Yankees can’t finish sweep, drop finale 7-4 to Twins

It’s tough to sweep any team in a four-game series, even a bad team like the Twins, but the Yankees had a chance to do so Sunday afternoon. Instead, they blew an early lead and lost 7-4 in the series finale, which once again dropped them a game below .500. The 2016 Yankees: mediocre as hell.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Build A Lead
Brian McCann has been so bad these last few weeks — he went into Sunday’s game in a 5-for-55 (.091) slump over his last 20 games — that I wondered if he was hurt. He had the toe injury a few weeks back and more recently dealt with a hyper-extended elbow. Catchers get hurt. It’s a brutal position. McCann was slumping so hard that you couldn’t help but wonder if he was playing through something painful.

In the second inning Sunday, McCann snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a long solo home run off Ervin Santana to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. It was a quality at-bat — he fouled off three tough pitches and worked the count full — before unloading on Santana’s center cut 3-2 fastball. Look at the location:

Brian McCann Ervin Santana

When you’re struggling like McCann, you can get pitches like that and still miss them. They get popped up or rolled over for a ground ball, something like that. It was good to see McCann really lay into that pitch and drive it a long way. The ball hit off the facing of the upper deck in right-center. Statcast measured it at 421 feet, his longest dinger of the season to date.

The Yankees scored their second run thanks to some bad Twins defense and good Brett Gardner baserunning. Gardner hit a high fly ball to center that went over Danny Santana’s head for a double — it really should have been caught, it appeared Santana misread the distance due to the wind — then scored on Alex Rodriguez‘s bloop single. Gardner read the ball off the bat perfectly and took off for home. He didn’t need to wait to make sure it would fall in. That gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Give It Back (And Then Some)
Nathan Eovaldi pitched pretty well for the first five innings of Sunday’s game. He did wiggle out of trouble in the first inning after walking two, but after that, he retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced. Once of the three baserunners was a Max Kepler solo homer into the right field flowerbed. It was a line drive that just barely made it into the overhang. The ball actually hit the first row of flowers and fell back onto the field, so yeah, it barely made it over.

Things fell apart in the sixth inning, and really, a bunch of weakly hit base hits got the wheels in motion. Brian Dozier blooped a one-out single in front of Jacoby Ellsbury, then Trevor Plouffe followed with a little ground ball poked the other way against the shift. That put runners on the corners. Eduardo Escobar ended Eovaldi’s afternoon with a broken bat dinker over Ike Davis‘ head at first base. Dozier scored and Plouffe came all the way around the score too. He was originally called out on the play at the plate before it was overturned on replay.

Dellin Betances was warming in the bullpen during Escobar’s at-bat, with the Yankees still leading 2-1. It seemed as though Joe Girardi only wanted to use Betances for four outs, not five, which is why Eovaldi remained in the game to face Escobar even though his location seemed to be waning.

Ultimately, it didn’t really matter. Escobar’s triple — he raced all the way around the bases as the throw went to home plate — gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. Betances entered and allowed a bloop single to Kepler to make it 4-2 Twins — Statcast measured Escobar’s triple and Kepler’s single at 62 mph and 61 mph off the bat, respectively, which is nothing — then Kurt Suzuki followed with a hard-hit double to left to make it 5-2 Twins. Suzuki’s double was, by far, the most well-struck ball of the inning.

Eovaldi was charged with four runs on six hits and two walks in 5.1 innings, giving him a 5.02 ERA (4.31 FIP) on the season. He struck out only two. Eovaldi has now allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts, something he’s never done before. A month ago he looked like he was on track and riding the splitter to consistent success. Now the splitter seems to have deserted Eovaldi, making him much less effective. For shame.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Leftovers
The Yankees scored a run in the eighth inning thanks to back-to-back errors by Taylor Rogers and Plouffe. Rogers pulled Plouffe off the first base bag with a throw on Ellsbury’s infield grounder, then Plouffe let a routine grounder go right through his legs. Of course, Kirby Yates gave up a bomb to Dozier in the previous half-inning, so that eighth inning run only cut the deficit to 6-3. Yates has allowed eleven runs in his last ten innings.

Nick Goody put the game further out of reach by allowing a run in the ninth inning. He’s now allowed eight runs in his last 9.2 innings. For all the preseason talk about the Yankees possibly having the best bullpen ever, the team’s relievers now have a combined 3.96 ERA in 202 innings. The non-big three relievers have a 4.94 ERA in 122 innings. Imagine how much worse the bullpen will be once the Yankees trade Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

McCann added a single and another solo homer later in the game. The second homer measured at 450 feet, per Statcast, so that’s a new season high. McCann went 3-for-4 on the afternoon. Hopefully that gets him going. Gardner had two hits as well while A-Rod and Davis had one each. The Yankees did not draw a walk for sixth time in 69 games this season. They did it eight times all of last year, and from 2002-11, they averaged 4.6 walk-less games per season. Not making outs is overrated anyway.

Fun fact: in his first inning at-bat, Ellsbury swung and missed at a pitch for the first time in 19 plate appearances, according to Inside Edge. He went 84 total pitches and 41 swings between swings and misses by my unofficial count. Ellsbury went into Sunday’s game with a 6.1% swinging strike rate, 22nd best out of the 171 players qualified for the batting title. (Gardner is fourth at 4.4%.)

And finally, the Yankees went 3-3 on their trip through Colorado and Minnesota. They lost a game in both the AL East and wildcard races, and are now four games back of a playoff spot with four teams ahead of them. Their postseason odds sit at 14.5%, per FanGraphs. Trade ’em. Trade ’em all.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights. Check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading home for a nine-game homestand, but first, they have an off-day Monday. It’s their second off-day in a week after having one off-day in the previous seven weeks. The Rockies are coming to town for a two-game series after that. Ivan Nova and Chad Bettis is the scheduled pitching matchup for Tuesday night’s series opener. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other eight games on the homestand at Yankee Stadium.

DotF: Gittens homers again in Charleston’s win

Thanks to his contributions to Short Season Staten Island’s ten-inning no-hitter last night, RHP Drew Finley landed in today’s Prospect Report. It’s not behind the Baseball America paywall, so check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Gwinnett) faced RHP Joel De La Cruz, who actually spent a day or two on the Yankees’ roster last season, but did not appear in a game

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4 — hitting .370/.452/.520 with 13 walks and 14 strikeouts in his last 24 games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-1, 1 BB
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-2, 1 K
  • LF Jake Cave & 1B Nick Swisher: both 1-3
  • DH Cesar Puello: 0-3
  • LHP Phil Coke: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 38 of 57 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 3 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 28 of 42 pitches were strikes (67%) … 53/8 K/BB in 35.2 innings
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes (67%)

[Read more…]

Father’s Day Open Thread

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, especially you baseball loving dads. I know I wouldn’t be obsessed with the game without my father and grandfather. Make sure you tell your old man you love him today, because there’s a lot of us out there who can’t and wish we could.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Pirates and Cubs are the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game (Taillon vs. Hendricks), and Game Seven of the NBA Finals is on as well (8pm ET on ABC). If the Cavaliers win, it’s because the Warriors choked and aren’t as good as the 1995-96 Bulls. If the Warriors win, it’s because LeBron choked again. There, I saved you a bunch of clicks tomorrow morning. Anyway, talk about whatever here.

Game 69: Trying for a Father’s Day sweep

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have played four four-game series this season and they’ve won all four. They’ve swept two of them (Athletics, Angels) and have a chance to sweep a third this afternoon against the Twins. Not coincidentally, the A’s, Angels, and Twins have the three worst records in the AL. The Yankees sure do know how to beat up on bad teams.

On the mound this afternoon is Nathan Eovaldi, who is currently in a Mr. Hyde phase of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act. He’s allowed at least five runs in each of this last three starts after allowing seven runs total in his previous five starts. It sure would be nice if the Twins propelled Eovaldi into another stretch of dominance. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

The internet tells me the weather is very nice in Minneapolis today. Sunny with temperatures in the low-90s. This afternoon’s series finale will begin a little after 2pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira (knee) continues to run and take batting practice. The plan is to have him play three rehab games with Triple-A Scranton from Tuesday through Thursday this week, then rejoin the Yankees next Saturday.

Roster Move: Chase Shreve (shoulder) has been activated off the 15-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. I thought Shreve would rejoin the bullpen as soon as he was ready. He needs to go to Triple-A though. He’s been wretched the last few weeks.

The Journey to and from .500

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

Following yesterday’s “grab victory from the jaws of defeat, then almost throw the damn thing right back” win against the Twins, the Yankees are back at .500, their record sitting at 34-34. In their last ten games, they are 6-4; currently ,they’re in fourth place in the American League East, 5.5 back of the division leading Orioles. In Wild Card terms, they’re 3.5 back of the second spot, presently occupied by the Blue Jays. Circling things back to a more “Yankee-centric” level, yesterday marked the fifth time the team had won a game to get to .500 this year.  Let’s take a look back and see how the team’s done following reaching .500 with a win.

Date Record Win Streak
4/6 1-1 1
4/8 2-2 2
4/24 22-22 0
6/9 30-30 1
6/18 34-34 ?

That is the story of the 2016 Yankees in table form: Just good enough to be respectable, but not nearly good enough to sustain anything. In between April 8th and April 24th–on April 12th to be exact–the Yankees were two games over .500, their highest mark above .500 all season. Should they win today–which is likely given that it’s a game against the Twins–they’lll be halfway to that mark going into a nine game homestand against the Rockies (2), Twins (3), and Rangers (4). Should they lose, well, would it really be all that surprising? This is a team that has been unable to gain any real traction beyond one six game win streak from 5/18-5/24. That and a recent five gamer against the Angels and Tigers have been the Yankees’ only streaks of more than two games all season.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

While they embarrassed themselves in Colorado, the Yankees do have a chance to trot out an actual lineup against the Rockies this week and the Twins always seem to cure their ills. That could make things look good heading into the series against the Rangers…who have the second best record in all of baseball; their 44 wins fall short only of the Cubs’ 46. July tells a similar story.

The Yankees start July on the road in San Diego before crossing back to the south side of Chicago to take on the White Sox. Both of those are teams they can beat. After that, however, they hit another rough patch: series against first place Cleveland, then home games against the Red Sox, Orioles, and Giants, before ending the month on the road in Houston and Tampa.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The end of June and the beginning of July offer the Yankees a chance to win a bunch of series, even if they may struggle against the Rangers coming up. The Rockies, Twins, Padres, and White Sox are teams they can succeed against, and they just might. But if the relatively short history of this season repeats itself, the Yankees won’t get too far out ahead of .500 or gain much traction. On the little picture side of the coin, this will be frustrating. Watching a team win, lose, win, lose is not exciting; it’s downright maddening. But on the big picture side of the coin, struggling to gain ground will be a good thing; this team doesn’t need any delusions of grandeur heading into trade deadline season.

Yankees rally from behind for 7-6 win over Twins


Source: FanGraphs

The first six innings of Saturday afternoon’s game did not go too well for the Yankees. Thankfully, the Twins are still the Twins, and the Yankees always manage to get the best of them. New York won Saturday’s game 7-6 despite trailing 4-0 at one point. It’s Saturday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Two-Out Damage: The Twins tagged Michael Pineda for four runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings, and you’re never going to believe this, but all four runs scored with two outs. Pineda is usually excellent at closing out innings and limiting mistakes with two outs. (That was an attempt at humor.) Eduardo Escobar burned Pineda with an RBI single in the second, then Byung-Ho Park clobbered an opposite field two-run homer in the fourth. Anthony Swarzak allowed an inherited runner to score on Park’s sac fly, so technically Pineda was only on the mound for three of those four runs, but still. He continues to have problems finishing innings. Sigh.
  • The Board of Trustees: A 4-0 deficit is usually daunting, but the Twins have the worst record in baseball for a reason. Alex Rodriguez started the comeback with a two-run opposite field homer in the seventh inning — it was A-Rod‘s first homer since June 3rd — and Carlos Beltran evened the game at 4-4 with a two-run opposite field homer in the eighth. The Yankees loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single in the ninth, then took the lead on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s two-run single. Brett Gardner plated an insurance run the team would ultimately need with a sac fly. The Yankees scored five runs in two innings against Minnesota’s bullpen.
  • Nail-Biting Time: A three-run lead in the ninth is usually no big deal. Aroldis Chapman decided to make things interesting though. He allowed back-to-back homers by Escobar and Kurt Suzuki, and they couldn’t have been more different. Escobar’s was a wall-scraper that I thought would get reviewed to make sure it actually cleared the fence. Suzuki’s was a bomb into the second deck. Suzuki fouled off five pitches as part of a nine-pitch at-bat. He really battled. Chapman eventually got the final out for his 13th save. He picked a good day to get the dingers out of his system.
  • Leftovers: The 1-2-3 hitters (Ellsbury, Gardner, Beltran) went a combined 6-for-14 (.429) and drove in five of the team’s seven runs … Didi Gregorius had three more hits — including the bunt single in the ninth — to raise his season batting line to .287/.319/.413 (96 wRC+) … Rob Refsnyder went 1-for-3 with a walk while Ike Davis went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Refsnyder for regular first baseman, please … Swarzak allowed an inherited runner to score but he also retired all five men he faced, giving the offense a chance to get back into the game … the Yankees are now 21-5 all-time at Target Field, postseason included.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees will try for the four-game sweep — they’ve already had two of those this year, you know — Sunday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Ervin Santana will be on the mound.

DotF: Staten Island walks off with ten-inning no-hitter

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Gwinnett)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 1-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — tenth homer of the season … on pace for 22 homers this year after hitting 20 last year and 17 the year before
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI — would he still be in Triple-A if Austin Romine wasn’t playing so well?
  • LF Jake Cave: 3-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 10/5 GB/FB — 68 of 104 pitches were strikes (65%), plus he picked a runner off first … took a no-hitter into the sixth … that’s the longest outing of his career, majors or minors
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]