Yankees have no answer for McHugh, drop series finale 3-1 to Astros

Splitting a four-game series on the road against a first place team is a pretty good outcome all things considered, but man, dropping the fourth game when you had a chance to win the series always sucks. The Yankees had no answer whatsoever for Collin McHugh in Sunday afternoon’s 3-1 loss to the Astros.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Three Runs? Two Too Many
In the grand scheme of things, this was a really good bounceback start for Michael Pineda, who got hammered by the Tigers last time out. Three runs in eight innings against one of the better offenses in the league? Have to be pleased with that. Of course, Pineda’s effort also resulted in a loss on Sunday, though it’s tough to blame him. Three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in eight innings is a fine performance.

The Astros scored their first run because of what was ruled a Brett Gardner error. It was an easy fly ball off the bat, both Gardner and Garrett Jones converged, then both pulled up, and the ball dropped in. Carlos Correa hustled around the bases for the inside-the-park homer. (Double and a two-base error, whatever.) The ball has to be caught and it appeared Gardner called it before pulling up, probably because Jones was charging after it as well. Either way, catchable ball and an unearned run.

Houston scored their second run in the seventh inning in a more traditional way — Correa doubled to left, moved to third on Jose Altuve’s sacrifice bunt, then scored on an Evan Gattis triple. Gattis smashed a slider off the wall and Gardner was just short of catching it. Far from routine. The fly ball on the first run has to be caught. The triple? It’s a highlight play if it gets caught. A double, a ground out, and a sac fly created the insurance run in the eighth. So it goes.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

One Run? Not Enough
McHugh came into Sunday’s game with a 4.80 ERA (4.21 FIP) and an unsightly 1.25 HR/9 on the season, so, naturally, he held the second best home run hitting team in baseball to no homers and one run on two singles and two walks in eight innings. The Yankees scored their only run when Stephen Drew walked with one out in third, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on Gardner’s soft ground ball single up the middle.

Aside from that third inning, the Yankees did not have a runner advance as far as second base. The five-pitch seventh inning was a killer because McHugh started the inning at 89 pitches and the Yankees had a chance to get his pitch count up over 100, likely ending his day after seven innings, but nope. They couldn’t do anything with his rainbow 12-to-6 curveball in particular. McHugh threw 26 curves according to PitchFX and the Yankees swung and missed nine times. Nine times! McHugh could have told the hitters the curve was coming and they still weren’t going to hit it. Totally dominated.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Not surprisingly, Gardner was the only batter who put up much of a fight against McHugh. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and smashed a fly ball to the warning track in right. Alex Rodriguez slapped a soft single to center with two outs in the sixth. That plus Drew’s walk is all the offense. The 4-5-6-7-8 hitters went a combined 0-for-15 with three strikeouts. Yeesh.

Heck of a game for Brian McCann behind the plate. He threw both Jose Altuve (fourth inning) and Domingo Santana (sixth) out trying to steal second base with great throws. The throw to get Altuve was flawless. McCann has thrown out 39% of base-stealers with the Yankees after throwing out 23.8% with the Braves. He’s not the first catcher to improve his throwing under Joe Girardi and Tony Pena.

And finally, the Yankees were held to two hits total, their fewest of the season. They were one-hit by the Blue Jays last season and were held to two hits or less four times in 2013. Yuck. That 2013 season was awful. Never a good thing when you can reference it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and also the updated standings. Now here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. And finally, the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are finally done with Houston and now are heading to Anaheim for a three-game series with the Angels. That place used to be a house of horrors but not so much the last few years. That was more of a mid-2000s thing. Anyway, veteran lefties CC Sabathia and C.J. Wilson will be on the mound for Monday night’s series opener.

Game 76: Pineda, Yankees going for series win over Astros


I have made the executive decision to downgrade Michael Pineda from Big Mike to Midsize Mike, at least temporarily. Pineda didn’t just get hammered last time out (eight runs in 3.1 innings), he has a 6.10 ERA in his last seven starts and 38.1 innings overall. That dates back to the 16-strikeout game. Pineda has a shiny 2.89 FIP this year. That’s awesome! He also has a 4.25 ERA (93 ERA+). That’s not awesome.

The Yankees need to get Pineda back on track and soon — preferably starting today against the Astros — because I don’t think they can get to the postseason if they’re stuck with Midsize Mike the rest of the season. One thing at a time though. Get the win today, take the four-game series from the Astros, and hope Pineda starts earning back the Big Mike moniker. Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Garrett Jones
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

There are thunderstorms in Houston today, so the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed once again. This afternoon’s series finale will begin just after 2pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Guess what? Esmil Rogers is back! He has been called up from Triple-A Scranton and Gregorio Petit was sent down, so the Yankees have a seven-man bullpen and a three-man bench right now. Today was Esmil’s day to start for the RailRiders, so he’s good for a lot of innings if necessary. Slade Heathcott was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Rogers.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) hit and ran the bases again today. He’ll head to Tampa tomorrow and will begin playing in minor league rehab games this week, the Yankees say.

CC Sabathia and One Bad Inning

To paraphrase The Wonder Years, growing up means watching your heroes turn human in front of you. This process is never easy in sports. Professional athletes have this marvelous–and marvelously frustrating–habit of making what they do look incredibly easy, like they could do it forever and ever, as naturally as anything you and I do. Then, the cliff shows up. Sometimes the decline is slow and gradual. Other times, the player pulls a Wile E. Coyote and looks down, plummeting dramatically. For CC Sabathia, and we Yankee fans who’ve had to “grow up” this season, it’s been a combination of those things. Sabathia’s performance has dropped off considerably, but it’s been going on for two and a half years now. Watching Sabathia, someone we’ve loved and revered for so long, go through this has been painful (granted, I’m sure it’s 100 times more painful for him).

2015 for CC has been a bit of a microcosm of his long decline: things go bad in a hurry, but those bad things tend to be drawn out in one excruciating inning. In five of his 15 starts this year, we’ve seen CC be anywhere from “great” to “alright, okay, fine” in parts or majorities of games, only to have One Bad Inning rear its disastrous head and ruin the start for everyone (appropriately enough, this happened to my softball team and me on Friday night).

In start number one against the Blue Jays, Sabathia surrendered five runs total; four of them came in the top of the second inning. During his matchup with the Mets, the fourth inning was his downfall. After recording outs on two of the first three batters, Sabathia then surrendered a run-scoring triple, a run-scoring single, and a two-run homer, leading to four of the seven runs he gave up. It’s worth noting that after the run scoring, he gave up another hit–a single to former teammate Curtis Granderson–before recording the third out on a lineout by John Mayberry, Jr.

Things were more or less normal for the next few starts until number seven on the year against the Rays. CC didn’t give up a lot of runs that game–four–and the Yankees won, but of the runs he gave up, three of them came in one inning, the seventh. Back-to-back homers by Logan Forstyhe and Joey Butler started the inning before CC got an out, gave up a double + error, followed by a sac fly to plate the third run of the inning. The Yankees were ahead 9-1 going into the inning, so this didn’t matter a ton, but was still indicative of Sabathia’s one-inning-struggles this year.

Sabathia looked great in his next start after the Rays game, but then came the dumpster fire that was the game against the Rangers: 2.1 innings, 6 runs–all in one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad third inning. CC was charged with those runs thanks to five hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. Let’s not relive that inning any further.

Last but not least, let’s look at his most recent start–one in which I was in attendance for–against the Phillies. He gave up six runs in this game, five of them coming in the fourth inning thanks to two homers, one each by Cameron Rupp and Miakel Franco. I want to focus specifically on the homer to Rupp because, continuing this theme, it encapsulates Sabathia’s struggles in one three pitch at bat. Here is the location chart, thanks as always to Brooks Baseball. Brooks labeled all three of those pitches as changeups. The one Rupp hit into the Phillies’ bullpen is in a location that a Major League hitter can’t help but drive out of the park, and it speaks to everything that’s happened to Sabathia since 2013: he’s lost location and he’s lost the effectiveness on pitches that once helped him get a ton of outs.

I won’t pretend to know what the answer is for Sabathia because I’m not sure there really is one. He’s not the same type of pitcher that Andy Pettitte was, so an Andy-Style reinvention probably isn’t going to happen. This One Bad Inning Syndrome doesn’t scream “Make me a reliever!” either. But running him out there every fifth day has already been bad and probably won’t get better. Since 2013, we’ve had to watch CC turn from hero to human; I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him as a hero again. Growing up sucks.

DotF: Campos dominates in rehab start during a rainy day in the minors

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on July 5th.

Double-A Trenton was also rained out. The makeup date is TBD. Just one game tomorrow.

High-A Tampa (3-1 loss to St. Lucie)

  • SS Abi Avelino & 2B Tyler Wade: both 0-4, 1 E — Avelino struck out once and committed a throwing error … Wade struck out twice and committed a fielding error
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at third
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 SB
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 5/8 GB/FB — 54 of 91 pitches were strikes (59%)

[Read more…]

Yankees blow six-run lead, rally to beat Astros 9-6 anyway

Source: FanGraphs

That was almost the worst lost of the season. Almost. Instead, it turned into a pretty satisfying 9-6 win over the first place Astros. The Yankees have won three of their last four games. It’s Saturday, so I’m going with bullet points:

  • Homer-oltzer: First inning grand slams are just the best. Brian McCann smashed one of those into the second deck to give the Yankees a quick 4-0 lead, long after it was apparent Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer had nothing. Chris Young followed with a two-run shot in the second to make it 6-0. Then Oberholtzer got frustrated, threw at Alex Rodriguez, and was ejected from the game. He just walked off the field after the ejection. No argument. Small time.
  • Blown Lead: The 6-0 lead disappeared rather quickly. The Astros scored two runs in the second — whatever, they can hit, two runs are gonna happen — and then they scored the other four runs in the span of five batters. Chris Carter launched a solo homer in the fourth, Carlos Correa hit a two-run homer in the fifth, and Jose Altuve followed that with a solo homer to tie things up. Deflating! Masahiro Tanaka allowed six runs in five innings for his second straight bad outing. He insists he’s healthy. Either way, his location is garbage. Too many pitches up in the zone.
  • Oppo Pop: The Yankees blew prime scoring opportunities in the sixth and seventh innings, because of course, but they capitalized in the eighth. The rally started with a Brett Gardner leadoff walk, continued with Young’s fielder’s choice — Altuve didn’t touch second base when attempting the double play pivot, so no out was recorded on the play — and was capped off by Mark Teixeira‘s mammoth opposite field double off the wall. He’s so strong. Teixeira flicked his wrists and hammered Pat Neshek’s outside heater off the wall. Crazy. Two runs scored. Chase Headley hit a monster solo homer for an insurance run in the ninth.
  • Saved By The Bullpen: Seven strikeouts in four scoreless innings for the bullpen. Bryan Mitchell tossed a scoreless sixth, was bailed out by Chasen Shreve in the seventh, then Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances nailed things down in the eighth and ninth. Both allowed a base-runner, but no big deal. Shreve struck out Jon Singleton with the bases loaded to end the seventh. He’s been so, so good. Shreve’s excellent.
  • Leftovers: Gardner went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a walk. He’s hitting .300/.371/.494 (140 wRC+) on the season. Only Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, and Jose Bautista have a higher wRC+ among AL outfielders … McCann and Didi Gregorius each had two hits. A-Rod and Carlos Beltran each drew two walks … the Yankees had seven walks and four strikeouts as a team. It’s their eighth game with more walks than strikeouts. Only the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Red Sox have more … the Yankees scored 9+ runs for the tenth time this season. They did it nine times all of last year.

Here’s the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload, and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Astros will wrap up their four-game series on Sunday afternoon. Michael Pineda and Collin McHugh will be the pitching matchup.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s raining here in New York but hopefully the weather is nice wherever you are. Here’s the nightly open thread. FOX is showing a bunch of regional games and MLB Network is airing a game later tonight. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here. Have at it.

Game 75: Tanaka in Texas


By Game Score, Masahiro Tanaka‘s last start was the second worst of his relatively brief MLB career. He allowed five runs (including three homers) in five innings against the Tigers and wasn’t sharp at all. Tanaka left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Detroit made him pay. Naturally, everyone worried about his elbow, but Tanaka said his problems were all mechanical.

So, in an effort to get things back on track, Tanaka threw two bullpen sessions between starts instead of his usual one. He told reporters he identified a mechanical issue while watching video and wanted two throwing sessions to make sure he ironed it out. Tanaka was pretty excellent prior to his last start (1.31 ERA and a 35/2 K/BB in his previous five starts), so hopefully that one was just a blip on the radar. Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Jose Pirela
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s hot and humid in Houston, and it’s supposed to start raining pretty soon, so the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed. Apparently it’s going to start raining today and not stop until next Saturday. Texas is weird. This afternoon’s game will begin a bit after 4pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) will run today and tomorrow. The Yankees will then decide whether he’s ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment … Andrew Miller (forearm) made 45 throws from 100 feet today and I assume everything went fine. We probably would have heard by now if it didn’t.