Sabathia’s renaissance continues in 4-0 win over Tigers

Are the Yankees fun right now or what? They beat the Tigers by the score of 4-0 on Friday night for their fifth consecutive win, improving their record to 31-30 on the season. The Yankees are over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 seven games into the season.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Cy Sabathia
One batter into the game, it did not seem CC Sabathia would be around very long. Ian Kinsler battled him for a 12-pitch at-bat to start the first inning — Sabathia got a generous strike three call from home plate umpire Carlos Torres to finally end the at-bat — and it seemed like we were in for another game in which Sabathia had to battle for each out. Remember how hard the Orioles worked him last time out?

Instead, Sabathia settled into a nice groove and pitched around some trouble in the early innings. The leadoff man reached base in the third and fourth innings but failed to score. Then, in the fifth, Detroit loaded the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera. That was … bad. The Yankees were up 4-0 at the time and Miggy was very capable of tying things up with one swing. That didn’t happen. Sabathia got Cabrera to roll over into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Huge.

Sabathia finished his night by retiring the final seven batters he faced starting with that Miggy double play. I thought his night was over after the sixth with pitch count at 98, but Joe Girardi sent CC back out for the seventh, and he retired the side on ten pitches. Just perfect. Sabathia allowed five hits and two walks in his seven innings. He fanned four and got eight ground ball outs.

Baseball is way more fun when CC is pitching well. This is awesome. Following Friday’s start he’s down to a 2.28 ERA (3.33 FIP) in 59.1 innings. Among the 61 AL pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings this season, Sabathia has the fourth lowest ERA and the eighth lowest FIP. It’s not crazy to say Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have been one of the best one-two rotation punches in baseball this year. They’ve been that good.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Over Early
The offense has been clicking over the last week and right away the Yankees were doing damage against Mike Pelfrey. Two singles (Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran) and a walk (Alex Rodriguez) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, then Brian McCann drew a bases loaded walk to give New York a really quick 1-0 lead. McCann was ready to swing 3-0, you could see it in his stride, but the pitch was way high. He was looking to make it 4-0. No doubt.

Starlin Castro struck out for the second out of the inning, giving Pelfrey a chance to escape with just one run allowed. Thankfully Justin Upton was playing left field, and he turned what should have been an inning-ending fly ball into a two-run Didi Gregorius double. It wasn’t an easy play — Upton was playing shallow and had to backtrack — but it was a play a big leaguer has to make. The inning should have been over with the score 1-0 Yankees. Instead it was 3-0 Yankees after an inning of play.

In the third, Gardner drew a leadoff walk and was able to scoot all the way to third when James McCann threw a pickoff attempt down the right field line. Beltran drove in Gardner with a single to make it 4-0 good guys. The Yankees really had a chance to break the game open in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no outs, but new first baseman Rob Refsnyder grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to kill the rally. Alas.

The Yankees scored four runs in the first three innings and didn’t do much of anything thereafter. Refsnyder’s rally killer was the start of a stretch of ten straight batters retired by Pelfrey. His night ended when he walked Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs in the seventh. I didn’t think Big Pelf would be around that long. Fourteen of the final 16 Yankees to bat made outs. Good thing they scored early, huh?

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

I give Girardi a lot of crap for his bullpen use, but he handled his relievers perfectly in this game. Even with a 4-0 lead, he went to Dellin Betances in the eighth because the Tigers had the top of the lineup due up. If they were going to make a comeback, it was going to start in that inning. Betances tossed a 1-2-3 inning to snuff out the comeback before it even had a chance to start. Anthony Swarzak then handled the bottom of the order in the ninth.

Beltran and Gregorius each had two hits while Gardner and McCann each had a hit and a walk. Refsnyder went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is 1-for-14 (.071) since taking over as the starting first baseman. The Yankees are pretty much out of alternatives though, so the job is his. His at-bats have been pretty good, so hopefully Refsnyder gets himself back on track soon.

And finally, Friday’s HOPE Week event involved Blissful Bedrooms, an organization that helps “transform the personal spaces of young individuals who have very limited resources and severe physical disabilities that make them wheelchair dependent and highly reliant on others for activities of daily living.” A bunch of Yankees helped renovate a bedroom earlier today. Pretty awesome. Good stuff, Yankees.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings while has the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs
Up Next
The Yankees and Tigers continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday night. Yep, a Saturday night game. The. Worst. Anyway, Tanaka and Justin Verlander are the scheduled starters. That should be fun. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or Sunday’s game in person before the Yankees head out on the road next week.

DotF: Austin, Higashioka, Puello all have big games in AAA win

Some notes:

  • C Gary Sanchez (thumb) has started hitting again, according to Shane Hennigan. He was scheduled to take batting practice today for the first time since a foul tip broke his thumb.
  • In a bit of a surprise, OF Estevan Florial as been promoted to High-A Tampa, reports Josh Norris. I think this might be temporary. One of those “Tampa needs an outfielder so let’s grab someone from the minor league complex across the street” things. Florial was talked up all winter as the team’s next great prospect, and he still only 18.
  • OF Aaron Judge placed 12th on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, so check that out. Judge rebounded nicely from that ugly 0-for-24 stretch a week or so ago.

Triple-A Scranton (10-7 win over Louisville)

  • CF Jake Cave: 0-5, 2 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-3, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 3-5, 2 R, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 11-for-27 (.407) with six doubles and two homers in seven games since being promoted … you know, the big league first base job is pretty wide open
  • DH Kyle Higashioka: 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB — 18-for-44 (.409) with four doubles and five homers in eleven games since coming up to fill in for Sanchez
  • LF Cesar Puello: 4-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 E (throwing) — the former Mets farmhand is hitting .322/.459/.471 on the season
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 1.1 IP, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 32 of 50 pitches were strikes … yuck, though, to be fair, he barely pitched the last three weeks
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 27 of 44 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Game 61: Win it for Parm


Chris Parmelee quickly became something of a cult hero with the Yankees. Hey, when you make two starts and hit two homers in the first game and have a game-tying single in the second, people are going to like you. Unfortunately, Parmelee pulled his hamstring last night, further thinning the team’s first base depth. Parmelee didn’t wear pinstripes very long but he made an impact. Go win a game for him. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    LHP CC Sabathia

Another gorgeous day in New York today. Sunny, no cloud, cool … pretty excellent weather. Hopefully it stays like this all weekend. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Parmelee suffered a Grade II hamstring strain and is going to miss about a month, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. Another first baseman bites the dust. Refsnyder is the go-to guy at first now.

Roster Move: Parmelee was placed on the 15-day DL and righty Chad Green was called up, the team announced. They don’t really need another arm — Green was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow, so he’s available for very long relief if necessary — but an extra bullpener never hurts.

TiqIQ: Tickets Still Available for Old-Timers’ Day This Sunday

The Yankees will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Old-Timers’ Day at the Stadium on Sunday, bringing together many of the franchise’s most established players for a pre-game ceremony. While Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Joe Torre highlight the bill, more than three dozen other greats and close family members will also take part in the festivities.

With the Detroit Tigers in town for a three-game weekend series, Sunday will be one of the most anticipated days of the year in the Bronx, and those making plans to go can still find Yankees tickets for Old-Timers’ Day on the primary market.

Outfield bleacher seats are the cheapest tickets still available when searching Ticketmaster. Fans looking to observe the festivities from afar can find outfield bleachers tickets starting at just $17 each. If hoping to take in the action from a bit closer to home plate, upper level seating on the first and third base lines can be found from $22 per ticket.

Making their first Old-Timers’ Day appearances this year include 1996 World Series MVP and former closer John Wetteland as well as fellow teammate Mariano Duncan. Bubba Crosby and Eddie Robinson, who is perhaps best known as the Yankees’ initial starting center fielder before they traded for Johnny Damon, will also be making their debut on Sunday.

The turn of the century dynasty team will also be well-represented this weekend. Paul O’ Neill, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson and Homer Bush will all be on hand, each responsible in their own right for bringing four World Series to the Bronx  between 1996 and 2000.

Honoring several late Yankees and their impact within the organization, the widows of Billy Martin, Catfish Hunter, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson will be in attendance. Last year’s ceremony honored former player Willie Randolph’s accomplishments in pinstripes, culminating with his plaque bearing in Monument Park. Mel Stottlemyre,  who pitched for 11 seasons with the Yankees and went on to serve as pitching coach of the team for another 10 years, was also recognized in 2015.

Gates will open at 10 a.m. and the ceremony is expected to begin at 11:30 a.m. First pitch between the Yankees and Tigers will commence at 2:05 p.m.

7/10 to 7/12 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

Brad Ausmus is not having a good year. (Presswire)
Brad Ausmus is not having a good year. (Presswire)

The Yankees can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. This brutal 40 games in 41 days stretch will be over following this three-game weekend set with the Tigers. After that the Yankees will have three off-days in the next week and a half. These two teams played two games in April and a makeup game last week. They split the April games and the Yankees won the makeup.

What Have They Done Lately?

Following that makeup game loss to the Yankees last week, the Tigers rattled off five straight wins before losing to the Blue Jays on Wednesday. They’ve won six of their last eight games overall. Detroit is 30-29 with a +3 run differential on the season overall. They’re still right in the thick of the AL Central race though.

Offense & Defense

When these teams met last week, the Tigers were averaging 4.44 runs per game with a team 103 wRC+. They’ve since gone on a tear and upped their averages to 4.66 runs per game with a team 106 wRC+. That’s a lot of improvement in only a short period of time. Thirty-eight runs in six games will do that, I guess. Detroit’s only injured position player is CF Cameron Maybin (173 wRC+), who is nursing a sore wrist. He’s day-to-day and could be back in the lineup as soon as tonight.

Castellanos. (Presswire)
Castellanos. (Presswire)

Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus tends to stick with a set lineup. 2B Ian Kinsler (140 wRC+) leads off while 1B Miguel Cabrera (142 wRC+) and DH Victor Martinez (149 wRC+) bat third and fourth. Lately Maybin has been hitting second with RF J.D. Martinez (121 wRC+) and 3B Nick Castellanos (140 wRC+) hitting fifth and sixth. That middle of the lineup is pretty scary, especially now that Castellanos seems to be breaking out as a legitimate power hitter.

LF Justin Upton (64 wRC+) is having a pretty terrible year so far and now finds himself hitting seventh. Ouch. C James McCann (42 wRC+) and SS Jose Iglesias (59 wRC+) bat eighth and ninth. That’s the typical Detroit lineup. Ausmus doesn’t really mess around with platoons. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (101 wRC+), IF Andrew Romine (34 wRC+), and UTIL Mike Aviles (36 wRC+) are the team’s three bench players. They’re carrying eight relievers like so many other clubs these days.

Defensively, the Tigers are pretty strong up the middle with Maybin, Iglesias, and Kinsler. McCann is an exceptional thrower behind the plate; he’s thrown out eleven of 21 base-stealers this year (52%) and 39 of 94 in his career (41%). He shuts the running game right down. Upton and Martinez are liabilities in the outfield corners and so is Castellanos at third base. Cabrera is good around the bag at first. Not much range, but he can pick it.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. DET) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (vs. NYY)
The Tigers gave the 32-year-old Pelfrey a two-year deal worth $16M over the winter, so his rotation spot is secure despite a 4.76 ERA (5.47 FIP) in eleven starts and 58.2 innings. He’s currently running a career low strikeout rate (12.0%) and his highest walk rate (8.6%) since becoming a full-time starter with the Mets back in the day. That’s … not a good combination at all. Pelfrey does get grounders (48.6%), but when he makes a mistake, it tends to leave the park (1.53 HR/9). He’s been getting hammered by both righties and lefties too. Big Pelf has a sinker right around 94 mph and he throws it a lot, nearly 70% of the time. A low-80s splitter is his main secondary pitch. Pelfrey will also throw a handful of sliders and curves per start. The Yankees tagged him for six runs (though only two earned) in 3.2 innings back in April.

Saturday (7:15pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. DET) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (vs. NYY)
Verlander, 33, is finally starting to come around following a rough start to the season. I said I expected a big bounceback season and gosh, did I look silly for a while there. Verlander has a 3.97 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 12 starts and 79.1 innings overall, but over his last six starts he has a 2.01 ERA (2.47 FIP) in 44.2 innings. His strikeout (26.7%) and walk (7.2%) rates are quite good, and, as usual, Verlander isn’t getting any ground balls (33.7%). He’s always been a pop-up pitcher, not a fly ball pitcher. Home runs (1.13 HR/9) have been a bit of an issue, and he has a reverse split this year that is right in line with the last few years. Stacking the lineup with lefties against Verlander isn’t such a good idea. These days Verlander operates with a mid-90s fastball that will top out around 98 mph. His days of throwing 100 mph all the time are pretty much over. In fact, PitchFX says Verlander’s last 100+ mph pitch came in September 2013. A nasty upper-70s curveball and equally nasty mid-80s changeup are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees did not see Verlander either in April or in the makeup game last week.

Verlander. (Presswire)
Verlander. (Presswire)

Sunday (2:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. DET) vs. RHP Michael Fulmer (No vs. NYY)
The Tigers picked up the 23-year-old Fulmer from the Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes trade last year. (Luis Cessa was the other player in the deal.) He made his big league debut a few weeks ago and his pitched well enough to keep a rotation spot. More than well enough, really: 2.83 ERA (3.50 FIP) in eight starts and 47.2 innings with 25.1% strikeouts, 8.2% walks, 50.4% grounders, and 0.94 HR/9. Fulmer has allowed one run total in his last four starts — he brings a 22-inning scoreless streak into this start — and early on righties have hit him harder than lefties. He throws both his four-seamer and sinker in the mid-90s, and his main secondary pitch is a hard upper-80s slider. Fulmer also throws a mid-80s changeup. He has some serious power stuff, like most pitchers to come out of the Mets organization these days. The Yankees didn’t see Fulmer in the makeup game last week and he was still in the minors when these teams met in April.

Bullpen Status

Death, taxes, and the Tigers bullpen being shaky as hell. Ausmus’ relief crew has the fourth highest ERA (4.37) in baseball despite a middle of the road FIP (3.75). Detroit’s bullpen is similar to the Yankees’ bullpen in that it’s top heavy. The end-game relievers are pretty good. Everyone else? Eek. Here’s their relief crew:

Closer: RHP Francisco Rodriguez (3.38/3.45)
Setup: LHP Justin Wilson (3.42/1.39), RHP Alex Wilson (4.91/3.67)
Middle: LHP Blaine Hardy (1.86/4.46), RHP Mark Lowe (8.05/6.49), RHP Bobby Parnell (6.75/4.99), RHP Shane Greene (5.50/3.06)
Long: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6.30/6.04)

Green missed several weeks with a blister and has been pitching in relief since returning. He’s made three relief appearances and Ausmus has used him in important spots: seventh inning with a one-run lead, eighth inning with a three-run lead, and sixth inning with a one-run deficit. Seems like Greene may end up spending a lot of time in the bullpen even with Pelfrey getting blasted every five days.

The Wilsons are Ausmus’ setup men and he uses Justin in the biggest spots of the game. He doesn’t have assigned innings and he knows Wilson can get both righties and lefties out. K-Rod is the Proven Closer™. Sanchez lost his rotation spot to Fulmer not too long ago and it doesn’t seem like he will get it back anytime soon.

The Tigers had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is pretty fresh. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers.

Yankeemetrics: Welcome back to .500 [June 6-9]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Call it a comeback
For the first two-thirds of Monday’s series opener against the Angels, it looked like the game would follow a familiar script: yet another strong effort by the starting pitcher wasted because of a lack of run support …

… And then suddenly everything changed in the span of three pitches. Brian McCann and Starlin Castro hit back-to-back homers in the seventh inning, tying the game at 2-2. Carlos Beltran capped the comeback with a three-run shot in the eighth inning that gave the Yankees one of their most stirring wins of the season.

Beltran flashed rare opposite field power with that blast. It was his 67th homer as a right-handed batter over the last 10 seasons, but just the third time in that span that he’s sent the ball over the right field fence.

Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff but he grinded through seven innings and held the Angels to two runs. It was his 10th start allowing two earned runs or fewer this season, the most among AL pitchers through Monday. The last Yankee to post double-digit starts with two earned runs or fewer allowed — this early into the season (57th team game) — was Ron Guidry during his Cy Young-winning campaign of 1978.

Carlos in charge
It is a question that has been asked many times this season: Where would the Yankees be without Carlos Beltran in the middle of their lineup? They most definitely would not have two wins in the first two games of this series.

For the second night in a row, Beltran hit a game-changing homer to help the Yankees beat the Angels, and this one was most notable because it was also his 1,000th career extra-base hit. We know that Beltran in his prime possessed that rare combo of power, patience and speed. And there’s proof in the numbers, too:

Beltran is just the seventh player in major-league history to compile at least 1,000 extra-base hits, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases. The others on that list are Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Tris Speaker and Craig Biggio.

Two weeks ago, Michael Pineda‘s spot in the rotation was seemingly in jeopardy. But after Tuesday’s promising seven-inning, three-run performance, there is a glimmer of hope that maybe he’s finally turned the corner.

Thanks to a lower arm slot that has added depth to his slider, Pineda has a 61 percent whiffs-per-swing rate on the pitch in his two June starts (up from 42 percent in April and May), and has given up just three singles – while netting 10 strikeouts – among the 71 sliders he’s thrown this month.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

C-Parm, the newest True Yankee®
The Angels were once the Yankees’ kryptonite — the were the only American League team that had a winning record against them during the Joe Torre era — but since then have become their punching bag, especially in the Bronx.

With Tuesday’s win, the Yankees improved to 23-8 against the Angels at the new Yankee Stadium, their best record against any AL squad at the ballpark.

The Yankees also continued to beat up on the Angels pitching staff on Wednesday night, belting out nine extra-base hits and 17 hits overall en route to a 12-6 win.

The nine extra-base hits tied the most they’ve ever hit against the Angels (also in 1997), and was the Yankees most in a home game against any team in nearly five years. That last happened in the second game of a doubleheader against the Orioles on July 30, 2011, a 17-3 rout that included six doubles, a triple and two homers.

Chris Parmelee, making his first start in pinstripes, wasted no time in getting started on his campaign for a plaque in Monument Park. He went 3-for-5, hitting two homers and a double, while driving in three runs.

In the last 100 seasons, the only other player to hit at least two homers in his first start with the Yankees was Roger Maris. Acquired from the Royals in December 1959, Maris had four hits — two homers, a double and a single — and four RBIs in a 8-4 win over the Red Sox on Opening Day in 1960.

Broom, broom
Remember when the Yankees couldn’t even win three games in a row? With their 6-3 victory on Thursday night, they now have two four-game sweeps on their ledger this season. Amazing facts, I tell ya.

This was their first four-game sweep of the Angels since July 21-24, 1994, and the victory was also their ninth in a row against them in the Bronx. That’s the Yankees second-longest home win streak in this rivalry, behind only an 11-gamer spanning the 1961-62 seasons.

Something that is not shocking … Carlos Beltran was once again in the middle of another Yankees offensive outburst. His tie-breaking RBI double in the fifth inning was his fourth go-ahead hit in this series, and team-leading 15th go-ahead RBI of the season — nearly twice as many as any other Yankee has in 2016 (Starlin Castro and A-Rod are second with eight).

He’s also now driven in at least two runs in each of his last four games, matching the longest multi-RBI streak of his career, a mark he set in the 2006 season with the Mets. The last Yankee with two-or-more RBIs in four straight games was Mark Teixeira in 2010.