Offense can’t pick up Montgomery in 3-2 loss to Orioles


Source: FanGraphs

Bah, that was an annoying game. One of the more annoying games of the season. The offense went back to sleep — turns out it’s not as easy to score when the A’s aren’t kicking the ball all over the place — in Monday afternoon’s 3-2 loss to the Orioles. Remember when the Yankees used to dominate at Camden Yards? Good times. Let’s recap this mess of a game with bullet points on the final day of the holiday weekend.

  • Montgomery Struggles: Was the strike zone a little tight? Yeah, it was, but that’s not the only reason Jordan Montgomery needed 34 pitches to complete one inning, 56 pitches to complete two innings, and 73 pitches to complete three innings. O’s hitters fouled off 21 (!) pitches and eight of the 23 batters he faced saw a three-ball count. The big blow was Jonathan Schoop’s two-out, two-run double to right in the third inning. Starlin Castro‘s error on Mark Trumbo’s weak grounder earlier in the inning set that up, but still. Sometimes the pitcher has to pick up his fielders, and Montgomery didn’t. Three of his last four starts have kinda stunk.
  • Two Token Runs: The Yankees scored their first run on an Aaron Hicks sac fly only after Castro failed to score on a Didi Gregorius infield single. The ball deflected off the defender’s glove and rolled away from everyone, yet Castro didn’t score from second. He could have walked home. At least Hicks picked him up. The Yankees scored their second run in the seventh inning, on Aaron Judge‘s league leading 17th dinger. It was a rocket into the center field seats. Love that guy. Two runs ain’t enough though.
  • Sloppy Play: Really ugly afternoon on both sides of the ball. Castro didn’t score on Didi’s infield single. Brett Gardner was thrown out trying to go second-to-third on Gary Sanchez‘s fly ball in the third. Castro misplayed the Trumbo grounder that contributed to two runs in the third. Sanchez ran right into the second baseman on Matt Holliday‘s double play ball in the fifth rather than stop and make the defender come to him. Real lack of fundies on display.
  • Leftovers: Nice work by the bullpen to keep it close. Jonathan Holder escaped the two on, one out jam he inherited from Montgomery and retired all five batters he faced. Chasen Shreve issued a walk in two otherwise flawless innings … Gardner (single, double) and Chase Headley (single, walk) were the only Yankees to reach base twice … Holliday made six outs in four at-bats (0-for-4 with two double plays) … even with Sunday’s nine-run outburst, the Yankees are averaging only 3.36 runs scored in their last eleven games. Gross.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Orioles will continue this series Tuesday evening. Luis Severino and Chris Tillman are the scheduled starters. Can the Yankees avoid their eighth (!) consecutive series loss in Camden Yards? I sure hope so. This is getting annoying, especially since this game snapped the O’s seven-game losing streak.

Memorial Day Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the rest of Memorial Day, our most solemn holiday. The best way to honor the men and women who gave their lives so idiots like me can complain about baseball online is to help those still here.

The Mets are playing and ESPN has the Nationals and Giants, both right now. MLB Network will air a regional game later tonight. There’s also Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, so that’s cool. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

Fan Confidence Poll: I screwed something up and there was a problem with this morning’s poll. Please go back and vote. My bad. And thanks.

Yankeemetrics: Smallball, longball down A’s (May 26-28)

(Getty)
(Getty)

Welcome back, Masa-Hero
Friday’s game may have been a 4-1 loss in the standings, but it was a victory in the minds and eyes of the Yankees and their fans thanks to the spectacular performance by Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka looked like an ace again as he mowed down Oakland’s lineup, dominating them with his devastating signature splitter/slider combo. He set career-highs in strikeouts (13) and swinging strikes (26), displaying the top-of-rotation stuff that had been missing in the first month and a half of the season.

The 26 swings-and-misses were the second-most by any Yankee pitcher in the past decade, one shy of the 27 that CC Sabathia got on June 7, 2012 against the Rays. Each of the 13 punchouts were via a strike-three whiff, matching Sabathia (June 30, 2012 vs. Brewers) for the most swinging strikeouts in a game by any Yankee pitcher over the last 10 years.

Eight of the 13 strikeouts came on his sharp, late-breaking slider, and the other five were on filthy splitters that dropped out of the zone:

masahiro-tanaka-13-k

The improved depth of his splitter was one of the biggest keys to Tanaka’s domination on Friday night. He threw 25 splitters and located those pitches an average of 1.82 feet below the middle of the strike zone. That was his lowest vertical location for the splitter in any game this season, netting him 10 whiffs and silly swings like this one from Ryon Healy in the seventh inning:

halfelectricfoal

So that was the good news from Friday night.

Unfortunately, there was some bad news too. The Yankee bats went cold once again and the bullpen suffered another inexplicable meltdown, allowing three runs plus an inherited runner to score. Tanaka’s final line of 7 1/3 innings, 13 strikeouts, no walks and one run made him not only a hard-luck loser, but also etched his name in the record books.

It was just the third time a Yankee pitcher struck out at least 13 batters in a game and got the loss. The other two were done by Roger Clemens: June 17, 1999 against the Rangers and May 28, 2000 against the Red Sox in an epic duel with Pedro Martinez.

Even more incredible is this #FunFact: Tanaka is the first pitcher in Yankee history to get the loss in a game where he had at least 13 strikeouts, no more than one run allowed and zero walks.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Two close for comfort
Thanks a third straight solid outing by CC Sabathia and justenough offense, the Yankees bounced back to win the middle game of this three-game series, 3-2.

This was only the second time in the last 60 seasons that the Yankees won a game in the Bronx with no more than two hits. It also happened on Sept. 9, 1988, when Claudell Washington hit a walk-off homer to beat the Tigers (the other hit was a Rickey Henderson triple in sixth inning).

The decisive blow on Saturday was delivered by Matt Holliday, who ended Jharel Cotton’s no-hit bid and broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with one swing of the bat, crushing a two-run homer to left. It was his ninth homer of the season and team-best sixth dinger that either gave the Yankees a lead or tied the game.

Sabathia pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs while striking out a season-high nine batters. Four of the nine strikeouts — including three that were looking — came with his slider, which has routinely frozen hitters this season. He’s gotten called strikes on 23.2 percent of his sliders thrown, the fourth-best rate among starters (min. 100 pitches).

Dellin Betances was the end-of-game hero as he escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth inning by striking out the next two batters, and then easily retired all three guys he faced in the ninth. The last Yankee to inherit at least two baserunners and get a perfect save of at least five outs? Mariano Rivera on April 23, 2008 vs. the White Sox.

(@Yankees)
(@Yankees)

Your Honor, the Grand Jury is in session
The Bronx Bombers returned to form on Sunday afternoon in 9-5, series-clinching win that pushed their AL East lead to a season-high three games. This is just the fourth time in the Wild Card era that the Yankees have entered play on Memorial Day in sole possession of first place in the division. The other three times it happened – 1996, 1998, 2001 – they made the World Series and won it twice.

On the mound, Michael Pineda struggled with his command (season-high three walks) but showed his toughness in limiting the A’s to three runs in six innings. It was his ninth straight start allowing three earned runs or fewer, one shy of the longest streak by an AL pitcher this season (both Michael Fulmer and Derek Holland have 10-start streaks).

Aaron Judge provided the power with his first career grand slam in the third inning to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead. He was the first Yankee right-fielder to go yard with the bases loaded against the A’s since Paul O’Neill on April 5, 1997. And the 25-year-old slugger is the youngest Yankee to hit a grand slam at Yankee Stadium since Nick Johnson (24 years old) on Aug. 8, 2003 vs. Mariners.

While it’s hard to believe that a rookie can keep up this pace – with 16 homers in the team’s first 47 games – let’s have some fun with numbers …

  • 1921 Babe Ruth through 47 team games: 16 homers (finished with 59)
  • 1927 Babe Ruth through 47 team games: 17 homers (finished with 60)
  • 1961 Roger Maris through 47 team games: 15 homers (finished with 61)

Game 48: Beat the O’s

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

This afternoon’s Memorial Day matinee at Camden Yards begins a stretch of 13 games in 14 days against AL East rivals for the Yankees. Two weeks from now, we should have a better idea of their status as a division title contender. The Yankees already have the fourth best postseason odds in the league (by a mile), but give me that division title. Not another wildcard game. This stretch is pretty darn important by late-May/early-June standards.

The Orioles come into this series having lost seven straight games — they’ve been outscored 38-17 in the seven games — and 13 of their last 16 games overall. They are weak and vulnerable right now. The Yankees are catching them at a good time. Then again, intra-AL East games never seem to be easy regardless of the opponent’s record. Just keep winning series. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cloudy in Baltimore today, though there’s no rain in the forecast until much later tonight, so the Yankees and Orioles should have no trouble getting this afternoon’s game in. Today’s game will start a bit after 1pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) played catch again today … Greg Bird (ankle) took live batting practice in Tampa. The tentative plan is to get him into minor league rehab games later this week … Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) is still shut down. He has not yet been cleared to resume baseball activities.

5/29 to 5/31 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Rick Yeatts/Getty Images North America)
(Rick Yeatts/Getty Images North America)

Happy Memorial Day, folks!

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees hosted the Orioles for a three-game series to close out April, winning two. It was a high-scoring affair – the Yankees outscored the Orioles 30-22 – with two of the games going into extra innings, and it left the two tied atop the AL East. It was an excitingly frustrating (or frustratingly exciting) series. Some notes:

  • The Yankees were trailing 11-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth in game one. Jacoby Ellsbury brought them within 2 runs with an RBI groundout, and then Starlin Castro tied it with a two-run home run. And then Matt Holliday walked it off in the bottom of the tenth.
  • Didi Gregorius made his season debut in that first game, and he returned in style by going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. He went 7-for-15 in the series, putting the ball in play in 14 of his 15 plate appearances.
  • Aaron Judge had himself a series, going 5-for-9 with 7 runs, 3 HR, 5 RBI, a steal, and more walks (6) than strikeouts (4).

Injury Report

Closer Zach Britton has been sidelined with a left (pitching) forearm strain since early May, and is not expected back until late June. The Orioles had a top-five bullpen by most measures last year, due in no small part to Britton’s staggering 0.54 ERA in 67.0 IP (as well as his 47 saves in 47 chances). They’re a middle-of-the-pack group this season, and they’ve already blown eight saves, as compared to fourteen in 2016 as a whole.

Utility player Ryan Flaherty is also on the DL (right shoulder strain). There’s a slim chance that he could be back during this series, but a June return seems much more likely. And Adam Jones was out of the team’s lineup on Saturday and Sunday due to hip and ankle soreness; he isn’t expected to head to the DL, but he may be limited this week.

Their Story So Far

The Yankees are meeting the Orioles at a fairly opportune time, as they have lost seven in a row by a combined score of 38-17. The Orioles have had a rough May in general, posting a 10-15 record over the last four weeks. They currently sit third in the AL East at 25-23, and their -7 run differential suggests that they are a true talent .500 team (as has been the case for much of Buck Showalter’s tenure).

Underperformance may well be the defining characteristic of their first two months. Manny Machado (98 wRC+), Adam Jones (91 wRC+), Mark Trumbo (93 wRC+), and J.J. Hardy (52 wRC+) have disappointed with the bat, and Chris Tillman (95 ERA+), Kevin Gausman (67 ERA+), and Ubaldo Jimenez (58 wRC+) have struggled in the rotation. Most of these players were expected to perform much, much better, and there’s reason to expect them to rebound – but the Orioles must be getting antsy.

The Lineup We Might See

Showalter has mixed-and-matched his lineup more often than in years past, due to injuries, underperformance, and attempting to find a fit for new additions. He also utilizes a couple of platoons, notably in the corner outfield. Assuming that Adam Jones will be playing, however, it’s a fairly safe bet that we’ll see something like this:

  1. Seth Smith, RF
  2. Adam Jones, CF
  3. Manny Machado, 3B
  4. Chris Davis, 1B
  5. Mark Trumbo, DH
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Trey Mancini, LF
  8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (1:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Dylan Bundy

Bundy was a consensus top-five prospect heading into 2013, due to his overpowering stuff and advanced pitchability (especially for someone who would spend the entirety of the 2013 as a 20-year-old). A series of injuries limited him to 63.1 IP over the next three seasons, and many wondered if he’d ever be able to contribute at the highest level as a result. He had a solid (and mostly healthy) 2016 as a swing man, tossing 109.2 IP of 4.02 ERA (107 ERA+) ball as a rookie. And he’s been even better this year, with a 142 ERA+ in 64.2 IP through ten starts.

All of those injuries took their toll on Bundy, as he’s now limited to a low-90s fastball. He also throws a low-80s slider, low-80s change-up, and a mid-70s curveball. The slider and change-up are his best pitches, and both are used to pick up whiffs.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 5/23) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Chris Tillman

Shoulder bursitis kept Tillman out until May 7, so he has only made four starts in 2017. He was the nominal ace of the Orioles from 2013 through 2015, and, despite a poor 2016, hopes were fairly high that he would be healthy and effective this year. The early returns have been less-than-stellar, but he did come back a bit earlier than expected.

Tillman’s fastball usually sits in the low-90s, but it has been limited to the upper-80s since his return from the DL. He throws a four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter, and all are right around the same velocity. He also throws a slider, a change-up, and a knuckle-curve.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 5/24) – 5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Wednesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Kevin Gausman

Gausman may well be the most disappointing player on the Orioles, given his prospect pedigree and the promise he showed in 2016. His strikeout (from 23.0% to 14.9%), walk (6.2% to 8.6%), and home run (1.40 per nine to 1.67) have trended in the wrong direction, and an increase in velocity implies that there isn’t an injury limiting him. The Yankees have hit him heard both times they faced him this year, so here’s hoping that trend continues.

Last Outing (vs. HOU on 5/26) – 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K

The Bullpen

The repercussions of the loss of Britton cannot be overstated, as the Orioles bullpen was very dependent upon pre-assigned roles (sound familiar?). The rest of the bullpen is just 11 for 19 in save opportunities, and Brad Brach has struggled since inheriting the closer’s mantle. Him, Mychal Givens, and Darren O’Day are Showalter’s high-leverage arms, and the aforementioned Jimenez has become the long-man out of the bullpen (he went 6 IP yesterday, allowing 2 runs). Brach didn’t pitch this weekend, and Givens and O’Day only went once apiece, so the core group is fairly well-rested.

Yankees Connection

I mentioned Buck Showalter, Vidal Nuno, and Chris Davis last time around. You can now add the immortal Richard Bleier to the list, as he has thrown 11.2 IP out of the bullpen since his call-up on May 3. He spent all of 2016 in the Yankees organization, posting a 1.96 ERA in 23 IP in the majors. And, as much as I’d like to make a joke about the Yankees giving up on him, he’s a 30-year-old journeyman with an extremely limited track record.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m interested in watching Dylan Bundy, given his tumultuous journey to the majors and his still-impressive stuff. The Yankees saw him four times last season (two starts), but his stuff has improved dramatically this season.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 29th, 2017

Record Last Week: 4-2 (22 RS, 19 RA)
Season Record: 29-18 (254 RS, 196 RA, 29-18 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Blue Jays (four games, Thurs. 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?
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DotF: Andujar stays hot, Sheffield tossed gem in Trenton’s win

Two quick notes:

  • OF Jake Cave was placed on the Double-A Trenton disabled list with a concussion, reports Matt Kardos. OF Mark Payton was sent down from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot. I guess that means SS Tyler Wade could see more outfield time with the RailRiders.
  • LHP Ian Clarkin‘s recent disabled list stint was due to shoulder soreness, according to Mark Sanchez. Clarkin was out from March 3rd to March 24th. He missed the entire 2015 season with an elbow issue. This is his first shoulder problem as far as we know.

Triple-A Scranton (3-0 win over Toledo)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Dustin Fowler: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 SB — leads the farm system with 28 extra-base hits
  • SS Gleyber Torres: 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 CS — 6-for-20 (.300) in five Triple-A games
  • DH Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — this is day nine of his 20-day rehab window, by the way
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 2 K — he’s second in the system with 25 extra-base hits
  • CF Mason Williams: 2-4
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1/6 GB/FB — 56 of 88 pitches were strikes (64%) … this was his 31st career Triple-A start, and only the second time he hasn’t allowed a run
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/4 GB/FB — 17 of 23 pitches were strikes (74%)

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