Another series, another series win. The Yankees took the second game of their three-game series with the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, beating Boston 4-2. My real quick research tells me the Yankees have won five straight series for the first time since September 2012. They’ve won 12 of their last 15 games overall. Baseball is fun! It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so let’s recap with bullet points:
- Offensive Outfield: Outfielders drove in all four runs Saturday. Chris Young hit an insurance solo homer in the top of the ninth, and earlier in the game Brett Gardner capped off two rallies with run-scoring hits. Didi Gregorius led off the third with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on Gardner’s double to left. The fifth inning rally started with two hits and a sac bunt to move the runners up. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out sharply to first and the runner at third had to hold, but Gardner picked him up with a clutch two-out, two-strike single to left. Brett’s now hitting .319/.405/.420 (135 wRC+). Very nice.
- Easy Nate: Two runs in 6.2 innings at Fenway Park? That’ll do just fine. Nathan Eovaldi was hit hard in just one inning Saturday — three hits and one run in the fourth — and gave the Yankees exactly what they needed, specifically taking the ball relatively deep into the game. Two of the seven hits allowed were infield singles and it wasn’t until his pitch count was over 100 in the seventh that he walked a batter (last man he faced, actually). Eovaldi used his breaking ball well once the lineup turned over and got a lot of weak pop-ups. Nice outing for Nate.
- Bullpen Machinations: It was a little curious when Joe Girardi sent Eovaldi out for the seventh and straight up weird when Justin Wilson was allowed to face Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval with a one-run lead in the eighth, but Joe always has the big picture in mind and it’s clear he was trying to get Andrew Miller some rest. Chris Martin allowed an inherited runner to score in the seventh, Wilson sandwiched a walk to Hanley between retiring David Ortiz and Sandoval, then closer du jour Dellin Betances struck out all four batters he faced for the four-out save. Hooray bullpen depth. (Aside: Holy moly Girardi does not trust David Carpenter, huh?)
- Leftovers: Gardner was thrown out at third trying to stretch his third inning double into a triple, and I’m totally fine with it. Be aggressive and force Hanley to make a play … everyone in the lineup had at least one hit except for 4-5 hitters Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann … Young had two hits (homer, double) and now has six doubles, six homers, and eight singles on the year … Chase Headley lost a pop-up in the sun but otherwise the Yankees played really solid defense. No highlight plays or anything, but man, they caught everything. Very clean game, all the plays were made … and finally, here’s the pitch location for the Wilson-Sandoval at-bat in the eighth. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the plan was to get him to chase high heaters.
Here’s the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees will look to complete the sweep of the Red Sox on Sunday night. Adam Warren and Joe Kelly will be the generically named pitching matchup.
Last night’s series opening win over the Red Sox was, pretty easily, my favorite game of the season so far. The Yankees have been playing pretty well of late but I’m not sure there’s any competition. Alex Rodriguez made some history, won the game with a homer, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller shut it down late … pretty great game all around.
The Yankees have a chance to clinch their fifth straight series win this afternoon, something they didn’t do at all in 2013 and 2014. (They won four straight series twice in 2013.) Last night’s win was awesome. It’s also in a rear-view mirror. Can’t sit around and feel good about it anymore. Another game and another opportunity to win this afternoon. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Chris Young
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Gregorio Petit
- SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
It’s a beautiful day in Boston. Clear skies and temperatures in the mid-50. Wonderful day for baseball. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game.
According to George King and Dan Martin, the Yankees held a private workout for free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez at their complex in Tampa earlier this week. The team also scouted him during a workout in Miami last month.
Ibanez, 21, has already been declared a free agent by MLB and unblocked by a Office of Foreign Assets Control, so he is free to sign at any time. King and Martin say he is expected to get a bonus in the $10M neighborhood, which would be taxed at 100% regardless of which team signs him. That would exceed all 30 bonus pools.
Before defecting, Ibanez hit .283/.348/.419 with 60 doubles and 13 home runs in 242 games in the Cuban league. He was on Cuba’s roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic but rode the bench in the deference to their veteran infielders. Here’s a scouting report from Ben Badler:
At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Ibanez has a thicker build for a middle infielder but he’s athletic and has good body control. With fringy speed and an average arm at best, Ibanez isn’t flashy, but he has a good internal clock and a high baseball IQ, fitting best at second base. Ibanez’s power is mostly to the gaps, projecting as a doubles hitters rather than a big home run threat, but what’s sold some scouts on him is his bat.
“He’s a strong guy who doesn’t have your prototype, ideal body for a second baseman, but he moves around well for his stature,” said another scout. “And he performs. He’s a good hitter. I liked his swing and the way he manipulated the bat.”
Ibanez is subject to the international spending restrictions, so the Yankees are free to sign him for any amount prior to June 25th. But, after that, they will only be able to offer him $300,000 as a result of the penalties from last July’s international spending spree. I’m not sure why Ibanez is waiting to sign. You’d think he’d want to sign quickly and start playing in the minors to get his career underway.
Inviting Ibanez in for a private workout really doesn’t mean much of anything. The Yankees had Aledmys Diaz in for a private workout last year and they had Yoan Moncada in for three separate private workouts this offseason, but didn’t sign either player. It’s been a while since the Yankees signed a premium Cuban player. Jose Contreras was the last.
Ibanez is not on the same level as Moncada but he has some ability and is expected to be able to help at the MLB level in the near future. Accumulating middle infield depth is always a good thing, and that goes double for the Yankees, since it’s unclear if they have a long-term shortstop or second baseman in the organization right now. (The jury is still out on Didi Gregorius and Rob Refsnyder.)
Until the Yankees actually step up and sign a top Cuban free agent, I won’t expect them to do it. They’ve done the song and dance with several players in recent years — Diaz, Moncada, Yasmany Tomas, Yoan Lopez, and others — but didn’t sign any of them. These private workouts are fake interest until they sign one of these guys, as far as I’m concerned.
- 660: Gosh, what a moment. A-Rod did not start Friday’s game as Joe Girardi went with a lefty heavy lineup against Justin Masterson, yet he still had a big impact. The hard-throwing Junichi Tazawa fell behind in the count 3-0, and rather than simply take a pitch for the sake of taking a pitch, Rodriguez hunted a 3-0 fastball, got it, and lined a home run over the Green Monster. It was a frickin’ laser. Out of the park in a hurry. Fenway went quiet and A-Rod’s teammates mobbed him in the dugout. I would have loved to see Alex get his 660th in the Bronx, but a go-ahead blast to silence the Fenway faithful and give the Yankees a late-inning lead works fine too.
- Just Good Enough: CC Sabathia threw the ugliest six innings of two-run ball you may ever see. He had runners on base in every inning but the first and sixth, and he got lucky breaks on two occasions with what would have been run-scoring extra-base hits — a fan reached out and touched Ryan Hanigan’s double in the fourth, so the umps sent Xander Bogaerts back to third, and Hanley Ramirez wasn’t allowed to score from first when Mike Napoli’s double hopped over the wall in the fifth. The end result was two runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings. The end result was good. Getting there was … uncomfortable.
- Score First, Score Last: Boy the Yankees really let Masterson off the hook. Nine of the first 21 batters he faced reach base, yet the Yankees scored just one run in that time, on a first inning double by Carlos Beltran. They stranded runners on second and third in the fourth and the bases loaded in the fifth. Boston took a 2-1 lead in the middle innings and it wasn’t until Masterson was out of the game that the Yankees rallied to tie. Didi Gregorius worked a leadoff walk in the seventh, moved to second when Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch, then scored on Brian McCann‘s single to tie the game. A-Rod did the rest.
- Leftovers: The bullpen wasn’t great but it was good enough. Esmil Rogers walked a batter in a scoreless seventh — why he was pitching the seventh inning of a tie game, I have no idea — and Dellin Betances put two runners on base with one out in the eighth. He struck out the next two hitters. Andrew Miller tossed a perfect ninth for his ninth save … Jacoby Ellsbury (two singles), Brett Gardner (single, walk), Teixeira (two walks, hit-by-pitch), Beltran (single, double), and Gregorius (single, walk) all reached base multiple times … the Yankees went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Thanks goodness for dingers.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Red Sox will continue this series Saturday afternoon. It’ll be Nathan Eovaldi against Wade Miley.
Minor League Report: I don’t have time for a full version of DotF tonight. Sorry folks. You can find all the box scores right here though. Jake Cave and Angel Aguilar both went deep and Double-A Trenton walked off with a win in the 18th inning. 18th inning!
As I mentioned earlier, the Yankees are about to begin a very road-heavy portion of their schedule. Fifteen of the team’s next 19 games are on the road, starting with tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox. Only four home games between now and May 22nd. Geez.
Of course, tonight is the start of a Yankees-Red Sox series, and that adds another layer of chaos to things. These games are rarely easy, pretty stressful, and they usually take four hours too. Wednesday’s loss notwithstanding, the Yankees have been playing pretty well of late, so it would be nice to start this extended stretch of road games off on the right foot. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- DH Garrett Jones
- 2B Stephen Drew
- SS Didi Gregorius
LHP CC Sabathia
It’s on the cold side up in Boston but the sky is clear. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Chris Capuano (quad) is scheduled to throw four innings and 60 pitches for High-A Tampa tomorrow. It’ll be his first official minor league rehab outing, starting his 30-day clock. Capuano might only be two weeks away from joining the rotation if he’s already up to 60 pitches though. Good news.
In a couple hours, the Yankees will open a three-game series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Those series are always tough no matter how good or bad each team may be, and right now both are playing pretty well. Get ready for a weekend of marathon four-hour games. You know what I’m talking about.
The series at Fenway is important because it’s an intra-division series, and given how tight the AL East figures to be this summer, every head-to-head matchup with a division rival is super important. This series also marks the start of a very difficult and road-heavy portion of the schedule. Just four of New York’s next 19 games with be at home in the Bronx. Four of 19!
Here is the May schedule from the team’s official site:
That four-game series against the Orioles next weekend will be the Yankees’ only home series from now through May 22nd. The NYCFC guys are going to have free rein over Yankee Stadium for the next three weeks. Lucky them.
It’s not just the sheer number of road games either. They’re road games against good teams and AL East rivals. Fourteen of those 19 games are against AL East teams and the other five are against the Royals and the Nationals. The Royals have arguably been the best team in baseball this year, and by time the Yankees head to Washington, the Nats might be playing like the best team in baseball, which many expected them to be coming into the season.
It goes without saying this upcoming stretch of games will be very difficult and play a big part in deciding whether the Yankees are serious contenders this season or are just hopefuls like the last two years. You hope the Yankees can weather the storm and come out ahead, maybe 10-9 or 11-8 or something like that, but you also know they probably need to do better than that to remain in the hunt for a postseason spot.
These next 19 games aren’t going to define the season for New York. It’s way too early for that. These 19 games are going to be a real challenge though, and since most of those games are on the road against quality opponents, it’s a crucial stretch for the Yankees. It’s a chance to really come out ahead and feel good about what this team is capable of doing. It’s also a chance to get humbled and fall behind the rest of the pack in the AL East.