The Yankees are rolling right now. They’ve won their last four games and outscored their opponents 37-10 in the process. They’re also now only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot, and a win over the O’s today would bring them to within 1.5 games. The Yankees haven’t been that close to a playoff spot since April 13th. April 13th! That was seven games into the season. Yeah, it’s been a while.
Of course, to get to within 1.5 games of a postseason spot today, the Yankees have to do something they haven’t done all season: sweep a three-game series. They have swept a four-game series this year — two of them, in fact (A’s and Angels) — but never once a little three-game series. They’re 0-6 in the third game when winning the first two games of a three-game series in 2016. Yuck. Change that today, fellas. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Aaron Hicks
- DH Gary Sanchez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Starlin Castro
- C Brian McCann
- RF Aaron Judge
- 3B Ronald Torreyes
LHP CC Sabathia
It’s another nice and sunny afternoon in the Bronx. Pretty wonderful baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Following a poor April, the goal of this season seemed clear: trade away those pieces with value–or anything not tied down–and put the farm system in a position to flourish and be productive going forward. Of course, that would mean a rough go of things in the second half. This is what happened. The Yankees made the moves many (most?) of us wanted them to make.
After selling off Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees were supposed to fade back, take some lumps for the rest of the year, hopefully break in some new guys, and head into the offseason with the reset button pushed. With veterans exiting–Alex Rodriguez and the aforementioned traded players–or taking a reduced roles–Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Chase Headley–the months of August and September were meant to get the kids–Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green chief among them–a stress-free and extended taste of the Majors before (presumably) stepping up and taking bigger roles in 2017. But a funny thing happened on the way to the offseason: the Yankees began to win. Is it possible that the Yankees could have their cake and eat it, too?
As I write this, the Yankees are somehow 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and 5.5 games back in the division. Given what they did at the deadline, both of those numbers seemed pretty incomprehensible at the beginning of the month. Here we are, though, as the calendar gets ready to turn to September, and the Yankees have a shot–however outside–at making the playoffs. Per BP, their odds are just 6.6%. Per FanGraphs, their odds are somewhere between 7.2% and 10.2%. Are those great odds? Of course not. But given how this team looked on August 1st, they’re better than anyone could’ve imagined.
Moving from the team to the individual for the moment…Gary Sanchez. What else needs to be said? He’s made his at-bats appointment viewing. I paused on a trip to the bathroom yesterday to watch one of his at bats. The only person unimpressed by Sanchez appears to be my 8-week old son, who seems to be mid-bottle every time Sanchez comes up and does something impressive. Maybe I should feed him constantly throughout Yankee games and see what happens.
Both Sanchez and the Yankees are playing with house money. No one realistically expected either of these things to happen, both Sanchez’s historic debut or the Yankees actually making things interesting in the playoff picture. It won’t always go this well for Sanchez, and we know that. And chances are, given the team’s starting rotation, the Yankees are going to come back down to earth and will probably miss the playoffs. But so what? This is fun. The Yankees are fun. Baseball has been made fun again.
For now, let’s just enjoy the ride. Both the team and Sanchez are playing with house money and are making us feel good about tuning into the Yankees again after three and a half seasons that, at times, felt like a slog (with varying degrees of success). I’ll end with this thought: How much do you think it would annoy the rest of baseball if the Yankees, in a year in which they were supposed to turn tail and hideout till next year, made the playoffs? I think it would be pretty damn hilarious. You may’ve heard that baseball is hard to predict and the second half of this Yankee season has certainly subscribed to that theory. Can something wild happen in the last month? Probably not, but it’s going to be a fun ride to experience.
Both SS Tyler Wade and LHP Jordan Montgomery were named the Double-A Eastern League Season All-Star Team, so congrats to them. OF Dustin Fowler could have easily made the All-Star Team too, but he’s not really a snub. The three outfielders picked for the team all had incredible years.
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Rochester in eleven innings) all they need to do to clinch a postseason spot is beat Rochester tomorrow or Monday
- CF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 2 K
- LF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI
- 3B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (throwing)
- C Kyle Higashioka: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — that’s his 20th homer of the season … his previous career high was eight back in 2011
- DH Clint Frazier: 1-3, 1 BB — he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 11th, which is weird
- RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
- LHP Phil Coke: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 54 of 74 pitches were strikes (73%)
- LHP Dietrich Enns: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 25 of 40 pitches were strikes (63%) … he’s working out of the bullpen for now to control his innings … I bet he returns to the rotation for the postseason though
- LHP Chasen Shreve: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 25 of 43 pitches were strikes (58%)
- RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 17 of 33 pitches were strikes (52%), though one of the walks was intentional … he walked in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th … Goody came into this game with one walk in 21.1 Triple-A innings this season
- LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K — eight pitches, six strikes
Gosh, do the Yankees look like a completely different team or what? They overhauled their roster earlier this month, mostly by calling kids up from the minors, and the result is a fun and exciting team that has become must see television. The Yankees blew the Orioles out for the second straight day Saturday afternoon, this time by the score of 13-5. It’s Saturday, so let’s bullet point this recap:
- Constant Pressure: Unlike Friday night, when the Yankees took the lead thanks to one huge inning, they spread the offense out Saturday. They scored in six of eight offensive innings: one run in the first, three in the third, one in the fourth, four in the fifth, three in the sixth, and one in the eighth. The starting 4-9 hitters went a combined 14-for-26 (.535) with ten runs scored and ten runs driven in. That’ll do.
- Chad Struggles: Not a great outing for Chad Green. He threw a ton of breaking balls — PitchFX says he threw 34 sliders and 27 four-seam fastballs — even though it was clear early on he wasn’t locating it well. The O’s are a fastball hitting team and Green stuck with his slider. He allowed four runs on seven hits (three homers) and two walks in 4.2 innings, and it could have been worse had he not escaped a bases loaded jam in the first. Shake it off, Chad.
- All With Two Outs: The Yankees were down 2-1 heading into the third, and the first two batters of the inning made quick outs. It was looking like an easy 1-2-3 inning for Dylan Bundy, but New York responded with four straight two-out hits. Who are these people and what have they done with the Yankees? Starlin Castro singled in a run, Didi Gregorius stole home (!) when Matt Wieters threw to second on Castro’s steal attempt, and Brian McCann doubled in another run. Just like that, the 2-1 deficit became a 4-2 lead.
- Too Many Homers: Following that nice two-out rally in the third, the Yankees did some yard work the next few innings. Gary Sanchez went deep yet again, this time for a solo shot into the short porch in the fourth. In the fifth, both Castro and Aaron Hicks clubbed long two-run homers. Sanchez’s just barely cleared the wall. Castro and Hicks went way deep. The three homers stretched the lead to 9-4. That still didn’t feel very comfortable given Baltimore’s dinger prowess.
- All With No Outs: The Yankees officially turned the game into a laugher in the sixth inning. The first six batters they sent to the plate reached base. Two didn’t make contact (walk, hit-by-pitch) and one didn’t hit the ball out of the infield (infield single). McCann, Hicks, and Brett Gardner all singled in runs that inning. Baltimore pitchers needed 161 pitches to get the first 18 outs of the ballgame. What a job by the offense.
- Leftovers: Sanchez is the first player in the history of the universe to hit eleven home runs in his first 22 MLB games. Not even the most optimistic of Sanchez fans saw this coming … everyone in the starting lineup had a hit and eight of the nine starters reached base multiple times. Gardner was the only exception … Tommy Layne (one inning), Adam Warren (1.1 innings), Tyler Clippard (one inning), and Kirby Yates (one inning) closed the game out without making it interesting … the Yankees have scored 10+ runs in back-to-back games for the first time since last August … they’ve scored 5+ runs in five straight games for the first time since September 2013.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. With the win, the Yankees are only 2.5 games back of the Orioles for the second wildcard spot with five weeks to play. Unfortunately the Tigers, Mariners, Royals, and Astros are right there with them. Anyway, don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees will try to finish the sweep Sunday afternoon, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against Kevin Gausman. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game before the Yankees head out on the road.
The Yankees are in the middle of a very important stretch of games right now. Today is game five of a 12-game stretch against three teams ahead of them in the wildcard race (Mariners, Orioles, Royals). They’ve won three of the first four games of this 12-game stretch so far. They held a two-run lead in the one loss too. Blah. Missed opportunity.
Anyway, the Yankees hammered the Orioles last night, and with another win today, they’ll be only 2.5 games out of the second wildcard spot. They haven’t been that close since June 25th, so more than two months ago. These are playoff games right now, folks. The Yankees will need every win they can get the rest of the way to have a shot at October baseball. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- C Gary Sanchez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Starlin Castro
- DH Brian McCann
- RF Aaron Hicks
- 3B Ronald Torreyes
RHP Chad Green
It’s a very nice day in New York. Nice and sunny with only a few clouds. Warm but not hot too. Pretty great afternoon for a ballgame. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Rotation Update: The Yankees have flipflopped CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, so Sabathia will start tomorrow and Pineda will start Monday. I assume they made the switch because Sabathia has pitched very well against the O’s this season (1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings) and they want to make sure he faces them given the wildcard race.