Yankeemetrics: Heavenly sweep! (June 5-7)

This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning (USA TODAY Sports).
This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning. (USA TODAY Sports)

Is it okay to breathe yet?
Yes … but it wasn’t okay for about 30 minutes on Friday night when it looked like the Yankees might do the impossible and blow an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances combined to allow six runs in the final frame before the Yankees were able to escape with a 8-7 win in the series opener.

How rare was this near-loss? The last time the Yankees gave up six-or-more runs in the ninth inning and still won the game was June 20, 1986 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before Friday, the Yankees had allowed a total of four runs in the ninth inning in their first 54 games combined, the fewest of any AL team.

Rogers let the first five baserunners he faced to reach base and was pulled before retiring a batter. He was charged with five runs, becoming the first Yankee to allow at least five earned runs without recording an out in a game since Steve Howe on April 8, 1993 vs. the Indians. The last Yankee to manage that feat without allowing a home run was Tom Underwood on July 11, 1980 against the Rangers.

Dellin Betances finally has a non-zero number next to his ERA after allowing an earned run for the first time in 2015. His streak of 26 straight appearances to begin a season without giving up an earned run was the third-longest by any major-league pitcher in the last 100 years. Only Mike Myers (33 appearances in 2000) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008) had longer streaks.

First things first
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to erase the bad memories from Friday’s ninth inning debacle, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruising to a stress-free 8-2 win on Saturday night.

It was the fourth time they plated six-or-more runs in the first inning, something that the Yankees hadn’t done in a season since 1948, according to STATS, Inc.

Adam Warren continued to state his case to remain in the rotation, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth straight time and allowing just two runs on four hits. He’s the only Yankee pitcher this season with five consecutive quality starts and his ERA during this stretch — 2.70 since May 13 — is easily the best among the starters on the team.

Chris Capuano pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win, but he had to work hard for the final out as Carlos Perez fouled off seven pitches before Capuano got him swinging on the 13th pitch. It was the longest game-ending strikeout by any major-league pitcher since Billy Wagner on June 13, 2004 against the Twins’ Matt LeCroy.

Bronx broom-ers?
The Yankees finished off their second sweep in a row with Sunday’s 6-2 win at the Stadium. It was the first time the Yankees swept the Angels in New York since August 1995. How long ago was that? The winning pitcher for the third and final game in that series was Sterling Hitchcock!

CC Sabathia won his first game at home in nearly two years, despite getting ejected at the end of the sixth frame. His six-start losing streak in the Bronx was tied for the longest by any Yankee over the last 100 seasons.

It was the third time Sabathia had been ejected in his career. The others came with the Indians, on July 21, 2006 and July 4, 2003. Before Sabathia, the last Yankee starting pitcher to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes was Randy Johnson on Sept. 16, 2005 against the Blue Jays.

Jose Pirela hit his first career homer in the seventh inning off C.J. Wilson, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) vs. left-handed pitchers as a major-leaguer. That’s the best batting average against lefties by any player since Pirela’s debut last season on September 22 (min. 10 PA).

Fan Confidence Poll: June 8th, 2015

Record Last Week: 6-0 (37 RS, 17 RA)
Season Record: 32-25 (265 RS, 235 RA, 32-25 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Nationals (two games, Tues. and Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Orioles (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 menu 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?

DotF: Cave and Judge lead Trenton to another win

According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed RHP Cory Jordan, who did not pitch last season. He was a 35th round pick by the Rays in 2013, pitched that summer in the Short Season NY-Penn League (4.00 ERA and 2.84 FIP in 27 innings), then was released after the season. Not sure what the story is there. Also, Eddy says the Yankees have released OF Wilmer Romero. They signed him for $656,500 as a 16-year-old back in 2010, then he had a growth spurt and lost all his athleticism. Womp womp.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Rochester, walk-off style)

  • CF Mason Williams: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 20-for-55 (.364) in his last 14 games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — third homer of the year (the other two came in the same game)
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K — fifth homer of the year … he hasn’t hit more than six in a season since 2010
  • RF Ben Gamel: 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 8/5 GB/FB — 56 of 82 pitches were strikes (69%) … excellent outing his second start back from the DL with a shoulder issue
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 15 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 11 of 18 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is the open thread for the last few hours of the weekend. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Cardinals at the Dodgers (Lynn vs. Greinke), and I guess the NBA finally decided to get around to playing Game Two of the Finals as well (8pm ET on ABC). Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

TiqIQ: One Month Away, Yankees-Rays July 4 Clash Takes on Added Importance

When fans look at their favorite baseball team’s schedule for the first time prior to Opening Day, one of the dates they intently pinpoint on is the good ol’ Fourth of July, undoubtedly one of the most fun and special days of the summer, if not the entire calendar year.

In the baseball world, July 4 seemingly represents the unofficial halfway point of the Major League Baseball season, with teams reflecting on how their year has unfolded up to that crucial juncture of the campaign, while looking ahead at what the summer potentially has to offer for their playoff aspirations. Luckily as it concerns the New York Yankees, they have nothing but good thoughts when looking back on how the first two months have played out, owning a somewhat surprising first-place lead in the AL East division about a month before Independence Day.

Perhaps just as important, the Fourth of July also serves as one of the grandest trips to the ballpark throughout the season for fans, with some unique giveaway usually planned for everyone in attendance, not to mention a fireworks display during the postgame proceedings. The whole allure of Independence Day is certainly one of the most anticipated points of the MLB campaign, and it appears that will be exactly the case once again when the Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays this year on July 4.

For this year’s Fourth of July promotion, the Yankees are hosting Fathead Day, presented by sweetFrog, in which they are giving away Fathead Yankee wall stickers to the first 18,000 fans in attendance who are age 14 and younger. This is rare giveaway, as a glance at any team’s promotional schedule will reveal most clubs do not offer up the popular Fathead items.

At the moment, the average Yankees tickets on TiqIQ for this July 4 affair is $117.90. On Yankees.com, tickets cost $27.80 with fees to get in the stadium. Surprisingly, this pricing actually represents some of the cheaper Yankees tickets for the month of July. Being a month away, however, it is expected this will not remain the case as we draw close and closer to Independence Day.

That’s especially true given the quality of opponent for the Yankees on this day, when they clash with the division rival Rays, whom just happens to be their closest competition for the top spot in the AL East at the moment. Thus, you can fully expect the price to go up considerably on the secondary market as the next few weeks go by. Not only is there a rare giveaway planned, and not only will this game have an impact on first place in the division, but there’s just nothing quite like being at the ballpark on the Fourth of July.

Sweep! Yankees mash three dingers, rally from behind for 6-2 win over Angels

Make it six straight wins for the streakin’ Yankees. They rallied from behind on Sunday afternoon to take the series finale 6-2 from the Angels. The Bronx Bombers have now swept two straight series and three of their last four. They’ve also won ten of their last 13 games. I enjoy this. This is fun.

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

A Bad Start
Three batters into the game, the Angels had a 2-0 lead. CC Sabathia struck out Erick Aybar before serving up back-to-back solo homers to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the first inning. The pitch Trout hit wasn’t awful — it was middle of the plate but down at the knees, he just golfed it — but the pitch to Pujols was a total hanger. Cement mixer slider right in Albert’s wheelhouse. The quick two-run deficit was kind of a letdown.

Thankfully, the bad start was nothing more than that. A bad start. David Freese followed the back-to-back homers with a double, then Sabathia settled down and retired 16 of the next 19 batters he faced. The three base-runners were two infield singles (Aybar and Pujols) and a walk (Freese). The Angels didn’t square Sabathia up after the first. The infield single by Pujols and the walk to Freese put two on with one out in the sixth, though CC snuffed out the rally by coaxing a double play ball from Kole Calhoun.

The ground ball was Sabathia’s 87th and final pitch of the afternoon. After getting the out, Sabathia started barking at home plate umpire Dan Bellino because he didn’t agree with a ball/strike call earlier in the inning. Bellino was calling the low strike all afternoon, but he didn’t give one to Sabathia in a big spot that inning, and Sabathia didn’t like it. Sabathia got tossed, Joe Girardi ran out of the dugout to protect his pitcher, and he got tossed too. CC was really fired up. He was right up in Bellino’s face. I would not want to be confronted by an angry CC Sabathia, that’s for sure.

Anyway, Sabathia’s afternoon ended after six innings of two-run ball. No damage after the back-to-back home runs in the first inning. Five hits, one walk, seven strikeouts. That’s not the Sabathia of old but that’s a winnable start. I’d take it from the big guy every fifth day no questions asked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher get ejected after an inning-ending double play ball though.

Power hitting left fielder. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Power hitting outfielder. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Come From Behind
The early two-run deficit stunk but was hardly insurmountable. The Yankees started the comeback in the third inning thanks to Jose Pirela‘s leadoff double. It was a rocket off the wall in left that bounced right to Matt Joyce, so Pirela had to hustle into second. Pirela aggressively tagged up on John Ryan Murphy‘s fly ball to center and then scored on Didi Gregorius‘ ground ball to second base. Good ol’ small ball, aside from the leadoff rocket off the wall.

The comeback continued in the fifth inning with another leadoff extra base hit, this one a solo homer by the slumping Chris Young. Young came into the game with six hits in his last 55 at-bats (.109) dating back to May 23rd. Yikes. April was fun though. The homer was his first since May 2nd against the Red Sox, which I don’t even remember. Either way, the homer tied the game and gave the Yankees new life.

Now here’s a fun fact: Brett Gardner has pulled six fly balls to right field this season. Six! Most of his balls in play to right are ground balls (69.4%) or soft line drives (20.4%). And yet, four of those six fly balls have left the yard for home runs. The fourth of those four homers came a few batters after Young’s homer in the fifth inning, when Gardner unloaded on a 2-0 pitch from C.J. Wilson — I’m not even sure it was a strike, might have been off the plate inside — and yanked it just inside the foul pole for a three-run go-ahead homer. Murphy and Gregorius set the rally up with one-out singles. The Yankees went from down 2-1 to up 5-2 that inning.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
The Yankees caught a big break in the third inning after Gregorius and Chase Headley threw balls away. The Angels had runners on the corners with one out, Freese lifted a would-be sac fly to deep right field, but Carlos Beltran made a great throw to get Trout trying to tag up and advance to second. (Didi deserves props for a great tag.) Trout was tagged out for the third out before Aybar touched the plate, so the run didn’t score. Underrated big play in the game.

The bullpen didn’t make things interesting for the second straight day. Justin Wilson did walk the first batter he faced in the seventh, but erased the runner with a double play ball before getting the third out. Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth and Andrew Miller struck out the side in a perfect ninth. The Angels didn’t have a hit to the outfield after Freese’s double in the first.

Pirela had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with the double off the wall and his first career homer in the seventh. The solo shot into the visitor’s bullpen gave the Yankees an always-appreciated insurance run to make it 6-2. I can’t ever remember seeing a player that happy after hitting his first homer. The smile still hasn’t come off Pirela’s face. Neat moment.

The Yankees scored six runs even though Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Beltran (the 3-4-5 hitters) went a combined 0-for-9 with a walk and three strikeouts. Gardner had the three-run homer and the 6-7-8-9 hitters (Young, Pirela, Murphy, Gregorius) went a combined 5-for-12 (.417) with a double and two dingers. The bottom of the order has been contributing of late. Nice to see.

And finally, Sabathia’s sixth strikeout of the day (Johnny Giavotella in the fifth) was the 2,500th punchout of his career. He’s the 31st pitcher in history to reach that round number milestone and only the ninth left-hander, so congrats to the big man.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages you should check out. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees have an off-day Monday, so we can all focus on Day One of the 2015 Draft instead. The Nationals are coming to town for a two-game series starting Tuesday night, and holy smokes are we in for a great pitching matchup in the opener: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Max Scherzer. Hell yeah.

Guest Post: Uniform No. 26: The Best of a Bunch of Stragglers

The following is a guest post from Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam in the comments. He wrote a guest post about umpire Tim McClelland back in February and will now tackle uniform No. 26. Enjoy.

(Getty)
(Getty)

We complain that the Yankees retire too many numbers (21 by the end of the season) or should un-retire numbers. However, you look at statistics, particularly on Baseball-Reference, the Yankees seem to have an inordinate amount of numbers that have an insane list of players. Yet, 26 seems to stick out. Most recently, we associate the Yankees’ No. 26 with Eduardo Nunez, who was wearing it from 2011-2013 (he wore 12 in 2010, his first season). The first time the No. 26 was assigned by the Yankees was Cedric Durst, a former outfielder for the St. Louis Blues from 1922-1926. Durst joined the Yankees in 1927, but did not get his number 26 until 1929. He only wore 26 for one year, changing to 27 for the 1930 season. That season he was traded to the Red Sox with $50,000 for Yankee legend, Monument Park and Hall of Fame inductee Red Ruffing.

I am not going to go through the entire list of who wore 26 in this blog post, it would take forever. Since Cedric Durst, 71 other players have worn the No. 26 for the Yankees, currently with Chris Capuano wearing it. However, the No. 26 also seems for the most part to deal with a lot of straggler players. In 2012 for example, we had Darnell McDonald wear No. 26 (and cut his famous dreadlocks) for 3 games before being designated for assignment. Since 2009, the Yankees have assigned the No. 26 to 9 players: Austin Kearns, Kevin Russo, Greg Golson and Nick Johnson all in 2010; Eduardo Nunez in 2011; Ramiro Pena, Darnell McDonald and Eduardo Nunez in 2012; Nunez kept it for all of 2013; Yangervis Solarte took 26 after Nunez was designated for assignment in 2014, and after he was traded away, Capuano took the number.

The Best Batter to wear No. 26

(Scott Halleran/Getty)
(Scott Halleran/Getty)

You’re going to probably watch your eyes melt when you hear me say this, but Eduardo Nunez has arguably had the best statistics for all batters who have worn No. 26. In 270 games with the Bombers, Nunez had 201 hits, 10 home runs and 75 runs batted in. He hit for a .267 average, .313 on-base percentage and .379 slugging. Of course, when the Yankees promoted Nunez in 2010, they thought he was quite possibly the heir at shortstop for Derek Jeter and the future face of the franchise at shortstop. Baseball-Reference’s SABERmetrics have not been so kind to Nunez offensively, as he never produced higher than an 0.4 offensive WAR for the Yankees (he has a 0.5 bWAR for the Twins this season thus far, but he’s only played 17 games due to injury.).

However, his defense has never quite been the same as his offensive production. Nunez has played various positions all over the place since his debut in 2010 (3B, SS, the OF, DH and 2B). From 2010-2013, Nunez managed 30 errors at the shortstop position alone (14 in 2011 and 12 in 2013, correlating with his most active seasons with the Yankees (he spent most of 2012 in the minors, only had 4 errors). At third base, he had another 11 errors, and 1 at second base in 2012. When Yangervis Solarte hit his way into the scene during Spring Training in 2014, the Yankees clearly had enough of Nunez and designated him for assignment on April 1. Regardless of our opinions on Nuney, there has clearly been no sign of a better hitter wearing that number.

The Best Pitcher (and overall player) to wear No. 26

No. 26 has produced many pitchers as well, but there was no one better wearing the number than Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Hernandez, the Cuban free agent, signed on March 23, 1998 with the New York Yankees, two years after his brother Livan signed with the Marlins. During his first stint in New York, Hernandez started 121 games in the regular season for the Yankees, throwing 8 complete games from 1998-2000, when he was in his prime at ages 32-34. He racked up 791.2 innings in that span, striking out 619 (I am not kidding). He allowed 105 home runs and 707 hits. Despite all that, he only had 18 wild pitches when facing 3,324 batters. He had a 114 ERA+ and a 1.232 WHIP. In all, the first stint the Yankees had with El Duque resulted in a 53-38 record and a 4.04 ERA.

As you probably know, the Yankees traded El Duque to the Chicago White Sox on January 15, 2003 for Eddi Candelario and Antonio Osuna. Hernandez was immediately flipped to the Montreal Expos with Rocky Biddle and Jeff Liefer for Jorge Nunez and future-Yankee Bartolo Colon. El Duque did not pitch in 2003 due to a rotator cuff surgery. As a free agent in 2004, El Duque re-signed with the Yankees for $500,000! His 2004 season was definitely not as electric as his first stint with the Yankees, as he only started 15 games for the Bombers at age 38, pitching only 84.2 innings and a 3.30 ERA (which was his best since 1998 at that point). The next year he signed as a free agent to the White Sox and gained his 4th ring in his career. Interestingly, at the end of that season he was traded to the Diamondbacks with future Yankees Luis Vizcaino and Chris Young (!) for another Yankee, Javier Vazquez.

Hernandez, his eephus pitch and his unusual leg kick were one of the best things to come out of the 1998 season. What Yankee fan doesn’t love El Duque? I sure don’t. He had a memorable time in New York, throwing his glove to Tino Martinez at first base, making quality starts constantly and just being unusual compared to most pitchers. Unlike Eduardo Nunez, who has a very timid reputation in Yankee lore, El Duque is forever a favorite and overall the best player to wear No. 26 since 1929.

Notable Runner-Ups

There is no question that El Duque was the best overall player with No. 26, and the best pitcher. However, there are 70 other players who deserve comment, but I want to focus on one batter and one pitcher. Starting with the batter, you have to scroll back to the 1932-1938 seasons for the arguable second-best batter who wore the No. 26. This player was a catcher named Joe Glenn. Glenn was a backup catcher to the legendary Bill Dickey, debuting in 1932 when he was 23 years old. He wasn’t an offensive powerhouse, but as he got older, he managed to start hitting with some average (.233, .271, .283 and .260 from 1935-38). On October 26, 1938, Glenn was traded with Myril Hoag to the Browns for Oral Hildebrand and Buster Mills.

On the pitchers side is a name older Yankee fans should recognize, John “The Count” Montefusco. Montefusco, a recent addition to Old Timer’s Day, was acquired from the Padres by the Yankees in 1983 after a long career with the San Francisco Giants. He only pitched in 18 starts for the Yankees, a majority during the 1984 season. He did, however, managed a 3.55 ERA and a 19-7 record for the most part of that time with a 106 ERA+ in 208 innings. In total, he allowed 209 hits and 19 home runs with a 1.303 WHIP. Yes Montefusco wasn’t amazing as El Duque was, but there’s no question that Montefusco was one of the better pitchers to wear No. 26. The Yankees were actually Montefusco’s last team in the majors.

Finally, you look at the number 26, one of these days, someone is going to get that number and put it to good use. For those curious, after 26, the number 39 is the most-used number. One of the other pitchers who deserve credit for both 26 and 39 is the great Joe Niekro, who played for the Yankees during the same time as Montefusco, strangely enough. While Capuano has held the No. 26, it’s not going to be forever, and at some point, another straggler will probably inherit the number.