Another night, another loss, another new low; Yankees fall 8-0 to Red Sox

For the first time since September 2013, the Yankees have lost a series at Fenway Park. Saturday night’s 8-0 loss to the Red Sox was New York’s fourth straight loss and 12th in their last 16 games. It was more of the same: no offense and mediocre to bad pitching. The Yankees: they’re bad. Real bad. They’re setting a new low every night it seems.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Two-Out Damage
If there were only two outs per inning, Michael Pineda would be a pretty great pitcher. Red Sox batters went 0-for-10 with two walks when there were fewer than two outs in the inning Saturday night, then went 5-for-10 with a walk and two doubles with two outs. A single and back-to-back doubles — all with two outs, of course — led to Boston’s two runs in the second. To be fair, the second double was a bloop to right most non-Carlos Beltran outfielders catch.

Two-out base-runners were not Pineda’s only problem Saturday night. His pitch count got elevated in a hurry too. Here are his pitch counts by inning:

First: 28
Second: 25 (53 total)
Third: 24 (77 total)
Fourth: 15 (92 total)
Fifth: 14 (106 total)

Brutal. Pineda faced 23 batters overall and 12 saw at least five pitches in their at-bats. Eight saw at least six pitches. BoSox batters piled up 21 foul balls, which is a ton. Give them credit, they made Pineda work hard. The Red Sox don’t lead the league in runs by accident. They know how to grind out at-bats.

Pineda’s final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. It was his second start with three walks this season after never once walking three batters in 40 starts from 2014-15. I think Pineda deserves a lot of credit for grinding through five innings after all those pitches in the first and second (and third) innings. He really battled. Classic bend but do not break outing.

Oh You Thought They Would Score?
The Yankee offense, both Saturday night and throughout the season, can be summed up with this GIF:

Family Guy

Ineptitude at its finest. The Yankees were held to five singles and one walk in nine offensive innings Saturday. (Emphasis on offensive, hiyo!) They had one runner reach third base and one other runner reach second base. That’s it. The top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-20 (.050). Beltran had the one hit. Bad. Bad bad bad.

The Yankees had their best chance to score in the fifth inning, when Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley (!) strung together back-to-back singles with two outs to put runners on the corners for Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury grounded out weakly to second to end the inning. The Yankees also had runners on first and second with two outs in the second, but Gregorius grounded out.

Over their last 17 games — this dates back to the end of the Tigers series — the Yankees are hitting .216/.284/.318 as a team. They’re averaging 2.29 runs per game and I’m surprised it’s that high. No one in the lineup is hot right now. I guess maybe Starlin Castro is hitting well, but that’s it. Everyone else is in some kind of funk and is contributing nothing more than the occasional base hit. They’re bad and they’re boring. This is the least enjoyable stretch of baseball I’ve seen since the early-1990s.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Now The Bullpen Is Bad Too
Pineda managed to hold the Red Sox to two runs in five innings, and even with the offense struggling the way it has, that’s not terrible. It’s still a ballgame at 2-0. The bullpen wiped that all away though. Four relievers combined to allow six runs on eight hits and three walks in the final three defensive innings. They threw 98 total pitches.

Chasen Shreve allowed a run(s) for the third time in his last four outings, and in the one scoreless outing he faced one batter and threw literally one pitch. A four-pitch walk to Brock Holt set up Jackie Bradley Jr. for the RBI triple in the sixth. Kirby Yates then came and allowed an infield single to Mookie Betts to score Bradley, making it 4-0 Red Sox. Both insurance runs in that sixth inning scored with two outs, of course.

It seems every young Yankee pitcher has to give up a home run to David Ortiz to officially “make it,” and Johnny Barbato got his out of the way in the seventh inning. I guess down four runs in the late innings is a good time to give it up. He was charged with four runs in two-thirds of an inning thanks in part to Nick Goody. Barbato, like Shreve, has allowed run(s) in three of his last four outings. He threw nine innings in the first 14 games and hasn’t seemed right since.

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

At 8-14, the Yankees are off to their worst start since 1991. That 1991 team, as you youngins may not know, was awful. So is this 2016 team. Aside from Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the late innings, this team doesn’t seem to do anything well. (Yes, I know Betances gave up the homer Friday. Eat me.)

During this ugly 4-12 stretch, the Yankees have scored more than three runs runs twice, and they’ve been held to two runs or fewer eleven times. Yuck. They’ve scored 74 runs in 22 games overall. Last year they scored their 74th run in their 15th game. Heck, the crappy 2013 Yankees scored their 74th run of the season in their 15th game as well.

And finally, we got about a half-inning’s worth of anti-Comcast propaganda in the third inning. This was the first WPIX game of the season, so everyone in the Tri-State Area was able to watch, and YES took the opportunity to deliver the message. Given the way the Yankees have been playing, I’d say Comcast customers are the lucky ones.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and for the video highlights. Here are the updated standings and our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the ol’ loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up this series on Sunday Night Baseball, though the weather forecast is pretty grim, so the game may be in jeopardy. We’ll see. The Yankees have already had two games rained out this month already. Nathan Eovaldi and David Price are the scheduled starters.

Game 22: No Use For A Title

Save us, Rod. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Save us, Rod. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

I’m running out of ways to say the Yankees really need to start scoring runs, so: the Yankees really need to start scoring runs. They’re hitting .220/.292/.328 as a team in the last 16 games and only twice in those 16 games did they score more than three runs. They scored six runs once and four runs once. Ten times they’ve score two runs or fewer. Ten!

The offense has been gross. Michael Pineda hasn’t been a whole better. In fact, I’m revoking the Big Mike moniker until further notice. Twenty-seven strikeouts and five walks is great! Thirty hits and seven homers in 22 innings is not. Pineda has a 5.35 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 24 starts and 136.1 innings since his 16-strikeout game last year. That’s bad. Legit bad. The pitcher former known as Big Mike is one of many Yankees who have to get their act together. Here is the BoSox’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 3B Chase Headley
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a bit cloudy and cool in Boston, but otherwise the weather is pretty nice. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. First WPIX game of the year, no? Try not to throw your remote at the TV.

Saturday Links: All-Star Game, Ellsbury, Prospects, DL

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox continue their weekend series tonight at Fenway Park. Man, I hate Saturday night games. The game isn’t even on FOX but I blame them anyway. Blah. Anywho, here are some links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

2016 All-Star Game voting underway

It’s that time of the year again. Fan voting for the 2016 All-Star Game starters is underway and yes, it is ridiculously early. It is every year. Here’s the ballot. You’re allowed to vote up to 35 times per email address and the voting doesn’t end until June 30th, so you’ve got plenty of time to vote for Chase Headley over and over again.

Teams game-planning for Ellsbury’s catcher interferences

Already three times this season Jacoby Ellsbury has been awarded first base on a catcher’s interference. That’s unusual — there have been only three other catcher’s interference calls in all of baseball this season — but not for Ellsbury. Since 2008, his first full season, his 17 catcher’s interference calls are the most in baseball. No one else has more than 13.

Those 17 career catcher’s interference calls are fourth most in history, behind Pete Rose (29), Dale Berra (18), and Julian Javier (18). Ellsbury has proven to be so proficient at getting catcher’s interference calls that teams are now game-planning for it. From Jared Diamond:

It’s happened enough that Ellsbury has earned a reputation around the league. Hector Ortiz, the catching instructor for the Texas Rangers, said he normally teaches his catchers to set up at an arm’s length behind the batter. When the Yankees came to town this week, Ortiz took special care to warn his players about Ellsbury’s strange talent, and to prepare for it.

“If you’ve got a guy that is consistently dropping the head of the bat that way, then we want to be an arm and a half,” said Ortiz. “You talk about it, to get away. They move back and they stay away from that.”

I don’t think anyone is accusing Ellsbury of hitting the catcher’s mitt on purpose. That’s just his swing path and the way he lets the ball travel deep in the zone. Opponents are game-planning for it not only to keep Ellsbury off base, but also keep their catchers healthy. They don’t want anyone to reach out too far and wind up with broken fingers. What a weird skill.

Three Yankees among top 20 DSL/VSL prospects

Earlier this month the great Ben Badler posted his annual look at the top 20 prospects from the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues last season. It’s not a ranking, just an alphabetical list of 20 names. The Yankees have three of the top 20 thanks to the 2014-15 international spending spree. The article is behind the paywall, so I can’t give away too much. Here are the nuts and bolts:

  • SS Diego Castillo: “Castillo was one of the most polished, fundamentally sound players in the 2014 signing class, with excellent instincts in all phases of the game.”
  • OF Estevan Florial: “Florial has outstanding tools, with scouts hanging 70s on his speed and arm strength in center field. He has good bat speed and plus raw power, ranking second in the league in slugging.”
  • 3B Nelson Gomez: “Gomez (is) a physical righthanded hitter with huge raw power, though a lot of scouts were skeptical whether his swing-and-miss tendencies would allow his power to translate against live pitching.”

Castillo, 18, hit .331/.373/.444 (130 wRC+) in 56 DSL games last year. He signed for $750,000 and is a personal favorite as a deep sleeper. I’m a sucker for guys who are polished and instinctual at such a young age. Castillo should come stateside later this summer and play with one of the rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates, so prepare to hear much more about him in the coming weeks and years.

MLBPA pushing for 7-day DL

According to Joel Sherman, the MLBPA plans to push for a 7-day DL as part of the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with MLB. Right now the league has 15-day and 60-day disabled lists, as well as a special 7-day DL for concussions only. That 7-day DL comes with all sorts of concussion protocol, including approval from MLB’s medical director before the player can be activated.

Sherman says the union has pushed for a 7-day DL in the past, though it never received approval from the owners. Apparently there’s concern teams would manipulate the system, perhaps by putting a starting pitcher on the 7-day DL to gain an extra roster spot when he isn’t scheduled to pitch for a few days. I could totally see the Yankees doing something like that with a sixth starter, couldn’t you?

There is a 7-day DL in the minors, and once upon a time MLB had 10-day and 21-day disabled lists. There’s nothing special about 15 days. It’s just a round number. I’m in favor of a shorter DL to give teams some more flexibility — the Yankees played with a 23-man roster for a few days this week because Alex Rodriguez and Aaron Hicks were banged up — though I understand there are some things to work out. It’s not quite as simple as it seems.

Yankees waste Tanaka’s strong start, lose 4-2 to Red Sox

Source: FanGraphs
That was the kind of game the Yankees are built to win. They were up two runs with seven outs to go and their vaunted bullpen was well-rested, yet five batters later the Red Sox were leading 4-2. That was the final score. The Yankees: they’re bad! It’s Friday night and I haven’t done one of these yet this season, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • One Batter Too Long: Masahiro Tanaka was in total control for six innings Friday night. He held the BoSox to three singles in those six innings, then, in the seventh, the Red Sox strung together three hits to tie the game 2-2. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-out, two-run double off the Green Monster was the big blow. Dellin Betances was ready in the bullpen, but Joe Girardi stuck with Tanaka, and it backfired. Tanaka was pretty darn good though. The guy can’t do it all himself.
  • Dellin’s Dingers: For the second straight outing, Betances gave up a home run to a left-handed batter on a curveball. That’s something that never happened once prior to this season. This time David Ortiz got him for a two-run shot over the Monster in the eighth. Ortiz has been beating the Yankees for more than a decade now. No reason to think his final season would be different. Betances was not going to be perfect all season, but damn, this one stings.
  • Two Token Runs: Once again, the Yankees scored two runs and nothing more. This time they managed to get shut down by Henry Owens, a soft tossing lefty — he threw 33 fastballs out of 92 total pitches — with no command who tried like hell to give the Yankees the game. Alex Rodriguez hit a monster solo homer in the second and Brett Gardner singled in a run in the fifth. That’s it. The final 13 batters they sent to the plate made outs. Three hit the ball out of the infield.
  • Leftovers: Jacoby Ellsbury (single, two walks), Gardner (two singles), and Starlin Castro (single, triple) all reached base multiple times …  Castro was thrown out at the plate on Chase Headley‘s fly ball in the second. I have no idea why he was sent home. It was way too shallow … the Yankees scored two runs or fewer for the 11th time in 21 games. That’s really, really bad guys.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees shouldn’t be in panic or crisis mode yet, but it’s not early anymore, and this funk has been going on for nearly three weeks now. The AL East is going to be way too competitive this summer to keep giving up ground. Anyway, Michael Pineda and Rick Porcello is the scheduled pitching matchup Saturday night.

DotF: Heathcott returns, helps AAA sweep doubleheader

RHP Domingo Acevedo landed in the ninth spot on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He struck out 13 and allowed three hits in eleven innings this week. Pretty, pretty good.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (6-4 win over Rochester in seven innings) makeup of the April 9th rainout

  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 K — whacked the go-ahead two-run triple in the top of the seventh in his first game back from a hand injury
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 1-4, 2 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 4.2 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 6/5 GB/FB — 49 of 91 pitches were strikes (54%) … weird pitching line
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — eight of 13 pitches were strikes (62%) … 15/1 K/BB in 10.1 innings for the three-time Tommy John surgery guy

[Read more…]

Game 21: Runs Would Be Cool

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The search for offense has led the Yankees to Fenway Park. They’re in Boston this weekend and will play the first of three games against the Red Sox tonight. Will they score runs? Probably! Enough to win? Maybe! I sure hope so. The Yankees have won only four of their last 14 games and gosh, that’s awful.

I guess the good news is the Yankees have their best pitcher on the mound tonight with a rested bullpen behind him. Still though, the name of the game is offense. The Yankees have to start hitting like right now. We’re starting to reach the point where this isn’t a slump anymore. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It is cloudy and chilly in Boston this evening, but there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game folks.

TiqIQ: Last-Place Yankees Bring Cold Bats Into May, But Plenty To Look Forward To At Yankee Stadium

If there are any signs of life in the Yankees clubhouse, Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers saw two of the team’s oldest players picking up the slack. CC Sabathia’s strong performance and a home run from Alex Rodriguez weren’t enough to give the Yankees a much-needed victory, however, and the Bombers continued their downward spiral in the cellar of the AL East.

While it is unfamiliar territory for the Yankees, who took their 2015 season into the Wild Card Game against the Houston Astros, there is hope that the aging group will return to playoff form sooner rather than later. They’ll aim to do so during the month of May, where 13 home games are on tap against the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. For fans looking to take in the action in the Bronx all month long, plenty of deals exist for Yankees tickets on the primary market.

The Red Sox will be in town for a three-game series between May 6 and 8. Their first of three visits to Yankee Stadium this season will be a must for any fan to attend as David Ortiz makes one of his final stops in the Bronx. Big Papi will certainly play a key role in the series, and bleacher seating starts from just $18 for all three games on Ticketmaster. The Red Sox have dreams of first place in mind, however, as they head to the Stadium in a proverbial headlock with the Baltimore Orioles atop the division.

Perhaps the most intriguing games in the Bronx this month will come between May 9 and 12, when the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals head to Yankee Stadium for a four-game stint. It will be the first and final time the Royals travel to Yankee Stadium this season, with the teams meeting just once more in Kansas City in August. With four night games on the ledger, fans can find bleacher and grandstand seating starting from $18. Terrace and main seating across the four-game series range from $32 and $55. Tuesday’s game on May 10 is a MasterCard preferred pricing night with tickets starting at just $5 and discounted pricing in a variety of other sections throughout the ballpark.

While the Royals have again found success early this season, the White Sox have surprised the league with their red-hot start. The team’s spring training controversy surrounding former player Adam LaRoche has seemed to be a non-factor in the clubhouse, and their 16-7 record is second best in the Majors behind the 16-5 Chicago Cubs. Their three-game series with the Yankees between May 13 and 15 offers the same ticket prices as the previous series against the Red Sox and Royals, but when playoff-caliber teams are on the docket, there may be more incentive for fans to attend.

The final series in the Bronx during the month of May will be a three-game stretch with the Toronto Blue Jays from May 24 to 26. Like the Yankees, the Jays have struggled to start the season and currently sit three games under .500.  Still, the big names on the Blue Jays roster are guaranteed to bring fans to the ballpark, and the reigning AL East champions will likely come equipped with the long ball in the small confines of Yankee Stadium.

If the Yankees hope to break out of the funk that’s sent them on a ride to the bottom of the East, their favorable schedule at home against quality teams in May will be the time to do so. It will be a financially rewarding stretch for fans, too, as welcoming ticket prices greet them at the gates on E 161st Street.