Tanaka returns to form, Yanks use big inning to beat Rays 9-0

Source: FanGraphs

Two wins in a row! A series win! The Yankees accomplished both for the first time this season on Saturday night, blowing out the Rays by the score of 9-0. This was actually a pitchers duel for the first six innings. Time to recap with bullet points, because it’s Saturday night:

  • #TANAK: For the first time in 2015, Masahiro Tanaka looked like the guy we saw before his injury last year. He pitched to all four quadrants with his fastball, unleashed some devastating splitters, and kept hitters off balance with an array of breaking balls. Seven innings, two hits, no walks, eight strikeouts, 85 pitches. He could have gone back out for the eighth had he not sat on the bench for 45 minutes during the team’s big seventh inning. Hooray Masahiro!
  • Seven-Run Seventh: The Yankees scored their first two runs on a Brian McCann triple, of all things. The ball hit off the very top of the right field wall and rolled away from the outfielder. First triple of the year for the Yankees. Go figure. The seven-run seventh was an old school Yankees rally — long at-bats, walks, base hits, and the big blow to cap it off. Eight of the first ten batters in the inning reached base and the two outs were sac flies. Chris Young put an exclamation point on the inning with a grand slam off Grant Balfour, who was designated for assignment after the game. Gregorio Petit made two of the three outs in the inning.
  • Leftovers: Branden Pinder loaded the bases in the ninth but escaped unscathed … Jacoby Ellsbury (two), Brett Gardner (two), and McCann (three) all had multiple hits … everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least twice other than Mark Teixeira and Petit … the Yankees scored at least five runs in an inning twice this week after doing it only nine times all of last season.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees will look to finish off the much-needed series sweep on Sunday afternoon, when Michael Pineda gets the ball against rookie righty Matt Andriese.

Minor League Update: Sorry folks, no DotF tonight, but you can find the box scores right here. Ramon Flores hit another homer, Aaron Judge had two hits, and Jorge Mateo had two hits, two walks, and three stolen bases. Also, Andrew Bailey struck out two in a perfect inning.

Game 11: A-Rod’s Encore


Last night was a turn back the clock night for Alex Rodriguez, who hit two home runs and drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the eighth inning. According to ESPN, his monster solo homer in the second inning was the second longest by a Yankee in the last ten years and the longest at Tropicana Field in ten years. Alex is now just two homers shy of tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list, and hey, it could happen today. That would be some kind of follow up to yesterday’s game.

In the grand scheme of things though, Masahiro Tanaka‘s start tonight is much more important than whatever A-Rod does. Tanaka has not looked like himself in his first two starts — he’s walked five in nine innings after not walking his fifth batter until inning 32 last year — and it’s impossible to diagnose the problem. Is it the elbow acting up? Is he apprehensive? Is it just two games against very good lineups? Who knows. We’ve yet to see the Tanaka of last season in 2015 and it would be cool if he showed up soon. Here is tonight’s starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

The Rays are starting right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who has allowed a total of four hits in 14.2 innings in his two starts this year. Here is Tampa’s lineup.

The weather won’t be a factor once again because Tropicana Field is domed — it’s a balmy 82 degrees in St. Petersburg, if you’re curious — and tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch only on FOX Sports 1. Here’s the channel finder. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran has some kind of illness and may not play tomorrow either, Joe Girardi told reporters.

Yanks outright Joel De La Cruz, lose Matt Tracy to Marlins on waivers

Tracy. (Presswire)
Tracy. (Presswire)

The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Joel De La Cruz off the 40-man roster, the team announced. He is with Triple-A Scranton. Also, the Marlins have claimed southpaw Matt Tracy, who was called up for a day and designated for assignment as part of that long man revolving door last week. Miami says they’ve optioned Tracy to Triple-A. There are now 39 players on the 40-man roster.

De La Cruz, 25, was with the Yankees for a few days last week but did not appear in a game. I don’t even think he warmed up. He had a 4.44 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 121.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. De La Cruz was the guy the Yankees tried to trade to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano rather than Corey Black two years ago.

The 26-year-old Tracy allowed three unearned runs in two innings in his only game with New York last week. He had a 3.75 ERA (438 FIP) in 151 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last summer. Tracy was an interesting sleeper prospect a few years back but never did that next step in his development. I assume De La Cruz will step into the Triple-A rotation spot Tracy was expected to hold down this year.

Injury Updates: Gardner, Nova, Capuano, Pirela, Ryan

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees and Rays continue their series later tonight, so, until then, there are some updates on various injured Yankees courtesy of Chad Jennings, Bryan Hoch, and the Associated Press:

  • Brett Gardner (wrist) was going to stay in last night’s game to hit after pinch-running, if necessary. “I was prepared if my spot came up in the ninth to get a normal at-bat and get up there and swing the bat,” he said. Gardner came through several rounds of batting practice just fine and should return to the lineup today.
  • Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) threw 20 pitches in his second live batting practice session yesterday. “I’m getting closer. Feels awesome,” he said. Nova expects to throw batting practice two more times next week before getting back into games. Joe Girardi said they’re shooting for May 1st for Nova’s first minor league rehab start.
  • Chris Capuano (quad) threw live batting practice Thursday and will do so again tomorrow. Girardi said Nova and Capuano are “pretty close” with regards to their timetable, but Capuano is “slightly ahead.”
  • Jose Pirela (concussion) is going through all drills and hit against Capuano on Thursday. He’ll play in an Extended Spring Training game on Monday. Girardi was noncommittal when asked if Pirela will join the big league team once healthy.
  • Brendan Ryan (calf) “might” go to Tampa next week to begin going through baseball workouts. It depends how he feels in the coming days.

DotF: Bird and Jagielo have big nights in Trenton’s blowout win

RHP Luis Severino placed 13th on the first Prospect Hot Sheet of the year following his efficiently dominant start earlier this week. Also, RHP Brady Lail is opening some eyes according to Jon Heyman. “One pitcher impressing folks is right-hander Brady Lail, with the Tampa Yankees. The 18-round pick from Utah throws 90-94 and has an impressive hook,” wrote Heyman.

Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Syracuse in ten innings)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 3-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — led the game off a homer and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth with a sac fly
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-6, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 CS
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R — 7-for-32 (.219) in the early going … remember he started slow last year too
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-5, 1 R, 1 SB
  • C Austin Romine: 2-3, 2 R, 1 BB
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 6/2 GB/FB , 1 E (pickoff) — 54 of 89 pitches were strikes (61%), plus he picked a runner off first … so, does he get called up to make a spot start next week now that the Yankees are playing 13 games in 13 days
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 43 pitches were strikes (56%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 16 of 29 pitches were strikes (55%)
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eight of 13 pitches were strikes (62%) … I hate that he’s wasting away down here

[Read more…]

A-Rod homers twice, carries Yankees to 5-4 win over Rays

Source: FanGraphs

Thanks to just enough offense and some stellar bullpen work, the Yankees eked out a 5-4 win in their series opener against the Rays on Friday night. It was a one-man show at the plate and four-reliever show on the mound. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Ten More Years!: Imagine where this team would be with Alex Rodriguez. He’s a one-man army. Solo homer in the second, game-tying two-run homer in the sixth, go-ahead RBI single in the eighth. Alex drove in four of the team’s five runs and had three of their five hits. According to MLBAM, A-Rod‘s first homer was the longest of the year (471 feet) and his second was the hardest hit of the year (115.3 mph exit velocity). Like in all of MLB. Goodness.
  • Back-to-Back: Through three innings, Adam Warren made it look like this starter thing just might work. He allowed two singles in those three innings before things came apart in the fourth following the daily defensive miscue — Mark Teixeira couldn’t scoop a throw from Didi Gregorius. It hit him right in the glove. A walk and back-to-back homers followed, the first a three-run shot by Allan Dykstra the second a solo homer by Logan Forsythe. Four runs on six hits and two walks in only four innings for Warren. Not good enough.
  • Team Strength: The bullpen is supposed to be a strength this year and relief crew rebounded nicely from Wednesday’s meltdown. Esmil Rogers picked up Warren with 2.1 scoreless innings, Justin Wilson struck out the only batter he faced, Dellin Betances allowed a hit in a scoreless inning, and Andrew Miller nailed down the four-out save. Five scoreless innings, two hits, one walk, seven strikeouts for the bullpen. That’s the plan right there.
  • Leftovers: A-Rod’s dingers were the 657th and 658th of his career, so he’s two away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place all-time and triggering his first $6M bonus. Could be tomorrow! … Brett Gardner stole a base ahead of Rodriguez’s single in the eighth, so props to him. He was pinch-running for Carlos Beltran, who singled … Stephen Drew hit a solo, his third dinger of the year … And finally, A-Rod called Betances and Miller the “Twins Towers” after the game. That’ll work for a nickname.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Announcer Standings page, just because. The Yankees and Rays will continue this three-game series in a nationally televised FOX Sports 1 game on Saturday night. Blah. Masahiro Tanaka and Jake Odorizzi will be the pitching matchup.

Game Ten: Find an Identity

Alex's team? (Presswire)
Alex’s team? (Presswire)

The start of the 2015 season has been less than ideal for the Yankees. They haven’t excelled in any facet of the game — even the bullpen, which was really good to start the year, melted down spectacularly in the series finale against the Orioles — and they don’t really have an identity. In the past they’d beat you with offense. Further back they’d beat you with pitching. This team … I dunno. They’ll beat you if they catch some breaks?

The Rays are off to a fine start this season but they’re very banged up. Three starting pitchers are on the DL (Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Drew Smyly) as is the left side of the infield (James Loney, Nick Franklin) and their best reliever (Jake McGee). Tampa Bay has still been able to go 6-4 in their first ten games, including 5-1 in their last six games. The Yankees could use a run like that. Here is New York’s starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alex Rodriguez
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Adam Warren

Evan Longoria, who left last night’s game after taking a pitch to the hip, is in the lineup for the Rays, but at DH instead of his usual third base. Here is their starting lineup.

The temperature is in the upper-70s and it’s really humid in St. Petersburg, but that doesn’t matter. It’ll be a climate controlled 72-ish degrees inside Tropicana Field. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Brett Gardner (wrist) feels good enough to play today, but apparently Joe Girardi is giving him the proverbial “one extra day.” Gardner took batting practice and expects to be in the lineup tomorrow.