Well, a 7-3 homestand is pretty awesome, but the Yankees were damn close to making it 8-2 instead. They mounted a nice comeback in the middle innings against the Athletics on Sunday before things got away from them late. The final was 5-4.
When Andy Pettitte struggled against the Astros last time out, a lot of blame fell on the shoulders of Austin Romine for his unfamiliarity with the pitching staff. This time around Andy had Chris Stewart, Miracle Catcher™ behind the plate, so there are no such excuses. Pettitte labored through five awful innings, walking four and giving up four hits, three of which went for extra bases (one double and two homers). He also hit a batter. Only 57 of his 100 total pitches were strikes and only nine of 24 batters faced saw a first pitch strike. Yuck. Five of the nine base-runners reached in two-strike counts. Double yuck.
After allowing two runs in 15 innings during his first two starts of the year, Pettitte has now allowed 17 runs in 22.2 innings across four starts since returning from his stiff back. Is the back still bothering him? Maybe. It was unrealistic to think he would pitch like an ace all year — remember, he was definitely ace-like in his 12 starts last season despite the leg injury — but the complete lack of control has me a tad worried. It could be a simple slump, it happens to every pitcher and the Athletics have mashed lefties this year, but the combination of age and the recent back trouble mean Pettitte’s recent struggles should set off some alarms.
Despite the poor effort from the starting pitcher, the Yankees still managed to rally and tie the game in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano got them on the board with a run-scoring single in the third — he was thrown out by a mile at second trying advance on the throw home, but that’s besides the point — then he started the sixth inning rally with a leadoff single to shallow right. Ichiro Suzuki plated Cano with a double into the right field corner two batters later, then two batters after that Lyle Overbay knotted things up with a bloop single.
Outside of tying the game, the Overbay hit stands out because it was a tough eight-pitch at-bat against a really good lefty specialist in Jerry Blevins. He fell behind in the count 1-2 before evening things at 2-2 and fouling off three pitches. Blevins followed every sinker he threw in the inning with a breaking ball, and it looked like Overbay picked up on the pattern and waited on a breaking ball after fouling off a sinker. The ball blooped into center and both runs scored. Overbay’s been dreadful against lefties this year — came into the game hitting .074/.074/.111 (-67 wRC+) against southpaws — but he hung in real well and tied the game. Nice job.
The Yankees were finally bit by the David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain-less bullpen. With no real usable right-hander reliever to face the middle of the Oakland order in the eighth, the ball went to Boone Logan because he was simply the best option. Mariano Rivera would never enter the game in the eighth, so Joe Girardi‘s choices were Logan, Shawn Kelley, and Vidal Nuno. Boone it was.
Unfortunately, when your best late-inning option against a bunch of power-hitting righties is a LOOGY, bad things tend to happen. Logan surrendered a solo homer to the right-handed hitting Josh Donaldson, a second deck shot that stayed just fair down the left field line. An inning later he allowed a leadoff double to the left-handed Josh Reddick, which was Reddick’s first career hit in 36 plate appearances at the New Yankee Stadium. The eminently hittable Kelley pitched out of that jam. The solo homer, unfortunately, cost the Yankees the ball game.
Despite the loss, the Yankees got exactly what they wanted in the ninth inning of a one-run game — they got Cano to the plate. Brett Gardner singled with two outs to extend the game, but as soon as he advanced to second on a wild pitch, the bat was out of Cano’s hands. Oakland intentionally walked him and closer Grant Balfour struck out Vernon Wells to end the game. For shame. Maybe Brett shoulda stayed at first on the wild pitch. I’m kidding … maybe.
Congrats to Preston Claiborne for starting his Hall of Fame career. The right-hander made his big league debut in relief of Pettitte and retired all six men he faced. No hits, no walks, no strikeouts, no nothing. Six balls in play and six relatively easy outs. I mentioned this the other night, but I think Claiborne’s got a chance to take Kelley’s roster spot if he pitches well between now and Joba Chamberlain’s return from the DL.
The Yankees had nine total hits, and the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-19 (.421) with four walks while the bottom four lineup spots went 1-for-16 with six strikeouts. The one hit was Overbay’s game-tying single. That sums up the state of the lineup very well right now, all the injuries have taken all the bite out of the bottom of the order.
Cano was one of three Yankees with two hits — Ichiro and Gardner were the others — but it’s worth noting that he’s now sitting on 1,499 career hits at the moment. Pretty crazy that he’ll turn 30 after the season and is just halfway to 3,000. That’s a mighty big number.
The Yankees are off on Monday and will travel to Colorado. They open a three-game series against the Rockies on Tuesday night, with Hiroki Kuroda getting the ball against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-1 win over Gwinnett) make up of yesterday’s rainout
- 2B Corban Joseph: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- 3B David Adams: 1-3, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 HBP
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-4, 1 K — after three games at the hot corner, he shifts to right to accommodate CoJo and Adams
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 2 K
- RHP Dellin Betances: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 7/2 GB/FB — 49 of 90 pitches were strikes (54%) … that might be the most Dellin Betances line ever, hints at dominance with lingering strike-throwing problems
- RHP Sam Demel: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 18 of 33 pitches were strikes (55%) … blew the no-hitter with two outs in the seventh
Sunday: Eppley has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A according to Dan Barbarisi. He remains in the organization, just not on the 40-man roster.
Friday: The Yankees have designated right-hander Cody Eppley for assignment, the team announced. The move creates room on the 40-man roster for righty Preston Claiborne, who has officially been called up to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain.
Eppley, 27, has pitched to a 2.89 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 9.1 innings with Triple-A Scranton this year. He was on the big league team’s Opening Day roster, but was sent down after allowing four runs in 1.2 innings across two appearances. The Yankees got a good 46 innings out of Eppley last year — 3.33 ERA (3.66 FIP) with a 60.3% ground ball rate — after claiming him off waivers from the Rangers at the end of Spring Training. He hasn’t been effective basically since camp opened, so it’s no surprise he was the 40-man casualty. · (21) ·
Here is your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday night game is a good one, the Dodgers at the Giants (Ryu vs. Cain). You might be able to catch the end of the Knicks game if you click over to ABC real quick, but there will be some NHL playoff action later tonight as well. You folks know how these things work by now, right? Good. Enjoy.
4:34pm: The MRI came back negative and Nunez is day-to-day with what they’re calling “irritation.” Joe Girardi said he might not be ready in time to play on Tuesday, which is a problem because that means they’ll be short a position player in an NL park.
3:16pm: Nunez left the game with tightness in his left ribcage, the team announced. He will have an MRI.
2:41pm: Eduardo Nunez was removed from today’s game for an unknown reason in the fifth inning. He was on deck when the bottom of the fourth inning ended, and the cameras showed him standing in the on-deck circle and chatting with Joe Girardi. Chris Nelson took over at third and Jayson Nix shifted over to short. Stay tuned for updates. · (30) ·
The Yankees wrap-up their ten-game homestand today, a homestand that has already been a smashing success. They’ve won seven of nine so far, including all four against the division rival Blue Jays. This afternoon’s game will determine whether they go 8-2 or 7-3 on the homestand, and I think we all agree the former sounds a whole lot better than the latter. Plus the Yankees are off tomorrow, and you know as well as I do that off-days are so much better when they follow wins. Here’s the starting lineup that will face rookie righty Dan Straily…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- DH Travis Hafner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Jayson Nix
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is the 2001 ALCS MVP, left-hander Andy Pettitte.
Couldn’t have asked for better weather this weekend. It’s gorgeous outside. The game is scheduled to start at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (hamstring) played catch for the second straight day and still feels a little bit of tightness. He’s going to play catch again before Tuesday’s game and if that goes well, he’ll throw some pitches off a mound in the bullpen.
Mark Teixeira Update: Teixeira (wrist) took batting practice on the field today for the first time. He’d been hitting in the batting cages for a week or so. Like pretty much every other Yankee on the DL, Teixeira will head to Tampa while the team goes out on the road trip.
Via Mike Fitzpatrick: Curtis Granderson is fine after being hit by a pitch in the right arm during an Extended Spring Training game yesterday. It’s the same arm he had broken by an errant J.A. Happ pitch during Spring Training. “It was going to happen one of these days,” he said afterwards.
Granderson, 32, has been playing in ExST games since Wednesday, and Fitzpatrick says he has spent time in all three outfield positions. The Yankees insist he will return as the center fielder, so it will be interesting to see how the outfield shakes out once he returns. I don’t think anyone expected Vernon Wells to hit as well as he has, which has complicated things for the time being. We can worry about the outfield alignment when Curtis is actually ready to rejoin the team, I guess. · (19) ·
Triple-A Scranton was rained out yet again. That’s at least their seventh postponement of the season. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow.
Double-A Trenton (15-8 loss to Richmond)
- LF Ramon Flores: 1-6, 1 R, 2 K
- RF Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — second homer of the year and his first extra-base hit in eight games
- C J.R. Murphy: 1-3, 2 RBI, 1 BB — eight hits in his last 23 at-bats (.348) with three walks and one strikeout
- CF Slade Heathcott: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — boy did he need a game like this
- LHP Francisco Rondon: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 3 WP, 6/3 GB/FB — 56 of 93 pitches were strikes (60%) … 22 runs allowed in his last 13.2 innings with ten walks and nine strikeouts
The Yankees have lost consecutive games just once since the 1-4 start to the season, and they avoided the dreaded two-game losing streak on Saturday with an impressive 4-2 win over the Athletics. Good pitching and timely hitting, there’s your ballgame. Let’s recap…
- Philthy Phil: As I mentioned in the open thread, this was tied for the best start of Phil Hughes‘ career (by Game Score). He allowed three singles, one double, and one walk in eight scoreless innings of work, striking out nine and throwing a first pitch strike to 21 of 29 batters faced. Eighty-two of his 118 total pitches were strikes — including a ridiculous 19 swings and misses — the most strikes thrown by a Yankee and sixth most by any pitcher this season. Hughes retired the last ten men he faced and didn’t allow a single A’s player to make it to third base. He was awesome and has been for four starts now.
- Solo Homers & Singles: The Yankees built a bit of a picket fence against Bartolo Colon and the Oakland bullpen, scoring exactly one run in four of the first seven innings. Chris Stewart (!) opened the scoring with third inning solo homer down the left field line while Lyle Overbay followed with a bigger blast into the second deck in right two innings later. They tacked on ultimately important insurance runs in the sixth and seventh with singles from Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner. Both of those rallies started with extra-base hits and ended with soft hits — Hafner’s was a bloop off the end of the bat while Gardner’s was an infield single off the second baseman’s glove.
- Short Leash: I don’t understand why Joe Girardi bothered to send Shawn Kelley to the mound in the ninth if his leash was one base-runner. Mariano Rivera didn’t pitch on Thursday or Friday, plus the team is off on Monday. Rest isn’t an issue. If you’re willing to bring in Mo with a four-run lead after a man reaches, just send him out for the full inning so he can start it fresh. Eh, whatever. Two runs scored in the ninth, one charged to Kelley and one to Rivera. Four Athletics batted while representing the tying run that inning.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had eight hits, including five for extra-bases. Overbay was the only player with two knocks while Ichiro Suzuki and Chris Nelson went hitless. Everyone else had one hit apiece … the Bombers didn’t draw a single walk, which isn’t surprising. Bartolo Colon has walked one batter (!) in 37.1 innings this season … I have to think Preston Claiborne has a chance to take Kelley’s job if he pitches well between now and when Joba Chamberlain comes off the DL. Kelley has pitched poorly and he clearly doesn’t have Girardi’s trust.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon while the Athletics will counter with rookie right-hander Dan Straily. If you want to catch the final game of the homestand in person, check out RAB Tickets.