariners this afternoon, and while he represents a daunting task, the Yankees were in a very similar situation last May. They had been held to 20 runs in a six-game span, then they faced Felix and managed to tag him for seven runs in 4.2 innings. Baseball, man. You can’t predict it. Here is today’s Mariners’ lineup and today’s Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP CC Sabathia

The weather in New York today is pretty fantastic. It’s maybe a little on the cool side, but it’s sunny as hell and there are no clouds in the sky. Picture perfect. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network if you’re out of market. Enjoy.

Shuttle Update: As expected, Tyler Olson was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton following last night’s 47-pitch effort. Branden Pinder has been called up for the first of what figures to be many times this season. Pinder last pitched Wednesday, when he threw 48 pitches across three innings.

YES Update: FOX regional sports affiliates, including YES, can now be streamed on Sling TV. It’s $20 a month — there’s a free seven-day trial — so it’s not free, but it’s not too pricey either. You will be able to stream Yankees games on YES, even if you’re in-market and a currently dealing with the Comcast nonsense. Here’s the Sling TV link.

MLB unveils new special event caps and jerseys for 2016

Earlier this week, MLB unveiled 302 (!) new special event hats and jerseys for the 2016 season. Chris Creamer has all the designs, if you’re interested. This year the teams were consulted during the process, so each club’s design has its own unique touch. That’s pretty cool. In the past it was one blanket design across the league.

Let’s go through the new designs and check out the special Yankees’ caps and jerseys we’ll see this summer.

Mother’s Day
Date: Sunday, May 8th
Where Will The Yankees Be? Home against the Red Sox

Mother's Day HatMother's Day Jersey

Pink on Mother’s Day, as usual. In the past players used pink bats, wrist bands, cleats, and other stuff. Now the league will have a special cap and jersey that day as well. All the Mother’s Day caps and jerseys will be auctioned off for charity. This year the proceeds are going to the Susan G. Komen foundation to help fight breast cancer.

Memorial Day
Date: Monday, May 30th
Where Will The Yankees Be? In Toronto to play the Blue Jays (Canada on Memorial Day!?)

Memorial Day HatMemorial Day Jersey

The Memorial Day design is heavy on camouflage, as you can see. I don’t love it — I think I’d rather wear the pink than the camo — but it is for a good cause, so you can’t complain. As always, the Memorial Day gear will be auctioned off following the games. Proceeds will go to the Welcome Back Veterans charity. A good cause indeed.

Father’s Day
Date: Sunday, June 19th
Where Will The Yankees Be? In Minnesota to play the Twins

Father's Day HatFather's Day Jersey

As with Mother’s Day, teams will wear special caps and jerseys on Father’s Day for the first time this season. The blue looks pretty good, doesn’t it? I guess that’s because it looks kinda sorta natural on Yankees gear. The pink and camo look out of place. I’m sure the players will have blue bats and compression sleeves and all that as well. All the money raised will go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Fourth of July
Where Will The Yankees Be? In Chicago to play the White Sox

Fourth of July HatFourth of July JerseyThe Fourth of July hats have been very hit or miss over the years. I thought the white caps were pretty nice a few years ago, especially for the Yankees. They had an old-timey feel to them. This year they have the stars and stripes design and some sort of mesh pattern. The proceeds will go to the Welcome Back Veterans charity. Same as Memorial Day.

Home Run Derby & All-Star Game Workout Day
Date: Monday, July 11th
Where Will They Be? Petco Park

Home Run Derby HatsHome Run Derby JerseysThe All-Star Game is in San Diego this year, and MLB went with the Padres’ classic 1970s brown and gold color pattern. I love it. Those jerseys are awesome. The caps? Well, some of the others are nice. Not sure if I dig those Yankees hats though. It’s not terrible. It just looks … forced. Yankees caps are a classic, man.

All-Star Game
Date: Tuesday, July 12th
Where Will They Be? Petco Park again

All-Star Game HatsThere are no special All-Star Game jerseys this year because there are never special All-Star Game jerseys. Players wear the uniforms of their teams. I like that. No other sport does it. (Right?) The jerseys will have a special patch, of course. That’s about it. The hats have some gold trim — peep the stars around the ventilation holes, that’s cool — though I can’t really tell what’s going on with the brim. Is that more camo?

The special hats and jerseys can be gimmicky, but they help raise money for good causes, so props to MLB for ramping up the special event designs this years. Those Home Run Derby jerseys … straight fire. They’re great.

Offense continues to sputter, Yankees fall 7-1 to Mariners

Blah, baseball is being stupid right now. The Yankees had a whole lotta base-runners but not a whole lotta runs Friday night, leading to a 7-1 loss to the Mariners in the series-opener. The Bronx Bombers have lost three straight.

Not enough of this. (Elsa/Getty)
Not enough of this. (Elsa/Getty)

One & Done
This was one of those annoying “blow all the scoring chances!” games. The Yankees put 13 runners on base overall, including nine in five innings against starter Nathan Karns, yet they only mustered one run. That was a first inning solo home run by Brett Gardner. It clanked off the facing of the second deck and was Gardner’s first extra-base hit of the season. That’s a good start! First inning taters are pretty great.

The offense could not get The Big Hit after that. The Yankees had plenty of scoring chances and scoring chances are good! Keep getting scoring chances and you’ll score eventually, but damn yo, stranding so many runners is frustrating as hell. The fourth through sixth innings were like pulling teeth. The Yankees put seven men on base in those three innings and scored zero runs. They went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position those innings.

The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position overall, and seven players batted in those situations. This was a total team effort. It’s not like one guy killed them in those spots. Karns did a really good job keeping the Yankees off balance with offspeed stuff — he threw 43 fastballs, 43 curveballs, and 14 changeups per PitchFX — and then spotted heaters when necessary. Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury struck out with runners on second and third in the fourth inning, and they took the same damn pitch for strike three, a fastball on the outside corner:

Nate Karns Chase HeadleyNate Karns Jacoby Ellsbury

Karns fed them nothing but curveballs and changeups early in the at-bat, then surprised them with the fastball. He did a very nice job pitching backwards. The Yankees had their chances, no doubt about it. They didn’t take advantage. If they keep generating chances, they’ll be just fine. Too bad that wont help them in this game.

Severino Struggles Again
You know what? Luis Severino has not been very good through two starts. He allowed three runs on ten hits in five innings against the Tigers last weekend, then, on Friday, he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in 5.2 innings against the Mariners. If not for some nifty — if unconventional — double plays, the damage would have been much worse.

Severino’s biggest mistake was the center cut fastball Chris Iannetta smacked for his go-ahead two-run home run in the fifth inning. I mean, look at this location:

Luis Severino Chris Iannetta

Not good, Luis. Can’t throw it there to even the crappiest of big leaguer hitters, like Iannetta. What made that worse were the previous innings. The Mariners tied the game on Robinson Cano‘s single in the top of the fourth, then the Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the bottom half (second and third with no outs!). Blah. That homer took the wind out of everyone’s sails.

Severino threw 87 pitches in his 5.2 innings and he got only five swings and misses. That’s … bad. He did get a healthy eleven swings and misses out 95 total pitches in his first start, so this is more of a blip than a trend, but it was pretty obvious Friday that Severino is far from a finished product. His secondary pitches and location are inconsistent. That’s okay. All pitchers come up to MLB in need of refinement. It’s just not fun to be reminded growing pains are coming.

Pull Away
The Yankees have a truly great end-game bullpen. You’re not going to find many (if any) teams with a better one-two punch than Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. You can add Chasen Shreve to the mix too. He’s been great. The problem? Those guys only pitch in very specific situations: when the Yankees have a lead or the game is tied in the late innings.

The Yankees were down three runs when Severino exited in the sixth inning, which meant the “only when losing” relief crew sprung into action, and they let Seattle pull away. Kirby Yates did a nice job stranding the bases loaded in the sixth, but he was charged with a run in the seventh, then new call-up Tyler Olson allowed two more runs to score as well. Yates and (mostly) Olson allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in 3.1 innings. Comeback attempt averted.

Leftovers
Starlin Castro made a great behind-the-back catch at second base to turn a double play. It was one of those “the ball caught him” situations. Check this out:

Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once except Ellsbury, who went 0-for-5. Gardner had the homer, a single, and two walks. Mark Teixeira (two walks) and Headley (single, walk) reached base multiple times. Headley stole a base. Everyone else reached once. Base-runners are good. Eventually they’ll cash them in. Just not tonight.

Funny moment in the first inning. Teixeira checked his swing in a 3-1 count, then took off his shin guard and prepared to walk down to first, but third base ump Mike Winters said he went around. (Replay showed he cleared he clearly did not go around.) The next pitch was exactly the same: curveball down and a check swing. Teixeira held his bat, stared down Winters, then jogged to first for the walk.

Mark Teixeira Mike Winters

Olson threw 47 pitches in 2.2 garbage time innings, meaning he’s likely to wind up right back in Triple-A tomorrow. Branden Pinder has not pitched since Wednesday, making him the obvious call-up candidate.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Mariners will continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia will be the pitching matchup. Man, that would have been awesome like five years ago. Alas. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game or any of the other seven games left on the homestand.

DotF: Judge goes deep, Swisher doubles in Scranton’s win

Two quick notes:

  • RHP Ronald Herrera, who came over in the Jose Pirela trade, has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, per Shane Hennigan. The RailRiders were playing one man short, so now the roster is full. Seems like Herrera was brought up on a temporary basis with LHP Tyler Olson in the show and RHP Luis Cessa on his way down. RHP Eric Ruth went from High-A Tampa to Trenton to replace Herrera, says Matt Kardos.
  • SS Jorge Mateo ranked eighth in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. “Thus far he has notched two doubles, two triples and four stolen bases in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. With a good first half, Mateo should make his way to Double-A Trenton shortly after his 21st birthday,” said the write-up. Mateo’s birthday in June 23rd, since I know you’re wondering.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB — first homer of the season — Shane Hennigan says it was an opposite field job — and his first steal as well
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Nick Swisher: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Anthony Swarzak: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9/0 GB/FB — 51 of 74 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 38 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 22 of 40 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — three of four pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game Nine: Jackie Robinson Day

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sixty-nine years ago today, Jackie Robinson made his big league debut with the Dodgers. Tonight, every player in baseball will wear No. 42 in Robinson’s honor, including ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, his namesake. Robbie and the Mariners are in town to begin a three-game weekend series this evening.

The Yankees dropped two of three to the Blue Jays earlier this week mostly because the offense hit a bump in the road. I mean, they held Toronto to 13 runs in three games, and four of the 13 came in that one inning against Ivan Nova. You’d like to win more than one of three when you keep the Jays in check like that. Anyway, here is the Mariners’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup for tonight’s opener:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. DH Dustin Ackley
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Chase Headley
    RHP Luis Severino

It’s going to be a bit chilly tonight, but man, the weather in New York is damn near perfect right now. Bright blue skies, no clouds, just outstanding weather for a ballgame. Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

YES Update: Good news for you cord-cutters and folks stuck with Comcast: FOX regional sports affiliates, including YES, can now be streamed on Sling TV, according to Ahiza Garcia. It’s $20 a month — there’s a free seven-day trial — so it’s not free, but it’s not too pricey either. You will be able to stream Yankees games on YES, even if you’re in-market and a Comcast customer. Here’s the Sling TV link.