Yanks lose Mitchell but beat Twins 8-7 on Nunez’s walk-off blunder

I don’t even know what to say. That was one of the oddest, most nonsensical games I’ve ever seen. It was bad, weird, and great all at the same time. The Yankees walked off with an 8-7 win in ten innings over the Twins on Monday night, though it did come with a price. They lost two players to injury, one of which is serious.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Best of a Bad Injury
The Yankees scored three runs in the first inning (more on that in a bit) but the game very quickly turned sour in the second. Bryan Mitchell was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of former Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez, and although he walked off the field under his own power, Mitchell was bleeding heavily and holding a towel to his face. He’s been diagnosed with a nasal fracture and will be monitored for a concussion the next few days. All things considered, that’s not too bad.

First and foremost, oh man that’s really scary. Line drives to the face are no joke. We’re talking possible concussion, broken bones, eye damage … really scary life-altering stuff. Thankfully Mitchell avoided all of that. All that blood was pretty terrifying. Secondly, the baseball aspect of the injury sucked because the Yankees opted to use their long reliever as a spot starter, so they came into the game with a six-man bullpen. The bullpen got a workout.

Caleb Cotham came in to replace Mitchell and was … not good. Not at all. He did strike out Aaron Hicks with two on and two outs to escape the second, but he served up a game-tying two-run home run to Miguel Sano in the third. Middle-middle fastballs to Sano don’t come back. A single, an error by Didi Gregorius, and another single gave the Twins a 4-3 lead later in that third inning. Four of the first seven batters reached base against Cotham.

Cotham started the fourth inning and gave up another game-tying home run — Hicks hit a leadoff shot to right — before getting two quick outs. Well, he got one out. Brian McCann threw out a runner trying to steal for the other out. Cotham was the long man by default with Mitchell starting, but he was not fooling anyone. The Yankees got eleven outs total from their long man and backup long man. Woof. That poor bullpen.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

McCann Can
Two outs, two strikes, two times. The Yankees scored their first five runs because McCann came through with a pair of big two out hits in two-strike counts. Jacoby Ellsbury singled and Alex Rodriguez walked in the first, then McCann hit a much appreciated three-run home run over the short porch and into the people. The Yankees are now up to 99 first inning runs on the season. The Royals are a distant second with 86.

After the Twins took a 4-3 lead in the third, the Yankees rallied to take a 5-4 lead in one of the weirdest innings ever. Ellsbury hit a leadoff single. Great! Brett Gardner followed with a walk. Even better! Then A-Rod pulled a ground ball through third baseman Trevor Plouffe — it was scored an error — to load the bases with no outs. Except that last part didn’t happen. Third base coach Joe Espada waved Ellsbury home and the cannon-armed Eddie Rosario threw him out at the plate. Ellsbury actually avoided the tag but overran the base, and was tagged when he went back to touch home.

I’m a bit of a baseball nerd so I know Rosario has a very good arm, and watching live it sure seemed like the send was questionable, especially with no outs. No outs with the 4-5-6 hitters coming up! That was an awful send. Gross. Mark Teixeira, the next batter, popped up into shallow left and Rosario made the sliding catch, though the umpires originally ruled it a trap, and A-Rod was forced out at second. Twins manager Paul Molitor challenged for some reason — I guess he wanted to keep the slower runner at first, A-Rod instead of Teixeira? — and the call was overturned. Either way, there now two outs and runners on the corners.

Rodriguez managed to steal second base without a throw — don’t ask me, it looked like the Twins were caught completely off guard — and the steal mattered because of McCann’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single to right. Gardner and A-Rod both scored and boom, the Yankees were up 5-4, at least until Hicks took Cotham deep. McCann drove in five runs in the first three innings.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Comeback
The Twins built a mini-picket fence in the middle innings, scoring one run each in the fourth (Hicks homer), fifth (Plouffe homer off Chasen Shreve), and sixth (Plouffe run-scoring single off Justin Wilson). That gave Minnesota a 7-5 lead. Meanwhile, Kyle Gibson retired seven straight following McCann’s two-run single in the third. He didn’t allow another base-runner until he walked a hobbled Teixeira leading off the sixth.

McCann followed the leadoff walk with a strikeout, then Carlos Beltran made up for it with a game-tying two-run home run off Brian Duensing. It was 2-1 fastball right into his bat path. Perfect pitch for Beltran to crush and crush he did. That tied the game 7-7 in the sixth even though it felt like the eighth. This game dragged big time thanks to all the pitching changes and stuff.

The Yankees blew a golden scoring opportunity in the seventh, when they put the first two runners on base and had the bases loaded with one out. Ellsbury and Gardner started the inning with singles, A-Rod popped out into foul territory, then Greg Bird drew a four-pitch walk in his Yankee Stadium debut. He pinch-ran for Teixeira in the previous inning. Teixeira is day-to-day with a bruised leg, by the way. X-rays came back negative.

Anyway, bases loaded with McCann due up? He had a whale of a game. Exactly who the Yankees wanted up. Then he popped up on the infield on the first pitch of his at-bat. Womp womp. That’s okay, Beltran was next up and he has been ultra-clutch of late. Then he struck out on four pitches to end the inning. Okay, that didn’t go so well. The Yankees had two men on base with no outs and the 3-4-5-6 hitters due up, and they didn’t score. That felt like their last best chance.

Love this team. (Presswire)
Love this team. (Presswire)

The Return of Eduardo Scissorhands
Gosh, what an ending. The game went to extra innings, because of course, and Andrew Miller had his best inning in a while in the top of the tenth. He got a routine fly out to right and two strikeouts. It was pre-injury Miller. Good to see. The Twins turned to their closer Glen Perkins, which made a ton of sense because he’s a lefty and the Yankees were due to send Bird, McCann, and Beltran to the plate. Two lefties and a switch-hitter who is weaker from the right side.

Naturally, the lefties crushed Perkins. Bird led the inning off with a first pitch booming double into the right-center field gap that I thought had a chance to get out when it left the bat. Bird had to settle for hitting the ball to the wall. McCann followed that with a double to center. Another one I thought had a chance to get out. Bird had to hold up at third because Rosario came really closing to catching it — it actually hit off his glove — and couldn’t score on the play. But still, the Yankees had men at second and third with no outs and were in business.

The Twins intentionally walked Beltran to create the force at any base with no outs, and they doubled down by using a five-man infield. Chase Headley, another switch-hitter who is weaker from the right side, came to the plate and quickly fell behind in the count 0-2. That was ominous. He took a pitch for a ball, fouled off another pitch, then hit a weak tapper to Nunez, the middle of the five infielders. Then Nunez Nunezed it.

The grounder went right to Nunez — Headley couldn’t have rolled it any better — but he muffed it, the ball bounced a few feet away, and that was enough to win the game. I hate to pick on the kid, but man, we saw Nunez make way too many defensive blunders in pinstripes over the years to not feel a little satisfaction when the Yankees finally benefited from one of them. Why did Nunez throw to first? Who knows. It made no sense. The run scores anyway. Oh Nunie. Nunie Nunie Nunie.

Leftovers
Seems like the Twins had something in their scouting report telling them to run on McCann, because they attempted five steals in the game. McCann made a wild throw — a “it looked like it slipped out of hand” throw, that bad — on the first runner but did throw out three of the next four. Maybe that poor first throw encouraged the Twins to keep running. McCann has now thrown out 19 of 52 attempts base-stealers this year (37%). The league average is 31%.

Ellsbury led off five (!) different innings and reached base three times, which is pretty awesome. (Of course, it also means Stephen Drew made the final out a bunch of times, but why focus on the negative?) Ellsbury and Gardner reached base five times combined. That’s good. I enjoy that. Been waiting a few weeks to see them both hot atop the lineup again.

The Yankees had ten hits total: Ellsbury and McCann had three each while Gardner, Bird, Beltran, and McCann had one each. Gardner, A-Rod, Teixeira, Bird, and Beltran drew the five walks. Beltran’s was intentional. They went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position with is both good (.300!) and bad (seven outs, yuck). Yankees’ hitters had six strikeouts and five walks. Their pitchers had 14 strikeouts and two walks.

Next up out of the bullpen? It was going to be CC Sabathia, according to Joe Girardi. Sabathia was actually down in the bullpen but had not yet warmed up or even started throwing. It’ll have no impact on his scheduled start Tuesday. Miller threw only eight pitches in his inning and was going back out for the 11th if went that far. Thankfully it did not. Dellin Betances got seven outs on 26 pitches, by the way.

And finally, gotta figure the Yankees will have at least two new relievers tomorrow, right? Mitchell is going to the DL and Cotham can go down. Nick Rumbelow is fresh and they can use Mitchell’s injury to recall either Nick Goody or Branden Pinder even though they haven’t been down ten days. Would they send down Bird and call up three fresh arms? Maybe not with Teixeira banged up.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. We also have Announcer Standings and Bullpen Workload pages you should check out. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Tuesday night, when Sabathia and Mike Pelfrey will be on the mound. That’s 13 feet and two inches worth of starting pitchers right there. (They’re both listed at 6-foot-7.)

Update: Teixeira leaves game with bruised leg, x-rays negative

10:03pm ET: Mark Teixeira left tonight’s game after fouling a pitch off his right leg, right below the knee. He limped around for a bit, walked it off, stayed in to finish the at-bat, then was removed for a pinch-runner after drawing a walk. Teixeira limped down to first base and was pretty clearly in discomfort.

Hopefully Teixeira walks away with nothing more than a welt, because the Yankees can’t really afford to lost their starting first baseman and cleanup hitter. I love Greg Bird as much as the next guy, but this is not the way I want to see him get at-bats. The Yankees haven’t made any sort of update on Teixeira, so stay tuned.

Update 10:44pm ET: Teixeira is day-to-day with a bruised right leg, the Yankees announced. X-rays came back negative. He was removed for precautionary reasons. Exhale.

DotF: Tampa sweeps doubleheader behind Mateo, Avelino, Fowler, and Andujar

SS Jorge Mateo, IF Vince Conde, and SS Hyo-Jun Park were named the Offensive Players of the Week in the High-A Florida State League, the Low-A South Atlantic League, and Rookie Appalachian League, respectively, so congrats to them.

Also, RHP Alex Robinett has been placed on the Military List, the River Dogs announced. Robinett, this year’s 32nd rounder, is a West Point cadet who has to fulfill his military obligation. His 6.17 ERA in 23.1 pro innings is skewed by one disaster no-out, seven-run outing. Robinett pitched quite well the last few weeks.

Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton and Short Season Staten Island all had scheduled off-days.

High-A Tampa Game One (6-2 win over Lakeland) makeup of the June 25th rainout

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-3, 1 R — two-hit game streak ends at six
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — five homers in 112 games this year after hitting ten in 127 games last year
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI
  • RHP Vicente Campos: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2/6 GB/FB — 43/8 K/BB in 48 innings as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery

[Read more…]

Update: Bryan Mitchell suffers small nasal fracture after being hit by line drive

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

8:00pm ET: Scary moment Monday night. Bryan Mitchell left tonight’s game in the second inning after being hit by a line drive in the face. It looked as though he was able to turn away at the last moment to avoid a direct shot, but it still hit him and deflected far into the outfield. Maybe it got him in the cheek or nose? Hopefully not the eye.

Here’s the play:

Mitchell was on the ground for a few moments but was eventually able to walk off the field with help from the trainer. He was bleeding quite heavily though and had a towel to his face. The Yankees have not yet given any updates on Mitchell but I’m sure one is coming soon enough. That was really scary. Hopefully it’s just a flesh wound.

Update (8:45pm ET): The Yankees announced Mitchell was taken to the hospital for a “full evaluation” but did not say where exactly the ball hit him. I’m sure he’s undergoing x-rays, concussion tests, the whole nine.

Update (10:05pm ET): Mitchell suffered a small nasal fracture and has been released from the hospital, the Yankees announced. He will be monitored for concussion symptoms going forward. All things considered, good news.

Game 117: Home … For A While

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are back home in the Bronx and they’re going to be here for a while. They start a ten-game homestand tonight and 20 of their next 26 games (!) will be played at Yankee Stadium. We all know the Yankees play much better at home, so these next 26 games are a huge opportunity to create some distance in the AL East. (The Blue Jays also play much better at home, and they play 17 of their next 26 on the road.)

I figure the Yankees will probably have to win at least 12 or 13 of these upcoming 20 home games to give themselves a really good chance to win the division. That seems like a decent number, no? It’s not set in stone or anything, but 12-8 feels like an okay record in those 20 home games. 11-9? Eh, not so much. Take it one game at a time though. Win today, worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

Gosh is it hot in New York. It’s been in the mid-90s all day with enough humidity to make you stick to everything. Yuck. It rained for a little while this afternoon and there’s a small chance of rain tonight. Nothing major though. The game is scheduled to begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

HOPE Week: This is week is HOPE Week, when the Yankees reach out to various individuals, families, and organizations doing some wonderful things. HOPE Week begins tonight with Chris Singleton, a college baseball player who lost his mother in the Charleston church shooting a few weeks ago. Chad Jennings has the details. Also, as part of HOPE Week the Yankees are holding a back-to-school supplies drive on Wednesday. Here are the details.

Schedule Update: The Subway Series game at Citi Field on Sunday, September 20th, has been bumped from 1pm ET to 8pm ET, MLB announced. I guess ESPN deemed the Yankees and Mets worthy of a late-season Sunday night broadcast.

Heyman: Yankees among teams “poking around” on Jose Reyes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes has cleared trade waivers and the Yankees are among the teams “poking around,” reports Jon Heyman. They remain on the periphery of the Chase Utley chase but generally seem unlikely to make any sort of major addition this month, whether it be Utley or Reyes or someone else.

“We got a shortstop, we are good,” said Brian Cashman to George King when asked about adding an infielder recently. “Adding money in the short term and long term, how does it fit? (Hal Steinbrenner) is open to money, that’s never an issue. Hal is also sensible and practical and not doing something just to do it.”

The offense has sputtered of late — the Yankees have scored 26 runs in their last eleven games (!) — yet the only position they can realistically make a change is second base. We’d all love to see Greg Bird get regular at-bats but there’s no way to do it without sitting Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, who have been the team’s two best hitters this season.

Stephen Drew is hitting .194/.261/.392 (77 wRC+) with 15 home runs, and those homers are his only redeeming quality at the plate. Making an out nearly 74% of the time is not acceptable. At least not to me it isn’t. (It is to the Yankees apparently.) Rob Refsnyder is not necessarily out of favor, but it’s telling the Yankees have opted not to call him up for an extended trial.

Reyes, 32, is hitting .274/.308/.365 (81 wRC+) overall this season, so he hasn’t been that much better than Drew, especially since he’s only stolen 19 bases. The days of 50+ steals are long gone. Reyes is also owed $48M from 2016-17 and hasn’t played second base in about a decade, so that would be an adjustment. Then there are all the leg injuries he suffered over the years.

While I certainly understand why more than a few folks want Reyes, I think there’s too much downside. I mean, it’s almost all downside. Speed guy whose legs aren’t what they once were, bat clearly in decline, defense slipping, ton of money left on the contract … yeah that’s a deal to avoid, even if the Rockies are willing to eat money and take Grade-B prospects in return.

At this point, with September call-ups just two weeks away and Refsnyder likely to take platoon at-bats from Brendan Ryan, I think the best thing the Yankees can do is wait. Just ride out this second base situation, hope some other slumping players snap out of it, then look for a long-term solution in the offseason. Maybe it’s Refsnyder, maybe it’s a player in another organization.

8/17 to 8/19 Series Preview: Minnesota Twins

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Home sweet home. The Yankees start a three-game series against the Twins tonight, and they will play their next ten and 20 of their next 26 (!) games at home in Yankee Stadium. They’ve been much better at home (32-21, +48 run differential) than on the road (32-31, +15) this season, so this 20-in-26 stretch is a golden opportunity to increase the lead in the AL East. The Yankees took two of three from the Twins in Target Field late last month, thanks in part to Alex Rodriguez‘s three home-run game.

What Have The Twins Done Lately?

The Twins are going down in flames. They had a nice little start to the season but they have lost 18 of their last 27 games, getting outscored 157-105 in the process. They are who we thought they were, as Dennis Green once said. Minnesota has fallen out of wildcard position (they’re 1.5 games back) and are 59-58 with a -24 run differential overall in 2015. Don’t overlook this series though. The AL East title is in doubt and the Twins are one of about six teams vying for a wildcard. This series as some postseason implications.

Offense & Defense

With an average of 4.22 runs per game and a team 90 wRC+, the Twins are a below-average offensive club. (They’re actually slightly better than average in terms of runs per game, but that wRC+ …. yikes.) That doesn’t mean they don’t have any individually dangerous hitters, of course. Manager Paul Molitor’s team is healthy on the position player side. No one on the DL or even day-to-day.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Right now, Minnesota’s most dangerous hitter is DH Miguel Sano (156 wRC+ in limited time), who is absolutely terrifying at the plate. I’ll be happy if he hits only one homer in the three-game series. 2B Brian Dozier (120 wRC+) is quite dangerous and both OF Aaron Hicks (105 wRC+), OF Eddie Rosario (104 wRC+), and 3B Trevor Plouffe (107 wRC+) are strong supporting players. 1B Joe Mauer (93 wRC+) and OF Torii Hunter (94 wRC+) are both on the downside of their careers.

C Kurt Suzuki (60 wRC+) is the everyday catcher and lately UTIL Eduardo Escobar (78 wRC+) and former Yankees UTIL Eduardo Nunez (92 wRC+) have been splitting time at short. C Chris Herrmann (52 wRC+) is the backup catcher and OF Shane Robinson (78 wRC+) is the other bench player. Only a three-man bench for the Twinkies these days.

The defensive stats are not fans of the Twins. Hicks and Dozier are excellent, and Rosario is fine in left, but Hunter and Plouffe are not the rangiest of fellows. Mauer’s fine around the bag at first but also doesn’t offer much range. Nunez at short? We’ve seen that movie before. (Escobar’s fine there.) Suzuki is solid behind the plate.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Bryan Mitchell (No vs. MIN) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (vs. NYY)
The 27-year-old Gibson is finally starting to settle in as a solid big league starter, pitching to a 3.75 ERA (4.11 FIP) in 23 starts and 141.2 innings this year. I thought he was going to be star coming out of Mizzou back in 2009 (22nd overall pick), so that shows what I know. Gibson has a below-average strikeout rate (17.3%), but both his walk (7.5%) and homer (0.95 HR/9) rates are good, plus he gets a ton of ground balls (52.8%). Righties (.334 wOBA) have had more success against him than lefties (.293 wOBA), which is the opposite of what happened last year. Also, it’s worth noting Gibson has been much more successful at home in spacious Target Field (3.12 ERA and 4.15 FIP) than on the road (4.57 ERA and 4.06 FIP) this year. He works in the low-90s with two and four-seam fastballs and also throws mid-80s sliders and changeups. Gibson has used all four pitches at least 18% of the time this season. The Yankees saw Gibson last month and scored six runs in 5.1 innings.

As for the Yankees, tonight was supposed to be CC Sabathia‘s turn, but last night various Twins beat reporters said Minnesota had been informed Bryan Mitchell will start instead. Sure enough, Brian Cashman confirmed this morning Mitchell will start tonight. Sabathia will start tomorrow. The Yankees had been talking about using a spot sixth starter at some point during this stretch of 16 games in 16 days to give the rest of the rotation extra rest, and tonight’s the night.

Tuesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (vs. NYY)
Big Pelf has a 3.70 ERA (3.95 FIP) in 22 starts and 129 innings this year, though this has really been a tale of two seasons for the ex-Met. He had a 2.28 ERA (3.84 FIP) in his first eleven starts and has a 5.23 ERA (4.06 FIP) in the eleven starts since. Pelfrey has the second lowest strikeout rate among qualified starters at 11.3% — Jeremy Guthrie has the lowest at 11.1% — so he instead relies on limiting walks (6.9%), getting grounders (53.7%), and keeping the ball in the park (0.49 HR/9). Lefties (.340 wOBA) have hit him a bit harder than righties (.310 wOBA). The 31-year-old Pelfrey lives off his low-to-mid-90s sinker but will also throw some straight low-to-mid-90s four-seamers to keep hitters honest. Low-80s splitters and sliders are his two offspeed pitches. The Yankees did not face Pelfrey when they visited Minnesota a few weeks ago.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Wednesday (1pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (vs. NYY)
Santana, 32, returned a few weeks ago after serving an 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension to start the season. Not the best way to kick off a four-year contract, eh? Santana has a 5.66 ERA (5.59 FIP) in eight starts and 47.2 innings since coming back and he has been incredibly homer prone (1.70 HR/9). His walk rate (8.4%) is in line with his career norms but his strikeout (13.0%) and grounder (37.6%) rates are way down. Left-handed batters (.358 wOBA) have had more success against Santana than righties (.336 wOBA) this year. A low-to-mid-90s four-seam fastball is his primary weapon and he’ll also throw a ton of mid-80s sliders each time out. Santana has thrown his slider at least 33% of the time every year since PitchFX was fully put in place in 2008. He has started throwing his mid-80s changeup a bit more often in recent years but it is still a distant third pitch. Santana shows you can carve out a pretty long career as a starter as a two-pitch pitcher, as long as one pitch is mid-90s heat and the other is a wipeout slider. The Yankees did not see Santana the last time these teams played.

Bullpen Status
Molitor is stuck with one of the league’s worst bullpens (4.08 ERA/4.16 FIP) despite having a shutdown closer in LHP Glen Perkins (2.49/3.39). RHP Casey Fien (3.89/3.73) has been his primary setup man alongside trade deadline pickup RHP Kevin Jepsen (2.79/4.06). LHP Brian Duensing (4.54/4.06) is the main matchup southpaw.

RHP A.J. Achter (10.13/6.49 in very limited time), RHP Trevor May (4.15/3.26), LHP Ryan O’Rourke (3.38/3.19 in limited time), and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP J.R. Graham (4.50/4.61) fill out the rest of the bullpen. Duensing, Fien, Jepsen, and Perkins all pitched yesterday. Check out the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page, then head over to Twinkie Town and Aaron Gleeman’s site for updates on the Twins.