Yankees 2, Twins 1: The Jaime & Aroldis Show

Who said the Yankees can’t win close games? The Yankees picked up a not at all stressful (nope, not at all) 2-1 win in the series opener against the Twins on Monday night. This is a pretty important series given the postseason races, I hear. The Yankees are 12-4 in their last 16 games and have opened up a five-game lead over Minnesota for the top wildcard spot. They’re 6.5 games up on the Angels for a wildcard spot in general. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is seven and the magic number to clinch homefield advantage in the Wild Card Game is eight.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Jaime’s Revenge Tour
Thanks to a perfect storm of pissed-off-edness, Jaime Garcia threw what is far and away his best start as a Yankee on Monday night. He was mad at the Twins for trading him after one start and mad at Joe Girardi for the quick hook last time out. The result was a season high nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings, including five strikeouts among the first six batters he faced. Angry Jaime is a heck of a pitcher.

I thought Garcia had the best slider and the best changeup he’s had in any of his seven starts as a Yankee, and he had them both in the same start. He threw 20 sliders and got seven swings and misses. He threw 15 changeups and got five swings and misses. That’ll work. Garcia allowed his run on back-to-back singles — Aaron Judge bobbled the ball on the second single, allowing the runner to go to third — and a ground ball to third base. It was unearned thanks to Judge’s error.

The final line for Jaime: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. Imagine if the Yankees had traded Garcia to the Twins and he pitched like that against them in the postseason race. The internet wouldn’t survive the hot takes. I was a bit surprised Girardi sent Garcia back out for the sixth considering the lineup was about to turn over, but he got two quick outs before handsome Joe Mauer ended his night with a handsome single to right.

In his last three starts now Garcia has allowed four runs (two earned) in 15.1 innings, which is pretty darn good. He has a 3.89 ERA (4.24 FIP) in seven starts and 41.2 innings as a Yankee, and considering he is no higher than fifth on the rotation depth chart (probably sixth), that is pretty rad. The Yankees needed another starter with Jordan Montgomery hitting a wall and Luis Severino‘s innings piling up. Jaime’s stepped in and done a solid job overall.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sometimes Two Runs Is Enough
This felt very much like a “they’re going to regret leaving those runners on base” game. The Yankees stranded a runner at third base in the second, third, and fifth innings. They left a runner on second base in the fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. So that’s a runner stranded in scoring position in every inning but the first. Oy vey. The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Fortunately, home runs are cool, and sacrifice flies are slightly less cool but still useful. Judge opened the scoring with a first inning solo home run to right field, giving him seven homers in his last 14 games now. He has 44 (45*) homers on the season and is a) the first Yankee with 44 homers since Alex Rodriguez hit 54 during his sicko 2007 season, and b) closing in Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 homers. Judge has 13 games to hit five homers to tie Big Mac.

The Twins tied the game in the fifth inning, and one inning later, the Yankees took the lead for good. It wasn’t pretty and the Yankees should’ve scored a boatload more runs that inning, but at least they got one. Chase Headley and Starlin Castro started the rally with back-to-back one-out singles, then advanced on Ervin Santana’s wild pitch. That prompted the Twins to intentionally walk Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. What a time to be alive.

Todd Frazier, who was 5-for-17 (.294) with three homers and more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five) in his last six games going into Monday night, drove in the game-tying run with your garden variety sac fly to left field. Really nothing special about it, other than the fact it drove in the winning run. Greg Bird grounded out to end the inning, so no insurance run(s) was scored, but Frazier got one run home and ultimately that’s all the Yankees needed.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bad Dellin, Good Aroldis
Great night for every reliever not named Dellin Betances. David Robertson inherited a runner on first with two outs from Garcia and retired the next four batters on 15 pitches, including two on strikeouts. I thought Girardi was going to send Robertson back out for the eighth given his pitch count and the fact we’ve seen Joe use Robertson for extended outings (against the Mets, most notably), but nope. In came Dellin for the eighth inning.

The Twins did the Yankees an enormous favor. Betances starting that eighth inning by plunking Robbie Grossman, then the Twins gave him a free out on a bunt. First of all, playing for one run when you’re down one run on the road is kinda stupid. Second, given Dellin’s ongoing control problems this year, why wouldn’t you wait to see if he’ll walk the park before gifting him an out? Whatever. Thanks Twins. The bunt was the only out Betances recorded.

A walk, a wild pitch, and another walk later, the Twins had loaded the bases with one out. Told you they should’ve given Dellin a chance to walk them into a rally. Betances threw only six of his 17 pitches for strikes. At that point Girardi had no choice but to go to Aroldis Chapman, and Dellin was booed off the mound. Not that first time that’s happened this season. Hopefully it’s the last.

Anyway, Chapman inherited a mess and he escaped in four pitches. He completely overpowered Mauer (overpaured?) for the second out of the inning. That was huge. Even left-on-left, Mauer is not an easy out. He doesn’t strike out much, so you’re kinda hoping he hits it at someone or grounds into a double play. Instead, three pitches and three strikes (two swinging) for the strikeout. A Byron Buxton pop-up followed and that was that. Exhale.

But wait! There were still three outs to get. Chapman got those with zero stress. Two fly balls — well, one line drive and one pop up, but whatever — and a strikeout to end the game. He blew a 103.7 mph fastball by Eduardo Escobar to end the game, then stared him down. Pretty badass. The bullpen: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB. The bullpen without Betances: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Could Dellin and Chapman please be good at the same time at some point this season? Could be cool.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Two steals for Brett Gardner and two steals for Ellsbury. First time the Yankees have had multiple players with multiple steals in a game since Ellsbury and Brian Roberts (?!?) did it back in June 2014. Gardner went 3-for-4 to pace the offense. Judge, Headley, Castro, Ellsbury, and Frazier each had one hit. All singles except Judge’s dinger. The Yankees sent 35 men to the plate and 30 put the ball in play (one walk and four strikeouts).

Gary Sanchez took a brutal foul tip right to the left wrist/forearm in the seventh inning and was in obvious pain. He stayed in the game after being looked at by the trainer. Losing Gary for even a few innings would’ve been bad. I have no idea why anyone voluntarily catches. Seems terrible.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings, MLB.com has the video highlights, and FanGraphs has the postseason odds. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Weather permitting, the Yankees and Twins will get together for the second game of this three-game series Tuesday night. There is rain in the forecast through the afternoon and evening thanks to Hurricane Jose, though it looks like there will be a big enough window to play the game. We’ll see. CC Sabathia and Jose Berrios are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Game 149 150: Wild Card Game Preview?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Can’t say I expected a mid-September series to be important for both the Yankees and Twins, but here we are. The Yankees currently sit in the top wildcard spot, four games up on the Twins. The Twins have a two-game lead over the idle Angels for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees have some breathing room in the standings. The Twins are surely looking to close the gap with New York so they could possibly host the Wild Card Game.

Because of the importance of this series, I expect Joe Girardi to manage like the postseason. There’s an off-day Thursday, so don’t be surprised if he uses guys like David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman back-to-back-to-back days, even though he doesn’t like doing that. Chad Green, if he pitches tonight, might only get one day of rest and come back Wednesday rather than his usual two or three days off. We’ll see. Win one before worry about winning three. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. DH Chase Headley
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  8. 3B Todd Frazier
  9. 1B Greg Bird
    LHP Jaime Garcia

It is overcast and on the cool side in New York, and there’s a little bit of rain in the forecast. Shouldn’t be anything that interrupts the game. We’ve had the same weather for about a week now. Kinda sucks. I miss the sun. Anyway, tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Hicks (oblique) expects to begin taking batting practice soon. The minor league season is over, so there’s nowhere to play rehab games. He’ll have the jump right from batting practice to big league games. Sucks, but that’s how it goes in September.

9/18 to 9/20 Series Preview: Minnesota Twins

Buxton. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Buxton. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Minnesota for a three-game series in mid-July, and dropped two of three. That was the last of the interminably lengthy stretch of series losses, thankfully, and the Yankees have gone 34-22 since. Some series notes:

  • The trade for David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier was made in the midst of this series, and the latter two made their Yankees debuts in the third game. Kahnle threw a scoreless eighth inning, notching two strikeouts, and Frazier went 0-for-1 with a strikeout as a pinch hitter.
  • Caleb Smith made his big league debut in the first game, relieving Bryan Mitchell in the 6th. He took the loss after allowing two runs in the bottom of the 8th.
  • This was the first series that the Yankees lost in Target Field … it was their 8th season visiting the stadium.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more information.

Injury Report

Miguel Sano’s injured left leg has been one of the biggest storylines in Minnesota this summer, as the slugger has been sidelined since August 19. He was hitting .267/.356/.514 (126 wRC+) with 28 home runs when he went down with a stress reaction in his shin, and he was the foundation of the team’s lineup. As of this writing, his return is still up in the air.

Joining Sano on the DL are pitchers Phil Hughes (possibly done for the season), Hector Santiago (probably done for the season), and Trevor May (definitely out for the season).

Their Story So Far

The Twins are 78-71 with a +9 run differential on the season, and they currently control the second Wild Card spot. They’re four games behind the Yankees for home field advantage in that game, so that adds an interesting layer of intrigue to this series. A white-hot August propelled the Twins into the race, as they went 20-10; six of those wins did come against the tanking White Sox, though.

Byron Buxton has been the poster boy for the team’s turnaround, as the former number one prospect has begun to make good on his promise. He has a .323/.365/.622 slash line (145 wRC+), to go along with 11 HR and 10 SB (0 CS) since the All-Star break. And, despite all of the hand-wringing about his struggles prior to this stretch, he’s still three months shy of his 24th birthday.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Paul Molitor has a fairly steady hand with his lineup, though he does juggle the order a bit to get the platoon advantage. With LHP taking the mound for the Yankees today and tomorrow, we’ll probably see something like this:

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B – .260/.346/.480, 31 HR, 15 SB
  2. Joe Mauer, 1B/DH – .306/.385/.424, 7 HR, 2 SB
  3. Jorge Polanco, SS – .251/.307/.403, 11 HR, 10 SB
  4. Eduardo Escobar, 3B – .254/.312/.448, 19 HR, 5 SB
  5. Byron Buxton, CF – .258/.320/.430, 16 HR, 26 SB
  6. Eddie Rosario, RF – .295/.333/.521, 26 HR, 9 SB
  7. Kennys Vargas, DH/1B – .251/.311/.453, 11 HR, 0 SB
  8. Jason Castro, C – .234/.327/.380, 9 HR, 0 SB
  9. Ehire Adrianza, LF – .270/.335/.383, 2 HR, 8 SB

And Tanaka will probably face something like this on Wednesday:

  1. Dozier, 2B
  2. Mauer, 1B
  3. Polanco, SS
  4. Rosario, LF
  5. Buxton, CF
  6. Max Kepler, RF – .243/.314/.420, 17 HR, 6 SB
  7. Escobar, 3B
  8. Castro, C
  9. Robbie Grossman, DH – .249/.369/.393, 9 HR, 2 SB

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jaime Garcia vs. RHP Ervin Santana

This is the 13th season of what has been a fairly productive career for Santana, who is still just 34-years-old. His 133 ERA+ is the best mark of his career, as are his five complete games and three shutouts. There are signs that this is more than a bit fluky – notably his 4.53 FIP and .241 BABIP – but he has been good more often than not for quite some time now, and this is his second big year in a row.

Santana’s mid-90s four-seamer and mid-80s slider account for nearly 80% of his offerings, so it would be fair to label him as a (mostly) two-pitch guy. He’ll mix in a low-90s sinker and a mid-80s change-up, but usually no more than a handful of each per game.

Last Outing (vs. SDP on 9/13) – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Jose Berrios

The Yankees matched-up against Berrios on July 19, and the 23-year-old more than held his own, pitching to the following line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. It’s worth noting that that was in Minnesota, though, and that he has massive home/road splits. To wit, he has a 2.45 ERA (2.78 FIP) at Target Field, and a 5.14 ERA (5.00 FIP) everywhere else.

Last Outing (vs. TOR on 9/14) – 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 K

Wednesday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Bartolo Colon

Father Time has seemingly caught up with Colon, whose 6.39 ERA ranks 124th among 126 pitches with 100-plus IP. The Yankees tuned him up pretty well in July, scoring 4 runs in 4 innings, en route to a 6-3 victory.

Last Outing (vs. TOR on 9/15) – 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K

The Bullpen

The Twins traded All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline, in the midst of their soft-sell (which also included Garcia being sent to the Yankees). It was a group that ranked among the worst in baseball at that time, and it seemed destined for failure following the Kintzler deal. Instead, it has been rock-solid for the last six or seven weeks.

Matt Belisle (2.01 second-half ERA) has taken over as the closer, and rookie Trevor Hildenberger (3.11 ERA on the season) has taken over as the set-up man. Most of the pieces are the same as the last time these teams met – those pieces have just been better.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Buxton has done his best Mike Trout impression for two-plus months now, and he is one of the most fun players to watch right now. He’s a brilliant defender in center, a fearless and efficient base-runner, and far more powerful than his frame portends. The longer this goes on, the more folk buy-in – and that’s not too shocking, given his pedigree and prospect history.

Rotation shuffle confirms what we already knew: Luis Severino will start the Wild Card Game

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the weekend the Yankees shuffled their rotation under the guise of keeping CC Sabathia and his balky right knee off the turf in Toronto this coming weekend, and I’m sure there’s some truth to that. Sabathia aggravated the knee and had to go on the disabled list the last time he pitched at Rogers Centre. The last thing the Yankees want this late in the season is an injured pitcher.

“We are trying to keep CC off that turf, yes. Is his knee okay? Yes. Are there concerns always about his knee? Yes. It won’t change his amount of starts, but it will keep him off the turf,” said Joe Girardi when announcing the rotation change following Saturday’s win. “Right now we are (Jaime) Garcia, CC, and (Masahiro) Tanaka (against the Twins this week).”

The rotation shuffle does two things. One, it keeps Sabathia away from the turf in Toronto. And two, it means Luis Severino will not start this week against the Twins, the team closest to the Yankees in the wildcard race. No player on the Twins has ever faced Severino (seriously), so Minnesota would be going into the Wild Card Game blind, should they and the Yankees qualify. Reading scouting reports and watching video only helps so much. There’s no substitute for standing in the box.

I’ve seen a few people mention the rotation shuffle lines Severino up to start the Wild Card Game, but that’s not really the case. He was already lined up for the Wild Card Game and the shuffle changes nothing. Here’s how the rotation would’ve lined up before the shuffle and how it lines up now:

Old Rotation Plan Current Rotation Plan
9/17 vs. Orioles Sabathia Gray
9/18 to 9/20 vs. Twins Gray-Tanaka-Severino Garcia-Sabathia-Tanaka
9/21 off-day
9/22 to 9/24 @ Blue Jays Montgomery-Sabathia-Gray Severino-Montgomery-Gray
9/25 vs. Royals Tanaka Garcia
9/26 to 9/28 vs. Rays Severino-Garcia-Montgomery Sabathia-Tanaka-Severino
9/29 to 10/1 vs. Blue Jays Sabathia-Gray-Tanaka Montgomery-Gray-Garcia
10/2 off-day
10/3 Wild Card Game Severino (two extra days) or Gray (one extra day) Tanaka (one extra day) or Severino (normal rest)

I would bet against Garcia making that start in the makeup game against the Royals next Monday. Thursday’s off-day allows the Yankees to start everyone on extra rest next week anyway, and, more importantly, skipping Garcia lines Severino up to pitch the Wild Card Game with an extra day of rest. And it’s not just about the extra rest. That extra day is also an insurance policy in case there’s a rainout or something. If the Yankees do skip Garcia next Monday, the Game 162 start could go to Domingo German or Bryan Mitchell, assuming the game is meaningless. If it’s a must-win situation, you run Tanaka out there on normal rest.

Anyway, the Yankees were originally going to skip Garcia this turn through the rotation, which would’ve allowed them to start their three best pitchers against the Twins this week. They were ready in case the wildcard race was closer than it is and this series really meant something. Instead, the Yankees increased their lead over the Twins the last few days, so this series isn’t as important as it looked a week ago. It’s important! But the race isn’t as close as it was, and it gives the Yankees some flexibility.

“We’re planning on Tanaka for Wednesday, but I could change my mind,” said Girardi yesterday, hedging a bit and indicating Severino could indeed start against the Twins this week. I suppose that depends how tonight and tomorrow go, but, worst case scenario, the Yankees will be one game up on the Twins for the first wildcard spot and 3.5 games up on Angels the for a wildcard spot in general come Thursday morning.

Right now the Twins are the team the Yankees are mostly likely to face in the Wild Card Game — for all intents and purposes it’s down to the Twins and Angels because everyone else has fallen further back — so hiding Severino makes sense. Let them go into the Wild Card Game blind. At the same time, if things go wrong the next two days, the Yankees can still run Severino out there Wednesday to stop the bleeding. They have some flexibility.

Shuffling the rotation this week is as much as about Severino as it is Sabathia’s knee. He was already lined up to start the Wild Card Game, or at least close enough to being lined up that the Yankees could’ve made it happen at pretty much any point. Now the Yankees have a chance to make sure the Twins don’t see Severino before the Wild Card Game while still having the ability to throw him at Minnesota this week, if necessary. It was a small little move that could potentially yield big dividends.

Yankeemetrics: Bird hunting in the Bronx (Sept. 14-17)

(AP)
(AP)

Dingers and runs are awesome
What happens when you combine one of the five best homer-hitting teams (Yankees) with one of the five most homer-friendly ballparks (Yankee Stadium) and one of the five most homer-prone pitching staffs (Orioles)? You get the dinger-fueled blowout that happened on Thursday night in the Bronx.

The Yankees crushed four homers and pummeled the Orioles, 13-5. It was the fifth home game that the Yankees scored at least a dozen runs – and the opponent for all five of those has been the Orioles. This is the first time in the last 100 years of major-league baseball that any team has scored 12 or more runs in five home games against a single opponent within a season.

Aaron Judge led the offensive barrage – he went 3-for-4, scored three runs, belted two homers and piled up a career-best six RBIs – and unsurprisingly continued his assault on the record books:

  • The homers were his 10th and 11th against the Orioles, making him the first player on any team to hit 10 or more home runs against the Baltimore Orioles in a season (the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954).
  • Going back to the days when they were known as the St. Louis Browns, the only other Yankees with 11-plus dingers against the franchise in a season are Joe DiMaggio (three times), Lou Gehrig (twice) and Babe Ruth (twice).
  • Judge is the first Yankee to hit at least 11 homers against any opponent since 1961, when Roger Maris had 13 against the White Sox and Mickey Mantle had 11 against the Senators.
  • The two home runs were also his 26th and 27th in the Bronx, setting the single-season record at the new Yankee Stadium, a mark previously held by Curtis Granderson in 2012.
  • Judge also now has 24 RBIs against the Orioles. Combined with his 11 longballs, he became the youngest player to reach both those totals against any team in a season since a 24-year-old Willie Mays hit 12 homers and drove in 29 runs versus the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955.
  • He scored his 110th run in the first inning, adding his name to this decent list of Yankees with at least 110 runs and 110 walks in a season: Ruth (10 times!), Mantle (six) and Gehrig (five).

Finally, lets cap it off with an #AaronJudgeFunFact: He is the youngest Yankee with at least three hits and six RBIs in a game since Yogi Berra on August 22, 1950 against the Tigers.

Gary Sanchez joined the home run derby in the sixth inning, going deep for the 31st time while setting the single-season franchise mark for homers by a player whose primary position was catcher. The 24-year-old also became the youngest backstop to hit more than 30 homers in a season since Mike Piazza for the Dodgers in 1993.

(AP)
(AP)

Eight is enough
Another home game against the Orioles, another blowout win. This one was a little tamer than Thursday’s explosive contest, as the Yankees won by only six runs (8-2) and had just three extra-base hits.

Didi Gregorius broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a 418-foot two-run blast, and added two sac flies, earning himself the coveted Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series award:

Only four other Yankees have hit a homer and multiple sac flies in a game (since sac flies first officially tracked in 1954) – Jorge Posada (2006), Jose Canseco (2000), Don Mattingly (1995), Bobby Murcer (1970).

The other stud in this game was, of course, Luis Severino, who cemented his Ace status with another fantastic performance. He went eight strong innings, giving up two runs on three hits while striking out seven. It was his 16th start this season with at least seven strikeouts and no more than two runs allowed, tied with Chris Sale and Corey Kluber for the most such games in the AL (through Friday’s slate).

The seven punchouts also pushed his season total to 218, becoming the youngest Yankee ever to reach that mark. He’s now tied for fifth on the franchise single-season strikeout list:

1. Ron Guidry (1978) – 248
2. Jack Chesbro (1904) – 239
3. CC Sabathia (2011) – 230
4. David Cone (1997) – 222
5. Luis Severino (2017) – 218
5. Melido Perez (1992) – 218

Holding a potent Orioles lineup to three hits and two runs is impressive on its own. But perhaps the most jaw-dropping part of his night was that he was pumping triple-digit gas in the late innings. Eight of the 23 pitches he threw in the seventh and eighth frames were clocked at 99 mph or faster. He’s now thrown 30 pitches of 99-plus mph after the sixth inning this season – which is more than twice as many (14) as the rest of all MLB starting pitchers combined!

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Runs and dingers are awesome, Part II
The whipping of the O’s in the Bronx continued on Saturday with a 9-3 rout, and the victory also clinched their 25th consecutive winning season. That’s the second-longest streak in MLB history (Yankees had a winning record for 39 straight seasons from 1926-64), and nearly three times as long as the next-best active streak (Cardinals, 9)

Thanks to the nine-run outburst, the Yankees reached 150-run mark against the Orioles in their 18 matchups through Saturday. Why is that significant? It is the …

  • Most runs scored by any team against another team during the Expansion Era (since 1961).
  • Yankees ninth consecutive game with at least six runs against the O’s; since 1913, their only other longer six-plus-run scoring streak against any team was a 12-game stretch vs. the Indians in 1930.
  • Yankees sixth home game in a row scoring eight or more runs against the Orioles, their longest such streak against any opponent at Yankee Stadium (old or new).

Didi Gregorius opened the slugfest with a three-run shot in the third inning, his second straight game he homered with two men on base. He joined Frankie Crossetti (1932) as the only Yankee shortstops in the Live Ball era (since 1920) to hit a three-run homer in back-to-back games. [He added another homer in Sunday’s finale, bringing his total to 24 this season, and tying Derek Jeter (1999) for the most by a shortstop in franchise history.]

(Getty)
(Getty)

All good things … must come to an end
You knew the Yankees recent trend of bashing baseballs and breaking scoreboards was unsustainable (see Regression to the Mean), and that it came in a game started by Sonny Gray was hardly surprising (see Lowest Run Support among Yankee Starters).

But the fact that the Yankees were finally cooled off by Ubaldo Jimenez — and his 6.75 ERA — in Sunday’s 6-4 loss was shocking. The Yankees entered the game 12-3 when facing an opposing starter with an ERA over 6.00, the second-best such record in the majors behind the Dodgers (9-2). So, of course, Jimenez held the Yankees to one run over five innings while striking out 10. More #WeirdBaseball? Ubaldo joined Matt Moore (Sept. 22, 2011) as the only pitchers in the last 100 years with double-digit strikeouts in an outing of five or fewer innings against the Yankees.

But wait, there’s even more!

You also couldn’t have predicted their ridiculous scoring spree to be snapped by any Orioles pitcher, given how much the Yankees had pounded the entire O’s pitching staff this season and especially in the Bronx. First, the ridiculous totals from the 19-game season series and the 10 home games vs the Orioles:

Games Runs HR BA OBP Slug Pct.
Overall 19 154 46 .313 .406 .575
Home 10 102 32 .337 .425 .671

If you’re curious, Babe Ruth owns a slugging percentage of .690 and homered once every 11.7 at-bats in his career — which looks alot like the .671 slugging and 11.3 at-bat-per-homer rate that the Yankees put up against the Orioles in the Bronx this season. And now for the historical perspective on those numbers:

  • 154 runs overall are the most by the Yankees vs any team in a season series since 1956, when they scored 158 in 22 games against the A’s.
  • 46 homers overall are the most by any team against any single opponent in the Expansion Era, and are the second-most hit by the Yankees against a single team in franchise history (48 in 1956 against the A’s).
  • .575 slugging percentage overall is their second-highest in a season against any team in the last 100 years (min. 7 games), trailing the .578 mark vs. the Rangers in 1998.
  • 102 runs at home are the third-most Yankees have scored at Yankee Stadium (old or new) against an opponent (104 vs Browns in 1949, 108 vs White Sox in 1931).
  • 32 homers at home are the most hit by the Yankees against a single team within a season at either Yankee Stadium.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 18th, 2017

Record Last Week: 5-2 (43 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 82-67 (793 RS, 619 RA, 91-58 pythag. record) 3.0 GB in ALE, 6.0 GU on WC
Opponents This Week: vs. Twins (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
View Results

Orioles 6, Yankees 4: Gray struggles and the late rallies fall short


Source: FanGraphs

On paper, this was a much-favored matchup for the Yankees. However, you gotta play the game and see how it turns out and, boy, it didn’t really quite go the Yankees’ way. Sonny Gray was hurt by a barrage of two-out hits and the Yankee bats went silent against Ubaldo Jimenez as they dropped the series and season finale versus Baltimore. Oh well. On the other side, the Red Sox lost so the AL East deficit stays at three games. It’s the weekend so let’s do this bullet-point style.

  • The back-and-forth: Gray surrendered the first run to the O’s in the top of the second. Chris Davis hit a double that should have been caught by Clint Frazier. However, Frazier thought it was going over the left field fence and attempted to make a leaping grab by the wall. Instead, the ball was falling behind him and bounced off his glove as Davis reached second. A Seth Smith grounder advanced Davis to third and Gray later allowed an RBI single to rookie Austin Hays. 1-0 O’s. However, the Yankees got one right back in the bottom of the frame. Didi Gregorius led off with No. 24 for the season. That ties the all-time single-season franchise shortstop home run record with 1999 Derek Jeter. How about that?
  • More troubles: The Orioles weren’t going to go down quietly. After Gray struck out Time Beckham, Manny Machado singled to right to get on base. Gray struck out Jonathan Schoop but allowed an RBI double to Trey Mancini to give the lead right back. Things got worse in the fourth. Smith walked to lead off the inning but Gray retired Mark Trumbo and Hays to get two outs. However, Caleb Joseph singled to extend the inning and Beckham hit a 85-mph slider right down the pipe into the left field bleachers for a 3-run homer. Wasn’t a cheapie either – he crushed that for a 456-footer. Ouch. Not what you want. 5-1 Orioles.  Gray’s outing today lasted for only four innings. Sometimes you get a stinker like that from someone as reliable as Gray. It was the fewest innings and most amount of runs that Gray has allowed as a member of the Yankees.
  • Rallies, and falling short: Sixth inning, down 6-1, the Yankee bats were facing one of the O’s relief aces Mychal Givens. With one out, Gary Sanchez walked and a hitter later, Starlin Castro reached on an infield single to make it two outs and two runners on. Matt Holliday got a hold of one into the left field for a two-run double, cutting the deficit to three runs. Two innings later, against Brad Brach, Aaron Judge doubled to left to lead off the eighth. Sanchez struck out swinging but Didi reached on a Beckham error to make it one out with runners on corners. Castro hit a sac fly to right to make it 6-4 Orioles. After Brach walked Holliday to load the bases, Showalter brought in Britton to get a four-out save, and that’s exactly how it went. He struck out Sanchez with runners on corners to end the game after Judge was intentionally walked, putting the tying run on base.
  • Leftovers: The bullpen went combined: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K today. The sole run came from Bryan Mitchell‘s 3 IP outing as well. Not bad. They did what they could do to keep the Yankees in the game. The offense? Not so much. Against one of the worst starting pitchers of the MLB, they struck out 10 times in five innings while getting only three hits. Tommy Kahnle pitched in the top of the ninth and it was, by far, the most crisp he has seen in awhile. 11 pitches, 7 strikes and 2 strikeouts. So there’s something encouraging in this loss.

Here are today’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA chart from Fangraphs. The Yankees will host the Twins starting tomorrow for a three-game series at Bronx.