Game 114: Payback

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This is a Big Series. The Blue Jays came to Yankees Stadium last week and straight up embarrassed the Yankees. They didn’t just sweep them, they held them to one run total in three games and outplayed them in every phase of the game. It was brutal. The scene now shifts to Rogers Centre and the Yankees are looking for payback. Or at least a win. Maybe some runs. Those have been hard to come by of late.

Ivan Nova is on the mound tonight and he held his own against this powerful Blue Jays lineup last weekend, at least until Joe Girardi left him in a little too long, leading to a Justin Smoak grand slam. Hopefully Girardi won’t ignore any obvious signs of fatigue tonight, like throwing eleven balls in the span of 14 pitches. (I’m over it, I swear.) Ugly, pretty, who cares. Just win, baby. Here is Toronto’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been raining in Toronto for much of the afternoon, so assume the Rogers Centre roof will be closed. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:07pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Dustin Ackley (back) is rehabbing and feeling better, but he’s yet to start baseball activities, so his return is not imminent.

Braves claim Danny Burawa off waivers from Yankees

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Braves have claimed right-hander Danny Burawa off waivers from the Yankees, the team announced. He’s been assigned to their Triple-A affiliate. New York designated Burawa for assignment a few days ago when they re-signed Garrett Jones following Dustin Ackley‘s injury.

Burawa, 26, is a local kid from Long Island who was the team’s 12th round pick in the 2010 draft out of St. John’s. He has vicious stuff, sitting mid-to-high-90s with a knockout slider, but control has always been an issue. Burawa has a 3.51 ERA with a 22.6 K% and an 11.3 BB% in 276.2 career innings in the minors.

The Yankees added Burawa to the 40-man roster last offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft and he made his big league debut earlier this season, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning. The club is loaded with righty relievers, so Burawa should have a much greater opportunity in Atlanta, where they have guys in the bullpen even I’ve never heard of.

8/14 to 8/16 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So this is a pretty huge series. The Yankees have already blown their comfortable-ish AL East lead and this weekend is a chance to get back atop the division. Winning two of three would do the trick. The Yankees are 2-7 against the Blue Jays this year — they’ve been outscored 36-17 in the nine games! — and it goes without saying a repeat of last weekend would be really, really, really bad. Three reallys.

What Have The Blue Jays Done Lately?

Win. Constantly. The Blue Jays are currently riding an eleven-game winning streak that has pushed them over the Yankees and into first place in the AL East. Well, sorta. The Jays have a half-game lead but the Yanks have one fewer loss. It’s complicated. Toronto is 64-52 with a +140 run differential overall. That’s the sixth best record and first best run differential in baseball.

Offense & Defense

The Blue Jays have baseball’s best offense and it’s not particularly close. They average 5.30 runs per game — the Yankees are still second at 4.80 runs per game despite their recent offensive struggles — with a team 114 wRC+, both the best marks in MLB. They’re an offensive juggernaut. Toronto is without 2B Devon Travis (shoulder), IF Maicer Izturis (shoulder), and OF Michael Saunders (knee), none of whom will return this series.

Donaldson. (Presswire)
Donaldson. (Presswire)

I said this last week and it’s worth repeating: the top of manager John Gibbons’ lineup reads like an All-Star Game lineup. SS Troy Tulowitzki (109 wRC+) leads off, 3B Josh Donaldson (154 wRC+) bats second, and RF Jose Bautista (139 wRC+) bats third. Crazy. Donaldson’s a legitimate MVP candidate and will probably win the award if the Blue Jays make the postseason, even if Mike Trout and the Angels do too. 1B Edwin Encarnacion (126 wRC+) is the usual cleanup hitter but he’s currently dealing with a finger problem and is day-to-day. He’s sat out the last few games.

The rest of the team’s regular lineup includes C Russell Martin (116 wRC+), OF Ben Revere (89 wRC+), OF Kevin Pillar (81 wRC+), and 2B Ryan Goins (70 wRC+). 1B Justin Smoak (105 wRC+) and 1B/OF Chris Colabello (143 wRC+) platoon at first base. C Dioner Navarro (67 wRC+) is the backup backstop and IF Cliff Pennington (58 wRC+) is the backup infielder. The Jays currently have a three-man bench but it is effectively a two-man bench as long as Encarnacion is banged up.

The Yankees and Blue Jays played just last weekend and Toronto’s roster is pretty much the same — Pennington replaced IF Munenori Kawasaki, which is basically a lateral move — so I’m going to save some time and just copy and paste the defense preview from last week:

In the field, Toronto has top notch defenders at short (Tulo), third (Donaldson), center (Pillar), and behind the plate (Martin). Bautista and Revere are good in the outfielder corners for different reasons — Bautista for his arm, Revere for his range — and Goins/Smoak is a solid right side of the infield. Obviously the offense gets most of the attention and deservedly so, but the Jays can field too.

So there you have it. The offense is clearly the star of the show but don’t sleep on the defense. The Blue Jays can catch the ball too. They are annoyingly well-rounded.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TOR) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
Sigh. Too bad Price is starting for the Blue Jays down the stretch and not the Yankees. The 29-year-old has been off the charts this year, with a 2.35 ERA (2.99 FIP) in 23 starts and 161 innings for the Tigers and Jays. During his Cy Young year in 2012, Price had a 2.56 ERA (3.05 FIP), so yeah, he’s in the middle of the best season of his career. His strikeout (24.1%), walk (5.3%), and home run (0.78 HR/9) rates are excellent, but his ground ball rate (39.9%) is tiny, which is nothing new. Price has always been a weak fly ball guy. His platoon split is negligible (.277 vs. .275 wOBA in favor of righties). Price uses mid-90s two and four-seamers as well as an upper-80s cutter he back doors to righties. It’s unhittable. He’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s changeups and a handful of upper-70s curves per start. The Yankees have seen Price twice this year. The first time went well (eight runs in 8.1 innings) and the second time did not (seven scoreless innings).

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (vs. NYY)
Estrada, 32, started the season as the long reliever before moving into the rotation, and he has a 3.21 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 117.2 innings spread across 18 starts and six relief appearances. His strikeout (19.1%), walk (7.7%), grounder (32.4%), and homer (0.84 HR/9) numbers are all below the league average, in some cases substantially so. Estrada has a slight reverse split (.285 vs. 273 wOBA in favor of righties) because he relies heavily on his upper-70s changeup. He sets it up with an upper-80s fastball and will also throw an upper-70s curveball. Finesse, not power. Estrada’s seen the Yankees twice this season, both times as a starter. He allowed five runs in 4.2 innings back in May and threw 6.1 scoreless innings last weekend.

Hutchison. (Presswire)
Hutchison. (Presswire)

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (vs. NYY)
The 24-year-old Hutchison started on Opening Day this year and has a 5.26 ERA (3.93 FIP) in 23 starts and 125 innings. His home/road split is incredible: Hutchison has a 2.68 ERA (2.90 FIP) in 74 innings at home this year and a 9.00 ERA (5.42 FIP) in 51 innings on the road. Geez. His strikeout (20.0%) and homer (1.01 HR/9) rates are average enough, his walk rate (7.1%) a tick better than average, and his grounder rate (39.3%) way below-average. Righties (.381 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.313 wOBA) this year, which is the exact opposite of what happened last season. Hutchison is a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s heater to set up mid-80s sliders and changeups. He uses the slider twice as often as the changeup. The Yankees have seen Hutchison just once this year, back on Opening Day, and he held them to one run in six innings.

Bullpen Status
Earlier this season the bullpen was a big problem for the Blue Jays, but that isn’t the case anymore. They acquired RHP LaTroy Hawkins (2.89 ERA/3.14 FIP) and RHP Mark Lowe (1.60/2.19) at the trade deadline, and moved RHP Aaron Sanchez (3.21/4.76) back to the bullpen after having him start the year in the rotation. Sanchez was excellent as a reliever last year and has been excellent in that role again this year.

Hawkins, Lowe, and Sanchez join LHP Brett Cecil (3.68/3.43) as the setup crew tasked with getting the ball to rookie closer RHP Roberto Osuna (2.05/2.46). RHP Liam Hendriks (2.42/2.03), RHP Bo Schultz (2.18/3.92), and LHP Aaron Loup (5.05/3.89) are the club’s other relievers. It’s an eight-man bullpen at the moment. Osuna and Sanchez both pitched yesterday and have worked a lot recently — Osuna has pitched four of the last seven days and Sanchez has pitched four of the last six days. Other than that, the bullpen is fresh.

Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s heavily used bullpen. Then head over to Andrew Stoeten’s site for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays. You are forewarned: the language is not exactly kid-friendly.

Yankeemetrics: Welcome back, Offense (August 11-13)

(AP/Aaron Josefczyk)
(AP/Aaron Josefczyk)

Can it get any worse?
Just when you thought the Yankees had hit rock bottom last week … Well, they somehow managed to break that unbreakable rocky crust and dig themselves into an even deeper hole to start this week.

Yeah, Tuesday night’s marathon loss to the Indians was that bad.

The Yankees finally scored more than one run — progress! — and actually had a lead in the game — even better! — but Andrew Miller picked the wrong time to blow his first save of the season. Miller’s streak of 24 straight saves was the longest in franchise history to begin a Yankee career, the second-longest in franchise history to start a season and the third-longest in major-league history to begin a career with a new team.

Before Miller blew the save and the rest of the extra-inning sadness played out, the Yankees snapped a 31-inning scoreless streak — their longest since 1991 — and Luis Severino delivered another terrific outing (6 IP, 2 R, 7 H). Severino has now pitched at least five innings and given up no more than two runs in each of his first two career games, but has zero wins on the back of his baseball card. The last Yankee pitcher to start his major-league career like that was … um … yeah, no one in the last 100 seasons.

In the end, the Yankees were beaten 5-4 in the 16th inning, the first time they lost a game that long to the Indians since a 19-inning loss on May 24, 1918. Amazingly, the Indians starting pitcher that day — Stan Coveleski — threw a complete game (yes, 19 innings!) for the win.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time the Yankees lost a game this season that went at least 16 innings. (I tried to forget that 19-inning loss to the Red Sox in April, too.) This is the only season in the last 100 years that the Yankees have lost two games lasting 16-plus innings. Wut?!

Jacoby Ellsbury (0 for 7), Brett Gardner (0 for 6) and Mark Teixeira (0 for 6) — aka, the top of the order — had the worst “hitting” performances of the night at the plate. The last time the Yankees had three of the top four hitters in the lineup go 0 for 6 or worse was July 26, 1967 (Roy White, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard).

Is it winter yet?
The Yankee bats went into hibernation again on Wednesday night, wasting a second straight solid performance by CC Sabathia in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. And thanks to the fact that the Blue Jays will never lose another game this season, the Yankees fell out of first place in the AL East for the first time since the morning of July 2.

Sabathia has now thrown a quality start in all five games he’s pitched against the Indians in Cleveland. He’s the first Yankee with a streak of five straight road starts of at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer against the Indians since Mel Stottlemyre from 1967-71.

Return of the bats
The Yankees finally broke out of their deep offensive slump with 10 hits and eight runs in Thursday’s win, and avoided being swept in Cleveland for the first time since September 11-13, 1970.

Brian McCann got the fireworks started with his 20th homer of the season, a three-run shot in the top of the first inning. He joins Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and Gary Carter as the only catchers in major-league history with at least nine 20-homer seasons.

Stephen Drew clubbed a solo homer in the second inning to make it 4-0, his 15th dinger of the year, and added a double in the fourth inning to raise his season batting average to .195. That’s better! (But still pretty awful.) Looking ahead … the lowest batting average by any Yankee to hit at least 15 homers in a season was .192 by Steve Balboni.

Despite the offensive outburst, the Yankees running game remained dormant; no one even attempted to steal a base. The Yankees have now gone 18 straight games without a stolen base, their longest streak since 1975.

Greg Bird, the latest Baby Bomber to be called up to The Show, wasn’t invited to the scoring party; he went 0 for 5 in his major-league debut. Bird is the first Yankee to go hitless with at least five at-bats in his first career game since a 20-year-old shortstop named Derek Jeter on May 29, 1995. That guy turned out okay, I guess.

Mailbag: Bird, Mateo, Pineda, Murphy, AzFL, Rule 5 Draft

Got 12 questions for you in this week’s mailbag. The “For The Mailbag” form is gone, to delight of many I’m sure. You can now email us your questions at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. There’s a little reminder in the sidebar, under the YES videos and above the Aaron Judge Watch, in case you forget the email address in the future. It’s easy enough to reminder though, right? Right.

Bird. (Presswire)
Bird. (Presswire)

Greg asks: Does Greg Bird see any time in the outfield?

That would really surprise me. Bird is not particularly fleet of foot and he has no experience whatsoever in the outfield. He was drafted as a catcher then moved to first base because his back kept acting up. I wouldn’t rule it out down the line, but I don’t think the Yankees would have him shag fly balls during batting practice for a few days then just throw him out there like they did with Lyle Overbay. Gosh, remember that? That was weird. I think they’d wait and let Bird work out in the outfield in Spring Training should they decide to give it a try.

Ben asks: I know it’s early, but MLBTR just updated their 2016 free agent power rankings and it’s got me thinking. Who can you see the Yanks targeting this upcoming winter? My personal list (however far-fetched): Ben Zobrist and a pitcher (Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann).

I don’t expect the Yankees to pursue any big name free agents this offseason. No one like Price or Cueto, for example. I think they’ll stick to mid-range free agents again. Guys in the $10M per year range, not the $20M range. Second base is the only position player spot they could realistically upgrade, and in addition to Zobrist there’s Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, and Chase Utley. Utley’s cooked, Murphy’s really bad in the field, and Kendrick’s probably going to get a significant contract despite being 32 years old. That makes me wonder if the Yankees will try to swing a trade for a second baseman instead. They’ll need pitching too. I’d love Price but I have a hard time thinking they’ll commit $200M to a pitcher who just turned 30. Staying away is probably the right move too. Hisashi Iwakuma could be an alternative there, assuming they can convince him to leave Seattle. They did get Hiroki Kuroda to leave Los Angeles back in the day, so it’s not impossible.

Anonymous asks: With the Yanks lack of speed this year, should they call up Jorge Mateo in August, and have him eligible for a postseason roster spot?

No way. They can find someone else to pinch-run. There are always Freddy Guzmans and Quintin Berrys lying around in Triple-A to do that job. Go get one of them. Or, you know, use the perfectly qualified Slade Heathcott. Calling up Mateo would mean clogging up a 40-man roster spot going forward and starting his options clock next year. It’s not worth it just to pinch-run a few times. There are too many negative roster ramifications to calling up Mateo in September. This is not a Terrance Gore situation. Mateo isn’t a fringe prospect whose only MLB usefulness may come as a pinch-runner. He’s a legitimate prospect and it’s not worth adding him to the 40-man roster years before it is necessary for a role that insignificant.

Eric asks: Conspiracy theory time: Could the Yankees be faking a Michael Pineda injury to try and cut down on his innings?

Fire everyone if that’s the case. Fall out of first place while you’re faking an injury — an arm injury no less, hurting Pineda’s future trade value — so you can send one of your two best starters to the DL for a month to control his workload? Fire. Every. One. That’s not the case though. Pineda’s actually hurt. It sucks, but it is what it is. I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, but faking an injury like this doesn’t quality.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Brian asks: If Big Mike comes back healthy, could the forearm be a blessing in disguise? Given the innings increase, maybe a month off isn’t the worst thing?

I’m always inclined to say “no” to the whole “injury being a blessing in disguise” thing. Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury have not been the same since coming back from their injuries this year, for example, so there’s always a chance Pineda comes back a less effective pitcher, especially since it is an arm injury. Sure, it’s possible Pineda comes back perfectly fine and well-rested and dominates late in the season and the Yankees still win the division, but I feel like the chances of that actually happening are very small. Injuries are almost always — 99.9% of the time? — a bad thing.

JLC776 asks: I’m writing this prior to the Yankees facing Henry Owens in his MLB debut. I’m used to hearing the narrative that Yankees do miserably against pitchers making MLB debuts (or maybe it’s rookies making their vs Yankee debut), but what are the real numbers? Do we typically do better, worse, the same?

The Yankees have faced 12 starters making their MLB debut since the start of the 2010 season. It seems like it should be more, right? It’s not though, I double checked. Here are the 12 pitchers and their stat lines (via Baseball Reference):

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GmSc
1 Henry Owens 2015-08-04 BOS NYY L 3-13 5.0 5 3 3 1 5 0 96 59 49
2 Mike Montgomery 2015-06-02 SEA NYY L 3-5 6.0 4 1 1 2 4 0 97 64 62
3 Anthony Ranaudo 2014-08-01 BOS NYY W 4-3 6.0 4 2 2 4 2 1 91 53 54
4 Jacob deGrom 2014-05-15 NYM NYY L 0-1 7.0 4 1 1 2 6 0 91 57 69
5 Rafael Montero 2014-05-14 NYM NYY L 0-4 6.0 5 3 3 2 3 2 108 68 51
6 Erik Johnson 2013-09-04 CHW NYY L 5-6 6.0 7 5 3 3 1 1 105 60 40
7 Casey Crosby 2012-06-01 DET NYY L 4-9 3.1 4 6 6 4 3 1 75 40 27
8 Will Smith 2012-05-23 KCR NYY L 3-8 3.1 6 5 5 1 1 3 54 30 28
9 Wei-Yin Chen 2012-04-10 BAL NYY L 4-5 5.2 7 4 2 1 6 1 101 59 48
10 Garrett Richards 2011-08-10 LAA NYY L 3-9 5.0 6 6 6 2 2 2 91 59 31
11 Josh Tomlin 2010-07-27 CLE NYY W 4-1 7.0 3 1 1 0 2 0 93 60 69
12 Jake Arrieta 2010-06-10 BAL NYY W 4-3 6.0 4 3 3 4 6 0 106 61 54

The Yankees are 9-3 in those 12 games and the pitchers have a combined 4.88 ERA with a 1.58 K/BB ratio. That’s really bad! Tomlin, deGrom, and Montgomery pitched well while Richards, Crosby, and Smith all got smacked around. Everyone else was okay-ish. Not terrible but not great either. A total of 211 pitchers have made their MLB debut as a starter since 2010 and those 211 guys combined for a 4.72 ERA and a 1.81 K/BB ratio in their first starts. So I guess this means the Yankees have been a bit better than average when facing a starter making his big league debut.

Sal asks: Mike, whatever happened to the Hawaii Winter league? Saw Austin Jackson play there in 2007. Also, who are your predictions for Arizona Fall League (please say Ian Clarkin!)?

Hawaii Winter Baseball first ran from 1993-97 and it included players from MLB, the minors, Japan, Korea, and independent leagues. The league folded following the 1997 season and was revived in 2006. It ran from 2006-08 with minor leaguers and Japanese players before closing up shop again because MLB decided it didn’t want another league competing with the Arizona Fall League. Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, and Mark Melancon all played in HWB at one point.

As for the Arizona Fall League this year, guys who have been injured are always a good bet. Eric Jagielo and Jacob Lindgren jump to mind. Clarkin is a possibility if he’s healthy in time (the season starts in early-October), but teams are only allowed to send one player who has yet to play above Single-A, and he’d chew up that spot for the Yankees. Also, not many teams send their top pitching prospects to the AzFL because it’s so hitter friendly. Tyler Austin could be a candidate if he finishes strong at Double-A and the Yankees want to get him some more at-bats to get on track. Jagielo and Lindgren are the two big ones to me. If they’re healthy, I have to think they’ll play in the Fall League.

Michael asks: Do you think it would make sense to trade John Ryan Murphy? As you have said, he has impressed this summer, and figures to be expendable given the fact that we have Brian McCann for a few more years, plus Gary Sanchez, Luis Torrens, and others on the farm. Additionally, Austin Romine is hitting well and plays solid defense, so he could be a serviceable backup catcher. Couldn’t we turn him, along with others in a package, into a more productive and useful roster piece?

SKJRM. (Presswire)
SKJRM. (Presswire)

It could make sense, sure. It depends on what comes back to the Yankees, as always. A similar young and controllable position player (second base?) or starting pitcher? Yeah I could see that making sense. I am the world’s biggest JRM fan and I do think he’ll prove to be quite valuable as McCann ages and sees fewer starts behind the plate, but Murphy shouldn’t be untouchable, especially if someone like Sanchez shows the potential to handle catching duties at the MLB level. I wouldn’t actively shop Murphy but I would definitely listen to offers. Young catchers who can actually catch and hit a little are quite valuable. There’s nothing wrong with keeping him around.

James asks: Do you think there’s any chance the Yankees will sneak in an August trade?

I do. Nothing major, of course, but a depth piece or two. I could see them grabbing an extra back-end starter or something to provide depth. Someone to chew up innings. A Chad Gaudin type but not actually Chad Gaudin, if you catch my drift. Could that be … Ian Kennedy? Kyle Lohse? Aaron Harang? I’m not sure. Utley is the biggest name out there but I’d be surprised if they pulled the trigger on a deal of that magnitude, not that Utley is any good these days. I could see a smaller move to add depth, yes. Nothing too exciting though.

Tom asks: During the August waiver system: If I put player X on waivers, you claim him, and we open trade talks. You offer player Y. Does player Y have to clear waivers, too?

Of course. Any player on the 40-man roster has to go through trade waivers to be traded after July 31st. Non-40-man players do not have to go on waivers. I remember a few years ago when the Red Sox acquired Billy Wagner from the Mets, the deal sent two players to New York, one of whom had yet to go on waivers. When that player was placed on waivers (I think it was the other Chris Carter?), the Yankees claimed him just to create a roster headache for Boston. The BoSox had to pull the player back, include him in the trade as a player to be named, keep him on their 40-man roster the rest of the year, then send him to the Mets after the season.

Danny asks: I had a dream last night that the Yankees got Andy Pettitte to come back and pitch for them this year. Would that be a good idea? Are there any restrictions on “un-retiring?”

The only un-retiring restriction I know of involves players who retire while still under contract. They don’t just come back as free agents, their former teams still hold their rights. Pettitte would be a free agent since his contract was up. It would be neat to see Pettitte pitch again, but remember, he wasn’t very good towards the end of the 2013 season. That complete game in his last start really did come out of nowhere. Pettitte pitched to a 4.00+ ERA for much of the summer and generally looked to be nearing the end of the line. Love Andy, always will, but I think his baseball usefulness is very limited at this point. Such is life.

Justin asks: Who has to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft?

This is worth an entire post and I’ll put that together at some point in the future, probably soon after the end of the season. The short answer is this: the Yankees have a ton of useful players set to become Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter, too many to protect, so they’re going to lose some. There’s nothing they can do about it. Can’t fill up the 40-man with prospects. Here are some of the notable players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason: Ben Gamel, Jake Cave, Rookie Davis, James Pazos, Tony Renda, Johnny Barbato, Miguel Andujar, and Abi Avelino. (I believe Andujar and Avelino are Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter. International guys are always tough to pin down because we don’t know their exact signing date.) Vicente Campos can also become a minor league free agent if he’s not added to the 40-man roster. Lots of tough decisions!

Yankees stop skid in Greg Bird’s debut with an 8-6 win over Indians

Textbook post-swing extension shot. (Source: Getty)

At last, the Bombers are back in the win column. It was not a squeaky clean game but a win is a win. The early offensive outburst was a really, really good sign and hopefully the start of an upwards trend while Nathan Eovaldi pitched just well enough to earn another win.

Runs!!!

The Yankees offense had been in something of a drought the past several games. But tonight, the fountain burst from the first inning — Brian McCann hit a towering three-run homer to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner for a quick 3-0 lead.

In the second inning, Stephen Drew once again showed off his power by taking a Trevor Bauer pitch out for a solo homer, making it 4-0. How about that: Stephen Drew, a second baseman with 15 homers!

Drew struck again in the fourth! With Didi Gregorius on first, Drew drove a double down the left field line for another RBI, 5-2 Yankees. Two batters later, Gardner drove a big double off the left field wall to drive in Drew, making it 6-2. Golly, that was probably the hardest hit ball Gardner’s hit in awhile.

The Yankees would score two more – both on Brett Gardner singles (sixth and eighth innings) and those proved to be quite vital considering the Indians managed to score some runs against the bullpen.

(Source: Getty)

An avian debut

Highly-touted 1B prospect Greg Bird got his first ML at-bat in the first inning against Trevor Bauer. On the sixth pitch, Bird drove a curveball to deep right but right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall caught it in almost a shoestring manner. Had the ball sliced just a bit more, it could have been an RBI double.

In his second at bat, Bird squared up a Bauer fastball pretty well towards left field – but it ended up being another hard-luck line out. In the fifth, Bird hit another liner to left but it was right towards the left fielder Michael Brantley. Three hard contacts in a row but nothing to show for it (at least on the scoreboard)!

When it was all said and done, Bird went 0-for-5 with three well-hit balls and two strikeouts. I didn’t think he looked overmatched or anything — Joe Girardi‘s gotta be pretty pleased with the hard contact the kid made.

Also, some may know this, but the last Yankee to go 0-for-5 in ML debut? Some guy named Derek Jeter.

(Source: Getty)

“Eh” Nate

Eovaldi didn’t really have his A-game tonight. Well, that is not to say that he didn’t pitch well – it was more like he was lacking a bit with his command and got into some trouble.

Eovaldi got into his first jam in the third inning – he walked Giovanny Urshela to lead off the inning and Jose Ramirez followed it up with a single up the middle. He did take care of Francisco Lindor via sac bunt but the renowned Yankee killer Michael Brantley came up with both runners in scoring position with one out. Brantley drove Urshela in with a sac fly, giving Eovaldi a chance to get out of the inning with only a run allowed, but then Carlos Santana drove in Ramirez with an RBI single. 4-2.

Eovaldi allowed two more runs in the bottom sixth before departing. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Yan Gomes and Abraham Almonte to make it 7-3, and Chisenhall knocked him out of the game with an RBI single, 7-4. Tonight’s start was quite underwhelming for post-Marlins disaster Eovaldi – sometimes pitchers can have a game like this and luckily, it happened on a night where offense certainly supported him.

Bullpen

In the sixth, Adam Warren inherited Eovaldi’s mess and got Urshela to ground into a double play to get out of the inning. Personally, I would have let him start the seventh but Girardi opted for Justin Wilson, who ended up only recording two outs and allowing two baserunners before being lifted for Dellin Betances.

Betances walked Yan Gomes to load the bases. While facing the next hitter, Almonte, he uncorked a 0-2 wild pitch to let Lindor score from third base, 7-5. Yeesh, thank goodness for extra runs tonight. However, Dellin K’d Almonte and pitched a scoreless eighth to bring a save situation for Andrew Miller.

Just like two nights ago, Miller didn’t seem too sharp. Lindor led off the inning with a single. Miller did manage to strike out Brantley and get Santana out with a pop-up. With Yan Gomes batting, Lindor advanced to second on a defense indifference and the Brazilian catcher drove him in with an RBI single, 8-6. Miller avoided further damage by striking out Almonte to end the game.

Leftovers

Ellsbury and Gardner provided some offensive spark tonight and it was vital. They went 5-for-8 combined with two walks and three RBI’s (all by Gardner by the way). See what the team can do (win) when the numbers one and two hitters can hit?

Stephen Drew went 2-for-3 with a homer, double, walk and reached on an error. He also scored four runs, meaning that he scored every time reaching on base one way or another.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees head to Toronto for another three-game series versus the Blue Jays, fun! I’m not going to say it’s a make-or-break series because there’s still a good amount of games left in the season but it would be very positive to see New York beat a much-improved Blue Jays team. Well, we’ll see. Ivan Nova takes the mound against David Price.