Tanaka throws 7+ strong innings as the Yankees beat the A’s 6-2 and take the series

Back in late May, the Yankees lost three out of four at Oakland against the lowly Athletics. They were shut down by the likes of Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez and, by the end of the series, their record was hanging just barely over .500 at 26-25. This time around, New York took two out of three at home. Today’s game was particularly satisfying — Masahiro Tanaka pitched like an ace, the lineup was able to solve Jesse Chavez and, of course, the game win meant the series win. Oh, and The Yankees lengthened the AL East lead to three games.

Sensei (Source: Getty)

He’s Back!

In the second inning, it seemed like nothing was going right for Tanaka. With 2-0 count, Josh Reddick got on first base on catcher’s interference. Billy Butler followed it up with a RBI double to left and Ike Davis walked. That just seemed like a familiar storyline with Tanaka’s recent struggles. He did, however, get Brett Lawrie to GIDP to ease the situation to two outs and runner at third. However, Mark Canha took a fastball up in the zone for another RBI double. Womp. 2-1 Athletics.

Well, that turned out to be the only major jam for Tanaka. From the third inning and on, he allowed ZERO hits and only one baserunner, when Billy Butler reached first after the strikeout pitch escaped McCann’s glove in the fourth. That was more dominant than Tanaka has been in his past few starts and hopefully he’s figured something out. Yankees have a need for an upgrade for the rotation and Tanaka stepping up to his ace form would be huge.

When it was all said and done, Tanaka threw 7.2 innings, allowed only two hits, one earned run and struck out six. Another important thing — no homers! Home runs had been killing him a bit this year (1.52 HR/9 prior to this game) and keeping balls in park — especially at the Yankee Stadium — is a pretty good sight.

The bats

Prior to today’s game, Yankees didn’t do well against the journeyman RHP Jesse Chavez — he had held the current Yankee position players to a cumulative .235/.279/.370 line. There was a good news though: Chavez himself had been in a funk. After tossing eight scoreless versus the Yanks in May 31, the righty had been 2-4 with 5.00 ERA in 6 starts.

Chavez didn’t have a horrible outing but it was still not great. The righty tossed 5.0 innings, allowed seven hits, four runs, three walks and struck out three. That’s really mediocre and given on how brilliant Tanaka was, and the bats did a more-than-an-adequate job.

How about Cole Figueroa? He went 2-for-4 in his Yankee debut. It could have been a 3-for-4 performance too — in the second inning, he hit a hard grounder that went right to first baseman Ike Davis to end the frame, but, off the bat, I thought he could have had himself a single. He, however, catalyzed the rally in the fourth with a double to right, setting up a one-out, runners on second and third situation for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury ended up driving both in with an RBI-single for a 4-2 Yankee lead.

Figueroa contributed to another rally in the eighth, hitting a ground-rule double to set up another situation with runners on second and third. Ellsbury followed it up with what seemed to be an inning-ending ground out … but Marcus Semien threw offline and Ike Davis couldn’t handle it. Both runners scored and Semien was charged with his 28th (!!!) error of the season.

Back to Figueroa — he¬†will probably be sent down as soon as Chase Headley is ready to play again but I would guess he’ll be up again later this season if he keeps up the 130 wRC+ he had down in the minors.

(Source: Getty)

Hey Now, You’re An All Star

It’s been quite a past few days for Brett Gardner. Hot streak? Check. Being talked about as a possible All-Star? Check. Teammates campaigning for him? Check. Making it as an All Star? Check.

In his the first at-bat of the day, Gardner took a Chavez fastball deep to right field to give a 1-0 Yankee lead. That was also his tenth homer of the year — the most in his career prior to the All Star Game. At the age 31 season, Gardner is simply having his best offensive season — .303/.381/.490 line with an isolated power at .188. If you go with isolated power stat alone, he’s having a better power season power season than Adam Jones (.187), Prince Fielder (.178), Justin Upton (.175) and Troy Tulowitzki (.163). How about that?

Well, besides the homer, Gardner added two more hits later in the game for a 3-for-5 performance. To put a cherry on top, he was also announced to be injured Alex Gordon’s replacement for the All Star Game. Well, no more bald caps for other Yankee players I guess. Congrats, Brett!

Box score, standing, highlights, WPA

Here’s today’s box score, updated standing, video highlights and, of course, WPA


Source: FanGraphs


Yankees head to Boston to play their final series before the All-Star break. Enjoy the rest of Thursday! Maybe watch more baseball coming up later if you feel like it because that’s what I’ll probably do.

Gardner headed to All-Star Game as injury replacement for Alex Gordon

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Brett Gardner is an All-Star. MLB and the Yankees announced on Thursday that Gardner has been selected to the AL All-Star Team as an injury replacement for Alex Gordon. Gordon suffered a severe groin strain Wednesday night and will miss about eight weeks.

Gardner, 31, came into Thursday’s game hitting .298/.378/.478 (138 wRC+) with nine homers and 15 steals. He hit his tenth homer this afternoon and is now one of only seven players with 10+ homers and 15+ steals so far this season. And, of course, Gardner’s played awesome defense in both center and left fields.

This is the first All-Star selection for Gardner, who was New York’s third round pick in the 2005 draft. He was a walk-on at College of Charleston — Gardner was actually cut from the team at one point but kept showing up to practice — who is now a big league All-Star and will bank $60M+ in a career. Heck of a story.

Gardner had been one of five players on the AL Final Vote ballot along with Mike Moustakas, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Dozier, and Xander Bogaerts. Royals fans stuffed the ballots for the All-Star Game starting lineups and it would have been damn near impossible for Gardner to beat Moustakas. Don’t have to worry about that now!

Gordon suffered a Grade II groin strain running down a ball in left field Wednesday. He was voted in as a starter in the fan vote, though Gardner won’t start the All-Star Game. Adam Jones will step into Gordon’s spot in the starting lineup since he was next up on the players’ ballot.

Believe it or not, Gardner is only the fifth position player drafted by the Yankees to represent the Yankees at the All-Star Game, joining Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada. For real.

Gardner will join Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances at the All-Star Game this year, which will be held in Cincinnati next Tuesday. Gardy!

Reports: Yankees remain in the market for rotation help, continue to scout Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

To the surprise of no one, the Yankees remain in the market for rotation help leading up to the trade deadline, reports Jon Heyman. Joel Sherman says they again had a scout at Johnny Cueto’s most recent start earlier this week, when he thew a shutout against the Nationals. The Yanks have been scouting him (and teammate Mike Leake) since at least last month.

Coming into today, New York’s rotation had a 4.30 ERA (3.80 FIP) on the season, which puts them in the lower third of the league. That includes Adam Warren‘s work as a starter (3.59 ERA and 4.12 FIP), and he’s in the bullpen now, so the five starters currently in the rotation have been less effective than that 4.30 ERA indicates. Besides, there’s always room for improvement.

The trade deadline is three weeks and one day away now, and the market is developing really slowly this summer. By this date last year guys like Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, and Brandon McCarthy had all been traded already. (Monday was the one-year anniversary of the McCarthy deal.) Mark Trumbo is the biggest name to have been dealt so far this year. That’ll change soon though.

Only six teams are more than six games out of a postseason spot right now — 12 of the 15 AL teams are within six games of a postseason spot! — so clubs are reluctant to sell. They want to stay in the hunt as long as possible and keep fans interested deep into August and September. Who can blame them? Unfortunately it makes for a dull few weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

The Yankees prefer rentals, and in addition to Cueto and Leake, other rental starters include Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Bartolo Colon, Mat Latos, Ian Kennedy, and Kyle Lohse. Colon and Lohse have been ineffective this year, Kazmir left last night’s start with a triceps injury, and Kennedy has somehow allowed 18 home runs in 80 innings while playing in spacious Petco Park and various other pitcher friendly NL West parks. Cueto’s the cream of the crop, clearly.

CC Sabathia had his knee drained a few days ago for the second time this season and other starters like Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) carry perpetual injury concerns. Ivan Nova is just coming from Tommy John surgery too. Nathan Eovaldi‘s the only starter without some kind of known physical concern. So exploring the market for rotation help is a no-brainer move for the Yankees. The AL East is so very winnable and you don’t have to try to hard to envision a scenario where rotation help is needed down the stretch.

(GIF via MLB.com)

Game 85: Last Home Game Before The All-Star Break

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s the last home game of the first half. The Yankees are 24-16 with a +34 run differential at Yankee Stadium this season and only 21-23 with a -16 run differential on the road. The offense hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders the last few games, but the Yankees are clearly a much better team in their home ballpark this season. That short porch sure is friendly.

Masahiro Tanaka is making his last start before the All-Star break today and it has been an uneven first half for him. There were times he looked absolutely dominant, times he got smacked around, and off course the month long DL stint. Tanaka’s second half is going to have to be better than his first half for the Yankees to stay in the postseason hunt, I reckon. Hopefully he can finish the first half on a high note today. Here’s the A’s lineup and here’s the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Garrett Jones
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. 3B Cole Figueroa
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Not the greatest weather day for baseball. It was raining this morning and it’s supposed to rain again this afternoon, but not for another few hours. Shouldn’t be a problem unless the game goes into extra innings or something. This afternoon’s game will begin just after 1pm ET and you can watch live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy!

Injury Updates: Chase Headley (calf) had an MRI last night and it showed inflammation close to his knee. He feels much better but remains day-to-day … Brendan Ryan (back) will start a minor league rehab assignment today. It was supposed to start Friday but has been pushed up, I guess because the Yankees want to get Ryan back as soon as possible in case Headley’s injury lingers … If you missed it last night, CC Sabathia had his knee drained before the start of the homestand. Second time he’s had it drained since Spring Training.

Roster Move: So, based on the lineup, Figueroa is with the team now. Jose Pirela was sent down and Taylor Dugas was designated for assignment in corresponding moves, the Yankees announced. Figueroa, a left-handed batter, is having a great season with Triple-A Scranton (.317/.372/.415 and 130 wRC+ with 5.0 K% and 7.5 BB%) and he can play all over the infield. Makes more sense for the roster than Pirela with Headley banged up.

Poll: Luis Severino and the rest of 2015

Changeup! (Luis Severino)
Changeup! (Luis Severino)

Earlier this week, both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America ranked right-hander Luis Severino as one of the 50 best prospects in baseball. Higher than that, actually. BP had him 28th and BA had him 17th. That’s really good! Lots of people like Severino and what’s not to like? He’s still only 21 and he has a 2.59 ERA (2.62 FIP) in 83.1 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year.

The Yankees have moved Severino through the system very aggressively — he hasn’t thrown more than 85.1 innings at any level ever — and he’s answered the bell at every stop. No hiccups whatsoever. Severino threw 113 innings last season and is probably scheduled for 150-ish this year, so he’s only got 66.2 innings or so left to throw this summer. Given his success at Triple-A, the Yankees have plenty of options when deciding how best to use Severino’s remaining innings in the second half. Let’s run ’em down.

Option No. 1: Let Him Finish In Triple-A

This is the conservative approach. The Yankees have moved Severino up the ladder very aggressive and could opt to let him catch his breath at Triple-A, which would hardly stunt his development. Severino is six (six!) years younger than the average International League player, after all. He’s already thrown 45.1 innings for the RailRiders, so he’d finish the season with 100 or so innings at the level and get a chance to see other teams multiple times. That gives him a chance to see how hitters adjust to him, and learn how to adjust back.

Option No. 2: Call Him Up As A Starter

This is the aggressive approach. There might not be an obvious opening in the rotation now, but you know as well I that the Yankees are going to need another starter at some point this year. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone will pitch their way out of the rotation, something will happen and they’ll need another starter. It’s inevitable. Severino has succeeded at every level and the Yankees could continue to be aggressive by calling him up and giving him a rotation spot right smack in the middle of a postseason race. Throw him to the wolves, basically.

Option No. 3: Call Him Up As A Reliever

This is neither conservative nor aggressive. It just … is. Even if the Yankees are comfortable letting Severino throw 170 innings this year — unlikely, but let’s roll with it — that’s still probably not enough innings to get through the second half as a starter. At least not without some 2009 Joba Chamberlain-esque workload manipulation. Remember that, when they’d limit Joba to 35-50 pitches per start? What a mess. The Yankees could instead let Severino spend another few weeks in Triple-A, then, as he approaches his innings limit (whatever that number is), call him up and let him throw his last 20-30 innings of the season out the bullpen. Then Severino can go right back to starting next year.

Option No. 4: Trade Him!

Prospects aren’t just for filling out your own roster. They’re there to be traded as well. It only makes sense given the attrition rates, even with high-end prospects like Severino. Jon Shepherd’s research a few years ago showed that even top 20 pitching prospects like Severino bust 60% of the time, so of course there’s an argument to be made that the best way to get value from the young righty is by trading him for a proven big leaguer. And remember, Severino’s biggest drawback right now is his delivery, specifically how little he uses his lower half, something that will ostensibly lead to future arm injuries. Unless you do something stupid like trade them for a utility infielder or Victor Zambrano, I don’t think it’s ever indefensible to trade a top pitching prospect for big league help, especially in a playoff race. The bust rates are so high because pitchers break.

* * *

That about covers the team’s options with Severino. The Yankees could keep him right where he is the rest of the season, call him up to start or relieve, or trade him away. All four options are justifiable and I honestly don’t think there’s a right answer. So let’s break out the poll. This is asking what you think the Yankees should do with Severino the rest of the season, not what you expect them to do. Bit of a difference there.

What should the Yankees do with Severino this year?

Teixeira’s two homers carry Yankees to 5-4 win over A’s

Gosh it’s never easy with this team. At least not of late. The Yankees took a three-run lead into the ninth inning on Wednesday night, and by time the final out was recorded, it was a one-run game with the tying run in scoring position. Not ideal! Thankfully that tying run never scored and the Yankees walked away with a 5-4 win.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two Times For Tex
The Athletics scored two quick runs in the top of second inning but the Yankees answered right back in the bottom half thanks to the best of Didi, and the worst of Didi. Chris Young reached base leading off the inning when Brett Lawrie booted his ground ball, then Didi Gregorius hammered a Scott Kazmir offering off the scoreboard on the right field wall. He hasn’t hit a ball that hard against a lefty all season. Probably. Seems that way.

Young scored easily on the double, and Gregorius tried to take third on the throw home, but catcher Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley was able to gun him down at the hot corner. Replays showed Didi hesitated at second to make sure the throw wasn’t cut off before taking off for third, though that’s what he’s supposed to do. He couldn’t pick up third base coach Joe Espada because he was all the way down near home plate waving Young in. Gregorius just didn’t outrun Vogt’s Phegley’s throw. Low baseball IQ, I tell ya. Something like that.

The Yankees caught a break when triceps tightness bounced Kazmir out of the game after three innings, forcing Athletics skipper Bob Melvin to go to his shaky middle relief. Mark Teixeira greeted Evan Scribner by sending his fourth pitch of the night over the right field wall for a game-tying solo homer. In the sixth inning, Teixeira took Scribner deep again for a solo homer, this one plating an insurance run. Both homers came on high fastballs:

Mark Teixeira home runs

Really, really similar. Same pitch, pretty much the same location, and they even landed in the same section. Those seats right above the scoreboard and below the bleachers in right-center. Where Didi hit his double. The Yankees peppered that part of the field Wednesday night. Teixeira now has 22 home runs on the season, equaling last year’s total. It’s not even the All-Star break yet! It’s so nice to have a middle of the order again, isn’t it?

Between Teixeira’s two home runs, the Yankees took the lead on Jose Pirela‘s fourth inning sacrifice fly. Young walked, John Ryan Murphy beat out an infield single, Young stole third, Murphy moved up on a wild pitch, and Pirela lifted the ball to deep right field to score the run. The first three batters reached base against Scribner, leading to two runs that turned an early 2-1 hole into a 3-2 lead.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

CCerviceable
CC Sabathia pitched just well enough to avoid lots of talk about being removed from the rotation during the All-Star break. For a while this one looked headed for disaster territory — Sabathia allowed two runs in the second and seven of the first eight batters he faced hit rockets — but, to his credit, Sabathia was able to settle down and give the Yankees 5.1 innings of two-run ball. That’s what he is at this point. I’ll take two runs in 5.1 innings from Sabathia every time out from now on.

Joe Girardi was smart to pull CC after Jake Smolinski singled with one out in the sixth — Smolinski hit a foul pop-up earlier in the at-bat that Young overran, otherwise it would have been the second out of the inning — because three of the last six A’s to face Sabathia reached base. Two runs on seven hits and two walks. One strikeout. Only four swings and misses out of 88 total pitches too. But, two runs in 5.1 innings. Who cares how he gets there at this point.

Even if he had gotten smacked around — Bryan Mitchell was warming up in the second inning, so Girardi doesn’t have much faith in Sabathia — there’s no indication the Yankees would have yanked Sabathia from the rotation. So this is the best case. Get a winnable start, get him out of there as soon as possible, and hope for the same in five or six days. The game could have really gotten out of hand with all those line drives in the second inning, but it didn’t, and for that we thank the baseball gods.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Returns
Both Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) and Andrew Miller (forearm) returned from the DL on Wednesday after missing several weeks. Ellsbury went 1-for-4 with an infield single and a strikeout — he really had to bust it down the line on the single — and he wasn’t tested with anything tough in the field. Knee looked fine based on this one game.

Miller, on the other hand, looked all sorts of rusty. His fastball location was particularly bad, and he paid for it when Marcus Semien clubbed a two-run home run. Luckily the Yankees had built a three-run lead by that point. The tying run made it to second base with two outs on Gregorio Petit‘s throwing error, though he atoned for the mistake with a nice play to get the final out. Teixeira gets an assist for his stretch at first. Miller struck out one and needed 30 pitches to get his 18th save.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Stephen Drew was due for a “keep me on the roster for another two weeks” home run and hit it in the eighth, a solo shot off lefty Fernando Abad. That wound up being the winning run! Drew replaced Pirela for defense late. Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once other than Alex Rodriguez and Petit. Gardner (single, two walks), Teixeira (two homers, intentional walk), and Murphy (two singles) each reached base multiple times.

Teixeira’s glove was just as good as his bat. He snagged a line drive and turned it into a double play in the first, made a great diving grab on a hard-hit ground ball in the eighth, then stretched to get Petit’s throw for the final out in the ninth. Great first base defense is so underappreciated. Teixeira is a game-changer in the field even at such a non-premium position.

Mitchell walked a batter in the sixth but otherwise pitched out of the jam with the lead intact after replacing Sabathia. Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances tossed flawless seventh and eighth innings before Miller took over in the ninth. I’m guessing Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren will be the setup man/closer tandem Thursday.

And finally, Sabathia revealed after the game that he had his surgically repaired knee drained between starts, as soon as the team returned from Anaheim. He probably wouldn’t have been able to start Sunday anyway had the team not pushed him back. It’s the second time Sabathia has had his knee drained this season.

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 because it would be a lot of wasted effort on my part if you didn’t. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Athletics wrap up this three-game series on Thursday afternoon, in the final home game before the All-Star break. Masahiro Tanaka and Jesse Chavez will be the pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game live.

DotF: Good games from Judge and Refsnyder not enough in Scranton’s loss

Two quick roster moves. Well, I guess it’s really three:

  • OF Tyler Austin was activated off the Triple-A Scranton DL, according to Donnie Collins. It was a short two-week stint. Not sure what was wrong with him. RHP Jaron Long was sent down to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Triple-A has not been kind to the former hitting coach’s hit.
  • OF Brandon Thomas has been released, reports Nick Flammia. Thomas was the team’s eighth round pick in 2013, one year after being a fourth round pick by the Pirates. He fell in the draft because he had mono his senior year at Georgia Tech and was never at full strength. Thomas hit .209/.308/.317 in exactly 200 minor league games.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 loss to Syracuse in 12 innings)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-6, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-6
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (fielding)
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 8/7 GB/FB — 53 of 89 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) — 26 of 32 pitches were strikes (81%) in his Triple-A debut … 63/14 K/BB in 41.2 innings
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 22 of 42 pitches were strikes (52%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — four pitches, three strikes

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