DotF: Fowler and Andujar both go deep twice in big day in the farm system

There were a series of roster moves in the farm system today, most as a result of the C Gary Sanchez injury. Here’s a recap before we get to one of the most exciting days in the system in recent memory:

  • C Wilkin Castillo has been bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton to replace C Kyle Higashioka, who was called up to replace Sanchez. Also, LHP Jordan Montgomery has officially joined the RailRiders.
  • C Jorge Saez went from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton to replace Castillo. And, as expected, RHP Chad Green went from Tampa to Trenton as well. He and Montgomery are lined up for April 16th, the next time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • RHP Josh Roeder, RHP Christian Morris, and C Wes Wilson all went from Extended Spring Training to High-A Tampa. They’re replacing Montgomery, Green, and Saez on the roster. Got all that?

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-3 loss to Buffalo in seven innings, walk-off style) make up of Thursday’s Opening Day rainout

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • RF Clint Frazier: 0-2, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 SB — he also reached on an error, so three times on base without a hit
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
  • LF Mason Williams: 0-3 — threw a runner out at second
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 7/4 GB/FB — 57 of 93 pitches were strikes (61%) … he’ll inevitably get called up as part of the bullpen shuttle at some point, though since he’s in the rotation, the timing will have to be right … they’re not going to call him up when he’s still a day or two away from being available
  • RHP Ben Heller: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight of 14 pitches were strikes (57%) … gave up the two-run walk-off homer

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Yankees come back late to avoid sweep, beat Orioles 7-3

The Orioles are no longer the only undefeated in baseball. The Yankees rallied in the late innings for a 7-3 win in Sunday afternoon’s series finale. They needed that. I think fans needed it more.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Six Solid From Sabathia
For the first time this season, the Yankees had a starter record an out after the fifth inning. Three outs, in fact. CC Sabathia chucked six workmanlike innings Sunday afternoon, holding the Orioles to three runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out three and threw 98 pitches. Pretty? No way. Effective? Yeah, effective enough. Starts like this have become the norm for Sabathia at this point of his career.

Also the norm for Sabathia at this point of his career: weak contact. He was second among all starters in soft contact rate (24.0%) and first in average exit velocity (85.3 mph) last season. We saw that again Sunday. I’m not sure any of the six hits Sabathia allowed were well-struck. Most were soft liners to the shallow outfield. The O’s scored their first run on a Chris Carter misplay — they had runners on the corners with one out, Sabathia got the weak grounder to first, and for some reason Carter threw to second rather than throwing home. Mark Trumbo was running and Carter had a clear lane to throw and plenty of time, yet he threw to second. I do not understand.

That all happened in the second inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. They scored another run later that inning on J.J. Hardy’s (yup) soft single to right, then, in the fifth, Trumbo gave the O’s a 3-0 lead with another soft single, this one to center field. For some reason the Yankees had their outfielders deep all afternoon. I know the O’s have a lot of power, but maybe bring them in a few steps when Sabathia is pitching? He gives up a ton of those soft line drive singles in front of the outfielders.

Off The Hook
Orioles starter Wade Miley came out and walked four of the first eight, and six of the first 12 (!) batters he faced Sunday, and the Yankees let him off the hook. None of those walks runs scored. There’s two ways you can look at that, I suppose. One, the Yankees are terrible and they didn’t capitalize on the walks because the offense stinks. Or two, Miley was never around the plate, so the Yankees didn’t get anything to hit. I’m feeling optimistic after this win, so I’ll go with the latter.

Matt Holliday worked a two-out walk in the first inning, then was immediately erased on a pickoff. Holliday wasn’t going anywhere, Miley just has a really great move and got him. So it goes. Miley then walked the bases loaded in the second inning, only to have Ronald Torreyes bail him out with what was easily the worst at-bat of the day:

ronald-torreyes-wade-mileyThat purple dot way outside the zone? That’s the one Torreyes swung at for strike three. He looked like a young kid trying to hit a five-run homer in a big spot. Miley threw a purpleball out of the zone and got him swinging to escape the jam. Nine batters, four walks, no runs through two innings.

It wasn’t until there were two outs in the fifth inning that the Yankees recorded their first hit. Aaron Hicks managed to find a hole back up the middle with a hard-hit ground ball. Miley threw away a pickoff throw and walked Holliday one last time for good measure before getting out of the inning. His final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 7 BB, 5 K. Good grief. Amazingly, this is the second time Miley has walked seven and not allowed a run in his career. He did it back in 2013 as well. The last time someone did that against the Yankees was 2000. Dan Reichert walked nine in eight scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium. The 2000 Yankees had no heart!

Gavel: slammed. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Gavel: slammed. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Comeback
Fighting Spirit! Turns out all the Yankees had to do to score some runs Sunday was get the pitcher who was walking everyone out of the game. In the sixth inning the Yankees struck for two runs with two outs courtesy of a Torreyes triple. That second inning at-bat was terrible. No doubt about it. Torreyes made up for it with the two-run triple in the sixth. Aaron Judge and Austin Romine strung together back-to-back singles to set that two-out rally up.

The Torreyes triple brought the Yankees to within 3-2. They tied the game 3-3 in the eighth inning, on Judge’s first home run of the season. It came in a two-strike count too. The at-bat went called strike, ball, called strike, ball, foul, dinger. I’m pretty sure Judge got it off the end of the bat too. He definitely didn’t square it up:

Either way, squared up or off the end of the bat, Judge hit the ball out to tie the game. Big fan of Judge hitting homers. Would watch again.

The comeback did not end there. This wasn’t one of those “rally to tie the game but lose anyway” games. The Yankees struck for four runs in the top of the ninth inning and boy oh boy did the Orioles help them out. The inning started with Holliday’s fifth walk of the day. Fifth! He’s the first Yankee to draw five walks in a game since Mark Teixeira back in 2009. Jacoby Ellsbury pinch-ran and stole second, though it didn’t really matter because Carter walked as the next batter. Carter’s walk was the team’s tenth of the day. Ten walks. Geez.

Based on that ninth inning, Darren O’Day is bad now. Remember when he used to chew up Alex Rodriguez? He couldn’t buy an out in that ninth inning. Following the back-to-back walks, O’Day left a pitch up that Starlin Castro sent back up the middle for a go-ahead single. Ellsbury crossed the plate to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. They didn’t stop there either. Chase Headley drew yet another walk to load the bases with no outs. The Yankees had the lead and they were in business.

Judge, who tied the game in the eighth inning, drove in an insurance run with a weak ground ball to first base. Chris Davis scooped it and was readying to throw home for the force, but he tripped over his own feet and tumbled to the grass. He recovered in time to get the out at first, but the run was in. It’s about time the Yankees scored a run like that. We’ve seen them make some hilarious errors already this year. This was the first time they benefited from one.

The Judge grounder pushed the lead to 5-3. Romine made it 7-3 with a two-run sac fly. He hit the ball deep to right field, deep enough for Headley to tag up from second and go to third, and the throw eluded Manny Machado. It hopped into foul territory, far enough away that Headley was able to chug home. Back-to-back silly plays to score runs. Yay. Aroldis Chapman slammed the door in the ninth inning. Judge made a diving catch for the 27th out. Love this team, you guys.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Leftovers
All told, the Yankees drew eleven walks in this game. It’s the first time they’ve walked eleven times in a nine-inning game since, well, last September. I thought it would be a much longer time ago. Holliday had the five walks and Carter had two. Brett Gardner, Headley, Judge, and Romine had the others. The Yankees had eleven walks Sunday after drawing 16 walks total in their first five games of the season.

The 7-8-9 hitters (Judge, Romine, Torreyes) went a combined 6-for-12 with a triple, a homer, two walks, and one strikeout. Very nice production from the bottom of the lineup. Gardner went 0-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts. He was the only Yankee to hit safely in each of the first five games this season. In the ninth inning, after Pete Kozma pinch-ran for Carter, Joe Girardi opted to slide Headley over to first rather than use Greg Bird. Bird is nursing an ankle issue and he’s sick. Seems like he wasn’t available at all today.

The unsung heroes: Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances. Six up, six down for those two in the seventh and eighth innings, paving the way for the comeback. Clippard faced the top of the lineup — Machado took a big ol’ hack in a 3-0 count and hit a ball to the warning track, which was scary — while Betances handled the middle, including Trumbo and Davis. Nice work holding the O’s down those two innings.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and MLB.com for the video highlights. ESPN has the standings, if you’re paying attention to them already. (It’s too early.) Also, don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph. It’s nice to see one of these bend in favor of the Yankees for a change.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The home opener, finally. Glad to have baseball back in the Bronx. The Yankees open the Yankee Stadium portion of their schedule Monday afternoon against the Rays. That’s a 1pm ET start. Michael Pineda and Alex Cobb are the scheduled pitchers. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to go to that game, or any other game on the nine-game homestand.

Sunday Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the rest of the weekend. The weather is gorgeous in New York today, so I hope you’re out enjoying it. If not, the Mets and Marlins are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Syndergaard vs. Volquez), plus all three local hockey teams are in action. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here. Just not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

Game Six: Avoid the Sweep

The start of the season in picture form. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
The start of the season in picture form. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

So this series — and the season, really — isn’t going too well right now. The last two days the Yankees have blown the types of games they really can’t afford to blow this season. Their margin for error isn’t big enough to cough up three and four-run leads. Hopefully that ends today.

CC Sabathia, who started New York’s only win of the season last week, is on the mound today. The Orioles have stacked their lineup with righties — Chris Davis is the only lefty in the starting lineup — and that almost kinda plays to Sabathia’s strength nowadays. He pounds righties inside with his cutter and gets them to chase soft stuff away. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 1B Chris Carter
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Aaron Judge
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a wonderful day in Baltimore. Sunny and on the cool side. Pretty much perfect baseball weather, as far as I’m concerned. This afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:35pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: As expected, Kyle Higashioka has been officially called up to replace Gary Sanchez (biceps). He’s wearing No. 38. Congrats to Higashioka for getting to the big leagues after grinding through 9+ years in the minors. Sanchez was placed on the 10-day disabled list following yesterday’s game. He’s going to see the team doctor in New York tomorrow.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) feels better, though now he’s sick. He had the flu or food poisoning or something like that last night. The Red Sox and Orioles have had the flu go through the clubhouse early this season. Hopefully the Yankees aren’t next.

The Gary-less Lineup

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

If you haven’t heard by now–though the collective worried gasp of Yankee fans everywhere yesterday afternoon probably gave it away–Gary Sanchez is injured, and will be going on the 10-day disabled list with a right biceps issue.

This leaves the Yankees with a gaping hole at what is the most important defensive position on the field–where Sanchez has shown great skill–and arguably the most important position in the lineup; slotting Sanchez in second made sense and was a big show of confidence in him by Joe Girardi and the coaching staff. Now, that’s for naught–at least for the next ten days. So, what can the Yankees do in Sanchez’s lineup absence?

My first thought was one I suggested previously, using DH Matt Holliday as the second hitter thanks to his combination of skills. However, without Sanchez to be in the clean up spot–and no one yet reliable enough to take his place–I don’t think that idea works. Holliday should stick at fourth, which is just as important as the second spot. But, since the route they’ll likely take is sticking Jacoby Ellsbury–who’s off to a good start–back into the second slot, giving the Yankees a more traditional look at the top of the lineup, that would mean three lefties–Gardner, Ellsbury, and Greg Bird stacked together, and that could lead to matchup problems late in games. So, I assume Girardi will split the lefties and have Holliday bat third with Bird cleaning up.

The team can go one of two ways with the fifth spot. The first way is to bump Chase Headley up a spot, rewarding him for a hot start. I’d be totally fine with that. The other would be to give the spot to Aaron Judge. This could show faith in him, challenge him, and give him an opportunity to hit behind better players, increasing the likelihood of him batting with men on base. That second option probably isn’t going to happen, but I think that’s the one I’d like, if only to keep up the ‘give the kids a shot’ theme that this season is likely to have.

Best hi-five ever (Source: AP)
Best hi-five ever (Source: AP)

So, the combination of the most likely scenario/what I’d want to see would look like this:

  1. Gardner, LF
  2. Ellsbury, CF
  3. Holliday, DH
  4. Bird, 1B
  5. Judge, RF
  6. Castro, 2B
  7. Headley, 3B
  8. Romine, C
  9. Torreyes, SS

You could flip Castro and Headley if you like, and I might do the same. But the main takeaway here is that without Sanchez, this lineup seems a whole lot shorter and a whole lot thinner than it did just 24 hours ago. Losing a big bat at a premium position always hurts, and that goes double when a backup quality player–Torreyes–is already in the every day lineup. Get well soon, Gary; the lineup needs you.

DotF: Torres, Estrada help Trenton to a win on Opening Day

Two quick notes today:

  • The RHP Dillon Tate mystery has been solved. Josh Norris says he’s dealing with a shoulder issue. That’s why he wasn’t on an Opening Day roster. Sucks. Hopefully it’s minor and he can get back on a mound soon.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery will make his next start with Triple-A Scranton on Tuesday, according to Shane Hennigan. He started for High-A Tampa on Thursday only because the weather forecast in the Northeast was terrible, and the Yankees wanted to make sure he got his work in and remained lined up for April 16th, the first day they need a fifth starter.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Buffalo) this is their season opener after a pair of rainouts, so here’s the full lineup per Opening Day tradition

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — keep the extra-base hits coming
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 PB, 1 E (fielding) — passed ball and an error, but he also threw out both runners who tried to steal … he’s heading to Baltimore to join the Yankees tomorrow following the C Gary Sanchez injury
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB — got picked off first … this is now his fourth season at this level
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — he led the International League with 163 hits last season
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 1-4, 1 K
  • DH Mark Payton: 1-3, 1 2B
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 48 of 76 pitches were strikes (63%) … and thus begins his audition as a starting pitcher
  • LHP Jason Gurka: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 21 of 35 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K — 25 of 38 pitches were strikes (66%)

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Another blown lead, another loss: Yankees fall 5-4 to Orioles


Source: FanGraphs

So what is going well for the Yankees right now? Nothing. Pretty much nothing. The Yankees blew another lead Saturday — this was a three-run lead as opposed to the four-run lead they blew Friday — to drop to 1-4 on the young season. They look every bit as bad as that 1-4 record suggests too. Hopefully this ugly play won’t last much longer. It’s Saturday and it’s a nice night out, so here’s the first bullet point recap of the season:

  • An Early Lead: On the bright side, the Yankees actually got to Kevin Gausman on Saturday. He held them to five runs in 41 innings last year. On Saturday, they hung four runs on him in 4.2 innings. Ronald Torreyes singled in a pair in the second inning, the third run scored on a balk, and the fourth on a Starlin Castro single. The Yankees were up 4-1 after the top of the fifth. Yay!
  • Tanaka Unravels: For the first four innings Saturday, Masahiro Tanaka looked like the normal Masahiro Tanaka. He allowed just a run on a bloop single through four innings. Then, in the fifth, the first four batters reached base, including Manny Machado, who lined a double off the right field wall. The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs, and Tanaka did well to escape while allowing just one run. Still, that one run cut the lead to 4-3. Tanaka was charged with three runs on six hits, four walks, and a hit batsmen in five innings. His control was better than Opening Day, but not where we saw it all last season.
  • The Blown Lead: You have to admire how committed the Yankees are to marginalizing Adam Warren. He relieved Tanaka, retired all four batters he faced on ten pitches, then was pulled to get the left-on-left matchup against Chris Davis, which of course didn’t work. Davis doubled against Tommy Layne and Mark Trumbo singled against Dellin Betances to tie the game. A stolen base and another single drove in the go-ahead run for the Orioles. Warren, meanwhile, has retired all 18 batters he faced this season. Love to slave to platoon matchups.
  • Leftovers: In case you missed it, Gary Sanchez is heading to the disabled list with a biceps strain. He hurt himself taking a swing … Castro, Torreyes, and Matt Holliday each had two hits … Brett Gardner had a hit and a walk (and a nice diving catch) while Aaron Hicks had a hit and a two walks … Hicks also had a double taken away by Seth Smith’s nice leaping catch in right field … and finally, congrats to Holliday for reaching 2,000 career hits. He dunked a single to right in the first inning to reach the milestone.

Here are the box score and video highlights, and also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees and Orioles will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:35pm ET start. It’ll be a battle of veteran lefties on the mound: CC Sabathia and Wade Miley.