I think I need a cigarette after that game. The whole series, really. The Yankees hung onto a one-run lead for dear life on Sunday night, beating the Red Sox 3-2 to win three of four games this weekend. Man, that game was way too intense for April 13th. I love it.
Big Time Player Does Big Time Things
The Yankees signed Carlos Beltran specifically for games like this. They’ve seen firsthand how he can be an impact player in even the most pressure-filled environments, excelling in big games and big situations. If there is such a thing as clutch players, Beltran is the model.
On Sunday, Beltran helped the Yankees both offensively and defensively in their win over Boston. He got them on the board in the third inning with a two-run homer into the first row of the left field stands, getting out in front of Felix Doubront cutter but still getting enough of it to hit it out of the park. He didn’t even square it up — the replay showed it was damn near off the handle. Beltran also singled and doubled, leaving him a triple short of the cycle.
In the field, Beltran picked up his team by playing first base for the first time in his professional career. He’d never done it in either the big leagues or the minors, yet when Frankie Cervelli went down with a hamstring problem in the fourth inning, Beltran stepped in to play the position like he’d been there his entire life. Well, that’s not true. He wasn’t tested with any tough plays and only had to received three throws from other infielders. Still, with his teammates going down with injuries all night, Beltran stepped up and played a new position as a 36-year-old veteran. Dude is a baseball marvel.
All Hail Replay
We saw the Yankees take advantage of the new replay system a few days ago, when Joe Girardi successfully challenged a call against the Blue Jays that led to a run. He made another successful challenge on Sunday, this one on the play that injured Cervelli. The backup catcher/part-time first baseman grounded into an inning-ending double play with men on corners, but the call was overturned after Girardi requested a replay. Instead of the inning and the rally being over, Cervelli was declared safe at first and the runner scored from third on the play. That was New York’s third run and, ultimately, the game-winning run. Hooray technology.
Ivan The Kinda Sorta Terrible
This had to be one of the ugliest 7.1-inning, two-run starts I’ve ever seen in my life. Ivan Nova again struggled with his command, leaving fastballs and curveballs up in the zone all night. It looked very similar to his first two starts, but this time he found a way to get outs and give his team an opportunity to win. Real gutty outing, I thought. There were times it seemed he was on the edge of disaster.
Nova allowed the Red Sox’s first on a Jonathan Herrera single in the second inning — the Sawx put together that rally with two outs, stringing together three straight singles — and their second on a monster Mike Napoli homer in the sixth. He hit it over the visitor’s bullpen and into the left field bleachers. It was a shot. Nova retired the last six men he faced and only had two 1-2-3 innings, scattering eight hits. He didn’t walk anyone and only struck out four. Here is his PitchFX breakdown from Brooks Baseball.
Through three starts this year, we have not seen the Nova we saw in the second half last year. That guy was dominant and in total control almost every time out. This version of Nova always seems to be dancing in and out of danger each time out. These are character building starts, I guess. At this point Ivan is the weak link in the Yankees’ rotation — he has yet to cruise for four or five innings at a time like CC Sabathia has done in his last two starts — but he’s only had one disaster start. At some point he has to start driving the ball down in the zone more consistently, but on Sunday he was good enough to help the team win.
Man, the end of this game was ridiculously intense. The Yankees kept Boston in the game by going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranding at least one runner in all eight offensive innings, so the score was only 3-2 by time the eighth inning rolled around. With Nova out of gas, Girardi turned the game over to his David Robertson and Adam Warren-less bullpen.
After Xander Bogaerts started the eighth with a weak fly out to right, Matt Thornton was summoned to match up with David Ortiz for the second straight game. Ortiz got ahold of a hanger and drove it out to right field, but Ichiro Suzuki tracked it down and crashed into the wall making a great lunging catch. It was awesome. Ichiro was only in the game because of Cervelli’s injury and, given how the rest of the inning played out, he had a real impact on the win.
With two outs and the bases empty, David Phelps got the ball to record for the final out of the inning. Before he could do that, he put Napoli (double), Daniel Nava (walk), and A.J. Pierzynski (hit-by-pitch) on base. The Nava at-bat was a real battle in particular. Boston had the bases loaded and the go-ahead run in scoring position with two outs. The left-handed Mike Carp pinch-hit and fouled off three pitches in an eight-pitch at before swinging over top of a curveball for strike three. That was a grueling inning to watch. Phelps went full Joba with the fist pump after getting the final out:
That eighth inning was as close as the Red Sox would get to tying things up. Interim closer Shawn Kelley tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out two and getting a line out to center field. Piece of cake. Phelps was both the bullpen hero and bullpen villain on Sunday. He loaded the bases with two outs before getting the huge strikeout to save the game. At +0.175 WPA, the Carp strikeout was the New York’s biggest defensive out of the season to date. Feels about right, no?
The Yankees blew a prime run-scoring opportunity in the first inning, when Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out at third on Alfonso Soriano‘s sac fly. The tag was applied for the final out before Beltran crossed the plate, so the run didn’t score. Beltran wasn’t exactly busting it down the line, but that play by Ellsbury was way too high risk/high reward for that point of the game. Baseball 101: never make the third out at third base, especially in the first inning when the opposing starter is giving up rockets all over the field. Thankfully it didn’t come back to bite them.
Rough night for the Yankees physically. Before the game we learned that both Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) have been dealing with nagging injuries, then Cervelli got hurt in the fourth inning, forcing Beltran to first. In the sixth, Yangervis Solarte somehow got hit in the manhood crossing first base on a ground out and limped around for a while. He ultimately remained in the game. Brian McCann took a foul tip off the bare hand in the eighth but also remained in the game. Dean Anna is the emergency catcher, in case you’re wondering.
Beltran was the obvious star offensively, going 3-for-4. Brett Gardner went 2-for-4 in front of him, but the other seven batters went a combined 3-for-23 (.130) with three walks. Ellsbury singled, Solarte singled and walked, Kelly Johnson walked, and McCann doubled and walked. His double was off the very top of the wall in center field. Legitimately about three inches from being a homer.
And finally, the forgotten great play was Gardner throwing Jackie Bradley Jr. out at the plate to end the second inning. Grady Sizemore slapped a single to left and Gardner made a perfect throw to cut the run down. If Bradley scores, the entire complexion of the game changes.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some nerdier stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees are in first place with the win. Well, tied for first with the Blue Jays and Rays, anyway.
After starting the season with 13 games in 13 days, the Yankees will enjoy their first scheduled off-day of the 2014 season on Monday. They will reconvene at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, when the Cubs come to town for a quick little two-game interleague series. Masahiro Tanaka and Jason Hammel is your series-opening pitching matchup. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for one or both games.
10:22pm: An MRI can back negative, the Yankees announced. Roberts will be re-evaluated in a few days.
8:44pm: Via George King: Brian Roberts is not playing tonight because of a back problem. “Not sure if it’s serious,” said Brian Cashman. Roberts has a very long injury history, so anything that causes him to miss time is a big red flag. With Derek Jeter’s quad acting up and Robertson banged up, the Yankees are woefully short on infielders at the moment. · (20) ·
Frankie Cervelli left tonight’s game with an apparent hamstring injury after running out a potential double play ball. He fell to the ground after hitting the bag and replays showed him grabbing at his hamstring (I think it was the right, but don’t me to that). Eventually he limped off the field while the call at first was reviewed. Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Robertson (back) are both banged up, so Yankees are starting to drop like flies. Stay tuned for updates. · (25) ·
The Yankees have assured themselves of at least a split of this four-game series with the Red Sox. Tonight they have a chance to win three of four and feel really, really good about themselves during tomorrow’s off-day. Picking up seven wins while starting the year with 13 games in 13 days would be pretty good, especially since Mark Teixeira, David Robertson, and now Derek Jeter are all hurt. Doesn’t sound like Jeter’s injury is serious, however.
Though the first two turns of the rotation, Ivan Nova has been the team’s worst starter. He was able to battle through his first start despite big time control problems, but he had no such luck last time out, surrendering seven runs on ten hits in 3.2 innings. This game is as good as any to turn things around. The only reason the Yankees don’t have one of the best rotations in baseball right now is Nova’s rough start and CC Sabathia‘s one bad inning syndrome.
Adam Warren has pitched each of the last two days, three times in the last four days, and five times in the last seven days, so I’m pretty sure he won’t be available tonight. David Phelps and Vidal Nuno, who had extended outings in recent days, should be good to go by now. So yeah, would be nice if Nova pitches deep into the game and the offense puts up a crooked number or two. Here is the Red Sox lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Carlos Beltran
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- 1B Frankie Cervelli
- SS Dean Anna
RHP Ivan Nova
It is cloudy and cool in New York tonight, so a lovely night for baseball. No potential rain or anything like that. First pitch is scheduled for 8pm ET and you’ll be able to watch this one on ESPN. Enjoy.
Teixeira Update: Teixeira (hamstring) hit on the field for the first time today. Joe Girardi said he is unsure when his first baseman will begin a minor league rehab assignment, however. [Meredith Marakovits]
Derek Jeter is dealing with a sore quad and is day-to-day, Joe Girardi announced. He first felt it during Friday’s game. Jeter did not play yesterday, is not in the lineup tonight, and the Yankees are off tomorrow, so the Cap’n will get at least three straight days off. “He’s not real happy. We’re just trying to be smart about it,” said Girardi to Mark Feinsand while adding no tests are scheduled. Given everything that happened last year, the Yankees are smart to be very careful with Jeter, especially so early in the season. · (21) ·
Update: The Low-A Charleston game is over and has been added to the post.
Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Syracuse)
- RF Ramon Flores: 4-4, 4 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB — had four hits in his first 27 at-bats of the season (.148)
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 2-5, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 K
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 3-5, 1 RBI — six hits in his last 12 at-bats
- DH John Ryan Murphy: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — five hits in his last 16 at-bats (.313) with three doubles
- C Austin Romine: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB
- RHP Bruce Billings: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 7/8 GB/FB — 54 of 90 pitches were strikes (60%) … helluva start
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — eight of eleven pitches were strikes (73%) … 8/1 K/BB in four innings
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 13 of 17 pitches were strikes (76%)
Triple-A Scranton Game One (7-1 loss to Syracuse in seven innings)
- DH Jose Pirela, 2B Scott Sizemore & C Austin Romine: all 0-3 — Sizemore made a throwing error and struck out twice, giving him 12 strikeouts in 24 at-bats
- RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K – threw a runner out at second
- 3B Russ Canzler & LF Ramon Flores: both 0-2, 1 BB — Canzler struck out
- RHP Brian Gordon: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 4/3 GB/FB — 61 of 86 pitches were strikes (71%)
- LHP Fred Lewis: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 3/1 GB/FB — 25 of 45 pitches were strikes (56%)
What a wonderful afternoon. The weather in New York is gorgeous and the Yankees hit five homeruns en route to beating the Red Sox. Lazy Saturdays don’t get much better in my book. The Yankees wrap-up this four-game series against Boston tomorrow night, then they’ll enjoy their first scheduled off-day of the 2014 season on Monday. Off-days are always more enjoyable following a win, that’s for sure.
Here is your open thread for the night. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET, though if you want to watch some live baseball, the Mets are playing later tonight (they’re on the West Coast) and MLB Network will air a game. Who you see depends on where you live. The (hockey) Rangers are playing their final game of the regular season tonight as well. It’s meaningless; they’re already locked into their postseason spot. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.
For at least one afternoon, the Bronx Bombers returned. The Yankees hit five homeruns on Saturday afternoon, two fewer than they’d hit in the first eleven games of the season. The dingers helped them to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox. Let’s recap with bullet points:
- Officer McCann At Your Service: The first dozen games of the year were a little rough on Brian McCann, who came into the game with a -10 wRC+ after beating the ball into the shift for two weeks. He broke out on Saturday afternoon, hitting a solo homer in the fourth and two-run homer in the sixth, both off John Lackey. Yankee Stadium sure can be kind to lefties, though these two homers were bombs, not cheapies.
- More From The Middle: McCann wasn’t the only Yankee to have a big day at the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano all had two hits, including homers from Beltran and Soriano. Those three plus McCann (the 3-4-5-6 hitters) went a combined 8-for-15 (.533) with one double, four homers, one stolen base, one walk, and six runs driven in. That’ll do just fine, thank you very much.
- Better Than It Looks: Mike Carp’s shift-beating ground ball single in the seventh uglified Hiroki Kuroda‘s line, driving in two runs and turning two innings in 6.1 innings into four runs in 6.1 innings. Inherited runners, man. Kuroda held the Red Sox to only A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run homer for the first six frames, striking out five and walking three. It wasn’t the best outing but it wasn’t a disaster either. Would look much better had the bullpen taken care of business in the seventh. Here is Kuroda’s pitch breakdown from Brooks Baseball.
- Shaky Seventh: Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley retired all six men they faced in the eighth and ninth innings, but the seventh was a bit of a mess. Matt Thornton struck out David Ortiz with two on and one out (good!) but was also left in to face Mike Napoli (bad!). Thornton plunked Napoli to load the bases before Carp’s ground ball single. Dellin Betances took over with runners on the corners before the inning ended when Carp was thrown out trying to steal second. He had to have missed a sign. Makes no sense to run otherwise. Things got a little tense in that seventh inning.
- Leftovers: Somehow the umpires ruled that Dean Anna was safe at second on his eighth inning double even though replays clearly showed him being tagged with his foot off the bag after the slide. The Sawx challenged it and they still ruled him safe. Weird … Kelly Johnson tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot in the eighth, so all seven of the team’s runs came on dingers … Yangervis Solarte went 2-for-4 to snap out of his mini-slump, so don’t send him back to Triple-A just yet … Brett Gardner singled and the only Yankee who failed to reach base was (surprise surprise) Brian Roberts.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up this series on Sunday night (not afternoon) when Ivan Nova gets the ball against the lefty Felix Doubront. If you want to catch the series finale live at the Stadium, check out RAB Tickets.